I am mysteriously drawn to rocks. They seem to speak in a very deep code. With their utter calm an immovability, they seem to speak of a link to eternity….and with one glance, a primal feeling comes over me of surety and knowing.
Rocks have meaningful shapes, as ancient Japanese garden makers vividly describe, but they also have minute and detailed surface qualities which seem to lead inward, almost like a face. They also have a map-like quality, the study of which may lead to an eventual destination or solve a long lost riddle.
They appear embedded with ancient symbols, and I hope to decipher a few over time…
Peonies seem more ethereal than other flowers, except maybe poppies, the way they float on longish stems just above their nitty gritty business like foliage. I respect these leafy engines of growth, but since the flower represents the distillation of all that is below it, my first thought was to isolate the flowers and juxtapose them in new ways. Since I have always been convinced that we see by contrast and sometimes there just isn’t enough, I set about finding new contexts in which to see peonies….
Watching the movie Dutch Light made me realize how much light affects what we see. Light has a mysterious quality (wave or particle?) but the movie’s prominent theory is that Dutch light is so very luminous because of all the tiny droplets of water vapor constantly in the air. This is due to the watery nature of the Netherlands – low lying seas, rivers, and lakes. Light like sound bounces off surfaces and water is especially multifaceted. There is a bit of water in this photo emanating from the melon, but there is a variation on a water droplet, the lush and moist peony blossoms which are reflecting light from every possible angle. In an ongoing justification for the decorative and the ornament in interior and exterior design, it appears that there is a sublime function for these embellishments – to reflect light and sound into a complex richness and whole unattainable with flat surfaces. Alas the photo has no sound, but perhaps one can imagine a comparable sound reflected off intricately carved walls in a perfect acoustical setting such as Vienna’s Golden Hall.
Peonies Travel to Lake Michigan
Peonies seem too delicate for sport or action but we carefully carried a few blooms in a cooler to the shore on a windy day after a storm the night before. The flowers took to the water by floating beautifully, but the remnants of the storm had them windswept and churning in no time. This experiment demonstrated more about the ways of people throwing peonies into the surf and then running fast to photograph them. We didn’t last long in this weather, but the peonies got to meet the Big Lake – and there did seem to be commonalities, even between something so large and sweeping and something so small and delicate. They both have undulating movement and rhythm, intricacies and seemingly never ending surfaces.
Peonies and Onions
There are some good things about waiting to clean out the refrigerator. Way in the back, I discovered these sprouting onions with their delicate green – a green very equivalent to the pink in the peonies, reticent, uncertain, and delicately beautiful.
I wanted to photograph an all over pattern, somewhat like fabric, and needed something to knit the pattern together visually – something to guide the eye around. In EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, these eye movements going from right to left and back again in a rhythmic way – engaging both brain hemispheres, can actually create cures from emotional traumas and faulty thinking. Perhaps there is a wholistic aspect to brain functioning that is strengthened by viewing artistic subjects. This reminds me of a book on my list I must read soon: The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
Looking at some of my favorite 17th and 18th century botanical prints on Panteek.com, it struck me that these onion stems seem to take the place of the oft used trailing ribbons in the sky which guide the eye in such a delightful way around the print. The dark background also contrasts with the light pinks for visual contrast, a feature also seen constantly in 17th and 18th century Dutch art such as in Vermeer’s paintings. The darks are so very dark and the lights so light – but never pure white, instead a tinted off white.
Peony in the Sky
If some of the 17th and 18th century botanical prints are surreal in nature, then they are a very benign and happy surrealism – the best variety in my opinion. I hope this photo is in the same spirit. And since all matter originates in outer space, I suppose it is scientifically accurate as well.
Here in mid Michigan, we’ve had a cooler than normal April so these lettuces in our unheated greenhouse haven’t been growing very fast. The left 2 are named Emerald Oak – a very sweet lettuce, and the 4 on the right are Red Deer Tongue – an heirloom that is heat resistant. Both are sold at Seeds of Change among others. I’m still in surreal mode, so they may have fallen down from the sky. We are due for some warmer temperatures, and none too soon, since the store bought lettuce is starting to have that 6th taste I call cardboard – in line after the newest 5th taste named umami.
I took some time out from covering our baby schizandra buds due to a frost warning tonight to try my hand at more flying orchids – with my husband’s help. We used 4 photos we took, one sky photo and 3 orchid photos from the Michigan State University Orchid Show this March.
The orchids were selected from their backgrounds using Photoshop, and then layered on the sky using Corel Painter. After the orchids were applied using a tablet and pen, the image was flattened into one layer and made ready for the web using Photoshop.
I have always loved fabric and find it fascinating to relate gardening and photography to other areas of design, especially fabric. I once took weaving classes, but my instructor was discouraging about ever earning a penny from it – and I did need to earn a few pennies. I should have been listening to Tom Petty when he sang ,”I don’t care what you have to say” in the song Melinda. I like the certainty of purpose which comes through in so many of his songs. But weaving ideas together is another form of weaving ever intriguing – and the ideas of gardening, photography, and fabric is a mix with many layers and intricacies to explore.
For some reason I had been talking about flying orchids lately (boring a spouse is in my catalog of sins.) I have always admired surrealism, beginning back when my brain was at its peak, when I was 17 or 18. ( I get Brain News and so the science goes.) My favorite painting was always Sleeping Gypsy probably because it showed an animal in such an ascendant position over the sleeping woman. LINK This lion obviously could have killed her and yet the feeling is of such care and delicacy. It brings to mind the ideal law – a law that would elevate and protect animals and plants as well as people. Suprisingly, such a heavenly law called The Law of Mother Earth is close to becoming law in Bolivia.
Rousseau would have loved this law since nature came rushing forward with such great speed from the surface of his canvasses. Just as the Church of old disliked humans being painted in small stature compared to towering trees and other elements of nature, since it seemed to contradict their dominion over nature idea, our present corporations, carrying on the war against nature, would surely dislike Rousseau’s naïve surrealism making nature larger than life. But to a gardener, nature is always larger than life. We are always in some prone position relative to the universe of the nature we encounter day to day.
The flying orchids I was thinking about were misplaced, coming out of nowhere, surely surreal – and this is what landed on my husband’s photoshop enabled computer. Attending the Orchid Show at Michigan State University last month, my eyes had to suddenly adjust from barren snow to a bevy of orchids. The shock value was intense, even a little overwhelming. If there were sound as well, there would have been bells and bagpipes. In fact, to my jaded eyes, there seemed to be millions and millions of them. They swept over me like a heavenly invasion, and when that subsided, a series of tapestries. Here is my husband’s version of the heavenly invasion of orchids, with the tapestries to come soon……..