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I’m reading a book about the history of the Mississippi River. It begins with the geologic history. My interest and imagination are engaged by a description of an ocean where the great plains are now. The land that will be the Rockies are on the floor of that ocean. Go to a mountain top now and you can find the fossil of a sea creature who lived in that banished ocean. That’s change.

The book is : Immortal River by Calvin R. Fremling

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Today was the 4th day I’ve spent putting paint on big pieces of stretched wet white cotton. Yesterday I found the right combination of wet cloth and watered fabric paint to pour down the sides then tilt and watch it bleed
and blend the pigments. Its exciting to see the color race into the wet field but the desired final effect requires patience and attention. The motion slows and I watch for the right amount of color and motion and light expressed to stop.

paint allowed to drift into light

There is a place on each one where I thought yes, that’s it! It feels like something I’ve seen.

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Watching Change Change

I am starting a new piece today that grew out of a summer evening standing on the Ford Parkway Bridge over the Mississippi River. It was one of those summer evening that you sometimes get but are not guaranteed in our muggy Midwest. It was not hot,  not cool,  not damp, or dry. The air seemed kind on my skin. I believe it was August because the trees had that reaching to the leaf tip greenness they get at the end of summer. There was a cloud bank on the eastern horizon and I headed to the river to watch the sunset.
I parked on the west bank and walked across the bridge to the east bank then went back to the center. I stood facing north watching the light go by watching the surface of the water.  There were greens, blues, grays, and browns that were joined by purple shadows, and pink coppery highlights reflecting the cloud bank absorbing the red light. There were ever changing textures on of the surface of the moving water. The bright tips created by air moving one way the water another danced here then over there. All of it moving, changing, new with every glance from one aspect to another. I stayed watching until the river seemed to consist of variations of murky yet steely grays, blues, & browns. I  watched the flow of the river and the ebbing of the light entirely rapt, trying to catch the moment when change happened. But it was just gradual flow. The best I could do was record in my minds eye the moment to moment details my attention is capable of .  Then hope to bank them for when I need to call on them to tell me if the thing I am creating has some visual truth. I have been using that experience for more than a year to create the pieces I call River Light and I begin a new one today.

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It is the middle of a snowy winter. My most dependable source of color are the materials for making art in my studio. But there are the occasional gifts of light and circumstance that give me a visual reward for paying attention. Last week a purge of stacks left a stray crumpled bundle of orange tissue on top of my drawing table in front of my east facing window. I hadn’t noticed it when I”d looked out the window to see  the treetops and distant apartment complex go coppery as the sun went down and the light went red. But when I turned back a bit later the sky was going purple blue, the window was darker, & the halogen light directly over the orange paper was now making it glow.  Then a visual bonus!   A train went past with an orange freight car, then blue, red, and orange again. There was enough red light left in the dimming sky to make  the cars glow against the deepening purple blue sky. All of it together was just stunning and it was just there for those moments as the light changed and the train passed. A random bestowal of beauty on the edge of a winter day.