This series is titled Apprenticeship to a Mountain. In Spring 2019, I began the process of making and painting with handmade pigments from the land.
My painting process involves gathering and concocting my own pigments from natural materials from our land. This work is an invocation, a stepping towards a question. After the first marks are made, it moves to a call and response. My role becomes primarily to listen, respond, and record. Allowing my hands to move in the way they are being asked to marks this momentary conjunction. I find these pigments show me how they want to express themselves through marks on the paper, creating an intimate dance with the pieces of life from this land.
A book accompanies these paintings, moving between a description of the process of making pigments, an exploration of my creative process, reflections on an intimate sense of place on this mountain, the influence of Buddhist practice on what it means to be human in a pandemic, through using the archetypal symbol of a mountain.
"A lyrical hybrid manuscript, written during the global pandemic. For the contemplative reader and artist, this book exists in the space between Terry Tempest Williams’ When Women Were Birds, Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations, and Brian Doyle’s One Long River of Song. The book is a place-based narrative set in rural Vermont, offering a poetic picture of a woman painting a mountain, and becoming a mountain in mid-life, through the process of learning to make her own natural paint pigments, during a pandemic and growing climate crisis. It asks the question, how can we become intimate with our bittersweet and temporal existence? Seventeen works of original art, made with hand-crafted inks, illustrate journal entries, short essays and poetry of rural life, the creative process, and the tender human condition inside a crisis."
This project, as with all creative work, has been inspired by other artists' work that have come before me. I take inspiration in painting style and subject from Etel Adnan’s book Journey to Mount Tamalpais, which combines written and visual forms. Her gaze at one mountain feels evocative and dedicated. I am also inspired by the work of Vermont writers David Budbill and David Hinton with their exploration of Buddhism and landscape as in Budbill’s Judevine poetry and Hinton’s book Hunger Mountain.