I feel so enlivened. I just laid on the dock staring at the windows in the sky, the tiny holes poked in the blackness to let the light in, but only enough to stare at it in wonder, to yearn for more- but appreciate what you have. Long enough to see one of these sparkling holes leap across the sky to impress you even more. My fingers went numb – but my core was warm with more than just body heat. It is a new moon tonight so the stars shown more brightly because of it. Honoring my first full day in this new place, this sacred place of forest, lake, mountains and creeks. This new place of creative energy, inspired people and little cabins.
I awoke cozy in my loft, the heat rising in the night filled with strange dreams and encounters. I strolled out to the dock in my tie-dye pajama pants, with my granola, tea and sketchbook. Writing, questioning, observing and pulling in the energy around me. Shortly after I set out on a walk around the rim of Blue Lake. The 45min hike took me 2 1/2 hours. Each twist and assent sent me into new findings, awe-ing vistas and emotional realizations. Overstimulated by the textures of bark, the intricate patterns of the trees, the glisten of the sun off the lake and Mt. Washington growing in size.
What inspired me the most? The trees. T
he deeply grooved layered bark that looks like a complex jigsaw puzzle; the charred skin burnt into charcoal from forest fires; the smooth cream underlayer, exposing tangles of insect trails; the cut sections revealing imperfect rings and stumps as small as the diameter of a basketball and as wide as a tractor tire.
I’ve hit the jackpot for ‘homemade’ charcoal. Parts of this forest devastated by a 2003 fire (B&B complex fire), looks like a field of massive charcoal sticks stuck in the earth. The rich black, frames and accentuates the texture and contrasts the light undersides, creating a stunning visual. However as I later discover due to this 90,000 acre fire, native animals and plants have had a difficult time prospering and the tick population has increased significantly.
During the walk I stop, I look, I touch, I sit, I sketch, I write, I think. I go off the trail to explore. Burdened by thoughts outside of this space, I try to let them go. I want to focus on my creation process and fully take in what this environment has to offer me. On the far side of the rim the ground turns to thousands of rocks of red pumice (lava) from the volcanic explosion of implosion thousands of years ago.
An artist-in-residence (AiR) scares me from above, since I’ve cascaded into the slippery pumice below the trail. Diana is the first AiR I’ve met in person. She’s a writer, from L.A. – working on her PhD. She gives me the lay of the land, telling me about the nearby waterfalls and the ticks you might get hiking there. We admire our new garter snake friend that appeared during our conversation and I collect more bark before we hike in separate directions.
I head to the library to see if I can find any information on the history of place, of the land Caldera is on. Although my search is futile I do pick up an old text-book on ‘The Science of Ecology’, a handbook of ‘The Craft of Drawing’ and a small journal of ‘poetry of place’. Brushing up on charcoal techniques and new ways to think about drawing with graphite is exciting since my most recent set of drawings has been very technical. I am fascinated by the organic shapes a certain type of bark makes. The one that creates the organic ‘puzzle’ pieces. These pieces remind me of a topographical map – the relief layers and the curving lines. I use a soft graphite pencil to rub an impression in my notebook, then I begin to outline the edges of the shapes directly onto the bark. I also have collected a 4′ branch with a multitude of insect ‘trails’, squiggly lines that have been eaten into the surface. I use white conte crayon and graphite to follow these lines, wondering what pathway, what form the stick will take once these lines are highlighted. I know I can accomplish this with a small branch, but is it realistic to try to do this on a full size tree… or part of a tree? These samplings in my studio, can they realistically be transferred to nature? My imagination is my only limit…