This morning the lawn was brilliant with yellow leaves and a windy light. By late afternoon the sky had darkened, and snow is predicted tomorrow. I looked at the fallen lillies and melting hostas, all the garden’s brave last gasps of color, and laid my head upon the memory of summer. Where is that attic bedroom, that one with chenille bedspread and the embroidered pillow? The one where afternoon light motes were gold as pollen and the bees gathered in the windowsills….?
Something about this time of year makes me feel like talking to Morris Graves. I feel like he is with me, brooding on leaves and picking up branches, and looking for the light in the fine grays and browns of the northwest melancholy. The heron has not been been to visit the pond in a long time. Perhaps this will call him back.
This is the summer of endless elegy. The forms and colors of winter persist even as the sun comes out for a day or two and temperatures climb above 70. The newly planted vine maple is already turning red and I have not yet gone swimming. Only the foxgloves have been jubilant; this is the year I realized they aren’t weeds and let them go wild, a pearl and purple trumpet section playing throughout the garden.
This transfer print blends the layers of sunlight past with autumn’s melancholies. The echinacea laid its stems at my feet last October. The sunlight came from my favorite yellow wall at 85th and Greenwood, photographed in 2009, recently graffitied with a luscious red heart and then abruptly painted beige. I am glad I captured its past life in my archives.
I am focusing on transfer prints exclusively right now, enraptured with the tools of the camera and the newest version of Photoshop. I am in that place where you try absolutely everything and sit back dazzled, and then subtract ninety percent of the possible, in search of the necessary. I’ll be moving back and forth all summer between two very different themes: the garden, and the street. The hard urban surfaces seem to need the antidote of what grows from the watering can and dirt. See more of these images in the gallery The Natural World
On New Years morning a Varied Thrush made a rare appearance in the bare maple above the pond. I photographed him through the window and a few hours later made a transfer print from the photograph onto layers of metallic silver, gold and luminescent white. I made four prints, each time trying new ways of burnishing the transparency. I found that by spraying water on the actual transparency material I could get a feeling of old world mezzotint–with no control. Then I started brushing the painted paper with water instead, using varying pressure to gradually adhere the ink with more fidelity to the plate.
I have a new Epson 3880 and it behaves very differently from the 2400. Previously I used alcohol to make transfers, but it left a thin skin on the paper resistant to subsequent overlays. The ability to transfer with water alone is exciting–no toxic fumes, and the surface is lovely, much more like silkscreen. I am finding that the transfer film has to sit for at least ten minutes after it comes out of the printer–it seems that the ink then “cures” and lifts more readily to water or to an acrylic medium, like opaque matte gel.
In photographic mixed media work I am looking for an immediacy of narrative in which I can look onto my world, capture it, and engage in a process that reveals more about the experience than I “know” in the moment. It is intimate and magical because through the process of pulling the print I can slow time down and go back to the initial glimpse of the experience of the “real,” of what I thought I saw– before it has been given language. For this afternoon I felt as not that I was looking through glass at a bird, but that I perched in the tree, privileged to visit the first bright day of the new year with the bird’s own eyes.
What an extraordinary Winter Solstice: a total lunar eclipse! It all happened behind a cloud over my house and I take it on faith. For me the moon is this golden poppy, speaking of the dreamscapes of warmth and light that keep us constant in winter.