2017 MoonBlog

This isn't really about the moon, I call it a moonblog because a new homepage image appears twice a month on the new and full moon. The home page shows a featured image —sometimes freshly minted, sometimes seasonal, sometimes from years past— along with improvised ruminations, something like a leisurely blog. Previous years’ entries are here for your perusal; see the links, above.

Ice Bucket &c.

A Robert Spellman diptych photograph of reflections in a silver ice bucket.

Some time I would like to make paintings that look like this, and do them big. For now this is a photograph that I imagine as a painting about six feet high and twelve feet wide. The great ease of digital photography and its ready enabler the so-called smartphone make image gathering very easy. It can be a great tool for composing possibilites of all kinds without having to commit to the labor of it. This can also be a danger in the same way that inherited wealth can rob one of initiative: it's too easy. But let's not moralize here; it's too hot.

Full Moon ~ July 8th, 2017

Mitchell B-25C

A Robert Spellman photograph of afternoon sunlight coming through curtains.

This painting started out as an attempt at re-creating a Pink Bomber. My second cousin Robert A. Spelman (yes, he spells it with one l; it's a long story) was a bomber pilot in the Second World War. After many weeks of arduous stateside training, he and his crew were assigned to a fleet of B25 bombers heading for North Africa. They were surprised and I suppose a little dismayed to discover that their new plane was pink. It was in fact painted Desert Sand, the color of camoflage still in use in desert warfare. After the war Robert wrote a highly readable book called The Pink Bomber, detailing some of his wartime experiences.

I had an image of a pink B25 Mitchell bomber painting in my mind but the result isn't at all pink. I'm not sure what happened but I was pleased with the result anyway. This painting is pretty good size: 42 x 114 inches. I expect I'll make another attempt at pinkness in a separate painting sooner or later.

New Moon ~ June 24th, 2017

Cortina de Sol

A Robert Spellman photograph of afternoon sunlight coming through curtains.

This is a photograph of afternoon sunlight coming through curtains. I've done watercolors of this same phenomenon. Some visual experiences arise unexpectedly out of everyday life. I wouldn't try to assign any specific meaning to this but it does leave a question: why do some sensory experiences stir us? The stirring seems to be something other than a reflex of liking and disliking. Perhaps our being stirred is a momentary suspension of assumptions, the dropping of conceptualized frameworks. The absence of assumptions and frameworks allows phenomena to appear freshly, without the dressings we arbitrarily assign to them. I think this could happen with anything – even with the most ordinary things. In fact, any expectation of fantasticness is a pretty sure guarantee that not much will happen; or as Samuel Johnson said, “There is nothing more hopeless than a scheme of merriment.”

Full Moon ~ March 12th, 2017

Rain Prayer

A Robert Spellman watercolor of rain clouds over a mountain.

This is a watercolor from a few years ago. It shows moist rain clouds nestled around a mountain. It is not generally known what the mountain was called in millenia past, but in the current era it is called Greenhorn, after an eighteenth century Comanche warrior chief named Tabivo Naritgant, whose headdress was adorned with green horns. For the crime of defending his ancestral land, Tabivo Naritgant was hunted down and killed by the Spanish.

The mountain is also called the Wet Mountain, a more recent name dating to a time of abundant rainfall. It is now much drier there. Images can express a supplication or a vision, for good or ill. This one asks for rain clouds to return to this very ancient mountain, that its springs and streams may flow with new abundance.

New Moon ~ February 26th, 2017

P-40 Flying Tiger (first state)

A Robert Spellman painting of a P-40 Flying Tiger World War II fighter plane

I've returned for the time being to the theme of aircraft from the Second World War. The image here is of a P40 Flying Tiger; it's something I'm working on right now. While “first state” is actually a term more commonly applied to the various stages of a plate or woodblock in traditional printmaking, it's useful to describe the way that a painting develops. Like most art forms, painting is a process of continual revision, working through various “states” (both of material and mind) until there is a sense of rightness. This piece, which is in three panels is is 114" x 42", a little less than four by ten feet.

It's a strange time in America right now. In 1941 my future father and father-in-law went off to war in Europe to defeat heavily armed countries who denigrated Jews, Gypsies, “homosexuals”, and anyone else who were perceived as a taint to their assumed purity. I grew up thinking that the USA had done the world a good deed at great personal cost; and with simple-minded ignorance of our own history I couldn't help feeling proud. Part of me still does feel rightfully proud about the generation of my parents. It's not hard for me to imagine what they would think of the leadership in the country today and the chilling similarities to the very regimes they vanquished.

Full Moon ~ February 10th, 2017