Sunny, High Temperatures in the 60s, Light Winds.
I’ve missed a couple of days of photographing, and even walking Jamie, as I’ve injured my back moving furniture for our living room remodeling. I thought it was a minor injury, but with days of more furniture moving and painting, the pain has grown to the point where I can’t handle it.
I went to an Urgent Care place this morning, and it seems that a nerve in my lower left back has become so inflamed that it’s causing this intense and unrelenting pain in my lower back and radiating down into my hip. They gave me a shot for the paint, muscle relaxers, and prednazone for the inflammation.
The pain meds worked well for a few hours, but the pain came back with a vengeance and now I’m back to high doses of Aleve. Should have asked for the Codeine.
Unfortunately, while I’ve been convalescing, no painting is getting done, and spring is marching ahead without me. I’m in too much pain to walk Jamie, but I went out in the yard and photographed the Magnolia in our front yard and a couple of the Maples.
I had to do it. I’ve been shooting this tree for months, and now, in just two days, the Magnolia buds have begun to open and hints of pink are beginning to show. In only a few days now, the buds will open fully into this spectacular shower of color. Just as quickly, they will wilt and litter the ground. I can’t miss this or it will be another year before I can see it again.
The Maples too are spectacular. Their tiny flowers are all blooming as well, and their beautiful branches make such gorgeous patterns against each other and against the sky. I’m a particular fan of the branch structures of Maples. They have a delicacy and gently curving form that is beautiful.
The warm spring weather that I’ve been waiting for seemingly for months, has arrived. It’s been getting into the high fifties or sixties during the day, and the mornings are mild as well. Mother nature will likely be accelerating now toward the leafing out of the trees. I absolutely can not miss this no matter how much my back hurts, or how much our living room needs painting.
Tomorrow, maybe I can take Jamie for a short walk. Maybe I can reach for going to the woods, but I probably shouldn’t. The trees there are not going to leaf out in the next few days, but I do want to see what is blooming, even if it’s only the tiny buds of the big trees. We will have to see then. I’ll probably be in a lot of pain in the morning, and the doctor did recommend resting my back as much as possible.
Sitting watching television, which I’ve done a lot of these last couple of days, I’ve been having some insights into what I’m doing with this project. I’ll keep it short for now, but basically I’m recognizing what I’m doing, and what I want to do, is document the forms and processes of nature throughout the year. I’ll look for as many attractive landscape images as I can find, and I’ll try to make the documentary beautiful, but I will be happy if I just create a generous record.
I’m referring to things like the bark pictures I’ve taken, the overhead branch shots, the daily road pictures, clouds (which I’ve shot more of lately), buds and leaves and flowers. The insight is that I am not necessarily trying to make pretty pictures for sale in a gallery. I’m interested in a big record of the character of the local nature. If I have a catalog of a hundred pictures of branches against the sky, showing the range of shapes each try assumes, then I will be happy.
Same thing with cloud forms. They needn’t be spectacular–just interesting to me. The insight is that a catalog of nature’s beauty and variety is a worthwhile goal and an artistic objective of its own. It’s enough.
I find this a very relaxing and satisfying thought. It’s what I seem to enjoy most when photographing. It is at the essence of the year long daily photography that I’ve undertaken. Make a record. Observe every single day. Never stop thinking about nature and what is happening with her.
This idea might take some explaining to an art audience. Maybe it won’t, but it’s enough for me.
What this understanding tells me is that I need to do more. I shouldn’t be passing up the photographs of branches, thinking they are not interesting enough. I should be documenting every tree that catches my eye with its unique language of structure.
Even when I don’t see a beautiful landscape, I can always observe nature. It will always be there in abundance.
My mind has always been drawn to this kind of observing. I have always noticed the way a clump of sumac grows into this perfect sloping curve. Young plants at the perimeter are shorter, while the older plants in the center are taller, so the group forms this sloping dome. It’s visual evidence of the processes of nature, and it fascinates me.
What this new insight tells me too, is that I need to branch out more and see more of the local nature. There are bound to be tree forms that I don’t see in my local walk. I need to get out more and see as many of them as I can.
It feels good to be gaining this clarity about what I’m doing. I’ve been struggling with the tension of trying to make pretty pictures every day; trying to make capital a “Art” every day. I’ve been feeling that a lot of my documentary images are not sufficiently artistic. This insight helps me conclude that those images are important and valuable, even if they are often very simple and perhaps not apparently artistic.
The collection as a whole, in the end, will be artistic, and that is very exciting to me. So, onward ho! Back to nature as soon as my back permits. I can paint the living room in the afternoons, but I have to be outside every day, especially now.
I can also see that these images will be most valuable in a big collection. An exhibit of images, or a book of images and words that shows the range of natural expression. That excites me too. An exhibit or book like that can actually serve a useful purpose. It can educate and expose people to the richness and variety of nature, not just make pretty pictures for sale, which in the end is not a very worthwhile thing to do.