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Observations 2w

January 14, 2017

Another week of studio time, but since this year I’m focusing on “noticing”, changing the title (from “small changes”) seemed apt.


Studio: 8 hours, over 3 days

This week, it was difficult to get out of my head; I kept being distracted by things elsewhere. That’s part of why I rolled the time over onto consecutive days.

  1. Realized having the (wind-downed) tree branches of various sizes, tree types, and configurations scattered around my studio means I can… examine their shapes much closer than I ever have before. I can consider the curves of the lines, how sub-stems are related to each other, ponder why any branch was formed the way it was. My whole life under and around trees, (and drawing them!) and yet, somehow, I never really looked at branches before.            This is giving me a distinct way of now looking at Drabhu (friend-maple tree outside our apartment).
  2. {Small potted plant I bought on Thursday, intending it for my writing nook, I brought into the studio to introduce to the other plants, and realized… it should in my studio too. It’s now perched on a far corner of my work table. Where I can easily visually compare its vertical leaf blades to the tree branches beyond it in various directions.}
  3. Before watering new plant, realized it would need a tray underneath. I’m all about bricolage, so what do I have at hand? But it can’t clash with the muted, greeny colors at that corner. Found the ideal thing! A small rectangular lipped “tray” I made in my ceramics classes years ago, in a deep rich forest green, exactly fits, and suits the colors.
  4. Decided, since I’m yielding so much benefit from the lines and curves of the tree branches, although I do want more potted plants, I will avoid any with the usual shapes of leaves I really enjoy: fluttering, “ferny”, round/curvy. While I’m in a mode of long, graceful lines, let’s make the most of it.
  5. Examining a wooden cylinder on the windowsill, wrapped with various colors of yarn, wondered why I’d used one particular color that I don’t even like. Realized the color had been bleached by the sun. Removed those threads. Also another color, similarly bleached. So far I like the negative space thus created.
  6. Plum yarn => mauve-ish, now affixing a tree branch to the legs of my work table. Teal yarn => aqua now twined around an upright wooden item, newly topped with a dried flower, and back on sill.
  7. Rearranged all elements on the windowsill (again). Black pottery “summer owl” now nearer the other animal figurines, as well as turned towards Drabhu.
  8. Fiber ATC made by @artcollisions (framed), now on windowsill as well; fiber ATC made by Cathy Kleeman (unframed) near door in bookshelf with lilac glass jar festooned with purple ribbon. To which tableau I added another impromptu “sketch” on paper, this one created by playing with colored pencils.
  9. Photos.
  10. In an old journal, I’d rediscovered 2 proto poems I wrote 11.1.15. Decided to rework them, by brainstorming, for each noun or verb, 3 “associations”. Since I generally avoid creative writing in my studio (that’s why I have a writing nook, in another room), didn’t rewrite anything just then, but… to my table, added an empty marmalade jar, for lines of those proto poems, as well as the “associations”.
  11. One of the “associations” was the name of a place in the former Yugoslavia, but I couldn’t recall how to spell it. I pulled out the reference book I used for my 1988 trip to Yugoslavia, but the index didn’t have the name either. Reflected that this particular name, perhaps above all others, invokes my mother (because we visited Yugoslavia together in 1988, just the two of us) so strongly that… maybe I’m not ready to include that place in a poem. But maybe I am. In any case, I positioned the book behind my table where I can see it easily so I can revisit the idea if I wish.
  12. Rearranged rocks on work table.
  13. Really looked at 2 dried leaves on my table: the smooth curves of a yellow (now mottled brown too) cottonwood leaf from New Mexico; and the crumpled hyperbolic curves of a dark red sweetgum leaf. I’m thinking “sculpturally” with natural forms. I couldn’t possibly improve upon them, but could I echo them in my own work, in a way that honors them? {I don’t yet see how, but I’ll keep considering…}
  14. Walked up close to wall poster of satellite image of the entire Chesapeake Bay region. Looked for the Potomac River, but what I found was (I believe) the James, in Virginia. I need to learn my local geography much better!
  15. Compared (big) Chesapeake Bay with (much smaller) drawing of the Great Lakes, on closet door. Thought about being a “Great Lakes person”, who’s become an “estuary person”.
  16. Thought about First Nations’ languages in the Great Lakes, as well as in the Chesapeake region. I brought my interest in Anishinaabe {Great Lakes} with me to Maryland, but Wikipedia says the Susquehannock language that should be spoken in my local area went extinct, with its peoples, circa 1700. (I had thought the Lenape might be here-ish, but they were actually NE of here, barely farther south than Delaware Bay.)

In the book on sociolinguistics I stayed up all night last night to read, the author says that languages do not live or die, so cannot become extinct. He says they don’t exist unless the people who speak them do. I don’t think that’s true. Well, not exactly. Ish.

I have all these nebulous feelings, but I don’t understand anything. (Hence, reading, research.)

My nonhuman community, or the land I’m living on, or some other way of thinking of such things, … wants things from me that I don’t know how to address. I’ve been struggling with how to address words + images “related to Chesapeake Bay”… since we moved here, 8+ years ago. Now, apparently, I need to add languages, somehow.


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