Monday, March 29, 2010

The Highs and Lows

"High Tide: Padilla Bay" 18x36" oil pastel Kathleen Faulkner

"Low Tide: Padilla Bay" 18x36" oil pastel Kathleen Faulkner

Padilla Bay is on the way out of town.  I've passed by it more times than I can count.  I always look and it's always different. 

Padilla Bay is an estuary.  The bay is filled with sediment from the Skagit River making the bottom very shallow. When the tide is out, the whole bay empties and at high tide it floods.  

One third of Puget Sound's eelgrass grows here.  The bay is covered with it:  nearly 8,000 acres.  Eelgrass is valuable because it is habitat for millions of critters.  It's used as a nursery for salmon, crab, perch and herring as well as home to worms, shrimp, clams and other invertebrates which, in turn, are food for herons, eagles, otters and seals.  It's a whole community unto itself.  

When I'm passing it I usually don't think about all the living that's going on there.  I'm looking at the patterns and contrast and color.  I'm thinking about how beautiful it is and how lucky I am to be able to see it whenever I want.  I'm also thinking of it as my very own personal tide table.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Down at the Wetlands

"Down at the Wetlands"  oil pastel 23x24" Kathleen Faulkner

Spring has arrived.  It changes our mood:  we all wake up!

The frogs are quite out of control down at the wetlands.  Theirs is a sound I look forward to every year.  It is so hopeful.
Standing in the bog with eyes closed, I am blasted by the audio equivalent of visual overload.  It is a sound that permeates the psyche like that favorite song we play loudly over and over  because it touches us deep where we live.

Frogs are an indicator species.  They absorb water and anything else that happens to be in that water, through their skin.  Here in Cascadia it's the Pacific Tree frog (among others).  Frogs are in decline and once they're gone, start packing your bags because we'll be gone, too,  shortly thereafter.

In the meantime though, my mood is brightened by the hopefulness of crazy frog sounds in the springtime down at the wetlands.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tidal Marsh

"Tidal Marsh" oil and regular pastel, 
charcoal, gesso, 9x9", Kathleen Faulkner

It was an adventure.  We headed out early. 

Muted colors, bird sounds and the smell of salty sea grass hosting billions of organisms.. Standing in the midst of it all,  I could hear "it" living, breathing.

I lost my boot but got it back and, once home, pulling it off, I was struck by the blackness of the mud  blacker than the darkest farmland dirt   almost blue. 

"Salt marshes are one of the most biologically productive habitats on the planet,  rivaling tropical rain forests."  Wikipedia

"A tidal marsh is: soft, sticky, living tissue that grows on you.  Once into tidal marshes, you can only extract your person.  The mind continues to wander through with long, complicated, sinuous, personal thoughts"  Josh Collins 1996

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Give a little bit

"Craft Island" oil and regular pastel, charcoal, gesso,  9x9" Kathleen Faulkner

There are two schools of thought in the art world:  keep your secrets and make it all a mystery or give it  away,  share.   

One day I was visiting Dana at the Edison Eye and Joel Brock stopped in.  His studio is in back and he invited me over.  "I want to show you something."  He said.  Little did I know that what he was about to share with me might just change my way of thinking about my materials.
He proceeded to demonstrate his technique, and then sent me home with supplies for practice.  He told me to come back when I had some pieces to show him in this new technique.  I haven't shown him yet.. but it's in the plan.

It's hard to feel generous during these uncertain times.  Who knows what's to happen.  You can't eat art. We're all just trying to stay alive and survival is a powerful force.  I think, though, that giving really does come back and, although that's not the point, it's a nice bonus.  

Thank you, Joel, for your generosity.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Full Moon, High Tide

"High Tide: Guemes Channel" 23x21" oil pastel, Kathleen Faulkner

We're in the midst of a full moon.  A lot has happened this last week. Our artist friend, John Simon passed, the Olympics finished, another earthquake and the weather has been unusual.  

Some say that a full moon* has no effect on us, that there is no scientific proof.  Am I melancholy because of the moon or could it be that the death of a friend tends to dull those rose colored glasses I love to wear, exposing life and death in all it's reality?  

Maybe it's a little of both.