I was thinking of my father when I fabricated this landscape. All day yesterday, as I weed-whacked up and down my long driveway and then raked and pulled pondweed, I remembered how pleased my father was to do work around his house. He taught me that it’s a privilege to have a nice home and to keep it in good shape. He had come to the States in the early 1940s with nothing but ambition; he worked hard to build up his dreams. When I do yard work around my home I feel like he’s watching me.
In Photoshop, I turned the reflection of a bare tree upside down and “planted” it in a foreground of pebbles. The image was not good enough to honor or represent my father so I framed it in multiple built-up frames, like the biggest hug I could give.
June is my favorite month, mainly because the daylight lasts so long. Also, everything outside seems to be bursting with vibrant color: the greens of the ferns, the peony pinks, the spectacular spirea bushes.
This particular Goldflame Spirea shrub had grown over the garden bed onto the flagstone walk. It was so flamboyant that I photographed it. Later, I flipped the photo in Photoshop, and added an image of my sump pump cover to serve as the sun in a fabricated landscape.
My overgrown pondweed situation was almost under control the morning I noticed pollen forming over most of the pond’s surface. It was like a giant floating oil slick. To make things worse, feathery tufts falling from nearby trees were being carried by the wind and landing on the ugly oily film. Unlike the algae and pondweed I’d been pulling out the past weeks, this would be almost impossible to get rid of. But I don’t mind hard work. Sometimes, immersing myself into hard physical labor, I can forget to be miserable and depressed. And it feels pretty good afterward to have been productive, to see the fruits of my labor.
The few clear spots on the pond, where the surface tension had broken, reminded me of meandering rivers. I photographed the mess. Then, dropping one of the images into Photoshop, I added a “sun” crafted from a shot of the sump pump cover on my lawn.
Most days now you can find me in my tiny boat on the pond, pulling out pondweed and piling it on the banks. It’s an endless chore but a calming one. And I’m grateful for it, knowing that one day I will not have the pond or the boat or the energy to do this.
If you turn this photo upside down you will see my pond so thick with weeds that the reflections of the nearby trees are nearly obliterated.
In this fabricated landscape, a smooth rock from my garden hovers over a shagbark hickory tree that I flipped to its side in Photoshop, to create a shaggy windswept field. For me, combining scratchy and slick textures is even more engaging than working with colors. But I wonder, if I add blues, can I change this field into an ocean? This will be a small adventure for me on some rainy afternoon when, immersed in Photoshop, I will be distracted from feeling the hollowness in my heart.
For months my bags have been packed, ready for me to go flying off to some beautiful bright place. It seems like ages since I last flew. But I remember flying above Ithaca, watching the ground below as it stretched out endlessly and disappeared into the hazy horizon. That’s what I was thinking about when I fabricated this landscape. After inverting my favorite photo of an allium seed head into a negative image, I set it over a shot of my driveway that, on an early morning in April, was riddled with the remains of the last snowfall of the season.
The hills around home are greening up now. It’s getting harder to imagine ever wanting to leave here. Maybe next winter. Maybe I’ll fly away before the first snow of the season, before I grab up the camera and head for the driveway to photograph the new day’s pattern of white patches, believing it’s beautiful.