Here's a poem by a favorite hermit role model. She DWELLS where I have thus far only managed day trips. Maybe I'll move there permanently some day.... In the mean time, I'm polishing my skills and gathering as I'm able.
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
Blackbirds (Gambrels of the Sky)
Acrylic on canvas
16" square, 12/2021
I have a new artist crush/mentor, Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940). We met once years ago, but reconnected recently online through a mutual acquaintance. I've been thinking about him a lot. It seems we have overlapping areas of inspiration: scenes of everyday life, domestic subjects, women and their work, garden settings. In his work, emotional expression was paramount if not overt, and when he first showed paintings from his early life, it was with the murmured, heart-fluttering exclamation, "So many secrets revealed!" While not exactly a hermit, he kept a very small social circle.
It's been a long season for hermits to thrive. I like to fancy myself--like Vuillard, like Ms. Dickinson--well suited to present challenges. Of course, family life affords a fair amount of society merely bumping elbows at the dining table.
The youngest member of the family recently looked up over his breakfast cereal and, observing these two small paintings on the windowsill, remarked, "They look good like that--with a little room in between. Anything can happen in that space." He dwells in Possibility.
Houston Meadow Diptych
Acrylic on panel
Each 5"x7", 2/2021
I'm the melody and the space between
Every note the swallow sings
--Allison Russell, Nightflyer
But even a hermit-in-training needs a little contact with the outside world: Support and refreshment, interaction and inspiration. Vuillard hasn't responded to my letters. Neither has Dickinson for that matter. Thanks to you, reader, and other more remote members of this web for being yourselves, for the IRL encouragement, and for demonstrating Other Ways in real time.
Here are a few images of work made this fall around this idea:
Philly Trio (L)
Each 11"x14", fall 2021
Two People I Know (L)
Each 12" square, fall 2021
Big Red Sun (aka Life, the Universe, and Everything)
I'm the moon's dark side, I'm the solar flare
The child of the earth, the child of the air
I am the mother of the evening star
I am the love that conquers all
--Allison Russell, Nightflyer
Above, some colorful sunsets for these darkest evenings of the year.
Some of these winter sunsets remind me of images of the sun that have been part of my awareness since childhood, my father being a solar physicist:
Left: Image of a solar flare* recorded by the Big Bear Solar Observatory in the summer of 1972 (*My dad has since corrected me: not a solar flare. Or maybe a weak one. More like an active region in H-alpha)
Right: Artist's rendering of an active region on the surface of the sun.
(Just kidding, it's tie dye.)
I've spent my life with only the vaguest understanding of my dad's life work. However, he has been creating some artist's renderings of his own, and thereby cracking the door a tiny bit:
"The Left Hand of Darkness"
Wood carving representing a left-handed solar magnetic sigmoid
Ron Moore, 2021
Additional renderings of solar phenomena and other spiritual concepts
Ron Moore, 20XX
Thank you, Dad! Growing up in and coming home to an atmosphere of scientific thought, spiritual questioning, and big-picture awareness has been a profound and treasured influence.
For further reading on active regions, click through to this 2020 paper:
"I do not say that artists cannot be seers, inspired: that the awen cannot come upon them, and the god speak through them. Who would be an artist if they did not believe that that happens? If they did not know it happens, because they have felt the god within them use their tongue, their hands? Maybe only once in their lives. But once is enough.
Nor would I say that the artist alone is so burdened and so privileged. The scientist is another who prepares, who makes ready, working day and night, sleeping and awake, for inspiration."
--Ursula LeGuin, from the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness
(Sketch from the Emergency Meeting of the Bluewood Drive Sketch Club)