Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last week I visited two elementary schools to talk to kids about our forests, the future of the woods, why it's important and about artmaking related to this. I showed them what I've done so far for the Art of Action commission and we talked about what the forests mean to them and their families. Among the children who had relatives and friends who were loggers, builders, firewood users etc was one little girl who volunteered that her dad works at the post office, where there is a lot of paper, another wood product! Seems to me like they are connecting the dots pretty well!

Kids in both schools were able to tell me lots of things we get from the forest: wood, fuel, paper, oxygen, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, hunting opportunities, recreation, food and biodiversity. The one thing I don't recall anyone mentioning was perhaps the most important: clean water.

We then went on to do drawings and watercolors of plant life I had collected from the Vergennes watershed property. Above is a photo of a group of students observing a watercolor demonstration I gave. They really paid attention! Many thanks to the teachers who arranged the visits: Michaela Granstrom, Nancy Custer Carroll and Devon McLeod. And most of all to the students who were lively, intelligent and appreciative: thank you for welcoming me into your classrooms!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today I will start a painting of Bradley's forestry students working together in the snowy woods. When I first talked with John Bradley he told me about a watercolor painting he owns that was done by an aunt of his, of the farm his family owned. It was clear that my project had more resonance for him because of his affection for this painting. When I came to meet his class he brought this heirloom watercolor and used it as a way of introducing me and my project to his students. I can only hope that the work I am doing will be treasured the way he values his painting of the family farm. Actually, because of how much our landscape means to us all, I am sure the paintings I am making have a life beyond me. Above is a painting of mine of the back of the town buildings in Addison, Vermont, as the sun was going down.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I am well into the first painting in my series of five for this project. It's a picture of a portable sawmill in operation. It includes some basic Vermont iconography: pickup truck, red barn, mountain ridge. These things are important because they are part of how we define ourselves and part of what we value in living here. These things are part of our past and present, as well as something we want to have in our future. Yeah, probably even pickup trucks! I'm excited and can't wait to get back to work on the painting in the morning!