Monday, April 18, 2011

The Washington Project - Day Two

Day Two

There is no theme today, at least not yet and it's already 4:20 p.m.. We are on a slope up from the east shore of Little Soap Lake.  Eva and I had our mornings alone after staying up late again talking all-things-art. I walked around Tieton in the early morning and stopped to talk with Ed Marquand, who was already at his shop and office, Marquand Books, on the main square of town. We talked about the state of galleries in Seattle and the missing piece in the ‘art ecosystem’ as he called it, which these days is the buyer. Also traded some good ideas about messaging and marketing, or more to the point of what Ed and I require with our micro-niche arts enterprises: finding the specific audience for our special fields.

When I explained what Eva and I are doing based on my still-forming ideas and hunches, Ed cut past the fat to wonder aloud something like, “I don’t know how much people are into knowing about the process, especially if they don’t yet know what the end result is.’ Yes, and ouch. Something to think about (as I type about thinking about it.) I don’t know yet. Like I said, this is a hunch. So, are you interested in the process? If the buyer knows more about the process is he or she more likely to buy a work of art? Do buyers feel like they are a part of the art process? I hope so. I want them to feel that they are.

We passed through some of the Channeled Scablands today. Saw fields strewn with rocks that look like dinosaur eggs left there by the cataclysmic Missoula Floods that raced across parts of Eastern Washington during the last ice age, 15,000 to 13,000 years ago. I am realizing that Washington has a truly weird geologic history and tattoo. This strikes Eva too, though those aren’t always the things that encourage her toward a sketch. I watch and wait and drive the car.

We were on the way to Steamboat Rock (turns out its only 3, not 6 hours, away. But passing by Soap Lake, here are these massive carved cliffs that descend to the edge of the shallow and much smaller Little Soap Lake, just north of its larger namesake. The western sun was hitting the skim of water intensely, sending up silver ripples in shards, pushed along by a breeze from the north. Brown basalt scree topped by rugged horizontal striated cliffs across the water. New scrub brush is blooming in a spring green that looks like the moss Eva will see next week in the Hoh. We really aim to get to Steamboat. I feel pressure to keep us on task, but that’s not how this trip will go.

Left Little Soap Lake and went around the corner, up the canyon past amazing basalt columns cantilevered over the road in humps. Past Lenore Lake and boom, there was Alikai Lake and three craggy geode-like aggregate rock humps, each one bumped above the surface of the small lake. White pancake hardened silt holding rocks and sage bits all along the shore. Symmetrically high bluffs on either side, making a reverse fisheye effect on the eye. It’s 6:01 p.m. now. I don’t know if we will make it to Steamboat, the Shangri-La of our trip so far. But what we are seeing is amazing and truly weird stuff. I grew up in Washington and know for sure that I have never made it up this road before today.

7:05 pm. We made it. Steamboat Rock. A vaguely formed thunderhead threatens to eat the last clear rays of the sun, but Eva is out of the car, sitting on the narrow side of the road with the full mountain of Steamboat in silhouette across the eastern stretch of the north end of Grand Coulee. It is another dramatic, monolith. How will it look as a print? Will it make it to print stage or be rejected by her for any number of reasons. I won’t know until Eva goes home, reads the notes she has added to all the sketches tonight, and considers what to spend the time on to hand-carve and hand-print and what to set aside as only a memory of these days. I can say that the process is tenuous and ruled by weather and light conditions that are out of our control. I for one am finding it very interesting to be let in on part of the process.

(Eva said some very interesting things in the car today. Things I can’t organize well enough to write about so I will need to train the video camera on her tomorrow.) 

Sketching Little Soap Lake, WA

Eva Pietzcker at Little Soap Lake, WA

Basalt Scree at Little Soap Lake, WA

Little Soap Lake, WA

Spring foliage at Little Soap Lake, WA


  1. I can't speak for everyone, but I am certainly interested in this process. And so beautifully written, too, Beth. I am captivated.

  2. Me too. Like Saskia, I'm enthralled. Do buyers care about the process? I think so. That's definitely part of why I blog, so that people can understand the printmaking process. But then again, maybe it's not so much the process that buyers are interested in, but some feeling of connection with the artist. I use my partner Lynn (not an artist) as a litmus test sometimes, and I've seen Lynn refuse to purchase a piece of art that she actually likes until she finds out something about who made it. I was surprised by that.