Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Forming inspirations

I'm a firm believer in giving the past equal consideration when exploring new avenues for work. In my life, the Christmas season is always a time for merging the three aspects of time- past, present and future. I thought I'd share how I get some of my inspirations for new bodies of work.


Trees have always been in my life. From my earliest days when I could venture from my yard to the woods behind our house, I knew I had a secret place to walk, hide, and play. I loved the smell of damp earth, the moss covered rocks and the rough bark tickling my hands as I moved furtively from tree to tree playing childish games.

Some trees beckoned more than others...

with their tangled roots creeping along the ground,

their low hanging canopy of branches making an inviting cave,

their hanging lichen beards,

their perfectly spaced limbs for climbing,


I even loved the old, bare, ghostly one long past its prime.

There are new trees in my life too, ones that have been around for hundreds of years, those windswept relics that refuse to give up the survival battle.


I know that my love of texture comes from my early contact with the natural world. I crawled into, over or on so many rocks, lichens, branches and pebbles that the memory of their touch stayed with me. When I look at photos of my past haunts I still get tingling in my hands and the exact smell and feel of the place is conjured up immediately. The sensory memories are so strong that I am grabbed and thrust back in time.

Sometime in the future I know there is a body of work to be discovered in these experiences. What it will look like and how it will be executed remains a mere thread in my mind, unformed but tugging gently.

13 comments:

Kathy said...

Margaret, thank you for this meditative and enlightening post. Like you, I have the sensibilities of a naturalist that developed in childhood. I was always climbing and sitting in trees. Willows were my favorite because they had great perching branches and a wonderful screen of foliage under which I could hide for hours. While up in the trees, I gained a new vantage point of the world and my place in it. Thank you for reminding me, and have a very Happy New Year!

Margaret Ryall said...

Kathy,
I love willows but it was a love developed later in life. As you can see from my photos there were no exotic trees in my woods.

So much of who we become is formed early in life. I love your wording "the sensibilities of a naturalist". I never thought about it in quite that way.

Miki Willa said...

Thank you for your post. It made me think of the natural world that inspired me as I was growing up. I took my first steps on the sandy beach while watching the waves advance and retreat along the shore. When we moved to the high desert, I continued my love of sand. I spend hours out in the desert exploring the flora and fauna that clung to life in this dry sandy place. I continue to be entranced by these places.
A blessed and joyous New Year to you and your family.

Crayons said...

Hi Margaret,
I appreciate this post so much, both for the images and for the writing. Your vision as expressed through the camera lens captivates my subconsious. I like the way you "read" the trees too. I hope to see some of these delineated in paintings!

hwfarber said...

I love the tangled roots and moss.

Oval or round rocks speak to me; I have a nice pile--and a large, black, flat one that spent many years on my parents' back stairs has a special place in my yard. Small ones end up on my kitchen window sill; interesting ones on my parents' headstone.

Happy New Year. Keep us on track.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Sometime in the future I know there is a body of work to be discovered in these experiences. What it will look like and how it will be executed remains a mere thread in my mind, unformed but tugging gently.

I think that body of work has already begun, Margaret -- with this post itself! It's a little treasure of words and images -- thank you.

I look forward to your work in the new year.

-Don said...

As I was reading this wonderful post I was reminded of the poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer. Both are beautiful tributes.

As a child I spent all of my waking hours not in school in the woods - first in Maine and later in North Carolina. In Maine, a tall pine, similar to the one in your photo, was the mast on my pirate's ship from who's top I precariously perched looking for merchant ships to attack. In North Carolina, fallen trees were my pathway through a cool swamp teeming with cottonmouths but beautiful beyond belief and well worth the danger. (Thankfully my mom never knew of these adventures...)

When I moved my family to Las Vegas one of my requirements when looking for a house was trees. We lucked into one with 6 pines and 2 oaks, among others...

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree...

-Don

Jeanette said...

As someone who lives, quite literally, in the woods, I can relate to your love of natural and living things.

The trees in Newfoundland, especially the ancient, knarled ones, call me to draw and paint them. I know you will produce art from your nature too.

Margaret Ryall said...

Friends,
Your personal responses to this post are much appreciated. Recently I've started to realize that what I am passionate about works best as content for my work. Reflection seems to be the best technique for moving forward.

Miki,
Have you considered your attachment to sand and what characteristics of it most intrigue you? Perhaps there is content here especially for your collages.

Caroline,
Thanks for dropping by and connecting to my writing and photographs. I hope to see you again.

Hallie,
I have a lovely rock collection at my summer house. My one criteria is smooth. After that I seek all kinds of colours and patterns. There is something relaxing and enduring in contemplating and feeling rocks.

Sherwood,
I was just thinking the other day that you get to go to Birr this summer. Lucky dog! I'll be expecting all kinds of new photos and posts from this trip. I think you're right about my tree focus. I'm already weaving tree imagery into my new Reading a Garden works which will be unveiled later in the year.

Don,
I always loved the Joyce Kilmer poem Trees. Thanks for reminding me. I think as children we did all kinds of dangerous things our parents are better of not knowing about. Lately my kids have been bringing some of their adventures from their younger years up to my great dismay and sometimes horror. Yea for trees and all the things they add to our lives.

Margaret Ryall said...

Jeanette,
Thanks for the post. You sneaked in while I was typing my above response. Yes, now I need to figure out what angle/aspect of trees I will focus on. I've begun my brainstorming lists and I have a new notebook titled trees begun. More later on this topic I'm sure.

cathsheard said...

What an interesting post. It makes me feel ashamed - I live in rural New Zealand (clean green and beautiful) and yet I hardly see it. I am more drawn to the derelict commercial areas around here. Perhaps with the new year will come new eyes? BTW some of those tree shots are stunning.

Margaret Ryall said...

Cath,
Thanks for dropping by. I am just as interested in old, derelict things as I am in nature! Both exist in our world. I enjoyed reading your recent posts and I look forward to following your journey.

Shayla said...

These photos are beautiful. I love the textures in Newfoundland. Trees are a powerful symbol. It will be exciting to see how you use them.