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Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I finished her this morning.  Actually, I was close, so close late last night, painting with the windows open to the dark.  I brought her downstairs and hung her on the bedroom wall, facing the end of the bed, because when a painting is this close, I like to sleep with it close by.
When thunder shook the house in the wee hours and lightning blazed right through my eyelids, I awoke to the sound of a torrential downpour.  In the hazy black of night the owl glowed softly, just enough for me to sit up and make out her outline.  I felt safe.  Held.  Communal.
I'm still working on the official words for this painting, this Homage (for a great many of my paintings I like to write story-titles, a bit of poetic prose that serves as companion for the paint, as another doorway in which to enter a the painting), but I want to tell you some of the raw, perhaps unraveling, untidied thoughts behind it.  
It starts with this: we're moving, again.  Back north by the end of August.  We've known the move was eminent for months, and while it is deeply bitter-sweet, I can not deny that I know this chapter of life is drawing to a close.  So for months now I've been soaking up the land, willing my cerebral cortex to perfectly imprint the shape of every hillside, the bend of these redwoods in the wind, the scent of this dirt, the sound of this particular mix of flyers, the color of my river at sunset.  I've been promising to never forget, and offering thanks after thanks for all this land has gifted me.  It has been my place of healing, a place of quiet, of deep breath, of salt and tears and emotional stretch-marks.  It has been a refuge.  
But still.  I know in my bones, the time has come to leave the nest.  
So this painting, like so much of the work I've been creating through of late, is my small offering of gratitude to the land which has cradled me so well.
Tonight I know I'll sleep deeply under her guardian gaze.

(acrylic on canvas, 3' x 5')
(please please click on the image above - it will take you to my flickr page wherein you will be able to see this image MUCH larger!)


Jaime said...

I am in pure awe.

John said...

Freaking beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Wow...absolutely gorgeous. Love the colors so much.

kathleen van buskirk said...

love it! it has a dream like quality to it.

Brandi said...

I love the color scheme of this piece, what beautiful work.

MrsLittleJeans said...

Beautiful and wise...

Appaloosa*Moon said...

oh how beautifully she holds your story...XO

prairiegirl said...

I remember when you found that owl, not very long ago. The owl. It seems to be such a prominent part of your life. You will meet up with one again, up north, whooting at you in the dawn hours. I love how you're honoring him in this glorious painting. Keep him at the foot of your bed for awhile, and perhaps even after the move.

UmberDove said...

You guys are the best. Thank you so, SO much for all the soul encouragement! You light my fire!

And PrairieGirl - thank you. I know you know.

pencilfox said...

blessings to you in your homage.

your words and images imprint themselves on my soul. and i thank you for that.


Nichole said...

i love that capture so beautifully that we've all felt. it is a privilege to view your work.

Sara said...

The combination of your words and this incredible painting make me ache in an interesting way. Not quite painful, but with a sort of longing for places of my own that are now in the past. Beautiful work.

lynsey said...

Just so totally beautiful

artist in the arctic said...

Oh Umber. Fan-freakin-tastic!! Wow.

MJ said...

Oh wow, it's incredible!!!...and I am so excited for you! Strangely enough, I've been wearing Ascension for the past 3 days... this necklace is very special to me, and now to read this and see this beautiful painting, and to know that you too are ascending, moving forward...
congratulations friend

Laura said...

So breath

Cat said...

Miss Umber
Miss Dove
Miss K
all of you
this is stunning
absolutely goes deep
the colour
the images
I can't decide whether I am in a ocean or a forest or both, when I look at it

words escape me....

I see you♥

love and light
ps how far north are you going?

Jenna said...

I've been thinking about this painting, and your impending move. Every now and then it's been on my mind.

A rare person has what is called "perfect pitch." I have witnessed this and it is truly soul-shaking. My grandfather didn't read music but he could hear a tune once and play it flawlessly on several different instruments, even months later. I think "perfect pitch" is a phenomenon that extends to sensory realms other than hearing, but sometimes language hasn't gotten that far yet, so it becomes a "je ne sais quoi."

To borrow your phrase, all of this is to say:

"Homage" is an embodiment of "perfect pitch" in visual terms.

I'm so glad your time here moved you and served you well. I'm sure it is hard to leave. The next space is waiting to hold you and love you well. I can't wait to see you step into the next river.

UmberDove said...

Oh friends, I know I've said it before, but I am CONTINUALLY amazed at the generosity of words and spirit this community offers. I can NEVER thank you enough. But I'll try. ;)