Posts Tagged ‘drawing’

The huge mound of recently deposited driftwood under the railroad bridge is both an obstacle and a magnet.  It’s not easy to walk over and it helps to have a good walking stick to help maintain your balance.  The rewards for persevering are a nice elevated view of the Louisville skyline and the potential for finding interesting junk intermingled with the wood.

Once you move over or around this mound you enter the margins of the willow forest and you can see what the full force of the river can do to a landscape.  These black willows are tenacious and their roots hold on.  Here’s another image of a remarkable willow tree and its root mass.  This one wears a trophy from the flood like a victory pennant.

From all the cars in the parking lot, I’m guessing the fishing must be pretty good today.  I stepped by some earlier evidence in the form of this longnose gar skull.  I think this one was caught by rod and reel.  But, I have seen the remains of hundreds of these fish before stranded and killed by a retreating river.  Longnose gars are routinely in the 3 to 4 feet range in length.  The jaws are lined with small needle-like teeth for catching and holding on to smaller fish.  The gar is a surface fish and floats in on its quarry like a piece of driftwood very stealthily before surprising it with a quick flash of the jaws.

Moving to the river, I decided to watch what the fishermen were doing and catching.  In about twenty minutes, I watched two large catfish being landed.  Here are two guys that have this down.  Using multiple poles, they cast both worms and cut shad into the swiftly moving waters.  Snags and lost tackle are common since this part of the river is also full of rocks and boulders.

I was inspired by the scene and left them this contour drawing in the sand before moving on.

Earlier I had seen a flock of grackles by the water flowing under the bridge.  They were catching some food item here that I wasn’t able to figure out what it was…perhaps dead minnows?

The grackles were working the river just like the fishermen were.  I left them a drawing in the sand as well made with the tip of my walking stick.  The sand today is moist and firm which holds a fine line better than usual.

Of course, while I’m walking along I’m filling my collecting bag with the odds and ends that make up the rest of this riverblog.  Some of it is just stuff that I will attempt to make art with and the rest are souvenirs of our material culture.  Once the bag was full, I turned and headed up the bank to get under some trees and out of the sun.  I then made this sand butterfly to mark the spot where I turned for the willows.

I have set up a new outdoor studio near the margins of the driftwood mound.  Instead of a plank to sit on, I’m using this large wooden bridge or railroad tie.  I haven’t found the large sections of Styrofoam that mark last season, but what I can find I’ve gathered at this spot.  I did make a figure on this day which extended this adventure, but I will wait until next time before unveiling it to you.  Thanks for tagging along…you have been good company!

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A drawing can be as simple as a single mark made upon a surface or be as rich and complex as you care to make it.  Engraving a line in the sand with something as familiar as a stick must be among the most ancient of art forms.  At the Falls of the Ohio, one is never far away from a wooden stylus of any length.  The extensive sandy shoreline provides an ample surface to decorate, however, the beach doesn’t lend itself to fancy displays of draughtsmanship.  Keeping things simple seems to look best to me.  I also enjoy other people’s sand drawings which seems to have a connection to graffiti, but without all the potential for vandalism.  If you don’t like what you drew, rub it away, or wait for nature to erase it.  Around here, wind and water make short work of these ephemeral images.  Little harm is done.  Following are a few of my recent scratchings:

Here’s hoping we all have a peaceful and prosperous 2010.  Happy New Year from the Falls of the Ohio!

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I remember how one drawing instructor I had at the university used to say that “…line does not exist in nature”.  I think about that statement every time I come across one of these tangles of fishing line.  They always catch my eye and on occasion I have photographed them.  It is true that line is a convention in drawing (one of the basic elements of art) used to symbolically translate a three-dimensional reality onto a two-dimensional surface.  Out here on the riverbank, the contour edges on fishing line are so close together that they become less abstract,  symbolic device as they merge and become line as object.

Fishing line comes in just about every color now.  I recently came upon this green line sort of informally gathered around these willow sprigs. In this picture,  I like the way the green compliments the reddish-brown of the trees and conveys an airy and lyrical feeling.  That’s also what I enjoy about “line” as a drawing element…it has the power to suggest emotion.

And now for a wad of red fishing line just thrown down upon the limestone bedrock.  Yes, if you are a fisherman, you are familiar with how “line” can convey emotion in the three-dimensional world.  Few things are as frustrating as having the line on your pole foul up or get snagged in a tree or an unseen obstruction underwater!  Still, it’s no excuse to discard your waste line so casually as though all of nature were your personal landfill.  Roll up what can’t be used and take it out of the park with you.

This has to be one of the champion examples of fisherman frustration at the Falls!  The discarded pack of cigarettes helps give it a needed sense of scale.  There is a lot going on in this tangle and includes a bit of frayed barge cable in addition to several types of monofilament.  This was photographed when the water was low and the roots of this tree were not hidden by the river.  Currents do play a part in helping to ensnare fishing line.  In this case, several lines have come together and coalesced into a mass.  You can say that this form has metastasized and will keep getting larger and become an even bigger fishing line trap.  If you could tease this thing apart and lay it down straight…I wonder how long it would be?

The other day I was working on images to use for my holiday cards.  One of the ideas I have been exploring involves these ornaments I have made with found, Falls of the Ohio junk.  I came across this tree hanging over the water that already had a few “decorations” on it and placed my ornament into this ready-made composition.  If you look closely, you can see there is just enough fishing line tangled up here to add a subtle sense of movement.

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Micro Styro-bird, 7/09

The hard hot days of summer are just around the corner, but for now the living is easy.  This time last year the water level at the Falls was low enough that you could safely wade across the river to explore the Kentucky fossil beds.  For now, I will have to be patient and wait for the river to drop some more.  Sometimes when I visit the park I don’t have the luxury of being on site all day.  On those days when I know I only have a couple of hours to make something, I get down to serious play and challenge myself to work quickly.  That’s what happened on this day.  I made this tiny bird from found materials and photographed it near my outdoor studio under the willow trees.  I don’t carve or alter the Styrofoam pieces to any great degree.  I still feel like the shapes the river gives me are important as is.  I certainly could alter these forms more, but this is a collaboration between the river and me and I don’t want to impose my will on these materials any more than I have to.  I accept the abstraction and openness.  The results are perhaps hit and miss, but when it works if feels natural and full of spirit.

Studio site, 7/09

Here’s another view of my temporary studio with materials.  I have lots of found and river-polished Styrofoam on hand as well as curving, gesture-filled sticks to use for limbs.  A couple of recent figures watch over things for me.  Each time I return here I wonder what I will find?  Will it be as I left it or will it be disturbed?

some one else's sand drawing, 7/09

I found this sand drawing made by a park visitor near my studio spot.  For me, this works as a definition of what a drawing is… that is a mark made upon a surface with some intention behind it.  It doesn’t get more basic than this as an example of eye, hand, brain coordination.

Horse nettle flowering, 7/09

Came across this patch of Horse nettles and thought the flowers were beautiful and delicate.  The thorns are a warning that this plant can hurt you and in more ways than one.  Later, the pollinated flowers will become yellow berries that are very poisonous.

Viceroy butterfly, 7/09

Saw the first Viceroy butterfly of the season.  I associate this butterfly with the Falls more than any other.  Although it looks like a Monarch, the horizontal line crossing over the vertical ones on the hind wings give it away.

Styro Microbird, 7/09

This is how I left the Microbird with its legs held fast in the cracks of this shattered tree limb.  The weekend is coming and I’m looking forward to my next adventure on the river.

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