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Friendship Benching (Week Two)

Anne Dalke's picture

This time, I came dressed: I had on socks, and shoes, and long pants, and long-sleeved jacket.

Next time, I'm going to bring clippers, and cut open the path I take to the friendship bench. (Is this violently/ unnecessarily altering my environment? Perhaps...but I'm tired of fighting my way through the brush....)

It also occurs to me that, next time, I should attend to the walk itself, instead of impatiently trying to get through the brush, up the walk, to get to the bench...

So, this time, inspired by eetong's watercolor, I brought along Nan's gift of paints, and my coffee mug filled with water. I looked around me, and it seemed clear I that I should start by painting the leaves...

this turned out to be hard. I was using copy paper from English House (not the best surface for watercoloring!) and it was hard to make the leaves leaf-shaped...

representation, it turns out, is a challenge in any medium.

Representing: Challenging.
Challenging Representing.

But then I had a small revelation: that the leaves didn't have to look like leaves. That actually, a better representation of the woods--its thickness, its all-aroundness--might be achieved by dots of color. And so:

But, doing this, I thought that really what I was seeing was bands of color, more like Rothko's horizons.

So I tried again, not pointellist, but broad swaths...

(amused to see that I've loaded this upside down, but in the spirit of play, am going to leave it...)

Playing leaving.
Leaving playing.

and then, doing that, I thought that, really, the world in which I found myself was better represented by splashes of color...

What all this accomplished was getting my mind to be quiet. I was (for once!) not trying to make a narrative, or analyze what was happening. I was just trying to represent, in a medium I know nothing of, what was around me...

Quieting minding.
Minding quieting.

it was a most pleasant morning!

(Well, with one caveat: that insistent wood-chipper!)

I remembered Mark Wallace (who teaches religion @ Swat) saying that he tries to inculcate a deep sense of spiritual kinship, love, and passion for the natural world, a family connection that will make his students care about preserving it. "We won’t try to save the planet if we don’t fall back in love with it.”

Falling loving.
Loving falling.


hirakismail's picture

I find the first watercolor

I find the first watercolor representation very fascinating in the way it illustrates the entanglement of so many different elements in the woods. Branch seems to meld with tree which melds with stems & leaves that come from unexpected corners. It is a welcome "mess", a complicated space, and that complication is something that I am still trying to wrap my head around in my site observation. Or maybe I don't need to do that? Maybe I need to accept the complication and try to learn something from it?

et502's picture

re-presenting as a way to listen?

being more present through the act of trying to re-present - seems a little paradoxical. But I experience this too, I can narrow my focus, I can try to "see" things more clearly as they are appearing to me. I like participating, action...

I notice that when I am trying to have a meaningful conversation with someone I don't know very well, it is much easier to talk if we are doing something else, while talking - driving somewhere, cooking a meal, eating a meal, walking. Maybe it's the same with my site - I'm not used to having a "conversation," or even just being a "listener" in one half of a conversation, so it's easier to go about it from a different angle.

Nan's picture

falling  coloring. coloring

falling  coloring.

coloring falling.

what is it like to color while falling?

what are the colors of falling?

can we color each falling? our falling?

which are the falling colors?