Circling back to that red oak tree on the farm, amid snowfall

Beyond the Red Oak v6 from Elizabeth Daggar on Vimeo.

I haven’t had time the past two weeks to get much farther with this, but I’m hoping to get back to it on the weekend. Here’s where I left off in my motion tests and atmospheric meanderings.

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The red oak that dwarfs the big barn

pencil drawing of a red oak tree by E Daggar

Another drawing in service to the animated short I’m working on. This is one I did last weekend, and I’m hoping to get the barn and silo illustrated from at least one point of view this weekend. Also: fences.

I’m looking into learning more about the puppet tool in After Effects, too, so that I’ll be able to get a wider range of motion out of the creatures I’ve yet to flesh out.

In the meantime, I also have several illustrations to do for the documentary side project I’m working on. So much to do, and weekends go by awfully fast.

This winter has conspired to plant seeds for a story

pencil drawing of a forest

I’ve embarked on a project that has decided it wants to be something much larger than I’d planned, which is awfully exciting (to me). What began yesterday as just a few drawings of trees and birds to layer into another snowscape has planted the seeds of a short film, a proper story. The spark has been lighted and no going back!

These are two stills from the scene I worked on today using yesterday’s drawings. I’ll share a sneak peek at some motion soon.

pencil drawing of a forest

Our hopes such as they are, invisible before us, untouched and still possible*

black and white photograph of sun coming through tree branches

Returned from the snow farm for the last few days of the year’s closing book. Serene here, too— quiet and white-blanketed. Few people are on the sidewalks, chilled and brittle. The emptiness of the playground today: a witness to the mercury, its height diminished despite bright sun.

And here we meet our fabricated bookends for time, believing we can hold or control it; we note it and name it to preserve the illusion. All is change, even the end of things, like the dying year to be replaced or born anew this midnight. Supplanted by new hopes, optimism in the dark corner of the year. Rebirth, Springtide: a crocus fighting her way up through a crust of snow.

Her bloom and demise are written in the maths that make her. Only we personify it, make a mirror of her. We with our imagined souls are infinitely fragile. So we make of her a beacon.

We’ll wait for her in the darkness yet to come. We’ll look for her as we burn through the woodpile, stacked under the eaves last fall. And as we watch the icicles melt, painting the days toothless, mild, and green again.

black and white photograph of a farm house in a snowy fieldblack and white photograph of a barn an silo on a snowy hillblack and white photograph of a large oak branch and a silo on a hill in the distance

*from the poem ”To the New Year” by W. S. Merwin

The water pipes upstairs froze overnight

photo of the garden and field under snowIt’s double-quilt weather and icy lashes weather as the wind stings saltwater rills from our eyes. Shoulders hunched, we retreat into our hoods like sheltering caves.

Convolutions and subtext slip away like shingles from a roof during high winds. Faced with the elemental force of cold, our needs simplify. Just as hunger renders food delicious merely by filling a need, warmth does same after a spell of shivers; muscles convulsing in their toil of keeping the blood from slowing in our veins.

The simplification is good. Makes us thankful for the ease of milder days. Which at length leads to contemplation; to philosophical meanderings and resolutions. We will never take anything for granted again!

But we tend to be creatures of reaction more than of action. So, always the ebb and flow: seasons without, seasons within.

We will be relieved when the plumbing returns. In the meantime, we recognize the relative ease of most days. We hope the pipes hold and do not burst. And we wait for things to thaw, to soften even a little, in their intensity.

A pile of airy bones in an attic room beneath the pitched roof

Dry-point on plexi print of a house insnow
I want so much to write. I’d like to be still for a day or two; to draw. To draw at a rate more like I was in October— daily. Or nearly so. To have space for things to percolate and bubble to the surface from below.

Instead, I’ve been kept moving, pulled in multiple directions— and good ones. I’m feeling positive and interested in both the work and other pursuits I’ve been drawn to lately. But I miss the drawing, and its attendant writing.

I look forward to my week upstate at Christmastide, to be still some. And of course to time spent with my family and the animals. Wanders around the Farm to say hi to the Dudes*, take photos, and listen to the quiet of winter up there. Walk the fields. Watch murder mysteries with Mom; talk books and politics with Dad; see a movie with the brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. (Probably the odd game of euchre or gin rummy.)

Some quiet nights in the second floor with a big orange cat lying on the bed as I read or type away on my laptop. Maybe he and I will get lost in the attic for minute, time traveling through old things, cast aways in an uninsulated room where the occasional bird finds her way in but not out— leaving behind, at length, a pile of airy bones in the low-ceilinged space beneath the pitched roof. A room mostly neglected and filled with the memories of several generations. (My kind of room)

All these things will make me feel rested and calm; remind me that no one is ever at the helm in this world. Not for long, anyway, and there is a comfort in that. Just as there is comfort in watching slow snow falling on the grass, gone brown in the fall in preparation for the long winter’s sleep.

.  .  .

*the horses

Idylls following a solstice

Red barns in snow
The view from my upstairs window in the morning after new snow

Cold and picturesque, the Farm this week; a winter idyll. The drive upstate was unfettered by traffic or difficulties; highway dark on the eclipsed solstice, save the odd bling-lit freight truck. Not a wink, not a star—no Orion out the passenger window.

Red barns in snow
View of the barn from the pasture
locust trees in snow
The stand of locust trees, perished. My mother says they must come down; I’ll miss those stoic sentinels.
horses in snow running
The stout lads in their winter coats

Continue reading “Idylls following a solstice”

Farewell, Red

Red_square
Red (HB pencil, eraser, and watercolor)

Here is a portrait I did this week in memory of my horse, Red, whom we lost on Monday. He was 35 this year, and feisty as ever— now running and grazing in the Elysian Fields.

Red_square-bw
The finished pencilling, prior to watercolor

I’ve been planning to write about him this week, but the portrait was a softer catharsis. Instead, I’ve unearthed what I wrote three summers ago, late one August night at the Farm:

Continue reading “Farewell, Red”

Having arrived at the Farm for Christmas

IMG_0541
Tig from summer, backlit in sun.

This is T. He’s the third cat we’ve had at the Farm (since I was a child) named Tigger, but we roll like kids here, and a fitting or familiar name can always be used more than once. (Farm folk are pragmatists.)

He’s the sweetest cat I’ve known in a long time— serious; takes some time before he trusts you, but at the base is sweet as pie. Wants to be. He’s all about touch, and relaxes into mad purring; you can mold him like clay.  His main drawback is that he literally never stops shedding—  I told him tonight he sheds purrs and furs, nonstop.

But he’s civilized, he gets people (and animals)— when to be around, and when not. I admire that. Wish I could take him back to Brooklyn, but my folks would miss him too much,  my space would be too small, and I believe he rather enjoys the chaos of living with the feral beast that is the younger cat here (a rescued monstrous runt from the barn cats), and the dogs. His challenges seem to strengthen his resolve to live well. It’s part of his charm.

If you think I anthropomorphize too much, you simply haven’t got to know a good cat (or other nonhuman) yet.

Writing steadies me, as does the farm

Red_490
Handsome Red

Late night at the farm; window open upstairs and a squeaking distant sound of coyotes through the cricket-song. Tig hears them too. They seek the feral cats that live around here (dinner). The new kitten, Piwaket, was one of same; a runt or cast-off, living on her own and scrappy as hell; my mother finally caved and took her in (she always does in these cases).

Said tiny has been cordoned off from Wolf and Tig, as she is so very small and fearless, and they play rough. (She does, too, but so small!) Wolf was taken from his mum too young, so lacks some of what wisdom she’d have imparted (for example a sense of scale), and T is very just-so, though he holds his own with Wolf. In fact, T has avoided this new kitten of his own accord (he can leap the half Dutch door), but since I’ve arrived he’s gone in and spent some time disciplining the little monster. She needs it; separated from / abandoned by her mum too early as well— she pushes too far, has no inkling of danger. I’m happy to see T going in to swat at her, teach her limitations. For her sake, and ‘cause I’ve missed him. He’s been absent. He often is, but more so with her around. When I’m here he generally spends time upstairs, where I stay, and he didn’t at all yesterday.

Continue reading “Writing steadies me, as does the farm”