Cold Spring Creek Pools

creekpools-gleason-1

16×20″ oil on canvas– I am so grateful to have water flowing in our local creeks again.  This painting started with the small casein sketch below that I made hiking with my family last weekend.  creekpools-gleason-2

A plein air sketch is much more useful for me when making a painting than a photograph which can be a lot harder to interpret.  Photos aren’t as true to our experience as we think they are.  Here is a photo of the scene.

reference-gleason-19

And here is a sketch of the abstract concept… the bones under the image that help me simplify the concept and focus on the essential shapes that make it easy to read.

creekpools-gleason-3

 

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Spring Sunrise on the Goleta Coast

SpringSunriseCliffs2

Casein on Panel 12×12 in
Click to Bid
Enjoy the equinox this weekend everybody!  The days are lengthening and warming and the seasons are definitely changing, which as a painter in southern California means I better use my green paint while I can before the grass dries.  As they say (or should, at least)… make hay while the sun shines, paint green while the rain flies.  SpringSunriseCliffs1

The Medium and the Message

How can one describe the beautiful intricacy
      of smoke taking flight
      from the glowing orange-red ember
           at the end of the young girls’
           magic-wand campfire sticks
as they trace their names in the sky?
Words
      could speak of the transparent twining vines
           of hot ghostly calligraphy swirling
           into accidental Celtic knots which
           lift and twist on warm updrafts
      and glide on the subtlest of chance breezes.
Paint
      could say something like this :
Smoke
But I think Noam Chomsky, 
      and most likely Picasso and Shakespeare, 
      and perhaps even Smokey the Bear
           would agree
 the best medium for the job is matches.

Guerrilla Gardening

Gardeners of the world unite!
Let’s slip out in the full moonlight
          with seeds in hands
          and watering cans
And garden spades stashed out of sight!
For our first organic plot,
lets sneak into a parking lot
          and plant fruit seeds
          so folks won’t need
To go indoors for apricots.
Street medians we will reclaim,
This public land won’t look the same,
          We’ll line each route
          with herbs and fruit
Overflowing into the lanes.
Three sisters: corn and squash and beans,
Are now sprouting outside Dairy Queen,
          They have no clue,
          that it was you,
And nice touch with those collard greens.
And if we have any luck,
Children will soon learn to pluck
          free string beens,
          climbing the swings,
And extend recess and save a buck.
Once we’ve pulled out all the stops,
Who’ll want those corporate monocrops?
          No genetics here,
          And we’ve got beer-
Once we harvest that creekside hops.
We’ll pry concrete with fig tree roots,
We’ll enlist scrubjays as recruits
          to plant an oak
          at every stroke,
And give new meaning to “grassroots.”
Let’s plant city parks and vacant land,
With a living, humming garden stand,
          Let’s teach the youth
          with food and truth,
That what sustains them is in their hands.
Let “Compost! Compost!” be our cry,
It’s a freedom none can be denied,
          To love the ground,
          and help it rebound,
Gardeners of the world, unite!


			

Drought Remedy

You can tell by the gathering thunderheads
     that enough modern day shamans must have performed
     today’s most effective rain dance rituals—
          either by washing their cars
or planning outdoor weddings in the spring.

Not to be superstitious, but let us not jinx this
     by looking at the weather channel
     rather than stepping outdoors to feel the air.

And quick, before the sky opens,
     let us reroute these aluminum gutters,
     street side gullies,
     concrete culverts,
     dikes, ducts and drains designed
to protect us from flood by dehydrating the landscape.

With some reverse engineering,
     backwards pioneering,
     and a handy undo-it-yourself mentality
     we can turn convention on its head
     like an upside-down umbrella
and slow, spread, and sink this sweet rainfall.

Let’s dig us some swales
     swollen with saturated sponges
     of punky wood and mushroom mycelium
     and strengthened with the rebar-like roots of resilient plants.
     Watch as these drops filter through the earth
     to fill our emptied aquifers,
those underground rivers thirsty too long now
     under impervious parasols of parching pavement.

Shakened and awakened by the thunder on the horizon now,
     why not go out barefoot in these cold showers,
     quench our skin,
     celebrate
and sing our appreciation with the frogs?

Cul de Sac

houses
Cul de Sac

Here you see a fifth acre of desert scrub.
A black plastic weed barrier buried under decomposed granite
     with soggy cactus,
     overwatered mesquite, and 
Mojave natives poking their heads 
     through circular holes.
A tall century bloom swarms with hummingbirds.

Next door, you find a formal lot imported from colonial England,
     with gingerbread epoxied to the stucco.
     A trimmed lawn with an ornamental plum
     sprouts bushes and hedges trimmed like lollipops.
A red-brick walkway sways pleasantly to the red front door.

Apparently, a fifth acre chunk of Hawaii has been excavated
     shipped overseas,
     and dropped into the plot next door...
     Plop!
          Bermuda grass, 
          palm trees, 
          ginger flowers and
          trailing bamboo... 
     (the curse of colonial England next door) 
all flank a pink mailbox in a pad of black lava rock.

Down the street, an awkward crispy orange pine tree
     and some ceramic squirrels 
     create the high mountain ambiance of a Swiss glen.  
The Dutch annuals explode along the sidewalk like
     red, yellow, blue and green fireworks
     (miracle-y growing so far from their Nordic relatives)
     with their plastic name and care tags 
sprouting from the salt-and-pepper soil like fuses.

The Hawaiians, Mexicans, English and Swiss
gossip in their driveways, rolling eyes and cursing the house at 
the end of the block, so flagrantly violating the HOA...

Just look at its weedy, unwatered yard going to seed:
     an unpruned wild oak planted by jays,
          dandelions, 
          chickweed, 
          lambs quarters, 
          Red Maids and 
          coastal sage overflowing the mowing strip...
No gardeners here but the wild birds.   
Look at them
     munching wild seeds,
     checking their migration maps, 
     and wondering
“where on earth are we, anyway?”