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.

Monday, April 15, 2013


This is the way it is:

I live at the foot of Rainy Mountain. It is dreaming of a fullness that has always been.  Below me runs Warwoman Creek, singing of a coming and going that has always been. The Reindeer Age has come and gone, and so too the sorcerers of Les Trois Frères. I have been painting and writing about the river and the mountain now for 12 years.


Michelangelo has dropped his chisel, its edge chipped and long worn away. He has walked away into the ever more, dreaming of it in Carrara marble dust.

Rembrandt has used his thumb to smear the light below an eye, to smudge its clarity, and bring it back into the rough and tumbling, sighing world.

It is a late August afternoon near Arles. and Vincent is trudging home along the graveled road, leaning into the rising mistral, his paint box strung on his back. The mistral has muddled all the light. Later, Frances Bacon remembers this moment as still and forever.
In his last studio, wanting the light to only come from the sky, Claude removes his green tinted glasses to see through the last of the paintings for the L’Orangerie. In a way he does not recognize, the sorcerers of Les Trois Frères are still there, shimmering in the light that were water lilies.

In the silence of the chapel, Henri, in his robe, reaches out with his charcoal fastened to a long stick, high up onto the wall to make an arching mark that echoes the back of an auroch, but which will become too, the slope of a mendicants robe

Bill, in the cool winter light of his Long Island studio, a wide house painter’s brush in one hand, a spatula in the other, moves quickly toward a large canvas. He leans forward over his right foot, stabbing his brush forward into the wet paint and shoves it up in an arc over, over, then down, trailing, twisting into a point. He leans back over his left foot and says NO! and with his other hand round the spatula sweeps away this last trailing gesture of how things are - always coming, always going. Life rises, falls, lifts and expands, and falls again.

In the Lascaux caves, along Via Ghibellina, on Breestraat street, at Giverny, in Provence, out on Long Island, the image is still, yet always moving in the yearning eye. The words are moving, yet echo a still and abiding presence. There is an emptiness that remains in always, a silence refusing encryption. And yet, and yet...

I live in a secluded cove just below the Blue Ridge Escarpment. My studio faces the North Star. The deep slopes, roaming mists, shaded forests and bright rivers here, the light, the dark, the round of seasons; these singing of the time of deep past, deep future, all gather here in a deep present. They all are speaking/singing /glimmering around old camp fires of an ancient encampment.

                WE ARE ALL VAGABONDS

                We are all vagabonds
                on this earth, wanderers
                with hungry hearts

                looking for a home
                we never had.

                At night we gather
                to distant fires
                of scavenged wood and brush

                to stir the ashes there
                and seek answers in the stars.

                In ceremony
                we mark our faces
                with our dream of want -

                flames and crosses and circles.

                And we carry this into all our days
                even into the desert of our lives

                dreaming into each new country
                our home again.

It is fall and it is my 67th year.


 The light dims. It’s spectrum shifts from viridians, cadmiums soaked in phthalos, toward umbers and manganese violets soaked in ultramarines. The leaves are blazing just before their descent. In this, an end and a beginning, are folded in one another’s hands.

I walk the river. Perhaps this is what the mountain is dreaming. Over and over again I go, in all seasons, to see this plainly there before me, this truth about the joining of beginnings and ends, and to ask over and over again, just how this can be. I often return with poems to sing, but always the questioning too, raw and abiding. Sometimes I abandon my clothes and immerse myself in the river to feel what it’s like to be part of it. But I always climb out, it’s surface behind me mirroring and recalling my shape, without my ever managing to leave the question behind in the water - how is it that beginnings and ends are enfolded one in another? And then the greater, nagging question: what does this mean?

I ask my oil paint this same question. Like a river it flows, yet stays and says: this is presence. What does it mean?

It is spring, and I am closer to my beginning and my end then ever. But I often find myself afraid that time is a river running only one way. This is not what the river says. It runs, but never abandons its beginning - it merely stretches and stretches. and in its tremendous elasticity creates and affirms it’s enduring presence. This is difficult to grasp. Our lives are so ephemeral, so soaked in transience. But perhaps it’s not just us - perhaps everything is this way - it’s just the way Creation works. All our names are writ on water. We all follow, inextricably, undeniably, from noun to verb.


So I converse with the river, with its song, with the song I sometimes take away with me, with the paint and with the words. It’s all a great language, echoing. Everything in the Universe echoes - language is filled with water, water is filled with language.

For more on the history of my work go to:

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