What is Handed Down?

My grandfather Dr. Paul Wolff was a well known German photographer.

His son Klaus drew and painted watercolors, Klaus’ daughter draws, paints, illustrates and takes pictures, my sister and sons draw too, though they don’t enjoy it enough to practice much.

A propensity towards written and visual creativity seems to run in our family.

brochure_2

The cover of a 4 page brochure about photographing children created by my paternal grandfather Dr. Paul Wolff.

smokestack

Paul Wolff using a huge view camera, before he was introduced to the new, hand held Leica.

paulhelenewedding1914

My grandparent’s wedding in 1914. Helene is 2nd and Paul is 4th from left.

book_2

Paul Wolff published at least 6 books of his photographs. They are mostly written in German, so I have not read all his commentary.

Paul Wolff took fascinating photos of a huge range of subjects. Thorsten Overgaard wrote an essay about one of his photos that is great reading. My favorite quote from this article makes my grandfather come alive for me.

“In his book “My Life with The Leica” Walther Benser recalls the period where he would assist Dr. Paul Wolff. Benser was a Leica employee who had gone through the full technical training in Wetzlar and later spent many years traveling with the Leica Slide Show. He recalls:

“Dr. Paul Wolff had skills which I found myself envying. Without any optical aid from the Leica viewfinder in the new (Telyt) reflex housing, he could dissect the surroundings with his naked eye in the search for a suitable subject and position. He invariably picked out the perfect spot for taking the picture with the focal length he had already selected”.

“He was a master at keeping his photographic intentions undetected for as long as possible. He never carried the camera in front of his body in the usual manner but kept it, suspended on its strap, hidden behind his back with his right hand. This had become second nature to such an extent that he kept his right hand behind his back even when he was not holding a camera”.

I’ve chosen just a few of my favorite images of his to share, focusing on ones that remind me most of the way I, too, see the world.

book_3

I can see where I’ve acquired the habit of framing a view with foreground objects, and my fascination with close ups of nature.

book_1

I love the shallow focal field in this photo of my Dad at play as a child.

building

This one-lit by car headlights-is my all time favorite. Oh, to have snows like this again!

book_4

I never knew my grandfather. He and my grandmother divorced and he and my father became estranged. I did learn that he went on to marry a fellow photographer Annette Beiger and they had another son in 1943. If anyone reads this and can put me in touch with my half uncle Stephen Wolff and his family I’d be grateful.

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

 

Into the Woods

When the going gets tough, the sensitive go into the woods…

and stoop down, look closely, listen to birds and the wind and pretend there isn’t an awful election/hurricane/refugee crisis/etc.whitemushroom

ghostferns_2

frostedferns

turkeyfungi

studyinbrown

studyinyellow

leaves_1frogleaves

I’ll see you there…

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

 

In the Canyon

In honor of the National Park Services” 100th Birthday, I celebrate one of the jewels in the crown.

Read this and then like Page Through the Parks on Facebook to be entered in the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Welcome to Grand Canyon, Arizona

boots&paintingweb
It is one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”

It’s about 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, Its walls contain rock layers that reveal a timeline of Earth’s history.

To make the illustrations for  In The Canyon as good they could be, I had to explore the Grand Canyon. I took my  intrepid sister, a wildlife veterinarian, for company and and in we went!

friendly bighorn2a

Dr. Peregrine Wolff  and a friendly  Big Horn Sheep-commonly found In the Grand Canyon.

peribinocsweb

castlecragweb

Approaching Castle Crag on the South Kaibab Trail.

from RIM to RIVER…

AhhhhatOohahweb

Joking around at Ooh Ah Point on the South Kaibab Trail.

and back!

The main character of In the Canyon, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, speaks in the 1st person voice. She begins her narration like this:

girl_2:web
“Here’s a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”

willaGC_2web.jpg
I always enjoy working with a model and I found a lovely girl in San Francisco named Willa.

faces_web
I spent a few hours with Willa taking pictures, and then used those to draw from while illustrating the book.

jacketweb

She gazes at the reader from the jacket, inviting you to join her In the Canyon.

As soon as you dip below the rim of the canyon you enter a vast, deep bowl that has no direct route to the bottom. The trails are constantly zig zagging down the steep walls. Occasionally you can spy the river, way down deep.

My sister Peri, seen from a few switchbacks above, with many more to go. The Colorado river, bright green, is crossed by 2 bridges. One is visible here.

periaboverinnergorgeweb

If it is a cool spring morning on the rim, it is full, hot summer at river level. Along the way are blooming cacti and yucca, birds, lizards and curious squirrels.

beavertailweb
I can’t get enough shots of the blossoming Beavertails.

footstepsweb

a finished linoleum block and gouache illustration.

“Here’s a footstep, dusty red, another one and more ahead.”

signGCweb

To do this rim to river to rim hike one must be very fit and prepared for a lot of heat and exertion.

warningweb

Some people choose to travel by mule. Mules are chosen from Tennessee and Missouri. They are used for pack supplies to Phantom Ranch and pack mail out of the canyon and later promoted to trail mules.

mulesGC_2web

I used a photo of a family, gathered under an overhang, as inspiration for this illustration.sliceofshadeGCweb
16-17lunchGCweb
“Now here’s a tiny slice of shade, a yummy lunch, some lemonade. And a lizard, still as sand, his head all speckled, body tan.”

sliceofshadeweb

Finally, we’re at river level, where the deep shade around Phantom Ranch is most welcoming. Time to recharge and load up on water and salty snacks for the hike back out. Peri and I made it back to the rim by nightfall, a 16 mile roundtrip.

phantomranchweb
But the child in In the Canyon is luckier. She gets to spend the night, camping by the river.

ITC_Moonweb

“Here’s the dark and here’s the shine, and here’s the moon—it’s like it’s mine. To tuck inside me way down deep, Grand and wild, mine to keep.”

I’ll come back to the Canyon someday, no doubt with enough overconfidence to descend to the bottom and back in one day as I did with Peri.

After all, I have what it takes: “a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”

bootsweb

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

Fishing through the ice

Once the lake “ices in,”a whole new world emerges.

Acres of new real estate, previously accessible only by boat, become available for exploration on foot.

fisherman_1

Fisherman, cell phone photo

Fishing is the winter sport of choice. Whole towns spring up, populated by fun loving, hard drinking fisher-people.

icefishing

Fishing village, gouache on brown paper

piratebooty

Give up the booty, gouache on brown paper

shantytown

Four fishing shanties, gouache on brown paper

Up on top there is the bait, and the fish who take it.

bait

bait fish, cell phone photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lakesalmon

land locked salmon, gouache on brown paper

fish2

Pike and lake salmon carcasses, fillets removed, cell phone photo

But I became fascinated with what was going on UNDER all that ice.

icefishing2web

What’s down below,  gouache on paper

My personal goal for this winter is to walk across my lake and to drink an Irish Coffee in a pub on the other side If this happens I’ll let you know!

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar.

Little Owl Card

Why did this owlet fly into my mind this summer?

Every summer I wait for the right image for my cottage card to occur to me. Often it is obviously related to life here on this serene lake. Sometimes it comes from the Vermont landscape. And sometimes, fantasy sneaks in.

2015_2

This year I began with lots of pigment applied wet on wet to my watercolor paper. Then I divided the sheet into postcard openings, and drew my owlet into each opening.

2015

The different colors behind each owl affected how they came out, making each card even more distinctive, one from another.

2015_3

I make quite a few of these cards and send them to my loved ones.

2015_4

owlfinishweb

I think I’ll keep this little fellow to help warm my new home.

Hay Season

That smell is in the air.

hillfarmweb

Hill farm hayfields,gouache

Especially at dawn and dusk I smell fresh cut grass. Along the highways and back roads the fields are striped with swaths of it, lying in fluffed, pillowed rows.

haying

In my Champlain Valley neighborhood the flat bottom land allows for long, easy to mow hayfields.

hayfield

hayfield

Cornwall Farm/watercolor

Freshly cut, the alfalfa, trefoil and grasses lie flat, but before this grass become hay it is handled many times. It is wuffled by the tedder, raked into windrows, and finally baled or rolled or stacked for storage.

HayRolls

Hay rolls/watercolor

Tracking the Red Eft

The Eastern Newt has a juvenile phase where these small amphibians are land dwelling and a striking shade of orange.

redeft_1web

These creatures are tiny–I am always afraid I’m going to step on them as they cross the mossy forest trail. As the summer wanes I see more and more of these on the move. They travel long distances using magnetic orientation. After 2 or 3 years on land they’ll find a permanent pond and become green aquatic newts.

redEftweb

Their gold rimmed eyes and delicate spots are such fun to draw and paint.

RedEft_1web

A Red Eft, painted in gouache, is the star of my 2014 Cottage Card.

If you enjoyed this post, please like Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, visit my webpage here, my Etsy shop, or follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar.