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Approaching the Creation of a New Series of Artwork

by | Dec 30, 2020 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

After months of pushing against my mental block, I feel like it is finally crumbling away. I have a loose idea of what I want my next series to be about now. However, loose is not well defined. I need to do more research.

Inspired by the Timber Wars podcast on Oregon Public Broadcasting, I am exploring the ideas surrounding the Oregon timber industry and environmentalism. I seek to discover if there is any common ground under all the anger that seems to bubble up at a moment’s notice.

Aside from the podcast, what else could I do to explore these ideas that are bouncing around in my head? I need to educate myself.

My first stop was digital. Looking at aerial photos on google maps, I found amazing imagery of logging areas near me in Southern Oregon. I started painting the images, but then stopped. It felt too fussy, forced, and stiff. In the end I felt like there was no need to paint this. The physicality of the paint wasn’t adding to the imagery, it was distracting.

This piece will either be unfinished, destroyed, or completely unrecognizable when done. This however, is not working for me.

Next, I decided to go to the spot that I had seen on the maps. After downloading some GPS maps to my phone, Mack the Malamute and I went for an adventure.

Driving through these beautiful mountains, I had an odd experience. For the first time in my life, I was hoping to round the corner and see logging. At any other point in my life my heart would sink when I came upon the wreckage that used to be forests. Here the light was highlighting the snowy tops of mountains, making them pink and purple. The trees were tall and dark, yet everywhere the sun fell was immensely bright green. Such a lively green.

Even the edges of the road are like rainbows.

Driving on, suddenly the tall, dark woods disappeared in an instant, replaced by tree stumps and open sky. The clear cut was older, the grasses had grown up. Smaller trees edged near the road, as if an entire Christmas tree farm had rushed down to the edge of the road to see the lonely car go by.

Clear Cutting from a few years ago
Some sad looking stumps. Notice the sudden height difference of the trees on the ridge. This was the first clearing I came upon.

I continued farther. Occasionally, the woods with gather up to hide a house, but then suddenly disappear again. Places where fire had come through could be spotted farther away. It made me think of the flippant slogan I see on bumber stickers here in Oregon: Log it, Graze It, or Watch it Burn.

A dirt road, probably for logging, slices up the mountain. Burnt timber still stands.

However, I have learned that simple slogans make great bumper stickers but poor governance plans. Often I see all the problems of an issue, but feel as if I don’t know enough I should not throw my energy behind something. What if all my energy goes to the opposite of the result I want?

Art is how I discover, process ideas, react, and share. I am going on an art adventure. I don’t know where it goes this time. I am unsure of the materials I will use, the people I will meet, the things I will learn. But that is why I am going on this adventure. And I am inviting you along this time. Not afterwards, when the work is all done, framed, and hanging on a white wall. Instead, I invite you to come when it is all experiments, struggles, discoverys, and uncertainity. While I do the work of the artwork I want to share this artistic journey with you.

Forest in the fog