2024 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. Also, 2023 seemed to dribble off into the sunset in late March. I can honestly blame Covid and a general sense of losing track. This year is already off to a slow start. Let's see if this one will fill out as the moons go by. Meanwhile, just to flesh things out for 2024 and make it worth your time, I'm re-posting some earlier things. Dated as shown. If you're looking for music entries, see years 2021 - 2023. I'll be adding more to 2024 all in good time.

Yangtze

Robert Spellman painting of an imaginary view of the Yangtze River in China.

This painting is part of a series I work on from time to time, imaginary landscapes not tied to a specific location other than by a sometimes vague sense of reminder. This one reminds me of certain kinds of old Chinese paintings of mountains shrouded in mist, with a river added for good measure. We could call it Generic Chinese Gorge, but that sounds inadvertently flippant. The mountains and foothills where I live sometimes take on the quality of Chinese painting, mist and all. I love that.

Music of the Moment

Recent compostions are taking their titles from my high school classmates names. This one is called Campanale. These are not intended to be musical portraits of people, but I do look at their yearbook pictures and think of them and try to recollect their personalities from fifty-seven years ago.

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 ~ March 27th, 2024

High Mountain Bubbles

Robert Spellman photograph of transitory bubbles in a remote mountain stream.

On Greenhorn Mountain above Mountain Water where I live there are countless transient effects, mostly unwitnessed by humans. I love that about Mt. Greenhorn – it stands apart from the newer, more overtly spectacular mountains nearby and so isn't generally a destination for hungry sightseers. Some say that Greenhorn is one of the oldest mountains in North America. It's definitely old. This photo is a closeup of a small stream that only runs during the spring melt off in a rarely visited high altitude meadow .

Music of the Moment

Recent compostions are taking their titles from my high school classmates names. This one is called Bonnici. They are not intended to be musical portraits of people, but I do look at their yearbook pictures and think of them and try to recollect their personalities from fifty-seven years ago.

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 10th, 2024

Angelic Entity with Diagram

A triptych in progress with angel and diagram.

A few summers ago I was spending a lot of time in the studio trying to come up with work for a sabbatical exhibition. That particular summer had been preceded by a long fallow period, perhaps one of the longest stretches of inactivity in many years. Getting back into it is painful, as when you let yourself get out of physical shape and then try to be active as if you'd never left off. Well, the summer in question saw some very strange paintings. Here’s one of them. This painting was all the stranger for its size: it’s 42″ x 108″ in three panels. The angel image is based on a copy of a drawing of Victory Crowning the Poet, or something like that. I’ll look up the artist’s name in a moment. The diagram is copied from a much earlier source; it’s from the sketchbook of Villard de Honnecourt, a mysterious medieval artist. There is no intended meaning to this combination. In fact, this painting has since been painted over. It had a strange hold on me for some weeks; but, as John Lennon sang, “...love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight.” So does interest in a painting that strays into a conceptualized version of itself. And, really, it isn’t the painting that strays!

New Moon ~ November 3, 2013

Björk's Left Hand

A two-panel painting of the hand of Icelandic singer Bjork.

This is another painting from the Outliers rack, work that seemed to go off in its own direction that I couldn't see fit to keep at the time. So, yes, it's gone; probably painted over with some fruit or who knows what. Photo of the Icelandic singer Bjork.I suppose I could do another one. The image is the left hand of the prolific Icelandic singer and artist Björk Guðumundsdòttir. Björk's originality as a singer and composer is unusually true; it is raw, sometimes difficult, frequently beautiful but reliably free of invention for its own sake. This is hard to do in world where creativity and commerce have spawned a lot of really terrible art. Björk operates in a different universe, which in the end is this universe, the one we all live in. Her work is highly disciplined play, with all the wonder and wierdness of childlike invention and engagement with whatever is at hand, with this. Oh, and the painting: it was on two panels, probably about 26″ by 56″, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, probably done shortly after the turn of the century.

New Moon ~ September 5th, 2013

Chautauqua Bees

a painting of a single honeybee, facing right a painting of a single honey bee, facing left

These are recent bee paintings, done on commission for the newly renovated Chautauqua dining room in Boulder, Colorado. The adventure of renovating and operating this venerable restaurant was recently taken on by Sara and Lennie Martinelli, two inspired and highly energetic area restauranteurs. The dining room dates back to the late nineteenth century, and has always been a charming but cavernous place. The Martinelli's have renovated it beautifully, adding fireplaces and incorporating tasteful changes some subtle, some dramatic, making the environment much more inviting. The building is regally situated on a hill in the historically designated Chautauqua district overlooking a large, tree-lined green and an unbroken vista of Boulder and the foothills. This is starting to read like ad copy! I suppose it is. I'm happy to have my art associated with an enterprise like this. The Martinelli's are part of a quietly growing renaissance of local farming, good food, and sane living.

Bees have been a recurring theme in my paintings for several years now. I suppose you could say that this is a romantic and possibly futile response to the plight of bees and their unexplained massive die-offs. Perhaps it's a form of reverence or even comradeship with the bees. After all, we inhabit the same land and suffer the same consequences of cynical carelessness. There really isn't any good reason why our species can't figure out how to live simply and properly. Let's start with food! Here's more on the Chautauqua Dining Room.

New Moon ~ May 9th, 2013

Kimiko's Lily

a nine-panel painting, seven by eight feet, of a single stargazer lily

This painting is featured in a current solo show at the Denver Botanic Gardens. It has been in and out of the works since 2005. The nine panel form comes from a lifelong fascination with grids, which I first learned about while in elementary school. This painting is fairly large, 7 by 8 feet, so the multi-panel grid also serves a practical function during storage. The name Kimiko's Lily comes from a gift lily that our friend Kimiko gave while taking a painting class with my wife Joan. The flower lived out the rest of its days on our dining room table and was the focus of much admiration.

robert spellman assembling a painting

The Denver show has work that is brand new and work like this one that has been in progress for several years or more. Here's an action shot of the hanging in progress a few days ago that gives a sense of the scale of this piece, which I started in 2005 and finished just a few weeks ago. The painting really did start out as a lily painting, unlike some other recent works that have morphed across galaxies of imagery. This is part of a series of nine-panel paintings – mostly of flowers but some of sea shells and one of a skunk skull that I found. (I planned, but never started the skunk skull. Yet.)

The variations in color and value from square to square result from doing each panel separately, and later joining them together, which accounts for the slight mis-alignments. At the time, I was interested in how these anomalies are accommodated during viewing. Somehow the mind assembles a coherent whole in spite of variations. That still interests me. Perhaps it's a metaphor for how we assemble what we call a life from an astonishing mish mash of people, activities, and random events, none of which quite line up.

Full Moon ~ Febuary 25th, 2013