Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Veil of Fog

16"x16" cold wax, ash, milk paint powder 

This morning the landscape is hugged by a deep, white fog. The trees and barn that usually greet me have slipped into shadowy outlines as if I have grown thick cataracts on my eyes overnight. A curtain of white has been drawn softly across the distant view.  I hear the Skeena Queen's passage traced by her fog horn receding through the thick air at methodical intervals.

My mind is like this fog much of the time, thick with thoughts and opinions. The filter of belief through which I peer often allows me to only see the shadowy outline of people, of situations, of things. I know this to be true for several reasons. Sometimes I bump into something in the fog of self that pierces me in a way that wakes me up. Suffering is like that, it wakes you up. Brushing off my hurt, I see how the self protective fog I've pulled around me has prevented from seeing things as they are.

Retreats can be fog melters.  There can often be a brightness, a clarity to everything after a period of prolonged practice.  The sitting, the slowing down, somehow melts the fog, a de-fogging solution for the window of the heart/mind.  There can be a brilliance and beauty to the simplest object, a sharpness to sounds and a wider net of acceptance cast over everything. And then as the days pass I slip back into the fog like the Skeena Queen, methodically sounding the old horn.

20"x20" cold wax, ash, dirt, milk paint powder

And sometimes for reasons unknown, the veil can lift. I know you too, have seen this fogless landscape. I might be standing at the sink washing dishes or working in the garden and the view out becomes brilliant. Maybe I am gobsmacked by the brilliant fierceness of a tiny hummingbird or the spiny armour of a pill bug. Maybe an insight into some difficult situation pops into view. The prevailing fog lifts for a minute or an hour and I  see fog free.

On the art front I spent a decidedly fog-free afternoon with Jeane from ART IT and her special guest Rebecca Crowell on Wednesday's ustream broadcast from the shed. I have been exploring a little jar of cold wax that I've had for ages to my sheer delight, mixing it with wood ash and plaster of paris and some white milk paint powder. Cold wax doesn't mix with acrylic paint or watery things so I have been rustling up whatever things I can find and having so much fun!

I am also looking forward to exploring some natural pigments and perhaps finding a less toxic version of cold wax. Leslie Avon Miller in this post reminded me of the toxic nature of many art materials including the acrylics I use all the time and though the look of cold wax calls to me, the smell tells the tail of toxic mineral spirits. I am so careful in my home about cleaning products and paint and food and gardening and yet I am drowning in toxic art materials. Another example of fog.

Wishing you a happy fog-free weekend.

15 comments:

  1. Wonderful descriptive, soothing writings of awareness... And how wonderful it is indeed when we can see beyond the fog of our minds... :) And yet, on a practical level, I envy the weather you're having. We are sunny, hot, dry and in severe drought conditions. Somehow that has not improved my ability to see clearly :) I think I need a little of your "moisture" to wash away the dust and crud!

    Am so glad that you are delighting in your art!

    Now off to my Mom's - into the fog :)

    Happy arting...

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    1. Off to my Mom's - into the fog... laughing, laughing, laughing... Me too! says Kris. Me too!

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    2. Mystic - weather trade accepted! we humans, we are always craving someone else's weather! what's that all about!? :-) Hope mom is feeling less stressed today!

      Kris- you 2 have mutual mom fog! and yes I love the mystery and peacefulness of fog

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    3. I think I'm needing weather conditions that allow this spirit to thrive! Just like certain plants need certain conditions in which to thrive and bloom. Water, please, water ~ ~ ~ ~ :) LOL

      Family dysfunction is back to "normal" levels :)

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  2. Mmmm. Lovely fog and paintings too! I think fog is just delicious. We don't have much here very often. And it does make one wonder how much of my "seeing" is clear? Today I don't even know what "clear" means.

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    1. there can be something so lovely and tranquil about fog and like a snow storm, when it's infrequent and a surprise it seem like a delicious treat!

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  3. How do you like the milk paint? It is an option I am researching. The fog and rain yesterday reminded my of summer camp - it always rained! We jumped in the lake and swam anyway. I always had to brace myself for the cold.

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    1. I had the milk paint sitting around from a home project. I loved it mixed with the Dorlands but really couldn't tolerate the smell indoors, even though it's minimal. I'd love to hear all your research! I have a couple of links from Soewen Earth but you probably have those too.

      Wishing you a smidge of sunshine!

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  4. What a perfectly poetic piece about how the fog-of-thoughts can obscure the moment and how rays of clarity can suddenly shine through and stun us, wake us up, teach us. Beautiful. Thank you.

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    1. wishing you rays of light and clarity!

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  5. I love looking at the ash and wax paintings - like peering into the fog and trying to distinguish shapes. Fog is nice, but like the tent caterpillars, it's nice when it goes away.

    Yes, be careful breathing your paint chemicals - wouldn't want you killed by your paintings like Carvaggio :)

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    1. yes hoping not to be done in by my paintings! and then wondering when those caterpillars turned moths will be showing up?

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  6. what an insightful post Carole - your description of how fogs mask is evocative and gives one pause! your art explorations sounds wonderful - your idea for cold wax and wood ash is on my list to try! these pieces are so representative of how one sees through mist - beautiful xo

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    1. thanks, Jeane! looking forward to seeing more of your cold wax work too!

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  7. I have always liked your Buddha's ... and I am now also a big fan of your 'fog paintings" they all seem so complete ! Wonderful work Carole !

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