HJ Andrews Project: Ambient

HJ Andrews Project: Ambient

I want to find out what colors comprise a creek. It seemed like a fairly straightforward thing to do until I got started. It turns out that everything changes constantly. This is the first iteration of an idea using my white rock. I put it in Watershed 1 near the mouth of Lookout Creek in the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest (scientist creek naming is not very creative). It serves as a white reference point to compare the creek surrounding the rock. The top panel consists of the white rock colors. The bottom is the creek bed colors. The colors in both panels are arranged by time. Each minute... Read More
Gauges

Gauges

I’ve been in one of those post-project/pre-project limbo funks. These are the times that, I have been told, I am the most difficult to live with. I don’t have grounding in the limbo times: I’ve let go of the last project, but I haven’t yet grabbed a hold of a new one. Lack of grounding is known to make me irritable. Sometimes, if the limbo time starts to drag on, it becomes uncomfortable. The unknown starts to feel oppressive and I get anxious. I start to think that I have used up my entire allotment of ideas for my lifetime, as if there is a fixed amount, but... Read More
Verticality of Trees

Verticality of Trees

I planned to take notes and photographs when out in the field at the Andrews Forest so I wore thin glove liners. My fingers quickly became too cold to do anything but shove my hands in my pockets for warmth. I eventually gave up on the idea that I would record anything and just left it all in Fred’s car. We wandered around to a few locations without a specific purpose in mind. Fred, my favorite geomorphologist and willing collaborator, showed me some alluvial fans. When looking at a map I had to naively ask him to tell me what a fan is. We were in fact, practically standing on one without me... Read More

What Will Scientists Gain From Collaborating With Artists?

The last question a student asked of my work after my Portland Community College lecture was, ‘What do you think scientists will gain from collaborating with artists?’ This was probably the most important question of the evening. I didn’t have a very good answer at the time because it’s a question I am still working through myself. I told her that I don’t know. It was the honest answer. But I have some thoughts on what I would like to see happen through collaboration, some of which I attempted to explain. I think that too many people are disconnected from their own creativity. This is a... Read More

Sky/Water I

Began January 26, 2013. Finished September 22, 2013. Mapping is a theme that I have investigated for over a decade. With this project I wanted to see what the visual correlation is with the color patterns created by air and water in the creek below me (I was standing on a bridge) and the sky above on a snowy January day. The lines in the painting, visually similar to lines on a topographical map, designate color gradations rather than elevation. Read More

Some Thoughts After HJA Day

As Dana Warren passed us palm-sized convex, gridded mirrors, he told us that, as an aquatic ecosystems field researcher, he rarely looks up. Using this tool, a densiometer, to observe the sky, he still doesn’t need to look up. He can continue looking down as he typically does. With that admission my Sky/Water paintings felt more meaningful to me. I started the paintings with trepidation, thinking I was working with a simplistic concept that I feared may be too basic to explore. After holding a densiometer in my hand to look down to see the sky, I realized that I had addressed a... Read More
Water Underpaintings

Water Underpaintings

I have begun painting the 3 companion panels to the sky paintings. Water is much more irregular than sky, at least this is the case for this particular place at this particular time. The challenge with starting these paintings has been how to deconstruct and separate information about the creek into small, more manageable pieces that I will then be able to rebuild to make the paintings, much like a layered jigsaw puzzle. I have decided to share some of the process. The image below is of two of the water panels (2 & 3 to be exact). The first step was to paint each panel a golden yellow.... Read More
HJ Andrews Sky Panels

HJ Andrews Sky Panels

These three panels are the sky panels of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest Project: Sky/Water, January 26, 2013; 1:48 PM; Road 1506 Bridge Over Lookout Creek Near Road 1506 Junction. It was a cold, snowy winter day. I’ve wanted to make some luminous gray paintings for a while – there is so much gray in Oregon winters that I feel like I need to explore the possibilities of muted gray tones. This day provided a great opportunity to start. The sky was an ominous gray and the water underneath the bridge, a varied mix of brown and blue grays. The system that I developed for this... Read More
HJ Andrews Project Sponsorship & Donations

HJ Andrews Project Sponsorship & Donations

When donating, please designate that you would like your donation to fund Leah Wilson – Distillations of Place HJ Andrews Experimental Forest project. Thank you. In October 2012 I was an artist in residence at HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon. Beginning with the Average Colors of the South Yuba River: a mathematical determination of an aesthetic value project in 2007, I have completed several year-long projects that track changes in the environment over time. Now I have made the decision to adopt HJ Andrews Experimental Forest as a life-long project of... Read More

Failed Paintings and Seeds of Ideas

I developed a concept and created sketches and reference material for some paintings. I constructed and prepared a panel and got to work on the first painting of the series. A few days into it I realized I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the way that it was turning out and I wasn’t engaged with the idea. This is not a good combination. In the past I may have struggled with it for a while. I may have dragged myself into the studio to try to revive a dying thing. But this time, when I realized that this painting and series didn’t have a future, I just stopped and walked away. The hardest thing... Read More

Sticker Shock

Now that I have a long-term project based on HJ Andrews Experimental Forest underway, I thought that I may as well make this BIG. However, making things big is difficult for a few reasons: 1) My studio is not big; 2) My cash flow is also what you can consider ‘not big.’ So, the logical step is not to scale things down, but to make some not big things bigger. Step one is trying to find the funds for this project. I dusted off the grant writing book and got to work. One thing that I was unprepared for was how many uncomfortable feelings about money come bubbling to the surface when money comes... Read More

A Little Creative Flow

After my October residency at HJ Andrews nothing happened. It was like the experience stopped any and all creative flow. I actually started to get worried that I had used up my good idea quota. It took three months, but then an idea started to form. In late January I headed back to HJ Andrews to take some reference photos. My plan was to go to two locations on Lookout Creek, at a bridge, the other higher up along a trail in the old growth forest. It was a cold, wet day, but fairly warm for January. It was only spitting slush; at least it wasn’t snowing. But as I got closer to my first... Read More
Beetle Drawings

Beetle Drawings

Beetle Drawings Gouache During the residency at H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest I worked on one gouache painting. The last time I used gouache was about 20 years ago. I don’t have fond memories of the medium. Recently, something in the deep recesses of my memory nagged me to try it again. I felt that my first foray into the medium was nothing but a struggle. I was trying to paint like I was using oil paints. Gouache, however, is nothing like oil paints. Not ready to give up entirely, I tried another once I returned home to my own studio. This time I went into it as if I were making... Read More
HJA Residency Day 8: Split Tree

HJA Residency Day 8: Split Tree

HJA Residency Day 8 Split Tree Split Tree There is a tree in the forest that is straddling a very slow landslide. Every year the land slides a few more inches and the tree splits a little bit more. One day the tree will rip in two. I have been thinking of that tree since I saw it the first day I arrived. Every day that passed, the tree became more prominent in my thoughts. At the top, the tree is still one. At the bottom, I can comfortably sit inside it, the tear reaching high above me. Tim’s close friend Matt died at the age of 30 last Sunday. Ever since Tim went to the hospital to visit... Read More

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