Thanksgiving in New Hampshire is our migratory path. Like a bird out of a cage and the car packed like a living room on wheels, we head north. Dark and approaching our destination, turning onto the dirt road, wheels crunching the frosted ground below. On the driveway, engine and lights off, we spill out of the warm car, the night sky hits us. Open space over the pasture, overwhelming our senses, dark and light, crisp and clear atmosphere, infinite stars abound. This Tree print was of the first etchings Russell ever made. The crude technique of using spray paint instead of rosin dust for the aquatint technique, was the unintended surprise making this small image special. The scale of the spray paint droplets in the etched copper plate creates a speckling in the black ink sky, could be snow, could be stars, capturing the experience of standing in the quiet winter night.
A few years back, I gave Russell a portable paint set. A tote for paints and brushes, mini-easel and a stack of canvases. My request was he painted for fun and relaxation. With his deft eye, hand and brush along with a cup of coffee in the morning, making small canvas landscapes on summer and winter retreats. I love this canvas made from the view out over the pasture, the unpainted areas in the tree line and sky keep the image in a state of visual tension, icy blues and soft greys, fresh and lovely on a December day.
For me, the holiday season starts with the tree. Growing up in New Hampshire, activities with trees were constant: chopping wood, hewing logs, clearing land, burning brush, and keeping warm. Each year from our Thanksgiving visit, we bring back a tree to Brooklyn, the ritual so tied with my childhood experience, it feels like bringing back a piece of myself. Walking through tall grass, surveying, choosing, hand saws, chain saws, dragging, bundling, pine-pitch-sticky hands and finally the tree strapped on top of the car roof. At home, more saws, adjusting, getting it to stand straight, lights, garland and ornaments carefully unwrapped, memories preserved and good feelings of the season come alive.
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