HJA Residency Day 4

Rodent People

Wrestling with gouache. The lines are becoming more defined. As I work on them I’ve been thinking that the background will need to be pushed back so it doesn’t compete. But I’m getting ahead of myself

Rodent People

Here’s something that I learned today – people who study squirrels and such do not like to be called ‘rodent people.’ They prefer ‘small mammal people.’ Some of my few neighbors here are studying spotted owl prey. They are here until Thanksgiving trapping and counting small mammals. This is their ‘hot’ time. It’s the time when the flying squirrels come down from the trees for the truffle feast on the ground. The small mammal people and others like them are probably why there is a sticker on the freezer door that reads, ‘FOOD ONLY!’

This morning was spent wrestling gouache. Some of what I worked on yesterday looked too fussy to me. Fussy is my experience of gouache, but I do not want a fussy painting. Gouache is either too controlled and precise or too unpredictable. It would seem that those qualities would not be found together in the same medium, but gouache has them both. I’ve been trying to figure out how to strike a fine balance between the two. I’m not certain how successful I have been.

It doesn’t look like I’ve accomplished much since yesterday. Today’s process has been slow going. I’ve been working on defining the beetle burrow ‘drawing.’ Mark, my next door neighbor, told me that bark beetles create the line drawings in the wood. A few days ago I found a beetle larva husk stuffed in a hole. It’s the larva, precisely, that eat through the wood to make the intricate line drawings.

As I have been doing since I’ve been here, in the afternoon I go out into the field to see what there is to see. There is a beautiful spot at Lookout Creek with lots of huge wood in it. And I have found some spectacular beetle ‘drawings.’ I’m going back tomorrow because I needed my creek shoes to get at some of them.

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