Monday, January 5, 2009

Artwork - Cobwebs and Argiopes

I have spent the last two days on other things - and not on art... Well, actually I DID spend this evening on art, but my oldest's art, not mine. He is applying to the NCSU School of Art and Design (he's accepted at NCSU, but there is a separate process for Art and Design) and in a few weeks he has a portfolio interview. We were looking over his art from the last few years and discussing what pieces stand out and why. The decisions and the portfolio are his to make - but as his art teacher (we home school) I'm doing some mentoring. I also gave him a crash course on my watercolor setup, how the paints behave, the half a dozen most important things to remember when handling these tools, and invited him to tackle something on one of the 19x19 pages I have stretched and waiting. He wasn't sure he wanted to use my best brush - but maybe my second best... It's been a long time since he tried paint (he prefers the precision of pencils and ink) but he quickly gains some form of mastery of nearly any medium - art is created with the brain, the materials can be anything at hand.

So tonight I offer something I wrote but didn't post back in October...

In the mountains autumn sent us several days of blowing mist. If the day is gentle enough, every surface will collect these tiny droplets. I've returned with every hair of my beard, mustache, eyebrows, and eyelashes jeweled, and if I was wearing my beret ("a raspberry beret - the kind you get from a secondhand store") it would also be seeded with these tiny pearls.

We rarely have misty days at home. On Sunday drives to church down Old Eighty Six, there are long stretches where the phone and electrical lines spoon from pole to pole, just several feet apart. The large red spiders (with the black and white striped stocking legs) make webs at regular intervals, and these days reveal a quarter mile of arachnid construction, as evenly spaced as homes in a subdivision, or like postage stamps in the rolls of a hundred my mother used to buy when we were kids.

Our most spectacular autumn weaver is the garden Argiope, or Black and Yellow Garden Spider. I took this photo in the mountains, but we have one every year somewhere in our extensive flower beds. This year ours was in the Joe Pye Weed of the bed we call Australia. They make this stitch down the center of the web, and usually sit in the center of the web, with their legs in pairs, so they look like an "X." I have read that this combination of things makes them invisible to birds.


redchair said...

Oh Steve- That's gorgeous. I totally get it! I had a large web form on my redwood patio cover not to long ago. (I don't know what type of spider) I could see it from my kitchen window. I just left it - it was so beautiful.
The winds eventually swept it away, but I was just amazed with the perfection and intricate design this little critter had made. Just amazing.

You know the oddest one is the Black Widow (which we have a lot of here) She's creates a big creepy mess with no symetry. Just random strings that she lurks around on waiting to pounce. I take her and her web down with a broom and no guilt.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Love the webs and the beautiful spider.

Best of luck to your son, getting into the art and design school. He's lucky to have had you as a teacher.

Anonymous said...

I love the webs! It's amazing how inspiration and beauty is everywhere if only we stop and see. I used to love wearing black gloves in the winter in Canada because I could then catch the snow flakes in my palm and see all the beautiful patterns they are made of.

The Gypsy

Steve Emery said...

Redchair - webs! They are amazing. And the black widows - when we moved here I built a lot of dry stone retaining walls. The next years we had a plague of black widows in the openings - I had to spray because we had little kids in and out of our yard all the time (lots of flower beds attracts kids - no surprise). Then the large solitary yellow wasps got clued in and we had no more spider problems. They would tap the holes with their antennae to "taste/smell" the spider within, then crawl in and dispatch them as food for their larvae...

Pagan Sphinx - Double thanks! I have a page of my maternal grandfather's sketch book where he drew argiope after argiope in black India ink and bright yellow pencil.

Gypsy - I love snowflake watching too! But down here we seldom get real snowflakes. We get icy globs and lint-like mess that falls like snow, but doesn't look or sound like snowflakes falling.