Salt The Stars
Salt The Stars is a completed series of stream-of-consciousness, gloaming landscapes. Wander downward for an essay on the story, process, and symbolism behind the series below this gallery. All images by Evvie Marin 2019-2021.
Salt The Stars is a series of stream-of-consciousness, gloaming landscapes. The first pieces arrived in a dream in the spring of 2019, not as scenes, but as finished paintings done in my own hand. I began fixing them down as near as I could remember the next day. They were Salt The Stars, Willow Pond, Over The Clearing, and Willow And Elm, in that order. From there, each image sparked another and the series continued on the waking side.
I’d recognized from the origin dream a salt painting technique I’d long wanted to try, which displaces pigment in chaotic and crystalline textures as it dries. Most of the foregrounds in this series were improvised in freehand brushwork, based off the textures and forms that emerged organically from their abstract backgrounds. Both Salt Circle pieces, the opening and closing bookends of the series, were painted with literal salt circles—Morton’s—spilled over compass marks on the page. In old folklore, salt comes in handy for warding off wicked spirits. You might recognize the salt circle as a ring of protection from the likes of Hocus Pocus, but the trick goes back farther than Disney.
It hit me nearly a year into the project, about the halfway mark, as I finished Slow Dance With Fungal Blooms, how many pieces in this series could be read as either nocturnal, or underwater. I realized I was painting, among other things, a landscape remembering itself backward as woods and forward as submerged. That made sense of the saltwater requirement and the series title, along with a curious impression I’d had that the paintings felt warm, as though set in spring and summer, though their branches were majority bare.
Brine is such an evocative flavor of water, but we don’t need ink-fingered scryers to tell us what science already screams about our sea levels. The esoteric artist must admit the difficulties in A) detangling premonition from trauma, and B) memorializing angst without getting didactic about it. Whatever we see, we see in fragments and remixes, bedazzled with oneiric nonsense, and filtered through the stains of unnamed biases, pet terrors, and maple-sugared hopes. Maybe the melancholic thing is a possibility. Maybe that possibility gets canceled before it congeals. Maybe it already happened, long ago and to some other groves. Maybe it’s a metaphor. (The Symbolist’s Motto: Metaphors Are Everywhere!)
Maybe it’s twilight in spring, and the branches are bare on the cusp of a bloom, and the cooling air is thick with the smell of melt and the heady suggestion of unborn nectars, and you are beloved by the phthalo and indigo dark, witnessed only in your backlit beauty, as all the world about is whole and well. The Grief-Eaters suck the bellies out of mollusks and gently tend their own wounds far away, while lightning-bugs’ rumps bio-luminesce a disco, tadpoles hatch and crickets sing, and a yearling buck treads so lightly past you, his mild, poised, and ask-less masculinity doubles your pulse and wakens the wells of your eyes. Maybe the glaze of a lone, welcome tear is the only salt between you and the stars. Maybe this is the most that happens come the dusk.
Salt The Stars is not a caution. It’s a search for the solace of beauty within entropy. It’s an obsessive fondness of any arboreal slow dance. It’s a years’-long gasp of horror. It’s an understanding that such terrible Change gushes from the involute fountains of Wilderness, as in turn, such marvelous Wilderness springs from the rot-blooming corpus of radical Change.
It’s an unreliable narrator grieving weirdly.
(If you are too, I painted you some pictures.)