Circle of Life and Death by Carol Mothner
By Margaret L. Brown
Mid-morning on an early winter’s day, Tricia Berg hikes up to Beaver Lake on the Grand Mesa in western Colorado and finds sanctuary there. The air feels slightly cool and even smells cool, infused with the scent of pine. Berg sets up her portable French easel beside a stand of spruce trees and begins painting small oil sketches, losing herself in the scene and the moment. Later in her studio, she uses these sketches as a reference for High Country Pond, which appears on the cover of this issue.
Viewing this work, I am transported, and I too discover refuge. Says Berg, “I want my paintings to give people a quiet, serene place to retreat and appreciate the landscape we all too often neglect.”
Artist Carol Mothner puts her magnifying glass on the overlooked aspects of nature as well. In such paintings as Circle of Life and Death (right), she brings together an assortment of nature’s detritus with an eye toward its subtle magnificence. “These objects aren’t intrinsically beautiful,” she says. “If you saw the individual pieces of a nest, for example, you wouldn’t collect them—they’d be just a pile of sticks and mud.” Like Berg’s paintings, Mothner’s compositions are quiet, inviting both contemplation and introspection.
Wildlife painter Lindsay Scott’s artistic journey takes her from her home in California to the savannas of Africa. She sees beauty there in the harsh dramas of survival and moments of chaos—lions attacking a herd of zebras or cranes performing a mating dance. A passionate conservationist, Scott says, “Nature is the most healing thing on this planet. I try to bring a little bit of that indoors.”
In his photo-essay of the American West reviewed in this month’s Recent Books column, John S. Kiewit quotes the English poet Lawrence Durrell: “Journeys, like artists, are born and not made…. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures—and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space but inwards as well.” May you find such intriguing paths in these pages.
Featured in November 1998