Tag Archives: climate change

Proper Winter

Even though we know that climate change is upon us, even though we know we can’t pretend it’s gone away even for just a month or two, even though half of our continent is having haywire weather this season… still, it just feels so right to have a bit of proper winter weather here in Oregon.

"Willamette Pass Summit", NFS, mixed media by Kerry McFall, photo by Ben Jay

“Willamette Pass Summit”, NFS, mixed media by Kerry McFall, photo by Ben JayT

The painting above was made (with permission) from a photo taken by Ben Jay the Sunday after Christmas at the top of a Willamette Pass ski lift.  Last year there was zero snow.  So far this winter, there is plenty – Hallelujah!  But there’s nothing like a mountain top view to remind us that we are indeed on a very round planet hurtling through space.  The clouds began to whirl around the sun about lunchtime, when this photo was taken, leaving little doubt that more snow was coming, and soon.  From my perspective as an artist, following that very pronounced “whirl” with my brushes was an epiphany about painting skies: no more flat horizons for me, if I can just remind myself often enough how effective this circular movement is!

"Out of Control", mixed media by Kerry McFall, NFS

“Out of Control”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, NFS

Meanwhile, as Ben was up top, I was down in the lodge, sketching and warming my hands around a hot toddy or two. My title  “Out of Control” refers to the central skier, a figure who reminded me too much of myself and my characteristic skiing style.  I was very content to be rubbing elbows with the ski bunnies in the lodge, rather than providing the comic relief  out on the slopes.

It wasn’t really much warmer inside than outside. I was wearing full winter gear (except mittens) the whole time as I sketched and painted.  One man watched me draw for awhile as he ate his lunch.  When I got out my paints, he said, “It should be easy to paint snow – just leave it blank!”  I told him I was about to conclude the exact opposite as skiers and snowboarders slashed down the no-longer-smooth white slopes.  How to portray those tracks and cuts and popcorn mounds – so many subtle shades of … what? purple? blue? grey? green?  Fun to experiment!

"SnowyFir", mixed media by Kerry McFall, NFS

“Snowy Fir”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, NFS

And So It Begins

fish skeleton on parched lakebed

"And So It Begins," mixed media by Kerry McFall

Global warming is upon us.  This was the scene on October 7th, 2012 at Finley National Wildlife Refuge.  It takes 15 minutes to drive there from home – reality doesn’t get any closer than that.  This was the large reservoir at the refuge, where for 20 years we have come in October to hear my Goose Choir, to hear the ducks gabble, to watch elk roll in the mud, to see the water circles of rising fish mirror the sky circles of eagles hunting above.   There were no birds, not a one, only the smell of decay, and this evidence of the carp that inhabited the water.  “Not a big loss,” commented an acquaintance about the carp.  But what of the other aquatic creatures, the minute organisms that geese and ducks eat?

Sure, it could be just a peculiar rainfall year .  No way to know what next year will bring.  Maybe as I write this today’s rain has replenished most of the water.  Maybe not.  Even so, it was sobering, saddening.  Is this the future of my church of nature?  Please, no.