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From the Brambled Forest

One of my favorite things to do is walk in the woods, thick woods. Then under cathedrals of branches and stained glass windows of bushes and rocks and streams, I sit and see what revelations come. Berries? Nests? Lichen? A beautiful stone? And after some quiet, the choirs of life return: bird songs, a falling leaf, the footstep of a fox.

Like a forest with its plethora of distinct offerings, I enjoy making art in many ways and using a variety of approaches.

One of my favorite ways to work is by making a little bit of chaos on a canvas or a piece of paper. This usually involves splashing paints and making marks with a brush to create a base layer from which to begin the investigation. Colors or plain black pigments settle over 4 inches or 6 feet. When working on paper, I use acrylics and Dr. Ph Martin's Radiant Concentrated Watercolors - favorites for over 20 years. Then I sit back, much like sitting in my spot in the woods, to begin the observation of my surroundings. What do I see here? I don't force images intellectually, as inevitably, preliminary shapes emerge. I continue to let them come until some settle and others depart.

Some call strongly enough for me to create a deeper outline of the forms so I make outlines. Then I begin to apply more defining layers with whatever mediums I am using. I allow in most cases, transparency to remain in several areas of the work as sometimes these provide separate little worlds to investigate. This process takes time, and there is much stepping back to see. An image may then pop up and I may do a separate study to see how it may work in the composition. I place the study on the work in different areas to feel it out and may repeat it if the work calls for that.

Sometimes the vision is immediately clear and quicker to complete. At other times, the final images may evolve in months or years! And I don't mind going back to add to or detract from the work when this

happens, especially when I sit back and the piece still feels unfinished or unsatisfactory to me.

Here is an example of a few of the middle stages of a work in progress, with the miniature study on a canvas to see how I will include it in the composition. The last images include “The Red Sentinel” on a second stage, and also the final version several stages later. I left the forest with a sense on peace with this one. I look forward to finding out what is next with the current work at my table.

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