Reading the River

Each river is a highly complex, dynamic individual. Some are friendly. Some less so. Sitting in a raft or kayak and cascading down the rapids is only part of the fun. The real thrill comes from utilising one’s experience and skill to read and figure out the best course to tackle the river. Since the white water rafter must work with the current rather than fighting it, understanding water flow is essential to having a successful, safe and enjoyable ride. – from, March 2005

Today the message from the river was clear – they’re not really interested in water walls right now, and they’d much rather keep working with water colors. It was a good reminder for me. There’s no sense in trying to swim up stream. Creating a water wall might happen later in the summer, and it may work better if we collect more materials. If you’re embarking on water wall work, Jenny at Let the Children Play has a great compilation of water wall examples.

The other message of the day was, “Please, no more pictures. I mean it.”

3 Years Ago

We were getting ready to move back to Denver. Everything had been packed up or sold, and we spent the last few days at a friend’s home in Volcano. The rain storms were always tremendous, but this one led to more joy than normal.

Why don’t we do stuff like this more often?

Before the Storm

We fit in some painting tonight, before the rain. We decided to use the birdhouses that Grandma Margaret sent earlier this spring, as our canvases. We used watercolor paints, watercolor crayons, and watercolor pencils. And a spray bottle.

We left them outside, so it’ll be interesting to see how they look in the morning. This week I’ve realized that I love the impermanence and the unpredictable nature of watercolors. Sort of a metaphor for life. You have a general idea of what the paint will do, but even one extra drop of water can take your vision in a completely different direction.

Good Water vs. Bad Water

The Good:

We picked up our first Monroe Farms CSA vegetables this afternoon. We got a big bag that included sugar snap peas, parsnips, kohlrabi, garlic, and multi-colored popcorn.  And lots of lettuce. Which is where the  good water comes into play. According to wikipedia, lettuce is 94.9% water. Yay lettuce!

The Bad:

The murky water that ‘s dripping under the sink, because you’ve run the garbage disposal after somebody has dropped a penny and an empty ziploc bag down the drain. That somebody still hasn’t stepped forward. But we did fix the leak. I didn’t catch any photos of the bad water – it’s best left to the imagination anyway.


To the Sea

Soon, we’ll be driving west, in search of real water. In the meantime, there’s a lot of water talk going on around here. Epic bedtime stories about snorkeling, giant sea tortoises, and mythical goldfish.

Lately I’ve been dreaming about the ocean (maybe because of those bedtime stories?),  so it was somewhat synchronistic to receive a photocopy of an interview with Ran Ortner, by Ariane Conrad. It’s from the June issue of The Sun and most of the interview can be found here. This is an excerpt from the interview that I love, on many levels.

As painting gets more complex, it gains the same quietness that I’ve found in racing and surfing, where everything is happening so quickly that the demand for deep, internal calm is high. We can’t be at our most responsive unless our nerves are quieted. If there’s any noise on the lines, if there’s static or some kind of discourse happening within you, then part of your wiring is not available for the activity.

In my reading I’ve come across this again and again: that a person is most powerful when in a state of inner peace. The outside world recedes when I’m engaged in my work. I fall under the illusion that what I’m doing is all-important. It’s a wonderful illusion to have. I’ll take a break, and when I come back and look at the work, I’ll think, Damn, there’s magic there. There’s something I have brought back with me from the descent, a token of the experience.

Art meets Water

I ran inside to grab something (probably my coffee), and returned to find my favorite little sketch book, floating in the water table. And Bel looking very pleased with herself.

Yes, it floats!

The sketch book has been reconstituted, and I’m sure the textured pages will add some extra character to my drawings. And now she understands that I really prefer dry sketch books.

Despite the floating sketch book incident, the water table has become an important part of her painting process. She scoops up giant cups full, to pour on her water colors and on her paintings. She’s definitely in a more-is-more phase, covering the table and patio with color. Water-soluble color, mostly.

And then there was the gold glitter, which also ended up in the water table, when she was finally ready to wash her hands.

Water, water everywhere

May wasn’t the best for blogging. We’re starting over, and water is definitely compelling for all of us.

We spent the evening flipping through back issues of National Geographic Kids and Ranger Rick, searching for articles about water. Sam wants to investigate why algae grows on rocks and wood, in rivers and in oceans. And then we talked for a while about the difference between al-gae and all-er-gy. He understands the difference, but his neural pathways seem to be cemented with the incorrect pronunciation. We did learn that kelp (much easier to pronounce) is actually a type of algae. And that the ice cream we ate for dessert probably included a derivative of algae (algin) as a thickening agent. Yum? Not in his opinion.

We’re looking forward to exploring many questions about water, through the month of June. And we’re also ready to just play…