"The Hill" oil 78" x 91" 1980

("First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is")

On that particular day however, she had walked, via the wood's route, all the way to Arch Rock without thinking and without enjoyment. At the cliff's edge she had looked out dully at the sea and then had climbed down the steep cliff path, crossed the stream, and climbed up the opposite bank. There she had sat, looking across to the hill where she was now sitting eating lunch. It had been grey day with cold gusts of wind coming off the water so she had faced away from the cliff's edge. Her eyes had traced the hill's form unconsciously as she'd sat in a mild stupor.
Slowly as she actually began to see the hill, she began to cry. She cried simply because she hurt...Where had it begun? She wondered. She thought about her present life, her unhappiness. She thought about college before that. She wondered why she wasn't married. She thought about high school even. And happiness? She had never really thought about happiness before. What was it anyway?
And she thought about her childhood, and her idea of what it would be like when she grew up. And she felt so forlorn, so helpless and so lonely. Then her tears had come more evenly and she had seen the rolling hill blurred with its rustling grasses. She liked the hill, and she thought about death and about solitude. And she thought about saying "Good-bye" and about death. About her death and about loving. She thought about mourning ...and she thought maybe there was no such thing...just mixed up feelings - dependencies. Things went where they went. That's all. Death itself was not so awesome, after all what held us here in life were the confused things, the troubles. The beautiful things made no claim on us, even love ... especially love! And then it was the same somehow, living or dying, and she practiced saying "good-bye" to the people and places she'd known, even to the things that she used at home like her hairbrush. It felt good. "Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye." It was easy. And she looked at the hill and its form was perfect just exactly as it was and she loved the hill and so she said "good-bye" to the hill too and then she had a most peculiar feeling as if the hill were not there at all. She could see it all the while, the hill; grass-covered, gently undulating in the sharp breeze, the hill; ancient, enduring, indifferent, the hill; wobbly. And she was wobbly too. It was a good feeling and a sad feeling and a warm feeling. She sat for a long time. Existence seemed so chancy...a momentary balance with no end points and no center either. Like a line without dimension, only the further one got from its place of movement, the more semblance it had, the more urgent it appeared.
She felt she had understood something that day, she felt complete, simple. She felt that she had "understood" death.
Excerpt from The Peanut and the Pearl by Edna Bale

BIOGRAPHY Martha Susan Holsclaw
PEN NAME Edna Bale
Born 1948 in Tsing-Tao, China aboard the USS Repose. I lived in Japan, New York, Texas, Alaska, Ohio, and California
Awarded BFA@ U-CONN, Storrs, CT 1971
1971-75 My goal upon graduation was to be a 'painter'. I worked as a darkroom technician, a bar maid, an illustrator, a draftsman, a paint salesman, and, as an electrical draftsman/printed circuit board designer. I was competent with the work and enjoyed it, but still wishing to pursue fine arts, I returned to school. I lived in Ontario; CA, Laguna Beach; CA, Goleta; CA and Watertown; MA. I lived with Curt Thayer, a poet.
Awarded MFA@ U-MASS, Amherst, MA, 1977, Ford Foundation Grants, 1975 & '76, Teaching Assistantships, 1976 & '77. Following graduate school, I was unable to paint.
Teaching Credential@ SFSU, San Francisco, CA, 1979
1980-86 Receipt of a credential brought me no closer to having a career and instead I entered into a second exploratory phase of living. I studied Zen Buddhism, and continued to think about art. I worked many jobs, even less prestigious than before graduate school: technical writer, domestic, janitor, field hand, waitress, dishwasher, laundress, draftsman, "explainer" in a science museum, welder, cook, typesetter, substitute teacher and night manager in a home for handicapped people. I began a study of Architecture and designed and drafted the following structures:
SARAH'S HOUSE-Home for architect & wife.
HAE HOUSE-Home for South Africa.
THORN BITTEN-Commune for 26 adults & 6 children.
RIVERRUN LODGE-Lodge with alternative plumbing, heating & design.
NAUTILUS-Retirement home for single artist.
I also began to write seriously:
The Deluge Drawings, Historical Essay
"Painting Manual", Poetry, 1984
The Peanut & The Pearl by Edna Bale, Novelette, 1987
"Spinning Stories" Fiction 1986
"Summer-Spring Verse", Poetry, 1988
"Drug Wars" , Poetry 1990
"Gouda : A Bawdy Play" , Poetry, 1990
Comedy (For Saturday Night Live) (Parental Guidance Advised) 1989

I became a hermit and a wanderer for 7 years. I lived in Santa Fe; New Mexico, Arlington; Texas, and Elizabeth City; North Carolina. I lived meagerly on a small stipend from my parents. I rode a bicycle, had no car or phone. I would go for weeks without talking to anyone except maybe the bank clerk or the grocery clerk. I attempted periodically to get a job teaching art.
In Arlington, a quiet college town, I rented a clean bright duplex with fine wooden floors, set back from the street. In the large bedroom I could "sit" zazen, paint, and dance. In the dinning room I had a round wooden table and a tiny black and white red plastic TV. This was an exciting time news wise- (1987-89) and my link to the outside world was the McNeil/Laher News Show. Every night with my homemade bread, soup and salad, I watched the world change. Especially Eastern Europe and China. When I first arrived, I wrote a long autobiographical poem, "Summer-Spring Verse" and did a series of pastel landscapes. ("Earth Window", "Sky Harp", "Calliope"). As a child, I had lived in Texas. Texas weather (radical lightening storms, torrential rains) was 'in my blood'. Now, I had found another connection to my identity. The lushness of Texas weather and vegetation is here celebrated in what I call "South American surrealism". (gestalt between representation and compressed image).

"Earth Window" 18" x 24" 1987
"Skyharp" pastel 18" x 24" 1987
"Calliope" Pastel 18" x 24" 1987