Is a picture worth a thousand words?

This post is not about writing, though I write to post it. It’s about images. Lately I’ve become aware that I don’t want to write for a while (creatively, I mean—not like this, but writing my lfe). I’ve written about 12,000 words of my mother’s story and I think it works quite well, especially parts of it, where I’ve opened it up, got rid of that editor on my back telling me to stick to what she’s told me or written about herself, and imagined what she was feeling and thinking. But …. I have no energy to go on with it for now… will I ever? In any case, I don’t want to push myself to do it. It’s a love job, not a duty job.

What is giving me creative joy is going to pastel painting class once a week. Andy Reimanis, the director of  Caldera Art, is my teacher; he is a talented artist himself, as you’ll see if you follow the link to his name. But I doubt he has much time for his own art these days. He has recently completed a marathon project, creating, in the Rainforest Centre at Murwillumbah,  a panorama of the Caldera rim and the Tweed Valley, from an ideal viewpoint 20 metres above Wollumbin (Mt Warning). This work, which Andy and some of his students worked on for months, is a unique recreation of an environment which, though threatened by climate change, clearing, mining and all the other man-made challenges, is still a home to beautiful rainforests and many glorious and vulnerable species, as well as supporting farms, villages, towns, and all the complexities of life.

So far I’ve completed two pastel paintings. The first one is of  a pair of stick insects mating; I liked the subject, because it captures the strangeness and beauty of these fragile insects. The male is much smaller than the female, and  colourless in comparison to her green glory.

stick insects mating

My next project was a phascogale, a little marsupial like a possum, which lives on the coastal fringe of northern NSW and southern Queensland, as well as some other areas. It lives in dry open woodland, and hence is threatened by clearing and predators. It is very shy and nocturnal, and therefore not often seen. Their mating habits are interesting; there is a frenzy of activity in the spring for about three weeks, and the male dies, exhausted, soon after. The female has a litter of up to 8 young, which she carries in her pouch, and then they live in the nest until they are about five months old. The female lives about three years. When they are threatened, they spread their magnificent black bushy tail, and tap one of their hind feet, to warn off predators.

phascogale

My next project is a king parrot, and I’ve already got into troubled waters with that; I don’t want to talk about it now. But I will say that all art, in words and images, is a learning curve; the artist learns by her mistakes, and the ideal of the image or the story is what inspires her to keep trying.

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2 Comments

March 10, 2013 · 9:49 pm

2 responses to “Is a picture worth a thousand words?

  1. Marian : The Writing Business

    Congratulations Christina. This is a such an achievement and the pictures are wonderful. I enjoy pastel painting very much also but have never been able to capture live subjects with such realism.

  2. Thank you, Marian. I’m glad you like the realism. I talked with Andy about that yesterday, at class. I mentioned that though most people who’ve seen the images of the paintings like them, one friend commented that the phascogale was ‘too real’ for her taste. My answer to that is that I have too much respect for the creature and its unique features to want to to change anything; that I want to use traditional realism to capture it with as much verisimilitude as I can. Poetic licence comes in the background, where, as Andy says, I can be brave and experiment, suggest rather than recreate. After all, I’ve never seen a phascogale, and nor have most people, and if we can see a lifelike and moving image of this lovely creature, we are inspired to do what we can to preserve their environment, even if only in passive ways.

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