Elemental Movements, paintings by Polly R Branch

looking eastward down drive

The landscape reveals color of direction, time of day and season.   All these aspects make us who we are.   Our relationship to the elements of the Earth and to the positons of the planets influence who we are, and how we see life.  They certainly determine what we see, and if we tune in, we know and understand our essential perspectives are directly in relationship to the earth’s cycles and to larger cosmic patterns.

The relationship between the human body and the elements of Nature and cosmos, is everything.    I live in the forests of Southwest Virginia.  I am on a northern mountain side, shaded from the full power of the Sun.  My view to the East, South, and West is all forest.  The north view  opens to a  vista through a gap, looking over hills and valleys toward the closest City of Roanoke.

The view in this painting, faces east in the cool light of a spring midday so there are no warm tones yet.  Below, in contrast, is a view from the top of a ridge facing north, where the eastern light has reached the site and warmed the fallen leaves.

A forest interior looking north

It is the persective of the artist that gives the subject its place and relation.  It is the viewer, that gives it personal meaning.   ” Fire and Air ,  Fire and Air,  Earth Water, Earth Water….”      “Autumn time, Red leaves fall, while the weeping Sky looks over all.  Demeter sadly walks the land; her dying grasses in her hand….”         These are old songs chanted by women for generations.  They are one way people have opened to the elemental connections on Earth.

There are endless  patterns in the earth and cosmos, which we can study and experience.  The golden raitio and the spiral can be seen in fantastic examples throughout earth’s nature and the universe.  We can study the patterns mathematically.  We can  see, hear and feel the harmonic patterns in  songs and chant patterns.  Chants, drum beats, dance and meditations can bring us closer to the rythms of the universe and open our hearts to even greater areas of exploration.  My landscape art works are very grounded aspects of Earth’s elemental relations, but in the play of light and form, I hope to reveal a space for the breath and heart to explore .

There are wonderful exercises that can help us connect with the elements.  Breathing and stretches, simple movements and sounds can open our chakras and allow the body and mind to receive the energy and elemental aspects of the universe.  Healthy foods, herbal teas and body products can enhance ones opening.  You can find some products and ideas here at ENERGY PRACTICES AND CONSULTATION   Keep scrolling down for more paintings and thoughts about chakras and the elements.

A favorite song for life

Someone asked me, “what would be your song of life if you had one?”  And this one from Natalie Merchant, came to mind.  This is interesting because I sing so many others, like the Beauty Way song with school kids regularly.  Actually,  I did get a chance to sing back-up on this song with a small band for an Earth Day concert in the 90’s !  Interesting that it is so prevalent right now for the world.

Natalie Merchant

These are the days
These are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It’s true
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you

My sister Katey, taught me many songs I have cherished.  She has been an inspiration in many ways.  She sings and plays guitar, and has a dance workshop people love to experience…Freeing_Your_Spirit_w_dance.    Recently, friends and family have joined the ONE BILLION RISING to raise awareness about domestic violence and what we can do.  The song, “Break the Chain” is dedicated to Women breaking free from violence.  We will be dancing together as a flash mob on Feb. 14th.  Find recordings, dance instruction and more about the campaign at http://www.onebillionrising.org  Download the song lyrics here: Break the Chain lyrics

Fruits of the Forest

Gathering at the nuclear test site

The Fruits of the forest are many indeed, this pod form is actually inspired by a gourd.

When I decided to grow gourds,  they became my subject matter and here we see one in relationship to the forest series.  The picture plane is more shallow and patterned because I painted it inside the studio rather than on sight to determine the rhythm and colors.   The gourd was my figure, until I added human forms as well to describe historical events in my life.  Below there is the “Gathering at The Nevada Nuclear test site”, I visited in 1991 and the “Gourds in  New Orleans” was created during the flood of Katrina.   I enjoyed playing with the colors and layers of elements, while also indicating a story within.  The Story underneath the story, when untold or repatterned, is often what keeps some of us  from our full potential.  Yet for others, the stories inform their artworks which shine and fascinate us.

Gourd in New Orleans

Welcome to Polly’s pages.

In the cave where fairies are made she releases them into the waters. 

I am using this venue as a journal of sorts to review and discuss how my paintings came to me, and why I made the choices I did.   Each group or representative of paintings explores a different thought or challenge.  They all seem to return to the gestures of figure in nature, or the experience of being in nature.  These figure paintings are from 2010 – 11. In “Measuring a Fairy” shown here, a figure with raised arm drops water in a cavelike space.I wanted to celebrate the hidden and “magical” side of myself and my thoughts about elemental beings.  We are surrounded by so much life and movement; ever changing aspects of the basic elements.   If I were to help create magical beings for the earth,  I think I would do so in the safety and warmth of a cave where a stream flows through and out to the world.  Dripping off her fingers the watery fairies float down into the waters below….where other creatures like the next painting’s  puppies might see something swimming inside the ripples of time and playing with their senses.  How do the unseen and barely seen play with you?  Do you have time to walk into a forest or by a creek?  I am blessed to live near a forest where I can see turkey and deer, hawks and chipmonks.  Yes and an occassional larger or more serious sounding creature.  But mostly they are the ones you might see in the city too.

Silently the fairies glide and swim by....