Mr. F and I are purists when it comes to spending time in the outdoors. We like to keep things simple and spend as much time exploring outside of camp as possible. For us, it isn’t about hanging out around a campground, it is about abiding in the wild and quiet places. Yosemite National Park is an incredible example of a scenic sanctuary, but with nearly 4 million visitors a year, it can be anything but quiet.
Yosemite is comprised of nearly 1200 square miles of wilderness so it just takes a bit of effort to escape the crowds and find some peace. Our last full day in Yosemite, we awoke long before sunrise, packed up for the day and headed out from Glacier Point to hike ten miles to Nevada Falls. Beginning in the mist and fog, we had the trail to ourselves for much of the morning. It is in those moments of solitude that we can truly appreciate the beauty and splendor that surrounds us. These are our favorite memories of wild places.
In her Yosemite series, Seattle artist Susanna Bluhm creates paintings based on her own experiences of the park, first from the eyes of a child, then through the eyes of an adult and mother.
We see the marks of human hand in Bluhm’s landscapes, graffiti-like marks and geometrics reminding us that we are ever encroaching on these wild temples. There is a reason, though, that we continue to return. These pristine spaces call to us, call to the untamed spirit that dwells deep inside, the one buried beneath the worries and wires of modern life.
Last year in Eureka, summer practically passed us by. I think I wore shorts twice. Which is just the way Mr. F and I like it. But this year in Marin, we’ve seen our fair share of warm days. And while the warmth definitely wears on me, the knowledge that it is short lived helps me enjoy its stay just a little.
Now don’t get me wrong– I’ll complain about the heat! But I’ll take the blue skies and sparkles on the water in exchange for the extra warmth. It helps soothe my soul to know that this time is fleeting, that soon the blue skies will change back to gray, the color in the leaves will begin to shift, the air will again be crisp and cool. Summer, you may come and I’ll bask in your short-lived presence because it reminds me this season will depart soon enough.
The paintings featured are by artist Seth Smith. See more of Seth’s work on his website.
As we approach the blank surface, perhaps there is a preformed destination in mind. Or maybe we simply begin and follow where the paint takes us. For many artists, painting is as much about process as it is about finished product. Actually, it is likely more about process and hardly about product at all.
Last year, New York artist Eric LoPresti created a series of paintings repeating the same composition but shifting to various degrees stylistically.
Even the artist that begins with an idea of where they are going will often find the paint taking them in a different direction entirely. It is when we are open to those new directions that the magic really happens– the subconscious takes over and our heart wields the brush ahead of our mind. All it takes is the placement of a certain color or line and suddenly we are off into worlds as yet untraveled.
Gems are cut to take advantage of the quality and color in the stone– for optimal sparkle. In the cutting and shaping we might assume that we’d lose the natural beauty of the stone, but instead, the process of refining the angles means the gems brilliance can be fully taken advantage of.
We are much the same. We begin as raw material and years of learning and living shape and refine us. Our first stage, that most natural state is beautiful in its purity, but as we are cut and polished by experiences, the light hits our depths and we truly sparkle.
The paintings featured are the work of Kurt Pio. To see more of the artist’s work, please visit his website.
Mr. F and I have been doing this travel thing for over four years now. That’s four years on the road.. four years of not knowing, four years of adventuring. We are getting ready to think about our next spot, taking off and landing again in a new place, awaiting discovery.
Each fresh spot brings not just a new landscape, but new environments, new vibes, new spaces. Every place comes with its own sense of being. Australian artist Richard Claremont interprets the character of landscapes near his South Coast home in paint and color.
I like to look back on the places we’ve been and think about our time in terms of what we felt and experienced in each one. Claremont’s paintings with their pink light and lush brushstrokes evoke the warm and loving feeling of a landscape well loved. We’re looking forward to finding our own well loved landing.
I see it every day among my friends and family on social media. Division. Us vs. them. Outright hatred. It is so disheartening to see such vitriol leveled against people we don’t even know. It all seems so pointless. A waste of time and energy. We are more alike than we are different. We were all born in the same way, we all die the same death. We are all one race– human.
These hyperrealistic drawings by Heidi Draley McFall touch on that link between us all– our humanity. We laugh, we cry, we are sad and vulnerable, angry and joyful. Every person of every color on every inch of this planet feels these same emotions, has the same physical needs, and most of the time, we just want to be happy. So why do we allow prejudices and judgements against our fellow humans to steal our joy? It seems a most useless endeavor. Imagine what kind of world this might be if we all tried to treat our fellow humans not as the enemy, but as ourselves.
Our time here in the Bay Area is getting short. As of today, we have less than a month left in Marin County. We’ve tried to take full advantage of the area’s beauties, but every time we venture out for some peace and quiet, something gets in our way. All the other humans.
These paintings by Melbourne artist Kate Shaw, with their layers of ink, glitter, and powder, speak to the way we as humans are corrupting the natural world we claim to love and appreciate so much.
Mr. F and I don’t want to come off as crotchety old so-and-so’s ( although, maybe we are! ), perhaps it’s just that our expectations of what it means to spend a day in wilderness areas are a bit high. We want to see and experience renowned beauty, but in places that are so heavily populated, the enjoyment seems to come with a price. The best thing about these places is that they should be refuges of peace, but it’s hard to commune with your thoughts as Rhianna is blasted down the trail. While Shaw’s work deals more perhaps with chemical devastation and destruction, I feel like there is a spiritual decimation happening, too. Or maybe we just need to find a cabin in the woods for a while.
A tree isn’t just its trunk. To thrive, a tree needs healthy branches. It needs to be reaching for light, nourished to its tips from within. Those branches become the homes of birds and squirrels, providing subtle, swishing music on breezy days and shelter from rainstorms.
In our current home in Marin County, our apartment in the hillside is nestled in the treetops. We see the world through a filter of blowing branches. Ember Fairbairn‘s paintings remind me not just of our view, but of the way we need to branch out in order to bloom.
Just as a tree can’t survive without its branches, so too do we need to continually reach out for new experiences in order to learn and grow. If we don’t we may become stagnated and overtaken by stronger, greedier vines.
It doesn’t always take another person to imprison us. We can often bind ourselves up without any outside help– whether by our own thoughts, or actions, or expectations. It’s a challenge just to get out of our own way.
In this sculpture series, artist Pava Wulfert binds together painted canvas and wooden racks, illustrating in three dimensions a sense of captivity.
We don’t always recognize our own confinement– like Wulfert’s elements painted in bright, happy colors, we may be blissfully ignorant of our lack of liberty. It’s interesting that Wulfert uses typical artists’ materials like paint, canvas and rack pieces in these bound sculptures. Perhaps how we see ourselves as artists can be a prison of sorts? Certainly thinking of ourselves only in one artistic dimension limits our boundaries!
Having spent the last two summers on the Northern California coast, where the water doesn’t warm up too much between winter and summer, it’s been a while since I took a swim. When I was young, spending summers at camp and at my aunt & uncle’s lake house, I loved the water. One of my favorite things was to hold my breath and sink to the bottom. Time slowed down, the world became distant and muted. It felt like an immersion into summer.
These paintings by Wendi Turchan seem to illustrate that feeling of submersion. Fluid background colors seem to melt into each other, while bright geometric shapes float and sway. It feels like diving to the bottom of the pool for a sunken treasure.