Tag Archives: Vines

NOVEMBER 30, 2015


I always love these places; overwhelmed as they are by density and detail, which have little to offer in terms of familiar beauty since their form is chaotic and, well, indeterminate. Yet it is in the wonder of the detail, and abundance, and light, and all that bristling energy, that I sometimes am convinced that Beauty is this deeply seated in our consciousness!

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APRIL 19, 2015

Which One

A day after visiting the winery with the sculpture gardens (in yesterday’s post) we went to visit a friend who was beginning a small gardening business. tomatoes are his dream crop. Standing in the newly raked rows I thought about how this space will soon be filled with these rough bamboo stakes which will, in their way, create a space and impression not too dissimilar from the work of art in the last post. Except that this is functional and made without esthetic concerns, although, as can be seen by the sense of order visible in these first 3 rows, there is a pure and practical, and even beautiful esthetic underlying his system.

What came to me while standing there was that this ‘installation’ would ultimately be be the more impressive one once it was fully staked, and then, during each stage of the season, it would be transformed by nature and time, and that in the long run it was this place that might be the real work of art.

I know it could easily be said that this is a garden not an art work, but who is to say what kind of effort brings us closer to the spirit and intention of the maker. I would like to stand here at summer’s end, with a sun warmed and ripened fruit in my hand, and take in the thousand bright red spheres shimmering against their sun burnished leaves, and breathe in that particular fragrance that tomatoes in the field give off, and then ask myself which experience pleased me more.

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APRIL 6 -11, 2015

Seeing the Light

I look out the window never knowing what I’ll see that may be of interest. Will it be the weather? The landscape? Street activity? Even if we are familiar with our window’s frame, expecting it to show us the same old scene just altered by time or season, we can be surprised. The frame can move our attention just as we move the camera in front of our eye. On this bleak day, with a light rain falling, the delicate tracery of the cypress trees on the water, and the subtle coloration of the pool’s structure, made me feel as if I was seeing lavender in the overall aqua that I wasn’t sure was there. There was no lavender in the grey sky. Yet the grey bands in the pool delicately resonated with color. My feeling was that all that aqua produced a lavender echo in my eye, and on the sensor. And it is that magic of color seeing that has always seduced me.

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Carrying the camera always makes me interested in something along the way, and thus I am always having to catch up to family or friends who are already ahead of me. But sometimes it pays off if even in small ways. Seeing Maggie and our friends ahead of me as we hurried to the cinema made me appreciate the now lengthened hours of the day, and the lovely mix of last light and lamplight in this old town’s narrow alleys. I had that jolt, as I so often do, that, “I am Here, now!” And the recognition of the meaning of being in every moment becomes ringingly clear.                                                                                                                                                           April 7

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Nature takes hold wherever it can, it is, after all, nature’s dominion that we live in. So when I stand in front of something as simple as an ivy covered wall, naked in this season, I see the vivacious complexity of it all, and thrill to the marvel of it once again in yet another form. I imagined a print of it at 8 or 10 feet, and see how something so simple can also convey great power, depending upon its scale.

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I pulled into an empty lot to turn the car around and swung into line with the back wall of a  cemetery filled with crazy topiary bushes and trees. But what really called out to me at this late hour of the day, was the enormous pile of stones banked near the wall. There was something so funereal about the pile and the way it was stacked and ordered, that i got out to walk around it and take it all in. The scene became more mysterious as the light faded and the stones emanated a ghostly radiance. I guess it was just right for a cemetery.

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What a riot of color this restaurant was! Earlier in the week I was taken with the barely discernible lavender tones in a green pool, and was questioning color’s way of working in a subtractive or additive way. But here, the mix and bounce and reflection and blending of colors was a whole lesson in primaries and complementary colors, and the wait for our food to arrive was taken up with the beauty of how light transforms wherever we are and what we see.

April 10

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With all the various kinds of light this week presented, when it comes to feelings of intimacy there is nothing like candlelight. That old touch of primitive fire, flickering and dancing the shadows on the walls, making moods and mystery where electric light would elaborate the harsh details and leave us looking at the repairs we need to make rather than at the beauty of the moment. The cameras of today do very well in low light situations, and in fact have advanced our ability to see into the dark in ways that film struggled with. I am grateful when the technology of our times adds expressive potential to our ideas.

April 11

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MARCH 10, 2015

Time Machine

The camera is a time machine. It measures time in fractions of a second. It shows us the time of day. It describes the seasons. It reflects what kind of time we are having, if you look hard enough you might be able to see something of what the photographer was feeling, but that is open to discussion I am sure.

A photograph of a wall like this one tells me a lot. It’s not just about the colors – which are delicious – or the time of day it was made, but when I stood there what I saw was the passage of time etched into the life of the wall. The layers of color applied over different times of the building’s life. The wearing down of the colors and the walls themselves. The addition of a window, or a doorway, the closing up again, and other, invisible forces, too. For example; those arcs on the wall, how did they get there? They must have been from vines that grew over the wall and were strong enough to score the surface as the wind tossed them around, and like a protractor they left their geometry scraped into the wall.

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Time is told in this image by the sense of the freshening of the light. A spring urgency is just becoming visible in the newness of the grasses and in the silver glitter of the olive trees. Time is present to me in the way I feel on a day like this, when I wonder, ‘how many more Springs will I see?’

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FEBRUARY 24, 2015

The ‘Click’

That vine I carried home a few days ago has leaped up onto my still life table begging me to be seen instead of sitting by the fire trying to avoid being the next piece of firewood. I had been wanting to do something with it, but nothing was calling out to me, then today I found this flask at a local flea market. It’s made from a gourd and has some beautiful little dotted lines etched into it, and the cap screws on with a satisfying little ‘click’ a it snugs into a perfect, spiraled fit. A real craftsman’s trick, and probably the thing that made me bring it home.

It’s handmade, but since it was an organic thing, like the vine, I felt some kind of kinship was possible, so I set them up simply to look at them together to see if they had any kind of affinity beyond their origins as vine and gourd.

They’re a handsome couple – in their way –  but nothing is going on with them, no dynamic, no mystery, no fire, pardon the pun, nothing but their separate identities.They’re boring, like some couples you meet at a party!  But I’ll leave them up overnight and see what other objects might want to muscle their way in and bring some life to this static duo. To be continued, or not.

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FEBRUARY 18, 2015


There it is! The first tiny bud indicating that spring will come again. Maggie, the gardener in our life notices every change, even the slightest, which is how a true gardener perceives the world. Her glee, the sweet innocence of her discovery, moves me to delight. I see the child-like spirit, maybe even catch a glimpse of who she was when she was 10 years old. This brief morphing of the mature Maggie into the child is something all of us are lucky to see in our loved ones. Like seeing the original before the world gave us our lumps.

Simple as this is I like seeing the pairing of the trellis form and Maggie’s, and – only an insider can know this – I catch sight of the word LEO on the lintel, and Maggie is a Leo, so that’s a little playful aside, which tickles me. But who else knows and who cares? Me!

And as we know it’s only for us that we make photographs, but I put it out here now because of all the images from today this is the one that makes me stop for a moment to take it in, and to wonder how that small square of earth can support such a generous plant, which, in fact, goes all along the roof line in both directions and must be amazing to look at in summertime when it’s in full bloom.

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FEBRUARY 17, 2015

Show Me The Way

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A beautiful day for a walk through the fields of Provence. Here they let travelers and hikers cut across what we think of as private property, as long as you are respectful of the vineyards and orchards, which are the main crops of this fruitful valley, it’s fine with landowners. They must have been pruning the vineyards recently because I came across piles of vines like these everywhere, and while there were hundreds to choose from these two had a quality and form that spoke to me. And besides, I had to carry them for a couple of miles, so they had the right heft.

I was thinking they may work in a still life somehow, but as yet I have no idea what role they’ll play or how I’ll use them. Might just be for firewood in the long run. Who knows? When I got back I placed them on the terrace floor and just looked at them. Sometimes the quiet study of what I have in front of me sends sparks through my mind, which, given room to catch fire, can send me on flights of imagery; aimless, loose, sometimes insightful, and even more often not connected to anything I’m involved in, which is the best I can hope for since it may open a door not yet known.

The light was gorgeous, but on the wane, so I carried the vine around like Liberace with a candelabra, looking for a place to see it separate from the other vine, and not as a still life object. This is not something I have ever spent time doing before. My photographic stance has always been; “the world gives, I receive,” don’t touch a thing! But this year abroad, and the making of some recent still lives, has allowed me – in some cases – to play in ways I never have before. Where it’s all leading I don’t know.

I’m just letting photography show me the way.

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