Marsha Skinner, Fire Drawing (series of three),Oil on archival paper/2019

“More Beautiful and Amazing” Seton Gallery exhibition 2019-2020

I’ve never lit a campfire in the wilderness, disliking as I do, the inevitable mess this leaves behind. Fire rings in developed campsites are a different matter. I have sat around several during my visits to Yosemite National Park. Once, at the High Sierra Camp “Sunrise,” I gave a presentation of the Lobo story to a group of ten strangers sitting around the campfire. (My fellow campers thought I was a park ranger and asked me to tell them a story. Seton would have been delighted at how I handled this request!) Bathed in firelight, many of us become more reflective, observant, and open to hearing (really hearing) what others have to share. Seton felt that time spent gazing at and communing around burning logs (small scale, no bonfires) lived at the heart of Lifecraft.

The three painted drawings by Marsha Skinner (one is shown here) present a deep look into the nature of fire, for me, a consideration of fireness itself. The composition does not have a center as such, but is worked equally all over. This is not a depiction of thing so much as it is of feeling. The more words one uses in explanation, the more likely those words will become no more than a black smudge with burnt-out embers on the ground like one of those wilderness campfires. 

Ernest Thompson Seton on the Magic of Fire Light

For millions of years the human race has seen in this blessed fire the means and emblem of light, warmth, protection, friendly gathering, council…Only the ancient sacred fire of wood has power to touch and thrill the cords of primitive remembrance…We shall not fail to use its magic powers. (The Book of Woodcraft, pg. 5, 1923 edition)

(Fire Drawing series, Copyright Marsha Skinner, used by permission.)

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