Winter Flatlands


By Sarah West

Another painting completed. I remove it from a wooden board and pin the new gouache study to the studio wall. On the easel, I place a new large sheet of Arches. The evening light fades quickly. In the last moments of dusk light I pencil a light sketch inspired by a winter landscape just down the road.
On one recent outing, I took a backroad across several nearby hunting plantations. Along the drive I passed numerable relics, architectural portholes to pastime, abandon ruins and swampy winter flatlands. The setting sun pierced the bare tree-line striking the road, fences and still-frosty puddles sharply is hues of yellow and warm white. Along this path, a dark object seemingly tangled in a tree top caught my eye. As I neared, I thought “it couldn’t be..,’ and then I saw. The large bird must have been struck during a hunt. The sight still seems hauntingly strange; the large black fowl caught in midflight, tangled and suspended there to die. The tree- nature’s spider’s web. This image remains with me now.
In the days since, I return to this thought and draw from memory in my field sketchbook. It’s quite gothic, a peculiar subject, yet I want to remember it. I feel compelled to paint it.
Memoirs, cookbooks, and fine antique editions have formed numerous stacks around my writing desk. I clear them. It’s a new year. I long to write more and properly document the things worth contemplation, paint, pen and ink. Books are neatly organized and arranged by respective subject. I retrieve a black composition notebook for letters. The tradition of draft and review before final writing remains with me since grade school. Before each letter, I pen a draft, revise my written thoughts and then write the formal letter with pen and ink on my preferred Italian writing paper.
This is a new era, a new age in which I strive to refine, categorize and address all things in an orderly, and mindfully efficient way.
Believing that each experience, whether initially perceived as either good or bad, occurs to inevitably shape us into who we are and how we react; I endeavor to keenly observe and practice this consideration daily.
The moon retreats. Falling like a white marble on a blanket of cerulean felt, the sun replaces it. Streams of honey pour o’er the cold umber terrain. The sound of acorns and leaves crunch behind the dense line of sapling pines. Cardinals and doves descend from the magnolia to feast upon scatterings of farmyard feed.
Up above a large black bird flies untangled and free.


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