Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Praise Ice

The third in my Arctic series, completed in February, is Praise Ice, watercolor, 11 x 8.3". I set a rather pretty scene of ice drifting in a warming sea in a mandala of stars and snowflakes. Since Mount Saint Helens erupted in in 1980, I've painted passages of night sky to remind us of the vast mystery beyond our tiny world. The snowflakes are reverse painted in red, implying the heat that endangers them. I want the piece to hold a balance between alarm and love, tragedy and beauty. I want it to be bold enough to awake resolve and peaceful enough to support our strength to act.

Painted in light blue below the mandala is a poem written in the traditional lanterne form: 5 lines of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 syllables, resembling a lantern shape on the page.

methane threatens
quietly beauty melts
becoming deadly, so deadly
praise ice

In the poem too, I seek the balance between loving the world and calling action to protect it. These are challenging times, and I hope my images and poems contribute to finding solutions together.

I'm currently reading Hot by journalist Mark Hertsgaard. It contains much bad news about climate chaos, but the birth of Hertsgaard's daughter Chiara in 2005 spurred his commitment to a livable future. I'm inspired by all the collaborative and far-sighted measures he cites—such as those in Seattle, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. As I read, I'm gathering a sense of guidelines for how we can come together, globally in principle and locally in practice. He says, "I make a conscious effort to avoid despair, for despair only warps thought and paralyzes action."

I look forward to smoothing thought and energizing action. Meanwhile: Praise Ice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Arctic Prayer

My second exploratory image in the Arctic series began almost as a doodle in my sketchbook: light, free, humorous. I liked it so well, though far from "serious," that I repeated and refined it on a sheet of Fabriano watercolor paper.

The result, Arctic Prayer, is 11 x 16". Yesterday I cut mat board for it, and will mat and frame it tomorrow. I begin to imagine a showing of these images at Sebastopol Gallery during our July or September rotation. They're adding up, along with my feelings about them. My dread of our climate situation is gradually tempered by excitement from events like the Greenpeace occupation of Shell's drilling rig, followed by Seattle's official and popular response to their presence in their harbor.

Meanwhile, I begin to find my way into dialog with other players. I received an encouraging email from Dahr Jamail. I discovered a photographer friend, Don Jackson, actually printed the banners Greenpeace used in their Shell action. Another photographer friend, Brian Cluer, is a fluvial geomorphologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And a third photographer, Mike Shoys, fellow member of Sebastopol Gallery, is increasingly interested in using his camera for ecological good. All of us are interested in creating an art-science collaboration.

In the whimsy of Arctic Prayer I see animal hope. We are not separate from the rhythm of caribou as they dance, feed, and migrate in harmony with currents of air, water, soil, and ice. Their longing for health and duration touches us across the great mystery. May they guide our thought and effort.