The Path of the Snail Trail (update) (part 13)

Whoosh. Cripes: it has been more than a year since I last wrote about my life with the snail trails. In fact it has been about a year since I worked on this project. I have some other snail trail stuff I want to try, but not just now.

Thus and hence, this update marks the conclusion of … whatever this was. Let’s call it phase 1.

To refresh our memories:

+ I photographed a complicated snail trail on a low tide beach, then tried/failed to figure out what path the snail had taken to make this trail.

+ I took the photo into Adobe software, figuring I could color and manipulate the image to detect the path.

+ I never detected the path but coloring it led to many interesting images, some of which I shared in Snail Trail posts 1-12.

+ My next ‘failure’ arose when I tried to organize the images into a single poster.

+ Some of the images, including this one, told me they wanted to be displayed alone.

… OK, that concludes our stroll down memory lane.

I printed and framed 3 of the solo snail trails. Each snail trail wanted an entirely different frame and it took a long time to understand what they wanted. They are more fussy than I am.

Here they are, decked out in their frames. Two of them got to join an exhibit at the local Arts Center!

(And even juxtaposing these 3 reminds me why it was so squirrelly, trying to put 30-40 colored trails on a poster…)

Unplanned, unexpected, rarely understood, this snail trail project has been so important to me! It remarkably shifted my creative process. I’ve learned and discovered so much. And perhaps the coolest discovery of all came a few months after I set the trails aside.

I happened upon a web page that discussed sandroing, an indigenous performance art in Vanuatu. Sandroing artists tell a story with words and song while their finger creates a design in sand; they wipe away the design to conclude the performance. Times being what they are, some of these ephemeral performances persist on You Tube. And in the first one I watched, the design looked staggeringly similar to the original of the snail trail I spent so many months trying to color and understand! (Frustrated to report that I can no longer find that particular video … so… still ephemeral, just not so immediately so…)

My takeaway from this: I am on the right path. I have no clue what that path is, or where it leads, but I intend to keep following it, as best I can!

Meanwhile, back at the tidepool, I fell in love with bean clam shells like these:

which launched a new project, still very much evolving. More on that to come.

Probably much more on that.



The Snail Trail, dub version (part 12)

As I’ve been detailing in recent posts, I’ve become preoccupied with altering a photo of a complicated snail trail.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been attempting to present all the trails in a single poster. I’ve tried so many combinations. I knew going into this effort that – given the great variety of styles, colors, feelings – to combine the trails would defy the basic rules of good design. Rules, shmools. Good, shmood.

I figured – I still figure – it must be possible to combine the trails in a way that is pleasing and interesting. So far, however, my posters have induced headaches. At best.

Again, I started over. This time, instead of analyzing combinations, I started with a favorite trail and asked which other trail it wanted to stand beside. I tried again with a second trail. Not getting answers the way I sought them, I tried a third time.

What I learned is that the trails vant to be alone. However, duplications and mirror images of themselves are okay.

All of which led to this image, a prayer rug of a snail trail that has got me hearing Garvey’s Ghost (Burning Spear’s dub version Marcus Garvey), which I haven’t thought about in years.

Hmm. Maybe it goes this way.

The Snail Trail, part 11

As I’ve been detailing in recent posts, I’ve become preoccupied with altering a photo of a complicated snail trail.

However, my snail trail colorings have begun to slip from curiosity and exploration into planning and process.

I take dream advice seriously. Thus, I doubt that it was coincidence when an irritable dream voice recently told me (in a C’mon, get with it tone), “You’ve got a snail trail. Learn how to wander.”

I’ve set aside ideas for more snail trail embellishments. For the moment, at least, I’m not pursuing them.

I confess that I’m not sure how this snail trail can teach me about wandering when I can’t even follow its frigging path. Which brings me back to the impatience/patience thing. Doesn’t feel like I’m getting anywhere, I’d better turn versus Oh is it time for a turn? Alrighty then!

So, time for a turn. Here I go.

More soon.

Or maybe not.

The Snail Trail, part 5

As I’ve been detailing in recent posts, I’ve become preoccupied with a photo of a complicated snail trail.

After various failed efforts to follow or reproduce the sea snail’s route, I tried to follow it in spirit. That is, I attempted to stop steering and instead make turns without forethought, as they present themselves.

It’s not my first round at this particular rodeo. With and without snail trails, my life proceeds most gloriously when I am able to live it without trying to steer and plan. My days become deeper and richer. My fiction writing brings wonderful surprises.

And yet it takes daily/hourly/momently effort to put steering and planning on pause.

And so, the Snail Trail Project has become another opportunity to practice wandering. I began to dabble with shapes in the trail and have wound up spending weeks decorating those shapes. Early on, in the colorized trail shapes I saw an impala, prancing. In a recent dream, impalas played an important role, so I colored the snail trail to emphasize the impala:

It takes a certain squint to see the impala, kicking up one heel.

The Snail Trail, part 4

As I mentioned in my most recent posts, I’ve become preoccupied with a photo of a complicated snail trail.

After I abandoned my effort to recreate the trail, I imagined walking it as the snail had. Twist, turn, twist, return, reverse, retwist.

I thought, ‘Snail is patient. It takes a lot of patience to move like that.’

I thought about it some more. And at some point I started to feel like Pooh with one of his conundrums.

I decided. The snail trail is a great symbol of Patience.

The snail trail is an equally great symbol of Impatience.