In the fall of 2013 my Lady brought me along to keep her company during an educational session she attended in Cortona, Italy. This is a beautiful medieval town sitting on the top of a hill that faces west towards the plains that roll across Tuscany towards the Western Mediterrannean. Steep streets, everywhere stone paving and walls, and unexpected vistas just the turn of a head away. I could sit on a ledge and look out at the lake shore where Hannibal crushed a Roman Army during the Carthaginian wars. I could see the rolling hills covered in olive groves and lined with spiky cypress trees. And I could see the earth peek out of hill sides telling a sedimental story of aeons, where this steep hill overlooking a plain was once beneath a warm sea, and the air I breathed was hundreds of feet beneath the surface, now long-gone and almost entirely unrealized.
I did a small series of drawings in pencil and pencil crayon that came from the background mulling over I did as I walked those steep streets of Cortona in a beautiful Italian October. I spent days walking those streets while my Lady trained away in a re-conceptualized monastery. pausing to rest and catch my breath, to draw a captivating scene, to read or to capture a photograph or pet one of the street cats that were easily found wherever I went.
Pencil and colour pencil on a pale Strathmore pad, 16″ x 12″ pencil and colour pencil, these pieces were what I expressed after I came home from my visit to beautiful Italy.
The pace of Time is no pace. The perspective of Time is independent of viewpoint. There is only the moment. However, that moment has such a rich context that we are short-changing ourselves when unaware of it. For the giants that roam the land in one era may be bypassed, forgotten or even transformed into gentle echoes of what they once were. The land we walk on may have been forest, or sea, or mountain – and as Time has flowed on in its moment-by-moment way the transformation that goes on is unnoticed.
While walking on a tall, rocky hill set in the middle of a great rise of land I see nothing but the rise and fall into the distance of more hills and plains. Sometimes where the ground breaks away I notice something intriguing. Evidence that the rock around me, indeed this great rise of land I have been labouring to climb for the last few hours, was laid down in layers, year after year over millennia. Layers that were created deep under water by the slow downward drift of sedimental elements. There has been a shift, somehow, in ages past that has resulted in this place I now stand. I sometimes wonder what is the real place I am standing in. Is my perspective limited in some way? Ought I shift my viewpoint in order to really see what is around me?
The opalescent Raven, jewelled by time, sits over a landscape that has ranged through the aeons from being a place of the sea, to rolling hills, to eroded mountain, and now a place for quiet villagers to live as their forebears have lived in their stone houses that date back to the Middle Ages. Change can seem abrupt in the moment you are confronted with it. However from a place of vantage it has a serenity in it’s flow, a certainty, a rhythm.