Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Washington Project - Days 6 & 7

(A series of posts from Cullom Gallery booster, and avid Northwest outdoors man, Joe Kaftan, who is escorting Eva Pietzcker on the next leg of her sketching trip for the Washington Project.)

Day 6
After a ferry from Edmonds to Kingston, we had lunch in Anacortes, then drove the few miles to the coast to Salt Creek Park at Crescent Beach. The tide was at a two-month low and the creek was barely wet. The beach was expansive, and stretched beyond the small island in the bay. I had never seen that before. We walked over jagged rocks that are usually under water to the line where sand and gravel begin.  I pointed out geoduck and horse clam holes.  On the sand we inspected the manila clam siphons. Eva walked back and forth in front of the stranded island, pausing and looking. She said she would like to work here.  She sat down on the clear sand, and got right to work.  I nodded off then woke up to Eva exclaiming that the tide was taking our beach back. We jumped up, I grabbed the gear while Eva stood in the rising surf, and finished her composition.  She looked over at me holding the blanket and bag, and said, "This is exciting, we almost got caught!"

In the late afternoon we drove around Crescent Lake.  Cars passed as Eva looked over the road edge and through the trees, waiting to feel the right spot. She spoke about the importance of finding beauty in a scene, but the need to not grab at the most obvious compositions. "That's the job of a postcard" she said. About a mile before The Lake Crescent Lodge, on Hwy. 10 1 west, Eva said, here. The spot was on a hairpin turn with no shoulder or guardrail to keep us from driving into the lake. So we went to the next pullout, turned around.  I stopped and Eva jumped out and flung herself over the guard rail, with gear, onto the wooded lake edge. She worked for some time, and I drove by every 10 minutes to check.  When Eva jumped back in the car, she was delighted. She said she had found a classic composition, but one that was subtlety compelling.

Salt Creek, Olympic Peninsula, WA
Day 7
Woke up at a lodge in the mountains then quickly headed for the northwest corner of the state - Cape Flattery.  On the way, we talked about why I am excited for Eva to experience this part of the country.  I told her that I am drawn in particular to places where land meets water, and this state has so much of that, and it comes in such surprising and stunning forms.  For me, Eva's work gets to the essence of the beauty of an outdoor scene.  When I look at her work, I realize I may not have ever seen the place she is representing, but I have felt it many times. 

We arrived at Cape Flattery and scouted out the 5 or 6 view decks.  Eva stood at each looking, moved around, sat down at different parts of each deck.  At the farthest point, she declared that this was a stunning view: a large island and several small cliffy islands in close, and dramatic bonsai-like trees growing from the rocks in front of us.  But after a long look she could not make a composition that included all these elements, so we kept looking.

She moved to the only deck that faced north, and started painting a series of branches in front of rocks in the water that were surrounded by swirling bull kelp. Curved cliff faces rose behind the rocks, looking like so many ship bows in a line. Eva worked quietly as one group of hikers after another stopped to take in the view, and to peek at what she was working on. As time passed, it became colder and windier. At one point Eva said, "this is too big, too much to look at, I need a second sheet."  She asked me to hold her pad, as it fluttered in the wind, and she placed a fencing sheet above it and made markings to show were each element of the composition crossed from the original page to the new one. Then she secured to old sheet in her canister, and the new one to her black board. She worked in the chill a good time more, and then wrapped up her work, saying, "maybe it was too much, you could work all week on such a view."
We paused for a break on our walk out and I noticed Eva was sitting in the sun on the edge of a cliff, facing the slender rock islands just to the south of the point.  I realized she had already begun another sketch.  When she finished she sat next to me on a log and said, "You see, I need to come to a place, walk around it, maybe nap a little in it, breath it in, be with it, then I start to know if there is a composition there for me."

Back in the car we drove through Neah Bay passing Hobuck Beach to stop at Shi Shi Beach.  This would be a new place for both of us.  An hour-long walk through gnarled woods, over miles of muddy puddles, a few hundred yards down switch backs, and we slipped out of the thick woods onto a bright sandy beach. Immediately we noticed several house-sized sea stacks just to the north, but what caught our eye was a skyline-like set of sea stacks a mile or two away on the south end of the beach. The waves were crashing, the sun was sparkling on the water, and we both lay in the sand and relaxed, enjoying our arrival at this gorgeous place. We discussed how low the sun could get before we would need to turn back into the woods. We wanted to walk to the southern stacks, but that wasn't possible. Instead Eva zig zagged the beach we were on and settled in front of a huge weathered log and worked until the sun hit its mark.  Eva wrapped up her work, and we ascended to the jungle, lumbering through the puddles back to the car. It was fine ending to a full and exhausting day.

Eva Pietzcker at Cape Flattery, WA
Shi Shi Beach, WA
Eva Pietzcker, Shi Shi Beach, WA at sunset

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to say what drew me to this project...
    It's not just that I am a big fan of Cullom Gallery and of Eva Pietzcker print making, of course I am. It's that it is completely clear to me that the universe wants Beth Cullom running a Gallery, supporting and nurturing artists and their work, and that the universe wants Eva to make her remarkable natural prints. Prints that I feel are every sacred outdoor scene, to all of us, at the same time.
    When you have an opportunity to work with the universe , thats a gift, so you take it. When Eva wanted to see Orcas Island, 'we can leave tomorrow' was the only answer that made sense, and when Beth suggested that Eva needs to experience the Olympic Peninsula, 'For how many days can she go?' was the only response reasonable. I hope everyone gets to see the results, Eva's art. :) -Joe Kaftan