Framed. Lower Parsnip Creek meander 005

(Cont. from Part 2) I am too close to the stream; my boots are getting wet. I meet the children and find their shoes are wet too, but they are happy with the bugs they caught. They are on their way to the truck to look them up in the insect field guide. I take to the drier grass further away from the stream, thinking once again how closely art is aligned with science. From initial observation to structure and meaning, art and science begin at the same point, then parallel, interweave and augment each other in myriad ways.

Back to my sketch, I use short pen strokes to lightly sketch the grasses along the stream. I’m careful not to outline every bank but leave some unmarked to let the eye fill in the image. Where it’s logical I use horizontal lines in keeping with the lay of the land. I indicate denser grass in some areas. Where the stream bank is undercut I add dark lines. I’m almost finished. Looking about the area, I note three or four very small sage bushes that are trying to grow along the edge of the meadow. Terrain and stream always belong together, a unit; vegetation completes this riparian life community. So it is also for the artist. With a few lines I add meadow grass and a hint of sage. Then I stop. It’s easy to overdo.

I hold my drawing at arm’s length. The free form shape moves dramatically across the paper. Without showing the context of the canyon, it raises questions: where does it come from? Where is it going? What does it mean? For most viewers, this quick study will demand an explanation, but for me, natural design gives me a feeling of satisfaction. I am grateful for patterns; they signify the order inherent in nature. And the water? I’m grateful for that too. I reach down and dip my hand in the cool stream. Flowing snakelike across the bed of this rather narrow canyon, it is the moisture source and supply for a diverse community. Unhindered it flows, steady and unrushed, a miraculous liquid nurturing life. What could be more important?

I’m glad I stopped to take another look.

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