nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘watercolor

learning curves

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In the last two weeks, I’ve taken a detour. Instead of working on my poetry or novels, I’ve had some fun creating a fantasy tale. The story is about a young woman who tries to escape servitude only to find herself back in a similar situation. The story takes place in the future, on a planet far from earth.

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Writing the tale was fun. Creating a simple language to use in the dialogue was interesting. Finding some names for the characters and places was a challenge but very satisfying.

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Making a map to describe the setting was no fun at all. I liked creating the spaces, thinking about where to put the landscape features and towns. But, I had to make a decision:

  1. draw the map by hand and risk wanting to change names or details in the future, or
  2. create the map in a layered digital format where I could make changes anytime I want

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I decided to do the map in GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a free on-line app similar to Photoshop Pro. I have never worked with GIMP before, so I have had some frustrating hours coming up the learning curve. But, I have prevailed and I now have a map to suit my story.

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a map to go with the story

a map to go with the story

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The story is told in poetry and is based on a world where water doesn’t behave as it does here on Earth. Instead it effervesces and tries to flow upward. Hence a water-climb rather than a water-fall. This is just a taste of the story. The main characters are fleeing, pursued by an alien species, the Gel-heads (Gel-heads have transparent skin, like green gelatin).  Windfleers are flocking birds, like large white starlings.

 

Terrain changes. A climb, the way rocky, tangled.

Glimpses of a water-climb.

Shouts in the valley behind them, Gel-heads

sensing the prey is near. Need for stealth and speed.

 

Burst from the forest to a plateau. The En’ast Water-climb

above them. Startle a flock of windfleers. Cacophony

and dithering panic. Two hundred pairs of wings swirl upward,

a tornado of feathers. The Gel-heads alerted.

 

Nowhere to run. The water-climb a bracket at the head of the valley.

A colossal outcrop, sheer walls of stone. Jagged cliffs where water ascends.

Shallow pool at the base, fed by artesian groundwater. The water bubbles

and leaps, each droplet climbs, then falls, net flow upward.

Rocks slick.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

 

Written by jane tims

November 11, 2016 at 12:51 pm

songs in the grey woods – northern parula

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A friend, a knowledgeable wetland biologist, has been helping me learn some new bird songs. Last week, I identified the song of the Northern Parula. This is a bird I have never seen, though I scan those tree tops with the binoculars until my arms ache. I have heard its song so many times and always wondered what it was. The song is a long whirrrrr, flowed by a short, upward flipWhirrrr -flip. Whirrrr- flip. This morning it was the first song of the morning bird chorus!

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May 20, 2016 'Northern Parula' Jane Tims

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It drives me crazy to hear him sing, be able to find the tree he is perched in, but not see him. My painting is how I think he must look, based on descriptions on the net.

The Parula is a blue-grey bird with a yellow throat, and a yellow and white breast. He has a white crescent above and below his eye and two white wing bars. A bright and beautiful bird! He has an association with a lichen I love, Usnea subfloridana, Old Man’s Beard. He uses the lichen to build his hanging nest.

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Usnea subfloridana on the snow

Usnea subfloridana on the snow – usually found hanging in our maple, spruce and fir trees

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

May 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

gates and gateposts

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Looking through my watercolours, I came across the painting below of a gatepost. I painted this during my virtual excursion through Cornwall, using Street View and Google Earth. The painting reminds me of how much fun I had, painting the scenes I discovered on my virtual journey.

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I am still using Street View to motivate my exercise program – since last year, I have been following the Saint John River from its origins in Quebec and Maine. My goal is to ‘cycle’ the length of the Saint John River, all the way to where it empties into the Bay of Fundy.

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Gateways mark change.  They represent movement from one space to another.  They can be entryways.  They can also be barriers. The challenge is always to step through that gate and keep on going.

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Oct. 4, 2013 'gate near Feock' Jane Tims

Oct. 4, 2013 ‘gate near Feock’ Jane Tims

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through the gate

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grey granite cold

black body to

absorb the sun

emit no warm

even lichens

rooted to stone

are barely alive

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the stone invites

admiration

but curves disguise

the jagged edge

biotite and

muscovite honed

razor thin

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step forward, through

the gate, ignore

the risk

the path behind

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

impressions of the day – early morning

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Every morning, after waking, I spend a little time in my guest room. I get myself ready for the day – doing a few stretches, looking from the window, greeting Zoë (our cat), planning my day.

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Usually this happens just before sun-up and I am able to watch the sun rise behind the woods in our back yard.  I am always amazed at the shift in the location of sun rise, season to season. These November days, it is to the south of where it rose in early summer.

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This morning the sunrise was brilliant, a fire of orange behind the trees. The flaming colours burst through small gaps in the darker trees – inspiration to get out my watercolours!

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November 3, 2015  'morning fire'  Jane Tims

November 3, 2015 ‘morning fire’ Jane Tims

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Copyright Jane Tims 2015

Written by jane tims

November 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm

first and last and in between

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beautiful notebooks

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This past Saturday, I worked to create a manuscript of some poems I have written on the theme of discarded and abandoned elements of life and landscape.

There are 38 poems in the rough manuscript, making up about 50 pages.  The poems are a study of change.  They include poems about abandoned boats, roads, churches, toolboxes, sheds, trucks, bridges and so on.

I have published a few of these on this blog … for an example, see ‘Foggy Molly’, a poem about an abandoned boat (https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/abandoned-boat/ ).

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abandoned fishing boat

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Part of creating this manuscript is to put the poems in order.  I find it hard to decide how to arrange 38 poems so they flow, one into the other, and so they tell a story.

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1. My first step is to print a table of contents of the rough manuscript.  I read each poem through and assign a couple of key words to describe it, jotting these into the table of contents.  For my 38 poems on abandonment, I obtained 27 key words.  Many of these are shared by various poems, but a few are unique to one or two poems.  My key words are, in no particular order:

lost ways, regret, grown over, barriers, evidence, sadness, history, haunted, adaptation, voice, intention, anger, change, memory, denial, improvement, new life, lost function, buildings, items, understanding, cruel, resistance, life/death, shock, keeping past, lost/misplaced, broken

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metal bridge on the South Nation River

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2. Next, I put everything into a table, with Xs to show which key words fit each poem.  This does not take too long to do and helps me consider the meaning of each poem.  Below is just a small section of my table:

Poem Title lost ways regret grown over barriers evidence sadness history haunted adaptation
Recovery X X X X
Reason for Leaving X X X X X
South Nation Bridge X X X
Outfield X X
Diverted road X X
Invitation to tea X X X X X
Lane X X
Abandoned church X X

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3.  Once I have the table created, I tally the Xs in the columns and decide which key words are most common.  Key words occurring in more than 10 poems are shown in bold:

lost ways, regret, Grown over, barriers, evidence, sadness, history, haunted, adaptation, decay, intention, anger, change, memory, denial, improvement, new life, lost function, buildings, items, understanding, cruel, resistance, life/death, shock, keeping past, lost/misplaced, broken

The words that apply to almost every poem usually speak to the theme of the poetry collection:  in this case, the words ‘change’, ‘memory’ and ‘lost function’ were very common, no surprise in a collection about things abandoned.  Other key words, common to a few poems, suggest possible themes for the sub-sections.

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1941 International

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4. My next step is to look at the key words and see what themes ‘speak’ to me.  I also want to have a progression of ideas through the manuscript.  In this case, some of the poems are sad and rather hopeless, while some show how abandonment leads to understanding, and, in some cases, to new purpose and new life.  From the key words, I selected six sub-sections: ‘lost ways’, ‘decay’, ‘haunted’, ‘broken’, ‘understanding’ and ‘new life’.

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5. Now comes the long work of re-ordering the manuscript.  I create a new document and, one at a time, transfer the poems into their new sections.

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6. I like to name each section, taking the name from a line in one of the poems in the section.  These may change later, but for now, they give me a reference within each group of poems:

lost ways – ‘overgrown …’

decay – ‘left to rust …’

haunted – ‘ghosts are lonely here …’

broken – ‘dry putty, broken glass …’

understanding – ‘the rock to stand on …’

new life – ‘a turn towards horizon …’

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February 11. 2014 'old shed near Charlo'   Jane Tims

February 11. 2014 ‘old shed near Charlo’ Jane Tims

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Today, I will begin a read of the manuscript to see how the poems flow within their sections.  Many revisions are ahead, but this is my favorite part of the work!

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Have you ever gathered poems into a manuscript and did you use any particular method to decide the order of the poems?

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 19, 2015 at 7:38 am

harvesting colour – rose hips

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All summer, I watched the rose hips ‘developing’ on our bush and wondered if they would provide colour to my dye pot.  The roses are pink in late spring and produce elliptical rose hips, bright orange.

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September 22, 2013  'red rose hips from pink roses'   Jane Tims

September 22, 2013 ‘red rose hips from pink roses’ Jane Tims

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Last week, I finally harvested the rose berries.  I used scissors to avoid the springiness of the bush and the danger of getting smacked with those thorny branches.

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rose hips from my rose bush

rose hips from my rose bush, September 2014

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The hips, boiled in water for a couple of hours, created a cloudy orange dye.  And the alum-treated wool?  A pale pinkish-brown.

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in background, alum-treated wool dyed with rose hips; in the foreground, spun wool dyed with lichen, beet leaves and alder bark

in background, alum-treated wool dyed with rose hips; in the foreground, spun wool dyed with lichen, beet leaves and alder bark

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I have so many shades of brown wool after all my dyeing adventures, this brings into question the idea of ‘best use’ – rose hips are valuable as a source of Vitamin C, can be used in jams, teas and other beverages, and have a potential use in reducing the pain of arthritis.  And I apologize to the Chickadees who were so obviously upset as I picked the bright red berries.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

October 1, 2014 at 7:29 am

dry gourds

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string of dried gourds

string of dried gourds

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dry gourds

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shake

bottle and swan

goblin egg and warted

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absorb the rhythm

the rattle of seeds

in their shells

varnished, on a chord

between cupboards

strand of amber

hardened with hanging

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a nudge in humidity, the least

damp, breath

or sigh, softens

vibration, appreciation

of percussion

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August 31, 2013  'squash on the vine #3'   Jane Tims

August 31, 2013 ‘squash on the vine #3’ Jane Tims

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Copyright 2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 8, 2014 at 7:20 am

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