Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming to the Woods

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

When I first went to Lennox Woods although I was entranced with the beauty of the place, I could not have then anticipated its effect on me. After all, I spend a lot of time in woods and fields, outdoors, looking. But, within the forest there is something new to be learned. So I returned, and will continue for all the reasons Thoreau did and for some of my own.

Nothing happens there of any importance, at least by the standards of the world. It is quiet, but not silent, and within that quiet is a constant hum of energy and life. You just have to listen and look.

That's what I did at first, to the exclusion of everything else. It took a while to hear the sounds and actually see what was there. Slowly, the Woods started to reveal themselves to me. This took some time. At that point I began to sketch and look for motifs to paint. But, still mostly just looking. The season was changing from summer to fall and every visit offered new ways to look at the Woods and new color harmonies. Even the sound of the Woods changed with the season. So I kept looking and listening.

value study, graphite

pen and ink

sweetgum trunk study, pen and ink

Then I started to draw. Drawing is the way I introduce myself to a place. It's the way I study it and try to understand it. And because it slows me down, I always learn a lot about not only what I draw, but the place, and what I want to say in paint about it.

oil study

The drawings have a life of their own as works of art, but of course they also form the basis of paintings- ideas for paintings and reference for individual elements. I hope to have them and the ideas they represent stacked up like cordwood, keeping me warm and productive in the studio for a long time to come.

Autumn Sunrise, Lennox Woods
18 x 24

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snow at Lennox Woods!

All winter I have been hoping we would get snow this year. It usually snows each winter once or twice. But not always, and it doesn't last long. So when the forecast called for snow Sunday night, I went on alert. I woke about 4 AM Monday and sure enough, there were a couple of inches on the ground. I intended to wake Steve around 6 so we could get to the Woods by dawn, but he was up before then and we headed out about 6:30. It was about 35 degrees and still lightly snowing.

As luck would have it, Allen Phillips (the filmmaker for the project) was out of town! I texted him on the way and just before we lost the signal, he texted back "No way!". So, the video you see here is just a few minutes of the roughly one hour of video we took. Hopefully Allen can turn it into something a bit more artistic!

It looked just the way I had imagined it would. And it was so quiet. It always is, but the snow and heavy atmosphere muffled all the usual forest sounds.

Untitled from Deborah Paris on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lennox Woods-The Ancient Forest Video

Untitled from Deborah Paris on Vimeo.

The Lennox Woods Project

Autumn Sunrise- Lennox Woods
18 x 24

I am so excited to announce the Lennox Woods Project. Over the next 18 months or so, we will explore and record the pristine beauty and magnificence of the Lennox Woods Preserve in northeast Texas. Underwritten and sponsored by Galerie Kornye West of Ft. Worth, Texas, the project will encompass over fifty works of art- including paintings, drawings, etchings and drypoints-to be be exhibited in multiple venues during 2014 and beyond. A film documenting the project will be shown at the exhibitions and film clips from throughout the project will appear on this blog over the course of the next year. A full color catalog will be produced which will include a DVD of the project film and other content. This blog will chronicle the course of the project, recording what happens in the Woods, in the studio and elsewhere in connection with this unique multi disciplinary project.

Although the Lennox Woods Preserve is only about 10 miles from my home/studio I visited it for the first time in late summer 2011. Northeast Texas is full of beautiful woods, huge trees, and streams, and I had spent the last five years painting mostly what could be explored within a few miles of my studio. My husband Steve visited the Preserve with friends one weekend in late summer. He thought it would be the perfect subject for a large body of work and a major exhibition. I was skeptical. But, when I stepped into Lennox Woods I knew I had come to a place that is unique and special.

As an old growth forest Lennox Woods presents an opportunity to step through a door to an earlier time. Unlike other old growth or ancient forests like the redwoods, Lennox Woods represents not what is unusal but rather what was common, and is now rare.

Honestly, I have a difficult time describing the effect of the Woods on me. When I first went to the Woods I began to consider what I might have to say about them in paint. I worried at first that there might not be enough material for a large series of work, and then I worried that there was too much. For the first month, I simply observed, walking, listening, closely looking at every little thing. The more I did that, the more I noticed, the more I understood, and the more I fell in love.

Slowly, I began to draw and then to paint. I took these first attempts and other treasures, like pine cones and leaves, rocks and pine needles back to my studio. I went back again and again, waking early as late fall approached, knowing that fog might envelop the Woods. I wanted to miss nothing. I wanted to see each leaf fall.

Steve encouraged me to dream big about what was possible. We drove to the Woods in fog and rain and he waited patiently at the truck while I wandered around exploring. He shot some of the original footage we took at the Woods and acted as lookout and bodyguard for wild pigs that happen to cross our path. He has come up with wonderful ideas for how to promote the project and expand its reach.

When Paula Kornye Tillman and I first began to discuss this project, I honestly wondered if I could convey to her what I saw and how compelling this place is to me. After all, at that point, I had only drawings and a few field sketches to show for months of intense observation and study. But, Paula understood immediately and embraced my vision for a large exhibition and desire to bring in other artistic disciplines to document and enrich the project.

Soon after, Steve recruited Allen Phillips to document the project. Allen's creative and unique talent and his deep roots in the northeast Texas soil make him the perfect partner in this endeavor.

I hope you will join us in the journey!

Deborah Paris
February 2012
"In our current culture, all too often, we think that everything that needs exploration and examination in nature has been discovered. It is true that our natural areas in the United States have been mapped and explored, but that should really be the first chapter in our book of appreciating, understanding, and preserving our natural surroundings. That is why Deborah Paris’ Lennox Woods project is so worthy of our attention. Deborah is continuing the 19th century tradition of artist/explorer that was so essential in bringing to the attention of the American public the value of nature in our own back yards. I invite you to join us in a year long journey, as seen through the artist’s eyes, as she interprets this ancient forest in our own Texas. Let’s take the time to watch, listen, and learn about Lennox Woods and in turn be the recipients of the bountiful gifts these ancient woods hold for us. "

Paula Kornye Tillman
Art Historian/ Gallery Owner
February 5, 2012