Thursday, August 6, 2009

Paradise Lost and Found, Plus a Palimpsest

Having gone through over a hundred prints and drawings, bleaching, drying and re-packing work in archival bags, things are settling down just a bit.

The thing about an accidental water event is that things turn up, things thought to have been lost forever. Many years ago, I was given two old books which I found recently, while cleaning up. One is Dante Alighieri's, Dante's Inferno, and the other is Milton's Paradise Lost. These books are nearly trashed, but the illustrations are spectacular. I've approximated the age of these tomes to be c. 1878-83. If you click on the title link, you can view some of the incredible illustrations by Gustave DorĂ©.

We had a great storm here yesterday. A wonderful monsoonal moment. And, this reminded me of the first illustration in Paradise Lost:

"Now storming fury rose
And clamor, such as heard in heaven till now
Was never"

Yes, that's like a sudden monsoon in Tucson.

But why the word 'palimpsest'?
One of the paintings being posted here today is of a small work that I've worked and worked, until I could work no more. I took it to the woodshed (I mean, studio!) and decided to scrape off all of the paint. I stopped half way through. I kinda liked this thing.

Catalinas Layered (5" x 7") oil on Artboard.

Mr. Artyfice
said, "Oh, that reminds me of my favorite word--palimpsest! I just love a palimpsest." Whah? Now, I was brought up with a vocabulary loving British mum. So, it's hard to surprise me with an unusual word. Gotta hand it to that Artyfice...but then, he had a foreign born mom, too.

Trust me. He doesn't talk that way all the time.

I really like the comparison to parchment rubbed/scraped and added to. Yes, that's what happened here and I hope to try this again. I wonder if this is possible because I used water miscible oil paint. Hmmm.

I finished this second painting just after Catalina Layered and thought I'd include it. Plans for a mine in the Rosemont Canyon area is still being hotly debated--more stormy weather, and this is a snapshot of the beautiful rolling hills. I hope they will remain untouched. Rosemont Sonoita (8" x 8") oil on cradled artboard.

I hope you are all staying cool and enjoying a summer full of good finds.


Edgar said...

You know, there's some kind of "tilt" going on in the universe, having to deal with a "water event" in the desert.

That quote from Milton leaves me with a taste for more.

And as for the word, it isn't so much "palimpsest," the word, with which I'm enamored — it's the things themselves —palimpsests— that I love. I love worked and reworked surfaces, full of phantoms, and wisdom forsaken. Sadly, the word itself is awkward and sibilant, a teenager's crackling overture, and does not fall gently on the ear, nor does it cart well the richness of its meaning.

And I love your palimpsest. And that painting of the place the mine will wreck -- it's rife with line and texture, ground and motion. Yummm. I've never seen lime green uphold so much mountain, so well.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Wow, a sudden monsoon in Arizona! It all sounds so well - unusual. Great post, Melinda. Love your paintings and am intrigued by the whole palimpset theme. I definitely learned something new!

Melinda said...

Thanks, Edgar. Yes, the word has no truck with sonorous. Seems more like 'flinty', don't ya think?

I'll experiment more with this, but it's doubtful that it will ever compete with Archimedes Palimpsest. But, this can be my small prayer that others can write upon.

Word verification is: obilist

Melinda said...

Hi, Janelle,
Thanks so much for your comment.

You know, monsoon season in Arizona has always been quite the drama. However, we're not seeing the number of storms that we used to. Used to be, the storms would build up around the mountains in the morning and then, at about 2 PM each day, the sky would darken, temperatures would drop about 30 degrees, a ferocious wind would charge through and the rain would crash down in sheets--big, fat drops, followed by the streets turning to small rivers right up to the curbs.

Ah, those were the days.

loriann signori said...

Wow Melinda, these are beautiful, especially the second. What a great feel of the land with a scrumptious use of paint!

Melinda said...

Oh, you are so kind, Loriann! Thank you. I'm glad you like these. I think of you as one of the grand masters/mistresses of landscape.

Your work is great.

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Hi Melinda, these are BOTH FANTASTIC!!!! No scraping of paintings allowed! These are truly magnificent, I love them! And what a great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Melinda said...

Hi, Joan,
Okay, okay, I hear you! I won't keep scraping while there's still hope.

Thank you for stopping by!

kathrynlaw said...

Beautiful, both of them! I'm partial to the palimpsest, because the calm of the sky really offsets the battlefield of the foreground. A battle that you won, clearly. The paintings that we fight for are the most worthwhile, even if only for the lessons they impart. Even moreso when they turn out as well as this one!

Melinda said...

Thank you so much, Kathryn, for your thoughtful comment. I agree that the layered/scraped painting works because of the contrast. Must do more of these and see where it leads.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

Rare chance to comment. Love the blog, and the paintings are beautiful. Plus that is a word I could throw into every sentence without worrying about the meaning. So good. Good for Edgar.

Miss you.


Melinda said...

Yes, please, throw this word around often, Barbara! It's fun to say out loud. Makes me think of blimp and palanquin. Doesn't make a bit of sense either.

We miss you, too, and picture you having peaceful, refreshing days.

Savor each moment and we'll chat when you return home!

Thank you for your comment!!