Monday, August 24, 2009

Now is the golden hour of life

August 2009

The “Golden Hour” in photography and painting is defined as “the first and last hour of sunlight during the day, when a specific photographic effect is achieved with the quality of the light.” It isn’t a subjective statement when Artists say “the light is good at that time of the day” because it brings with it a diffuse glow to the world where everything is enveloped in a comforting blanket of soft illumination. Since the Sun is nearer the horizon, the sunlight subsequently has to travel through more of the atmosphere and that reduces its intensity and makes the sky appear more brightly lit. As more blue light is scattered, the light from the Sun turns red and the shadows lengthen. There’s of course a physical explanation for the phenomena, but Artists simply know it to be beautiful…and fleeting. It’s a thing to be enjoyed for the moment and let go so it can later transform itself into the sunset and ultimately into the darkness.

"Oregon Twilight", Catherine L. Gauldin 2009
On a driving trip through Oregon we eagerly waited for this hour because the sky is so expansive there and there is very little to obstruct the lightshow that occurs at the end of the day. That part of the country is primarily farmland and when the Sun goes down, it turns the fields of grain into an amber ocean that stretches far off into the distance. I took the photographs that inspired these two Pastel and Colored Pencil drawings when the sky was so overpowering it made us exclaim “There now, there it is; isn’t it lovely!” Yes, beautiful and reassuring to think that no matter how hard life seems at times, we can also count on the fact that darkness consistently leads to daybreak..more golden days, golden minutes, golden friends.

"Oregon Sunset" Catherine L. Gauldin 2009

A friend said to me last week “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could pick a time in our lives when we were the happiest and just stay there?” It’s a sad conflict to finally understand that to do that would free us from pain but would also isolate us from growth and commitment and the privilege of never knowing what the next moment is going to bring. Even times of great heartache can be gold, so what is the point in trying to stop them? Pain is a part of life and beauty sometimes so sharp it hurts.
I await the next golden hour of the long progression of my life and know that it will come when it is least expected. That is the great lesson and adventure of existence.

Festina Lente
“Make haste slowly”

For an example of the Golden Hour in Art, see Robert Wood’s THE GOLDEN HOUR

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Hidden Beauty of Faded Things

Let Me Grow Lovely
Karle Wilson Baker
Let me grow lovely, growing old-
So many fine things to do;
Laces, and ivory, and gold,
And silks need not be new;
And there is healing in old trees,
Old streets a glamour hold;
Why may not I, as well as these,
Grow lovely, growing old?

Faded Fifty-Nine
This image is actually of a 1960 Ford Thunderbird. I've always liked the lines on this car because my Dad had one when I
was a very young child.

He so loved that car that when on a recent driving trip I saw a rusted version of my childhood memory on the side of Hwy. 59 near Texarkana, Texas, I stopped to take the picture that became this Pastel and Colored Pencil drawing. The owners had written "does not run" in white marker on the windshield, as if they thought that after almost 50 years this neglected relic might still be thought of by anyone as useful. I could still see the bones that I remembered. They were there, unaltered by time and the same can be said of people as they age.
My father's family used to say "Jim thinks that is a great car, but it's really just a Ford." They were wrong. It was a beautiful car and a classic in form but still it's hard to face what time does to both people and objects. The passage of the years can be unkind to both but there's comfort in the thought that hidden under a patina of rust and neglect the familiar lines of a beautiful object can still be discerned if only people are willing to look beyond the obvious. Therefore, let us grow lovely with time and find comfort in the hidden beauty of faded things.
"Faded Fifty-Nine", Catherine L. Gauldin 2009, all rights reserved.
Festina Lente..
Make Haste Slowly

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Plant Hope: Reap Happiness

"It takes a noble man to plant a seed for a tree that will some day give shade to people he may never meet."
David Trueblood

What is the value of one human life?

In terms of purpose and potential, it is immeasurable. We are told in Genesis 2 how the nature of man is unfolded and given direction, how we must learn through life to find balance between our two opposing sides, how we are connected on one hand to the material world as we are made of the dust of the earth and on the other hand made in the likeness of God, who breathes into us the breath of life. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gn 2:15), thus in the sense of purpose we are given a position of unique responsibility in the Universe and the choice to be either a dedicated gardener in the fields of Creation or to remain unchanged by the eternal recitation of life that daily unfolds itself at our feet. This story of Man in the Garden illustrates the strangely mingled obligation of high appointment and the consequent shame of failed intentions. “Thou art the man,” said the Prophet of God. “the story is told of thee.”, so Man rebels against his appointed place in Nature, and Paradise slips away.

We are the inescapable custodians of Nature.
As Spring approaches I tend to think that Paradise is not something we have lost but is rather something that oftentimes goes unnoticed. Bliss after all can be found in the first unveiling of the infant leaves, ecstasy in the overlayering of vivid color on a winter landscape and rapture reawakened by the emergence of the morning of the year. As an Artist I must continually remind myself to remain observant of Nature and always appreciative of even its most overlooked intricacies.

The coming of Spring also brings to my mind an exquisite short story entitled The Man Who Planted Trees also known as The Story of Elzéard Bouffier, The Most Extraordinary Character I Ever Met, and The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness.

It is an allegorical tale by French author Jean Giano, published in 1953 and tells the story of one shepherd’s long and successful singlehanded effort to re-forest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps near Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century. Over a period of forty years, Bouffier continues to plant trees and the landscape through the dedicated efforts of one person is turned into a kind of Garden of Eden. By the end of the story, a vibrant ecosystem is established where life is able to flourish. The simple message presented is so touching that many readers have believed over the years since the story was first published that Elzeard Bouffier was a genuine historical figure and that the narrator was the young Jean Giano himself. While he was alive the author did little to dissuade false impressions but in 1957, in a letter to an official of the city of Diagne, he explained himself:

“Dear sir,
Sorry to disappoint you, but Elzéard Bouffier is a fictional person. The goal was to make trees likeable, or more specifically, make planting trees likeable (this has always been one of my most fondest ideas). And if I judge based on the results, it seems to have been attained through this imaginary person. The text which you read in Trees and Life has been translated in Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, English, German, Russian, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, Spanish, Italian, Yiddish and Polish.
I freely give away my rights, for all to publish. An American has come to me recently, to ask my permission to make 100,000 copies which he would distribute freely in American (which of course, I granted).”

An animated adaptation of the story was created by Frederic Back in 1987 and the short film was distributed in two versions, French and English and each were narrated respectively by noted actors Philippe Noiret and Christopher Plummer. The film won the Academy Award as well as several other awards that year.

Plant Hope: Reap Happiness. I am continually awed by life around me, and persist in my belief that in spite of our many flaws, humanity is still admirable. One human life; one untapped wellspring of divine potential. “For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities,” begins the story, “one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.”
What then is the role of Man in Nature? It takes God to make a tree but human hands to plant one.

“There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. So... work like you don't need money, Love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one’s watching.” The Daffodil Principle

Festina Lente
Make Haste..Slowly