“Sycamores, Nature’s Rendition”

Posted on Nov, Mon, 2022 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point

“Sycamores, Nature’s Rendition”

John Ruskin, many would assert, was the 19th century’s most famous art critic, though his reputation at that time as a polymath and contemporary Renaissance man elevated him into other spheres of ideas and endeavors. An extraordinary draftsman, watercolorist and philosopher, he championed the interrelationship of nature, art and society, positing:
“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.” J. Ruskin

In the spirit of his observation and my own obsession with American Sycamores, I post this image taken yesterday late in the day after a light snow collected in the crevices and shadows of the forest floor just above the banks of the Chagrin River. These images are eerily reminiscent of Gustav Klimt’s slightly abstract portrayal of trees, especially the beech and birch forests that attracted him.

I would note there is no saturation or Photoshop compensation here, simply “nature painting for us … pictures of infinite beauty.”
Read More

“Autumn Grass, Hudson River Valley”

Posted on Nov, Mon, 2022 in Gallery Image, Landscapes, Musings from Still Point

“Autumn Grass, Hudson River Valley”

Back home only a week, missing and musing about this inspirational landscape for the Hudson River School artists. A scene from our hike of Frederic Church’s estate, “Olana”, perched above the banks of the Hudson River. The unseen reverse view captures the full sweep of the Catskills and the Hudson River valley below; a dramatic backdrop to the home of Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School. He well might have opined on the role of providence putting us in the valley at the perfect autumn moment. We counted our blessings.
Read More

“Late to Flush”

Posted on Nov, Sun, 2022 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point

“Late to Flush Mallards”

This morning (Wednesday, Oct. 19) provided for an unanticipated closeup as migrating mallards, after holding tight through freezing rain and the season’s first trace of snow, burst into flight at the west end of the marsh . In deeper water, 100 yards to the east a pair of redheads and a raft of lesser scaups, more backsides visible than heads, were tipping and resurfacing like “drinking bird toys”, as they foraged below.

A reluctant yet serendipitous decision to hike through freezing rain provided rare color as poplars, maple and wild cherry were already brilliant. White and red oaks are in early stages of rust and the sedge, rush and reeds range from red to light green at this moment. For a few days only, it is the latter, the light green grasses, that give the landscape another dimension.
Read More

“Goldenrod, September’s Child”

Posted on Oct, Mon, 2022 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point

Goldenrod, September’s Child

 

Goldenrod was on my mother’s list of least desirables, an aversion imprinted on her in early childhood by my grandmother, who, as a teenager, carried with her into the 20th Century a set of myths and folklore about plants, food and health. In her pantheon of seasonal allergens, goldenrod ranked above ragweed and grass pollens and would never have found its way into her vast store of healing herbal tinctures. No doubt she would have suffered the vapors had she learned goldenrod extracts and pollen would become an effective anodyne for respiratory and digestive ailments as well as the treatment of UTI’s.

Notwithstanding the healing properties of the plant, Northeast Ohio’s landscapes are colored and textured by this wildflower as it contributes to the region’s autumn aesthetic. Rising, rhythmically, sweeping over meadows and fields, filling culverts with color, goldenrod induces the warm nostalgia of early autumn, the bittersweet longing for summer before its passing, reminding us perhaps of Shakespeare’s 18th Sonnet (“ … and summer’s lease hath all to short a date.”). Or, the qualities of Saudade, evoking the sweet melancholy and yearning for a past place or person, so inextricably infused into the culture of the Portuguese and Spanish.

Adding to an emotional state of mind, last week cumulus clouds formed the trailing edge of an autumn cold front, competing with patches of goldenrod as they caught brief intervals of sunlight in Squire Valleevue’s eastern meadow. Not evident in this photograph are the purple and white asters blooming in profusion this week- good timing for a visit to this remarkable landscape in the Chagrin Valley.
Read More

“End of Winter, Rushes and Purple Stemmed Aster”

Posted on Mar, Mon, 2022 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point

“End of Winter, Rushes and Purple Stemmed Aster”

 

Favorite lines I return to at the end of each season are from Robert Frost’s “Reluctance”, concluding with the final stanza, “Ah, when to the heart of man was it ever less than a treason to go with the drift of things … and bow and accept the end of a love or a season.”

This photograph is my version of a winter meadow; purple-stemmed asters and bulrushes, absent color, angulated against the snow create a composition all their own, still gentle, still determined, casting the subtle shadows of mid afternoon. Crossing the ice I thought this was the last image of snow for the season, a day before a thaw would cut off access to the north end of the marsh until next winter. Late that afternoon, the lip of the bank was barely discernible as its faint shadow traced the shoreline of a small cove (a bight the British might say). The frozen waters, little more than crystal shards, were punctuated with mineral mounds of wetland soil where outcrops of sedge and rush and long deceased pin oaks still stand, all rising above the ice awaiting the new season.

Anticipating the arrival of warmer weather and the landscape’s imminent transformation, I turn to the window, to the snow falling tonight, building in defiance on dogwood, maples and daffodils, all urgent to open.
Read More

“End of Day” January 15, 2022 Schweitzer Marsh

Posted on Mar, Mon, 2022 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point


“End of Day” January 15, 4:30 p.m.

I took this photograph in mid-January, late in the day as the sun was in rapid descent. The blue ice is as close to the color I experienced as possible. Truth and authenticity in the medium of photography are justifiably challenged as “ready-made” skies, hyper saturation and the addition and deletion of pixels have become commonplace – most often victims of camera (and phone) manufacturers that “bake in” the captivating looks, as well as software engineers who preempt decisions of the artist.

What interests me here is what this photograph tells us about the evocative power of an image, what we may learn from its intrinsic properties as well as its relationship to us, our memories, our personal response. We come to understand that a good photograph can have infinite “truths”, some fundamental, some less visible, buried within and beyond the landscape and some ambiguous but almost never absolute.

Realities or, more directly, objective truths in an image rarely exist independently, rather they take form and give shape through their contextual relationships – both physical and metaphorical. One role of the photographer, any artist for that matter, is to focus awareness on the subject, tangible or abstract.  The artist elucidates the unexpected (an object, lighting, something striking, even out of place) bringing abruptly into our awareness the departure from what was anticipated – the anomalies and illusions that catch the eye, an unusual specter of light for instance as in this image of “blue” ice. The conspicuous warm hues of sedge and the intermittent illumination along the shore’s bulwark of trees conceal their own truths. And still deeper, beyond oak and beech and hawthorn, into the tenebrous depths, Jungian shadows seduce and unsettle.

May nature’s mystery survive our instinct to comprehend.

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest