Isn’t that a wonderful title? A codex is a hand-printed book, but this is a brain-printed entry, taken from an Oregon area called “The Painted Hills.”
Our regular Wednesday contributor has run into difficulties, so I’m posting an entry I’ve had kicking around for use in just this kind of emergency. With any luck, we’ll have two “Wednesday” contributions this week.
The Painted Hills, Sept 2006, photo by Jerry Underwood
I am engaged in a multi-year project on a single theme grouped around specific geologic formations. The materials come from the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (fondly known as JODA), in that empty, high desert region of Oregon east of Bend, north of Burns, and west of the town of John Day.
I am processing that landscape in a multitude of media and modes. I have done (and hope to continue to do) pleine aire painting in oils and watercolor, photographs (summation and reference rather than “hey look at this”), digitized images printed on fabric and studio oils and watercolors (mostly as studies but some as finished and complete-in-themselves). All these versions of the landscape have and will continue to culminate in works done with my primary media, the stitched textiles, painted, pieced, appliqued, representational and abstract. There are 8 primary kinds of formations in the JODA region. This first set of photographs, paintings and stitched textiles are from the first of the 8, the clays called paleosols.
The iron-oxide rich paleosols paint the JODA hills. They are found not only in the specific unit of JODA called “The Painted Hills,: but in many other places in the region as well. Sometimes they lurk, hidden under a scant skin of grass and soil, showing themselves only where the topsoil is ripped away. They seem cast as giant slow moving beasts, some ancestral form within the earth that stretches and rolls and watches as we tiptoe around it.
All the paintings and textile art as well as the photos, with a single exception, are by June Underwood, were completed between September 2006 and January 2007, and copyrighted as such.
Above is a photo take from Dick Creek Road, off highway 19, near the Sheep Rock unit. These are private lands which also show the colored paleosols.
Oil on canvas board, about 16 x 20″, October 2006
Painted Hills Unit, JODA, September 2006
Another view of the Red Hill within the Painted Hills Unit, Sept 2006
Scott’s Red Hill, Pleine Aire Watercolor, JODA, Painted Hill. Memorable for the rain and the ranger’s “jokes” about water color. Sept 2006
The Cant Ranch (Highway 19), Sheep Rock Unit of JODA, Sept 2006. This sheep ranch from the turn of the 20th century became the original exhibit building of JODA until the new Condon interpretive Center was built in 2002. The house and outbuildings (shown here) now exhibit the human history of the Fossil Beds.
Work in progress — painted silk, 27 x7, quilted Feb. 2007
The Rising work in progress. painted silk, stitched. 7 x 6 feet.
I’m showing these, hoping that some of you will come forth with the ways that your various studies and samples and raw working evolves into finished (or in this case, almost finished) work. Do you use studies to get you to your most exciting work? Or does the process of using traditionally quilted processes, with the auditioning of fabrics etc., mean that you don’t have to engage in the kinds of studies that painters use?