My previous post, “Another Fairy Tale” is now a feature of my art blog. The story started out as a drawing, developed into text and has become the basis for my painting, “They Played to Their Hearts’ Content.” For the pre-story (the actual drawings that led to the story), please visit my art blog at KayRodriques.com.
In the beginning, there was just the rain – rain all day and rain all night. Water ran along and beyond every hill and every canyon. On and on it ran until sea and sky merged together and became one. This is when Slender Bromeliad gave birth to River Mumma. Unlike her brothers and sisters, the ginger bromeliads, River Mumma, from her very inception, refused to stand still or to remain in one place.
When all of the ginger bromeliads’ water tanks were filled to capacity and brimming over, they would call out to one and all, telling us to come live with them in the cave. That is how I got there. Oh it was a magical place, filled with forests and rare understories. It was a perfect home for iguanas and mountain river fish and bromeliads.
Day and night, night and day, the ginger bromeliads and Slender Bromeliad collected rainwater. In the void, the chasm, the abyss of the caves, they all worked hard to keep Water Table level. While River Mumma roamed up and down the mountain and back, her mother and siblings stayed put, replenishing subterranean springs upon which Water Table balanced.
Life in Castle Cave
Rain collectors, as bromeliads are also known, arch their gutters into curves until they overlap to form tight, protective bowls. This is no easy feat and in fact, is really hard work. In a good year, they amass so much water that the creatures of the forest cannot help but find new ways to enjoy the bounty. Some of them even make their homes in the bromeliads’ slender stalks.
The first time Red Crab visited Slender Bromeliad’s castle, Slender Bromeliad was busy sunbathing. What seemed to be shutters to the castle turned out not to be shutters at all, but windows. And far from being closed, the windows were flung wide open. Red Crab climbed across the roof and down the wall near Slender Bromeliad. “Anybody home?” she called out. Slender Bromeliad ignored her. She inched closer sideways. “She can’t hear you,” came a voice from the gutters. Red Crab moved closer. “Are you a tourist or are you looking for a home?” “What?” responded Red Crab. “Are you looking to live here too?” asked Blue Damselfly, trying not to sound too hopeful.
The luxurious blue creature with iridescent wings was happy to see Red Crab. She knew she could count on her to provide nutrients for her larvae. She had, in fact, been waiting and hoping for company to arrive. When Blue Damselfly first made her way to the cave, Slender Bromeliad’s tank had been under the control of miscreants. Damselfly quickly put an end to that and all the miscreants disappeared. Now Blue Damselfly needed a new source of food for her larvae. Her host, Slender Bromeliad, was oblivious to all of this. She was too worried about her wandering progeny, River Mumma, who she heard, had taken the reflection of their cave and placed it firmly in Gold Mine for all to see. No good could possibly come of that.
River Mumma had become a main source of worry for Slender Bromeliad who no longer, if ever, had control over her last born. First there had been the business of all the fish children she spawned with iguana. Now there was the matter of her goings and comings and her late returns home. That had been okay during the rainy season. Now, however, a second season had arrived on the island and like River Muma, it too, seemed to be up to no good. The fish children that lived in the mountain streams were starting to talk. They said the sun was getting jealous of iguana and was getting hotter and hotter under the collar. They feared he might stop River Mumma from returning home one day. What they really were afraid of was that she would dry up, wither away, and then they too, would disappear. Worse yet, if she took the castle with her, the underground springs would dry up too.
They blamed it all on iguana for having tempted River Mumma to flow on out of the cave. They said iguana had tricked her into spawning fish in the lower rivers and even further below, in the salt laden sea. Lately, they claimed, he had taken to running pipes along her banks just to keep her close. It was he, they said, that kept her tethered to the golden table that shimmered and glowed and threatened to capsize any day now. He put her at risk and now she was in everybody’s crosshairs. River Mumma, of course, didn’t see any of this their way. She was merely charting her own course and beating her own path. And as for Pan, where would he find pipes in a land without pipes? None of this made sense, unless of course, the place ahd been bewitched by the fairies. Had it?
If you wish to read Part I of this tale, please click on this link.
Pan Tells His Story
Ford the river. Cross the Cockpits. Stop when you reach the fountainhead. This is where Fishman and Fishwoman hid the golden table and secured it for all eternity. If ever you should see a golden glow on the water, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the sunlight glistening off the surface. It is Gold Mine, where Fishman and Fishwoman washed their gold and hid the golden table. Peer into the water and you are bound to see the empty squares, ruins from a world long gone.
Gold Mine is the section of the river that shimmers and glistens in the midday sun. It is River Mumma’s temporary resting place. Being part fish she roams from fountainhead to tributary, to sea and back, populating the river with her fish children.
At noontime you will find River Mumma reclining and playing with her many children. If ever you should see her sitting atop a large table in the middle of the river, beware. Do not look at her and do not let her see you either. Should your eyes meet hers, terrible things will happen. Most important of all, don’t ever try to capture her. If she is caught, the river will dry up. So please, forget I ever told you about the golden table, River Mumma and her beautiful, exquisite comb of gold. Follow me instead to the cave in the hill where Slender Bromeliad, River Mumma’s mother, lives.
some sketches from my Notebook
I am continuing to teach myself to work with inks. This is just a doodle from my 2015 sketchbook. The paper, though of good quality, doesn’t allow me to completely capture the quiet energy of the piece. Still, it comes close, considering that this is just a doodle. Later on I will expand and expound on the subject matter on cold press paper (from either Strathmore or Arches). As of now the work is untitled but the three elements are a rosebud, an owl and several destroying angels (mushrooms) that I came across on a hike up on Russian Ridge, over by Skyline Boulevard and Alpine Road.
I was thinking that maybe I could do the owl in charcoal, but am not sure yet. I may stick to using inks only for this piece. Still, if you want to learn about the latest innovations in charcoal, watch this five-minute video about the charcoal sachet. I had no idea this thing existed, or that there were innovations in charcoal use! Thank you Rosemary & Company for introducing EdgePro and its products in your last newsletter.
Recently I’ve been doing research on the plants of Jamaica. This is for a series of artworks that I’m working on. Many plants that are now on the island were actually introduced by its two colonizers, the Spanish and British. This drawing is of the breadfruit; it was brought to Jamaica to feed the slaves. The plant has no nutritional value whatsoever. As a cheap food source, it served its purpose of keeping the slaves alive at little to no cost.
On another note, there is a Bay Area company that is doing its part to save the bees. It creates and sells seed bombs. The idea of seed bombs comes from Guerrilla Gardening, a method of planting begun by environmentalists who would simply throw balls of seeds and fertilizer into fenced-off neglected spaces like brownfields or land that was in zoning limbo. Hmmm, I’m looking at you, fenced off lands near BART stations! Read more about seed bombs and saving the bees here: Save the Bees With Seed Bombs
Back in April 2013, I wrote an article that included information about the once terribly polluted Hudson River in New York State. Now the water near New York City is getting cleaner and the fish are finally returning. Now there are regular sightings of larger fish, like whales and sharks, that are following the food source. This is great news! Read about it here and also, take a look back in time at my April 2013 article, The River Road, Part Two.
For more of my Water series, visit: https://wewerenothing.org/category/water-2/
Thanks for visiting!
For the past six weeks I’ve been slaving over my artist’s statement. It turns out you’re not a real professional unless you have one. I looked at other artists’ statements, and didn’t see any that I liked. They were so hifaluting (spelling?), filled with art-speak and treated me as if I was too much of an imbecile to figure out what their work was about. It was maddening.
An honest explanation of why you do what you do takes real brain work. You really have to turn your noggin on and think, think, think.The best analogy I can think of is the genius of a small child caught in a lie. You call them on it and ask, “Why did you do it?” And what do you get from the kid? A little face all scrunched up as (s)he tries to think up yet another lie to cover the first one. You watch that little genius face at work and you just know that you are about to get a fantastically unbelievable story about how they didn’t actually do what you just saw them do. It takes that kind of brain power to write you own artist’s statement. No easy task that. So here now, is my explanation of why I create and how and what I create. Your comments, suggestions, criticisms are all welcome.
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Color is My Personal Symbolism
Jamaica’s Blue Mountains did it and now the Bay Area’s ridges and valleys are doing it again! Colors unfold, vibrant and vivid, take hold and send me rushing to my studio where I feverishly squeeze paints from tubes, freeing images I have conjured up during my mountain and coastal hikes.
Often you will find me sketching atop a grassy mountain knoll or on a dune at Ano Nuevo. From my perch I draw things I encounter during my hikes — plants, insects, birds or the scenery before me. If I sight a coyote, badger or mountain lion, I sketch as quickly as I can, trying to capture it before it heads for cover in the woods.
In the studio, sketches transform into paintings: there are today’s golden California poppies, ruby throated hummingbirds and green, brown and gold Bay Area hills; and there are yesterday’s women ambling through Blue Mountain towns. The outcome is my highly texturized process paintings and detailed miniatures.
Recycled bits of metal, scraps, feathers and straw are given new life in my works. I fold them into gessoed surfaces then bathe them in paints, pigments and inks. Some paintings are whimsical; others move from the realm of the real to the unreal. A woman, for example, can be transformed into a California Quail.
Unsurprisingly, the unifying thread throughout my works is the sun infused colors of the Caribbean and California. I could not have created these paintings without these two muses. I nod in appreciation to both.
From the series, The Two, or California Loving
I’ve been working on my series of postcards and paintings. I have also written my Artist’s Biography and am almost through writing my Artist’s Statement. Tonight my Website went live. You can view it here. If you are up to giving feedback, it will be appreciated. Thanks for reading my posts.