Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Walk in Austin

I do believe I live in one of the prettiest parts of Texas. For just a street away from ours is a greenbelt that extends for miles and miles into the center of Austin. This greenbelt was the main attraction that convinced us that we were choosing the correct house to live in. And it has certainly not disappointed.

A short walk from home brings us to a little stream that often completely dries up during hot summer months. So most of the time we can skip over the rocks and cross over into the greenbelt and start our hike. It has been raining heavily in Austin this winter though, and so the little stream is now a swelling river! We could still have waded across, but we took a longer, drier route into the greenbelt some days ago.

A short distance down the trail there is a "waterfall". There is never much water here, and though the pool below the fall has always had at least a little water, it's usually dry enough to sit on the rocks above and watch the pool. So imagine our surprise when we saw this pretty waterfall that completely stopped us from crossing!

This beautiful greenbelt has a network of trails where one can easily get lost. So there is always another route that we can take if there's a problem with one of them. Instead of crossing over the fall as we usually do, we continued on this side of the stream and followed the trail further.

We were in the shade, but the setting sun lit up the trees across the stream from us, and their reflection in the still water was breathtaking.

We soon came to a second, more shallow waterfall where the water going over the smooth rock sheets was transparent as glass, then exploded like crystal as it fell on the rocks below.

We continued on the trail, and followed the sound of the water falling as it tripped over gnarled tree roots exposed by the force of the stream.

Further along, the setting sun lit up the foliage and its reflection marked the water like liquid gold.

We had by then walked for an hour and a half, following the stream, and the sound of the water falling.

It was getting dark, and so we stopped at this point where there was a deep, clear pool of water beneath us, and flat rocks along the stream. A perfect campsite ... and so close to home! Much as we wanted to continue along this endless trail, we decided to stop since it was rapidly getting dark. As we headed back home, we decided we would be back here to camp.

Three hours of walking in the crisp, cool air, listening to the gurgling sounds of water ... could there be anything more serene?

As this year ends and a new one begins, I wish for you (and for me) a world filled with peace, and serene, quiet moments of delightful contemplation. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Goddess II

About a year ago I had posted a picture of a painting that I made of the Goddess Kali. She is a powerful and ferocious Goddess in Hinduism, and is worshiped as the destroyer of evil. Goddesses are usually displayed as beautiful, soft and feminine, but Kali is the embodiment of all that is powerful within us, and I like her portrayal as a warrior - one who will fight evil and destroy it.

My plan was to make a series of three Goddesses in this partial-Madhubani style. Kali was my first choice since her portrayal is so dramatic and interesting. She stands on her consort, Lord Shiva, holds in her hand the severed head of one of the villians she has killed, sits on a tigress and holds in her hands all sorts of weapons. Here's that painting again -

I recently finished the second Goddess painting, and chose Saraswati this time, the Goddess of learning. In complete contrast to Kali, Saraswati is serene and smiling, bestowing intelligence and wisdom on us. She is clad in white, and stands on a white lotus, with a peacock as her companion.

It was a lot more difficult to make this painting interesting ... I struggled with the colors, and though I initially wanted to go with a completely different color scheme, I ended up again in the realm of earth colors, which I seem to always gravitate towards ...

Here she is -

I haven't decided on the next Goddess for this series. Am currently distracted with pottery, as you saw in my previous post. So it might be another year before I produce the 3rd Goddess!

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Experiments in Pottery - 1

I took a pottery class this semester, and we are almost done for the year. The last time I took a class in pottery, it was a fully wheel-thrown, short class. I was also working full-time, so couldn't spend much time practicing.

So I took a class again this semester. This time I mostly learned hand-building, and it was so much fun! Slab pots, coil pots, pinch pots and so on ...

I did try one on the wheel to see if I remembered anything from the previous class several years ago. The result was yet another lopsided pot that I glazed a bright blue. :)

One of my first attempts at making a slab pot was this mug. The glazing left some uncovered spots, and I'm not sure how to fix that. So I won't be drinking tea from it as I'd hoped, but it will make a nice cactus-holder!

This coil pot I made just a couple weeks ago, and I think this is the one that turned out closest to what I wanted to do with it, so I quite like it. I've not quite decided what I'll do with it. It was going to be a fruit holder, but now I'm not sure.

Before glazing -

Glazed and finished, waiting for an identity ...

I have a bunch more that I am finishing up. So parts 2 and 3 will feature more experiments. I'm still very unclear about glazing techniques, and need a lot more practice. So please feel free to give me suggestions and comments.

Take care!