Beach Day Valentine

Beach Day Valentine

During the summer I try to go to the beach every weekend. It’s about a thirty minute drive. It seems wrong not to go that often. The ocean is the best thing going in Los Angeles. Hands down, the very best thing. And the weather. The two together are peanut butter and jelly. 

When I first moved here, 19 years ago, I was bemoaning the lack of big, leafy trees, the lack of deciduous forest. Do you know what that is? It’s what they have on the East Coast and in Europe. It’s the type of tree that sheds it’s leaves every season and gives you autumn. It doesn’t happen without a lot of rain. California is more desert -y than deciduous. We don’t have to shovel snow and wear mittens, but we also don’t get much tree canopy. The sun is always present. For a while I was longing for shade and forest. Oh woah is me, how can I be happy? Where can I go for long walks and reflection? The location nearest me with the highest portion of wet nature was the beach. So, as the song says, if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. Well guess what, I married the one I was with and I’ve never been happier.

Some of this is due to discovering the boogie board. The alliteration makes it sound goofy and there are no other phrases for it, but boogie boarding is the most spiritually enjoyable thing in the whole world. To Boogie Board is to become one with the ocean. It is to dial in all your senses to the rhythm of the ocean. You watch the waves, you hear them, you feel them, you anticipate them. You are trying to catch them, so you can ride them. In that moment you and the wave merge, you are the ocean, with all its power, its consistency, its vastness. The motion wipes all petty concerns from your tired, over amped monkey mind, and you just fly through the water, all senses completely in harmony. For a brief while, there are no human problems. 

After I tire myself out, I eat a sandwich. It tastes so good. Then I watch the ocean for a while. I watch the people play. Humanity is at its absolute best at the ocean. Everyone is happy. You don’t haul yourself out there if you don’t want to be there, so the people who get grumpy and uptight about sand in their ass self-select out. The scene is incredibly diverse. Children playing, old people relaxing, young people being hot, married people playing paddle ball, groups of friends laughing it up over whatever bonds them together. It’s marvelous. It’s harmonious. It’s soul regenerating. It’s the opposite of being online. It’s the opposite of reading the news. 

After digesting, I take myself for a long walk. I could look at wet sand and rolling water forever. I don’t know why. It just appeals to be. As an artist I like theme and variation. This is that. The beach is like my therapist. I peruse the thoughts that need untangling and I get a grip on myself. 

Coincidently, while writing this, my favorite blogger, Dyske.com, also wrote about the beach. His wife loves to go, and he does not. It was interesting to be confronted by his complete lack of interest in my favorite activity. It forced me to consider that not everyone reading this would relate. Why does that make me feel weird? I already know that. Besides my immediate family, I don’t know anyone who goes on and on and on and on about the beach as much as me.

What I find at the beach, other people find elsewhere and that is as it should be. The world is filled with wonders, natural and manmade. The important thing is to partake of what brings you genuine joy as often as you can. Don’t chose a lesser option when you can choose joy.

Collaborating with Nature

Collaborating with Nature

I’ve been making leaf faces for several years. Initially it was a lark. Everything starts as a lark, a lark being a carefree episode, something of no importance that is surprisingly enjoyable. The thought crossed my mind to make a face in a leaf and I acted on it. I get a kick out of visiting the leaf and watching it change over time. It takes a while for the cuts I make to scar over. Other alterations occur as well, things I can’t anticipate,like shifts in color and spider webs. Living things are always in flux. I dig that my initial creative contribution is just the starting point. The “art” would not be complete until nature had a pass.

I do it pretty regularly and now have quite a collection of leaves. At some point in the process I press them flat between paper in a big book and put some heavy weight on it. There really is no finish point as they are fragile and evolving towards dust, no matter what I do to slow that process. When I get around to selling prints, which I hope to be doing soon, I am going to include a leaf face with every purchase.

Laurel Sumac

I was hiking in Runyon Canyon, noticed these beautiful reddish stripped dried leaves, picked some, soaked them in water, scratched in faces and pressed em. Fun!

Magnolia Petals

These are delightful to play with as you can make a face just by pressing them with objects. They bruise up almost instantaneously. Very satisfying. I wish there were more magnolia petals laying around. I am not going to pluck them off the trees. But they don’t dry out well. The whole petal turns brown and you can barely see the face.

Orchid Leaves

I have several orchid plants, my kid and husband like to buy them for me for Mother’s Day or my birthday. So lovely! The flowers last for at least a month. They are wonderful gifts. I am not an ace green thumb but I do keep everything watered and I’ve had several orchids bloom more than once. The second bloom feels like a miracle, like a victory of the forces of good against evil. How I love it! But I’ve never managed three blooms and eventually most of them die. Who knows why, the leaves just start to yellow and one day you see a leaf no longer attached, lying beside the sad plant. Oh dear!

This happened recently. The orchid had no more blooms to give. Its leaves are very plump with water, much thicker than most plant leaves. They take more than 24 hours for the bruised part to start darkening. But they do change eventually and it’s enjoyable to watch.

I think these are sort of the opposite of painting in oil. They don’t preserve well, deteriorating almost instantly, they’re impossible to control and too delicate to hang on a wall. But they are appealing enough to entice theft! Just as art museums have cat burglars, I have had leaf faces plucked from ivy bushes before I took my final photos. Now I try to keep them hidden. They may be ephemeral, but they have power, an ode to the transmuting mysteries of life force.