Everywhere I look it’s a construction site. Works in progress. Building, re-building, replacing…. Improving. Concrete and wood are my terra firma these days as I fix up my current home for selling and watch the progress of renovating the new home. In both places I bask in the stark beauty of newly painted walls, the smell of fresh-cut pine trim, and the echo of empty space. Seeing the concrete that will soon be hidden away under carpets and flooring is comforting. There’s something grounding about being in the middle of the bare bones of a place, when it’s devoid of all the furnishings and stuff of daily living.
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Sometimes, when I look out over my pond, the sky above is so full of clouds it seems heavier and more solid than the water below. The scene was gloomy the other day, but lovely enough before I dropped the image into Photoshop and brightened the horizon line. I flipped the whole thing upside down. And the rock from Finger Lakes Stone became a frozen, angry sky. Most likely Seasonal Affective Disorder is affecting my fabricated landscapes these days. Must search out some color. Soon.
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It must have been one of my rough days, the day I photographed this huge pile of discarded building materials and then turned the image upside down in Photoshop. “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” is what I imagined at the time. Later, I added a photo of a chipped rock ledge for the “sky” to land onto. And, to contain the chaos, I framed the scene with rebar, rods used to reinforce concrete. Unfortunately, now when I regard this fabricated landscape, I’m reminded of media images of floods and rivers swollen with debris, carrying off people’s homes and belongings. Creating these fake landscapes is not always an uplifting endeavor. But I get to control the devastation and disturbance in this one small scene.
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I hate saying goodbye. Saying, “See you again soon” feels much easier, even if I know I won’t be back—or see whoever or whatever— ever again. So when I leave, I go quietly, often without saying anything, and without leaving a trace. Sometimes my exit is all about escaping, and sometimes I’m simply moving on to some other adventure. No looking back. No regrets, usually. Just off, alone, into the sunset.
This juxtaposition of rocks at the Finger Lakes Stone Company reminded me of that. At the quarry there were slabs of stone and huge hunks of concrete wherever I looked, and I photographed dozens of lonely landscapes. The only thing I did in Photoshop for this fabricated landscape was piece together a frame from the lengths of concrete-strengthening rebar that I found laying about.
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Long ago my mother used to scold me, “Don’t play with your food.” But I’d keep making hills and valleys in my mashed potatoes anyway. So I guess building fake landscapes is part of my history. And this time of the year, when there’s so much going on, escaping into play-mode is one way I cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
At Grisamore Farms in Locke, NY, there were bins of every kind of squash. Smooth, marled, rough and knobbly. A pebbly squash lay against a mottled one, reminding me of a fertile field under a cloudy sky.
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There was rock all over the place at Finger Lakes Stone. Boulders. Slabs of sliced rock. Piles of stones of all sizes. Maybe it’s a gift—I don’t know— to be able to go to a rock quarry and imagine mountains from stacked pieces of rock, to see things as much bigger and grander than they are. Then, the challenge is to convince others that the mountains in your mind are real. In Photoshop, I maneuvered my images of rocks to make a fabricated landscape with a rocky frame. I added hazy white scattering between layers of rocks to make the sky and horizon more believable.
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