Friday, June 25, 2010

The Rabbit Diaries, continued

I enjoyed a small foray into Bear Canyon yesterday just after dawn.  Rabbits are still very much on my radar.  This one patiently agreed to pose for a couple of photos.    
I know that a rabbit wants to be in one of my paintings soon.  To that end, I'm doing a little research, 
including contemplating things from a bunny's eye view
No wonder this spot is bunny central in Bear Canyon.  There is a stream just to the right.  To the left is a housing project-sized rabbit warren.   When passing by, I can never resist spending  time here.   It attracts like the field of opium poppies in the Wizard of Oz.  The residents seem to be growing accustomed to me.           
No, this is not a rabbit warren.  That would look more like holes.  This is human land art.  Wherever I go, if I am within 1/4 mile of a trail, there is human land art.  The compulsion to make art is strong.  Most of what I see takes two forms: phallic rock towers or stick-shelters like this one.  The latter seem to be a manifestation of the fantasy of living in the wild.   These creations are everywhere.  The more we trash the planet and its non-human inhabitants, the stronger our fantasies of retreating into their habitat.  The former . . . well, sometimes a phallus is just a phallus, and sometimes it's a pile of rocks.    

Something about leaving traces of my passing in the wilderness goes against my grain.  I'm of the old school "take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints" vein of thought.  Like a bear, I do my best not to leave footprints.  It's a good challenge.  The bears are a lot better at it than I am.   
Like every other mammal, I'm drawn to water.  As summer progresses, it is getting harder to find water.  Below is what's left of the raging run-off that enlivened Bear Canyon a few short weeks ago.  What we laughably call the summer monsoons have started, so I take heart.  Thunder heads are again forming over the mountains as I write this.
Leaving Bear Canyon, I walked through the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, where I still have a painting hanging in a group show.   The gallery is part of the original building and has a lovely Old New Mexico feeling. 
I appreciate the access to wilderness that the Center provides, the birdseed they put out that the mule deer come down to feed on, the fact they understand and buy more birdseed, and the work they do educating kids about nature.  If you are looking for a good nonprofit to support, look no further. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Appreciating Summer

I'm a winter person. I've been working on appreciating summer. This work is easier at the crepuscular times of the day, and at night, under the stars. I went out this morning just after sunrise and made my way up Two-Doe Mountain, one of my regular summer early-morning haunts. I tracked a doe and fawn for half an hour and lost them at this stream crossing.

It was a pleasant place to be led to.  It had everything a doe and fawn require: water, food, and dense cover. That last item can be hard to find in the Southwest.

In order to better appreciate summer, I took my camera along to record what inspires me.  Deer, of course. I follow them even when I am not trying to, or trying not to. But deer are for all seasons.  I find magic in snow, but there is inspiration in summer. Here's a shortlist, all shot this morning.
Mountains, and a certain summer color of sky.  Sam Scott, whose artwork and writing you should know if you don't, taught me that the eye sees the three primary colors, and, when one is absent, adds it.  He talks of seasonal color palettes.  On late spring/almost summer mornings like today,  the eye adds a hint of red/magenta along the ridgetops.
Animal homes.
Land art created by the elements. 

This lightning-killed tree is a painting waiting to happen.   It's also a home to more living beings than it was when it was alive. 

I was thinking yesterday about monumental land art like Spiral Jetty, corn mazes, etc.  While there is something there to appreciate, they are monuments to ego, as is, perhaps, all art that is not temporary.  When land art is created by the elements, it is without ego.  Perhaps that's the definition of magical.  But then my eye sees it, and I want to recreate it as a painting, a monument to my ego.  Ha!   

Friday, June 11, 2010


After a 5-week hiatus from running and walking, due to a strange little injury, I went out early this morning for a hike. It was glorious (before the 95 degree heat). I revisited one of the waterfalls pictured in my last post, now dry.

There is still a trickle of water in Bear Canyon. As I walked through tall grasses next to a stream, a baby rabbit stopped in its tracks. I did the same, and sat down. There we were for 20 minutes, joined by a horned lizard and a white butterfly. At first, the rabbit demonstrated its skill at appearing less and less visible without moving a muscle. It appeared to melt into the earth. Then it relaxed and started eating grass.

The last rabbit I saw stood beside a road, dazed, with a huge bloody eye, likely slashed by a raptor. I picked it up and drove for an hour to the wildlife hospital, where, the last I heard, it was recovering. Raptors occasionally blind their prey before the kill. That rabbit's eye has been in my dreams and waking mind ever since. It was invigorating to see a young, healthy, two-eyed rabbit, and lovely to spend twenty minutes with it. 

Sooner or later, a one-eyed rabbit will appear in one of my paintings, perhaps only in a form recognizable to me, and perhaps in the company of a rabbit kit, a horned lizard, and a white butterfly.