2022 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. Some while ago I started adding short musical compositions to each moon entry, music is a second calling I've been working on - mostly in secret - for years.

Previous years’ entries are here for your perusal; see the links, above. The sharp-eyed visitor will notice that the year 2020 is entirely missing. I'll let you guess possible reasons for that. This year's will fill out as the moons go by. Meanwhile, let's get back to it.

Silver Cup

Robert Spellman painting of a silver cup.

Here's a painting of a silver cup. I may have mentioned elsewhere that a painting in progress is often far more interesting than when it is “finished”. Here's a good example. I stopped working on this a few years ago, probably interrupted by the busyness of life. Then retiring, moving, and the rest of it. The painting was intelligently hiding from me, worried that I might try to “improve” it. It's a good thing, too; I like it just the way it is. To my eye it has just the right amount of information, and the colors surprise me. It's acrylic on canvas 20 x 22 inches.

Music of the Moment

Sometimes I can't think of a name for these various pieces. In my computer this one is simple labelled Pan Drum Experiment 16. It's for pan drum, harp, and strings. Seems like a good theme for movie credits.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ August 27th, 2022

B-25 Detail

Robert Spellman painting detail of B-25 Bomber.

I was recently moving some things around in the studio, which included the partial disassembly of a large, nine-panel painting of a World War II B-25 bomber (known popularly as the Mitchell bomber). The painting is a work in progress on a surface started some time in 2003. When I caught a glimpse of these three panels they looked complete, at least for the moment. So here you are. It's all part of learning to avoid being stuck on a particular outcome, in this case that the painting should be completed as a nine-panel job. Perhaps it will but at this stage it holds its own as three.

Music of the Moment

This one is called Oryzopsis. Oryzopsis is the genus name of grasses from China and North America that resemble rice in different ways. As usual, the name of this composition has nothing at all to do with the grass itself; I just like to say the name.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ June 28th, 2022

Mist Lifting

Robert Spellman ink line drawings of faces in motion.

I've lately been painting in watercolor again, something I've flirted with off and on for about sixty years. One experience that intrigues me and that only seems to come by a grace I don't understand, is an effortless coalescence of the painting's subject and the paint itself. The experience is one of feeling led by the paint rather than the other way around. The subject of this painting was a sudden lifting of a dense mist following an unusually late snow storm in May. A strong breeze came up sending wisps of cloud scurrying. The snow had quickly melted and the greening of spring was already well under way. It all played out in a matter of minutes and was quite unlike anything we'd seen here at Mountain Water in many years. The painting above was from a phone photo and a fortunate coincidence of recalling the physical sensation of seeing the event. And this does seem to occur by a grace I have yet to understand.

Music of the Moment

Seems an appropriate time for a dirge. This one is the first of a series called Marimba Dirge. It's for Marimba, Nylon Harp, Bass Drum, and Bells.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ May 30th, 2022

MayDay

Robert Spellman ink line drawings of faces in motion.

I ran across this small watercolor a few days ago. It's from a classroom demonstration of proliferation, an exercise in producing a large number of paintings in an unreasonably short time, say, fifty watercolors in three hours. This doesn't leave any room for hesitation or perfectionist indulgences. Try it some time!

Let's call this one MayDay not only because tomorrow is May Day but because “May Day” is an internationally recognized distress signal. I just read that May Day as a signal of distress comes from the French m'aider, which sounds like mayday; it means “help me”. This is the world speaking.

Music of the Moment

I'm calling this one Sarawak. Sarawak is a state in Malaysia. I've never been there but I do like to name compositions for actual places. No actual connection is intended.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ April 30th, 2022

Atom & Eave

Robert Spellman ink line drawings of faces in motion.

This is a diptych assembled for the occasion of this moment. It's part of an experiment to draw people in motion in real time. One of the pleasures of teaching drawing classes at Naropa was the various experiments of drawing each other. A class full of people drawing one another has another gratifying effect: we actually see others in a way that becomes reflexively sympathetic. The drawings here are done “on the fly”: look at a nose and draw it; look at an eyebrown and draw it; look at a lip and draw it – all without being overly concerned with its relative location. This does require suspending any kind of judgement about how its going. Try this some time, it's a lot of fun.

Music of the Moment

I'm calling this one Calypso Blanco, sort of an aging white man's digital interpretation of Afro-Caribbean sounds.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ April Fools Day, 2022

Greenish Dreamscape

Robert Spellman watercolor of a greenish dream seascape.

I dusted off my watercolor box this week. It's been lying fallow for way too long. To get myself started I cooked up some imaginary seascapes. I suppose these reside somewhere in my memories of Ireland. Some of them may even be genetic memories, who knows?

While I'm writing this the country of Ukraine is under bombardment and seige directed by a ruthless neighbor guided by his own delusions of grandeur. The name Putin could be a shortened form of Rasputin, the infamous Russian “monk” from the early twentieth century whose own delusions of grandeur and skills of manipulation in the halls of power brought about havoc until he was finally assassinated. This green seascape was painted while witnessing in real time the terrible mechanized destruction in Ukraine meeting the riveting display of bravery and resistance of the Ukrainian people. It's a strange dissonance that I'm moving pools of colored water in a peaceful mountain valley while half a world away a whole country is thrown into mayhem and destruction.

Music of the Moment

Here's another sketch. It has a kind of urban, slinky dreamy quality to it. For now it's called McPhee just because I happened to be reading a piece in The New Yorker by the writer John McPhee. This composition has no connection to Mr. McPhee other than the coincidence of my having read his writing the day I put this together.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ March 2nd, 2022

ChanceOps #430

Robert Spellman chance operation gelli print.

This one came out during a printing blast a year or so ago. ChanceOps is short for chance operations, a mode of working that might be described as a form of play; you set up some conditions and then let the materials do what they will. This batch is full of surprises for me. I sometimes see specific imagery, sometimes not. The color scheme reminds me of etchings from many centuries ago in Europe. But etchings of what? It's a relief not to know for sure.

Music of the Moment

This one might be part of something longer but for now let's call it Minta. Minta Doyle is a young woman in the circle of Mrs. Ramsay in the book To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, which I'm lately reading. I'm always on the lookout for song names and I liked the name “Minta”.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

Full Moon ~ February 16th, 2022

Grid Portrait Copy

Robert Spellman brush drawing of a face in a grid.

I've been intriqued by the use of a grid for many years. I've mentioned elsewhere that an art teacher visited our fifth grade class and showed us how to use grids to make copies of any image. The method amazed me then and it still amazes me more than sixty years later. The image you see here combines the grid idea with another practice: working very quickly. The original image is from one of the many hundreds of art books we have at Mountain Water. I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know the source drawing or who did it. Oh, well. At the time I did this, which would have been several years ago while teaching a class; I was trying to complete many drawings in one session of about two hours. Each drawing took about two minutes. It was an awful lot of fun in spite of the fairly high failure rate. Looking at these again today gives me a needed prod to get back into the studio more.

Music of the Moment

I put this one together today during a welcome snow storm. It's called Imbolc. Imbolc is the Celtic festival celebrating the cross quarter day - half way between the winter and summer solstice. Americans call it Ground Hog's Day. I'm writing this on the day, which also happens in abbreviation to be 2/2/22.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ February 1st, 2022

Dragonfly Book mockup

Robert Spellman mockup of a dragonfly book.

I ran across this image recently in a sketchbook from a few years ago. It's a mockup that I photo-collaged in preparation for a painting. I like the series of paintings from that time - five or six years ago - and I'm only now giving any appreciation for the mockups. The tattered book page is an actual canvas made to look like a book that had seem some history. And quite a large book, I might add; it's 36 x 53 in.

Music of the Moment

This one goes back four years to 2018. That would be from the grooveyard of mouldy oldies. It still seems to hold up. For some reason I called this sketch Mercury. And I don't know if I was thinking of the metal or the planet.

I add one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of this musical work in progress. Go here for a listen.

Full Moon ~ January 17th, 2022

Wing Tracks (photo)

Robert Spellman photograph of wing beats in fresh snow.

This is a photograph of fresh snow with the wing tracks of a small bird taking off. Coming upon things like this is one of the benefits of living in a remote place where the subtle workings of things aren't immediately trampled and shouted down by the din of human folly. Oh I suppose birds have their follies, too. And they can make quite a din when they see fit. I have noticed that crows seem to be unable to leave each other alone while flying. They dive-bomb, chase and harrass each other in what seems to be great, naughty fun. Probably unfair to call that folly. We did get a nice snow last night, the best in a while. We could use a lot more.

Music of the Moment

A composition for various instruments. It's called Mrs. Dalloway, after the central character in Virginia Woolf's novel by the same name. The music isn't really intended to go with the story, but it's what's been going through my head as I read it.

I've started adding one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of these compositions in progress. Go here for a listen.

New Moon ~ January 2nd, 2022

B-25 In Progress (detail)

Robert Spellman acrylic painting study detail of a large B-25 Bomber.

This is an early stage development of a large, multi-panel painting of a B-25 Bomber. This detail shows two out of nine panels. The finish will look nothing like this but I was intrigued by the naturally occurring color scheme of the canvas scraps on a previously painted and hurriedly gessoed surface. The panels that make up this painting have a long history by now. They have been in use since before the turn of this century. X-ray imaging would reveal several decades of false starts, indecision, bad ideas, and ordinary duds. This is often how paintings happen. It builds a surface quality resembling the lined visage of someone who has been around the block a few times.

Music of the Moment

A composition for various instruments. It's called Rosaline, it's the name of a stone, I believe.

I've started adding one of these compositional sketches with each Moonblog entry on the new and full moon. I also have a page with more of these compositions in progress. Go here for a listen.

Full Moon ~ December 18th, 2021