|The under cut|
|The Hanging Stump|
oil on panel 16 x 12
Copyright Peter Bougie 2017
Shown is an enclosed, almost claustrophobic space with some signs of the natural violence with which it is regularly visited, in the forms of wind and high or fast water, as already mentioned. The tannish golden glow in the water near the bank at the top probably indicates sunlight on a submerged log. Flotsam in the form of grasses washed along by high water clings to a pole-like piece of wood resting at an angle between water and shore, which is also flotsam. During high water peaks, the water might be higher than my head over the place where I stand to paint. I’ve seen it covering the road going past here, which is only a couple of dozen yards away and eight or ten feet higher in elevation than where I stand. The dense cover and thick overhead canopy of foliage belie its near proximity. The ground here never bakes under hours of sunlight. It is almost always moist and mostly bare. Grass doesn’t grow here. Often there is moss. Patches of light move across it, changing shape and location. Mosquitoes and deer flies thrive here. Sometimes little clouds of tiny flying insects rise and swarm. Fishermen might understand what that’s about if it affects the feeding habits of the trout. On a warm day the atmosphere is very oppressive under this canopy. Sweat drips from you and becomes part of the general dampness. On the plus side, sweaty-ness tends to subdue certain behavioral and philosophical superficialities.
I take something like a kind of perverse delight not only in painting this scene, but also in being in a place like this. Fly fisherman pass through this spot. I wouldn’t think it very promising to maneuver a pole and line among all this brush, but evidence of their passage is on the banks. Kayakers and canoers traverse these waters. None of the above come in here and stand in the same spot for 90 or 120 minutes, staring at the flickering light and the moving water until their senses go dyslexic and short circuit their mental processes. Or the bugs get to them first. What’s my problem?
Just a rhetorical question. As for the bugs, I begin to understand how people devised torture techniques related to their use. The agony is not based on any single incident of pain or discomfort, but on its repetition. I, of course, can move, or leave, or apply more bug spray, as long as I can tolerate the idea of toxins on my skin. But if I don’t have it I won’t stay here long. The affect of the flickering light and the movement of the water is as troublesome to me, if not as urgent. That is, I can endure it for a while. A point comes when my senses feel so scrambled that I must stop and leave. Before that happens, I study the water for patterns of movement. The shapes of light, shadow and color reflected in water look impossibly complex at first; and the beginner chases them. In fact, one of the first things you observe in studying water is that it does the same kinds of things repeatedly. There are patterns of movement and of the sorts of shapes that occur and occur again. They make a kind of visual melody. Squint your eye partially shut to observe the
Water reflects what is above or nearby and alters the reflections with movements induced by wind or gravity or both. Water is the abstract school of nature.