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.
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.
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
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
Paintings by Polly Branch, Roanoke, Virginia Walking into the tree is an aspect from my Mystery School studies into the Kaballah and the spheres of influence on our life, our body and our energetic layers. Like studying the chakras and how they relate to our earthly experience, the patterns and lessons in the tree present … Continue reading →
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.
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.
The sounds of water dripping and splashing can transport me from the regular world and into another space of no thought. Nothingness . Like the Sufis sing about; “There is nothing nothing nothing, only God, only God….there is nothing nothing nothing only God….” Sometimes I share this song as “nothing nothing nothing, only Love…” for those who have a challenge with the conservative religious use of the word God. Though I am still new to the Sufi form of prayer meditation and study, The Sufi appear to me to be masters at the simple and powerful. I have danced the dances of universal peace off and on for over 6 years. The last few years have been quite remarkable to me, as I have practiced forms of meditation and breath work that highlight the magic of the still moment. These simple black and white paintings also captured my attention at this time of appreciating the power of the subtle. Honestly, I first feared the limited palette choice was due to laziness, but now I know, I was most interested in the reflection of a moment’s curious movement rather than the play of spectral energy. My earlier forest series was all about the color of light, these are about the movement of water. The water’s ever changing aspect is the focus. The movement of form; the changing value and shift of energy. The water is associated with the dreamtime and emotions. It is always giving enegry and life. It is vital to our bodies and to the earth. It carries mysteries, and it can overpower the mind and body with its emotional strength. Fortunately, we can learn to understand the emotions and return the water to its nurturing, healing properties and even program it with our thoughts and words.
This loose watery acrylic landscape is another kind of minimal representation of the layers between earth and water and sky. Today the veils between worlds are thining and merging. Viewers say the calm and quiet aspect allows them a path to enter the space of the canvas with ease. A song that comes to mind is from a group of songs I refer to as “sister circle songs” as taught in women’s circles; “The Ocean is the Beginning of the Earth” I need to research these songs for proper credit, though many of them I have seen in Starhawk’s books as being unknown.
“The Ocean is the beginning of the Earth. The Ocean is the beginning of the Earth. All life comes from the Sea. All life comes from the Sea”…..repeat.
These kind of chants and repetitive songs of the Sufi and other meditative traditions like Hindu and Budhism, allow for the transition between worlds of body and mind to heart and spirit…..movement between veils of reality. The arts can move us between worlds and lift us from the weightedness of the human condition. If we are spirit beings haveing a human experience, then the arts, whether, song/ chant, dance, poetry, painting, sculpture, etc. , might just be what gives us a language to reconnect to where we came from. The arts can certainly help us regain the perspective on the beauty and perhaps the very purpose as to why we are here to share. Perhaps it is only to communicate the lost languages of who we really are, where we are going, and through what path might we glimpse a way back to where we came from. I think that learning about ourselves in relationship to the earth, the cosmos and to each other is the Key. We learn a new language that was forgotten. We are learning the real power of prayer and rituals. We relearn codes of understanding through different techniques brought to us by the ancient and newly reinterpreted teachings of body/mind/consciouness. Patterns of words, song, prayer, and design are used to open pathways of awareness, roads to new artworks, and lines of communitcation and peaceful possibilities that will thrill us all. This is one of the drawings I created for a new story book; Tales of Our Beginnings.