Reflections and notes on the relationship of art to nature and of nature to art from along Warwoman Creek, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Katuah Province of Turtle Island, where the light, the dark, the seasons, the time of deep past, deep present and deep future all mix in alchemal mists to reveal and hide and transform these slopes, shaded coves, bright rivers, deep forests and me, and together sustain me and my art.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


"The Singer Sings, and the Mountains Move Like Fishes," 2009
acrylic on polyester fabric, 60"h. x 72"w.

 "The Singer Sings, and the Mountains Move Like Fishes" is a recent painting from a series of works I began in 2005 called "the Mountain Passages Cycle,"

Passage is the act of passing, specifically movement from one place to another, sometimes a change of progress from one process or condition to another. Permission, right, or a chance to pass is often required. Passage is also a way or means of passing, as in a journey, especially by water; a voyage, and passage is that which happens or takes place between persons.

  In all these senses, paintings have always presented passages to me - imagined, proposed, hoped for, sometimes prayed for. They have always offered openings, permissions, journeys, all proffering passage from one process or condition to another.

  If the Spanish poet Machado was right, that we who pass on, even a little, walk, like Jesus, on the water, then artists and their work offer one partial exception - we artists and our work leave tracks of both where we’ve come from and, because of the imaginative intercourse a work of art summons us to, they point to where we’re all going.

  But paintings are quite still, aren’t they? Exactly! Paintings and the seeing and meanings they summon us to to present an endless quest going nowhere in space or time but only deeper into the presence. There is grace in this. It is the grace of knowing that our consciousness and the light are always arriving in the world together. And in this momentary stillness there is a  great Hello!

It was my sixtieth year when I started this series.  It was the year I moved to this secluded hollow along Warwoman Creek in the North Georgia Mountains. It was the month of April, Kawani in Cherokee - the Cherokee moon of reviving rivers and re-emerging medicinal plants. A season to take stock, to relent and to let go, and then to recover the deeper language of rhythms and patterns woven into the fabric of all those years. A time to really paint what I see (as the saying goes by painters), but now to acknowledge that seeing as a gift of presence as much as an act of perception, of coming into Being, not just observing.

   Presence, present, to be present - these are all entangled for me now. The massive northern shoulder of Rainy Mountain slopes down to meet the flood plain just behind my studio. From late fall to early Spring it is a massive shadowed cloak that descends, and from Spring to Fall it is a bright green lit body. It is not present as a picture. It hovers dramatically between being just some of the furniture of the world and startlingly something else: something protean, powerful and energetic, something drawing my own presence into its circle, always shouldering against where I am, against what I see and what I feel. Then one morning I step outside the studio to see that Rainy Mountain has dissolved - the mists that live in these mountains have taken it for their own form of presence- an expression of the world making and remaking itself, a process of re-becoming, like ocean waves that rise and then refold into one another. Even in the seeming millennial immutability of this land, some aspect, some dimension, breathes. The very ineffability makes possible the expansive reality of the land around me. It is a great gift to witness

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