hither

I can almost hear them
echoed
on repeat through my bones
spiralled
gifts collected in the overlap of
landsea
the fluid movement that follows
after
what hasn’t happened yet
cleansing

sheer sound waves etched in side winds
calling
I can see them sometimes—doubled
visions
currents vibrating against a blurred sky
gyring
like the shadow of a raptor glimpsed
briefly
between the singing of reflected light
sailed whole

In my mind the Prospect Cottage prompt from the Kick-About, below, intersected with the Otherworld of Brendan’s earthweal prompt and then merged with my shells, collected over years of visits to the ocean. The shore is where I lose myself and meet “Not Here” and Prospect Cottage felt like it was a portal into that suspension of the normal framing of time and space. “Like landing on the moon,” as the narrator said.

Most of my shells are still in storage, but I’ve carried some weathered whelks along with each move I’ve made, both to look at and draw. The spirals sing, and bring the sea to me. I drew three of them from different angles on the same page–first pencil, then colored pencil, then with a brush in gouache.

I decided to add grounds. It’s not always easy to tell when you’ve gone too far, but I think I definitely did so with the colored pencils. I may take an eraser to the ground to fade it so the shells don’t get so lost. I was trying to capture the garden of Prospect Cottage.

The pencil drawing was impossible to photograph well, but I like the weathered effect. I wrote words around and connecting the shells, which you can see better in the close up. These are quotes from the video interspersed with my own observations. This one has exactly the feeling I wanted, of secret messages, indecipherable voices on the wind.

The painted shells–it felt so good to get my gouache out of storage and paint with it again!–captures the colors I was feeling from both prompts–a sense both of otherness and belonging, of being just exactly in the right place without time.

22 thoughts on “hither

  1. I love how you’ve brought these shells to the page and the press here, Kerfe. My kids discovered the wonder of hearing the sea within a shell last year: for sure they are portals to a sacred space.

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  2. ::happy sigh:: so many things to bring it. you’re drawing and painting again. i love the concept of your community of talking shells. i thought they were geometric shapes and lines until i saw the close-up. the video is so well done in all respects. that terrain looks very much like some shoreline in the Upper Peninsula of MI — without the nuclear power plant.

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    1. Thanks Jade. The video was so inspiring. How wonderful to have a similar landscape nearby (especially without the power plant). I love my new work space, even though it’s still a disorganized mess. It’s good to actually have a designated space to create in. I appreciate it, having not had one for awhile.

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  3. Intriguing artwork, Kerfe, each piece is different and has a character of it’s own, you could do an exhibition just around that one subject and the variations on the theme. JIM

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    1. Thanks Jim. I’m sure I’ve done hundreds of drawings of shells over the years, although the bulk of them are probably in sketchbooks that are now in storage. I try not to think too much about what will happen to all the ephemera I’ve accumulated…

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  4. I agree with you about the coloured pencil. Not enough contrast of texture maybe. The pencil drawings are beautiful! And I love the nuggetty feel of the gouache shells. Like barnacles.
    The word ‘gyring’ leapt out at me, and the circling of the falcon. It would though, wouldn’t it? Loved it.

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    1. Thanks Jane. Gyre also can mean a rotating water current, so it seemed the perfect word. Those actually are barnacles on that particular shell–I’m glad they translated so well in paint. I never tire of drawing shells.

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  5. Gorgeous artwork Kerfe and I love how the shells connect you with the ocean and the otherworld. The sense of being in exactly the right place at the right time is beautifully reflected in the colours you chose 💜

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