Camp-er Tree Life

I am intrigued, yet saddened by our most recent camp spot. (See my previous post about the meaning behind this photo project.) After picking up trash bags worth of crap from this site, including burned shoes, bottles, diapers, metal chair parts, shell casings and tin cans, it was actually quite nice. Well used, but not well loved, my husband and I tried to make it better.  The past few weeks, I feel I have been inadvertently training my eye to catch all the little trails of history people have left in the trunks of the trees at these sites. How, for example, did I ever find a small nail, holding what appears to be old wires in a tree facing the river, not even near to where someone might put up a tarp, tent or even festive lights? Why is this even there? I can’t really blame boredom for some of the peoples’ actions, although I guess I did a fair amount of mucking about in my teenage years. I still don’t ‘get’ vandalism, or really even leaving trash anywhere. I admit, sometimes I feel like I just go for the negative by scouring the camp spots when we arrive. Once I find the disturbing, yet curious defacing, document it and process it, I find I can relax into the place and try to remain emphatic about the people that were there before me. Sometimes all I can think about is “what is wrong with people”, like when I find a not-so-hidden ‘swatstika’ burned into the trunk of a tree. But other times I wonder how many lanterns have hung off such strategically placed nails and what events have been witnessed by all the living things there. We all try to reconnect to something out there… whether its our families, our youth, ‘rewilding’ ourselves or just plain old fresh air.

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Progress… ‘Don’t Shoot’

Hey folks… I wanted to send along some more digital photos as a project update. I continue to photograph the state of the trees at each dispersed camp I visit with my film camera, while living in the national forest with my husband. I have been able to get some amazing close-ups, even with cloudy, rainy days. I enjoy the process of studying the trees so much! Yesterday, I spent a good part of my day looking hard at a few trees in my campsite and poking around in the woods in general; sniffing here and there and investigating who had come before me. Some items in the woods surprised me, such as an amazingly colorful old propane tank, a collection of broken ceramic mugs, house wood moulding, a lightbulb, and a bottle of Listerine. Things that did not surprise me of course: shot up beer cans, used baby diapers, empty bottles of really bad whiskey, shotgun shells and crushed plastic water bottles. All of these items were found pretty deep in the woods, which also was puzzling to me. Thanks for reading.

Je M’Appelle Steve

Recently, I have been thinking about my brother, whose name is Steve. I have also been sitting with the flowers in our backyard and trying to get to know them a bit. You could say, now that we are adults, I have been trying to get to know my brother as well. This group of flowers, showcased in a painting I did last week, felt to me to have a similar personality as my brother. Maybe people will think I am a crack, or a “loon” as my brother used to call me, but I am only expressing what was true in the moment!

Anyway, there is a great new cat residing in the bike shop I am working for. His name is also Steve. He has a pretty cool disposition, but an intense “go-gettum” side–also similar to my brother. I am attached to all these entities. I used to take French in high school. My favorite phrase, besides “je joue au basket”, has always been, “je m’appelle Andre”, which was my french name in class. Perhaps because of the personality of the flowers and my habit of thinking about the past, these things are seeming to go together for me. Billy and I have been hard at work today painting our music studio and tiny house, and the repetition involved in painting buildings may have caused these conjectures.

This painting is painted with oils on a linseed oil treated wood panel. Working with oils again lately, has really opened up my style and creative flow. I am excited to post more of my work with oils in the future.