Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Pick Up Sticks

Crossed sticks January 2016
First days this winter when it has dropped below freezing. I feel the cold and hear it as the wind blows from the river. I want to stay inside with a cup of tea and a good book.  But I remind myself that no matter how cold it is, there is still a lot to find in nature. Winter opens up spaces to see. The evergreens are in their glory, but they are not alone. The deciduous trees speak too but in a quieter voice. The leaves are mostly gone: you can see the structure of trees, the way branches grow, birds, nests, fruits, seeds, and if you get close--buds.

A few weeks ago, I started collecting sticks and branches that were strewn across the snowless ground.  And I discovered a small world in each one.  The crevices, lichen, broken parts, and holes have tales to tell of leaves, insects, birds, and squirrels--of what it feels like to be part of a tree.  They are great to draw although at first they look, well mostly brown, dull, and past their prime.  Then you pick up your pencil and begin to look for angles, bumps, y-shapes, peeling bark and you start to draw.  What had seemed to be a simple form reveals itself, and once again, I am awed by the complexity of nature and of forms themselves.  I think of David Morrison, an amazing artist, whose recent gallery show was called “Sticks” and included his exquisite drawings of, you know, sticks.  He inspired me to go back to playing pick up sticks, a game I enjoyed as a kid, but with a new and different goal. 

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