Monday, April 28, 2008

Ebb at the Flats

pastel on sanded hot press
10x8 in (15.5x20 cm)

There is a memory here: a child poking around in the exposed flats, looking for special treasures. Happy birthday to my youngest daughter, no longer a small child, but a grownup, still with a sense of wonder and exploration. Thank you for all the delight you have brought to my life. I love you.

After a month of doing mostly other things, like knocking crumbling plaster off walls and finishing up matting and framing for a show, I really needed to get my hands dusty with pastel again. Something immensely satisfying about painting with pastels. So last week I did several, and thought I'd post this one here.

When I know a place as intimately as I know this one, I have a tendency to put in too many details as the place comes back to me. Then I take out what I need to in order to convey the essence of the place. I spent a lot of time here when I lived on Puget Sound: one of the many places where streams ease their way into the Sound, creating rich estuarine flats where shellfish thrive.

In the flats, on calm days when there is no wind to disturb the surface, you can see the bottom as clearly as if through glass. As the tide ebbs, water level simply drops, the only apparent flowing where water drains off exposed slopes. But if you look under the surface at the channel, you can see the patterns where water is flowing out, bending seaweed and moving particles of sand.

And out on the open Sound, as the currents from the various convoluted inlets gain force, they collide, creating debris lines and sometimes raising ridges as high as a couple of feet. Sometimes you see sea lions and kayakers playing there.