Archive for August, 2008

Continuing the large watercolour

August 29, 2008

Yesterday, I put in the basics of a large watercolour (see previous post). I’ve had time to contemplate what I’ve done. Now I’m continuing on.

I took a photograph of the mid stage so that I could post it and you could see the effects of the various beginning washes.

On the large Scarlet Lake Hibiscus, I’ve added some cool reds for the shadows. I’ve tackled the white flower with a cool red centre that radiates out. My mood is near despair. It looked quite competent actually, before I messed with it. I’m in that state that says “I should have left it alone. It was good enough as it was. Why tamper with it.”

But of course, I haved a vision for it. so I continue on.

While painting the centre of the flower, I noticed an inconsistency in the drawing that made one petal too long. I’ve shortened by darkening it at the end with some neutral grey. Now I’m questioning my judgement but I can’t really go back on it. I’m also waiting for the cool red to dry in the middle of the flower.

I did that part with my big number 14 round which, by the way, has a great point to it. Nevertheless, I’m somewhat unhappy about the pointed rays that come out of the centre. They look too uniform. Perhaps I should not have been so exuberant and hasty. Perhaps I should have used the smaller number 5 round and gotten picky and detailed. Besides, I’ve noticed that some of the central colour has bled into a white area. I don’t think I can get it cleaned off back to white. I’m going to have to figure out how to integrate that into the rest of the flower so that it doesn’t look like a blurple.

So while I wait for this to dry (cup of coffee in hand) I’m going to select a colour or mix a colour to use for the shadows on the white. As this is a tropical flower, I want to emphasize the brilliance of the flower. I need a cool colour for shadow, but not grey. Or if grey, one loaded with Cerulean or Manganese blue, perhaps. Mixing shadow colours is an art in itself.

I have some Cerulean and dilute it. I try a bit on the petal and find it is alright, but now I’m committed. I should have tried it on a piece of napkin and held it over the space where it was to go. Some people never learn. But this colour will be adequate as long as it’s diluted a bit more.

My sister came in from school where she is preparing for the first day of teaching next week. As I’m on holiday and “doing nothing”, I get to make lunch. I fixed up a vege sandwich – Okanagan tomato slices, cream cheese, cucumber and a dash of salt and pepper; and a home made soup with broccoli. It’s in our tummies now and I’m back at work on the watercolour while she gets an afternoon snooze.

I’ve got two problem areas. One is the centre of the white flower and the other is the area I painted a neutral grey because the flower petal seemed to long. I’ve regretted this last action and am trying to figure out how I can make this area look more integrated.

I’m back to this artistic consideration of tonal balance. As I know I want a very dark tone in the background, I figure it’s time to fill that in. Until that is done, I won’t be able to figure out what to do with the problem areas.

I mix a little more than a half cup of water with pigment – Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. It takes a bit of time to do this with constant stirring to get an even consistency to it. I test the colour on something else, a little thinned out with water so that I can see what the dominant colour is. Once it dries, it’s going to show.

It’s more brownish than blue. I add another spurt of blue and continue to mix. Now it’s pretty near neutral black. I’d like some green in this and select Windsor Green and add it in and continue to mix.

Now I have a little more than a half cup of some pretty potent watercolour with a green undertone. Same as yesterday, I take the two inch flat brush and soak it with this paint. I turn the painting upside down to work on the top portion, brushing the dark paint along the edges of the flowers, close as possible when I can do it well and leaving small portions where I need a smaller brush for detailed work. I’m really working with two brushes at once, and go quickly into these detailed areas. It’s my last chance and this outer edge needs to be perfect – no little overlays that don’t mean anything.

It reminds me of my friend Jim who confessed that he ironed his own shirts. He took on this task when he discovered his wife was not particular to his tastes in this matter and she often left the crease from the previous time, creating a new crease just a fraction of an inch beside it. Like a ghost crease. He couldn’t bear to see that, having had to have perfect creases when he was in the army; so he ironed his own.

With watercolour, it’s much the same. When one layer overlaps another then these double edges form and I don’t like them. They’re sloppy, somehow. This is my opportunity to ensure they are none left.

But I’ve got another problem. It’s 25 degrees Celsius out. A beautiful day is going on outside with big puffy Kootenay clouds scudding across the sky and a majority of sunshine heating up the place after three days of cool autumn weather. This has affected my watercolour paper. It’s dry. I have to work even faster than yesterday to get the wash to flow down the page. If it dries before I attach the next swash of colour, overlapping lines will show – big ones. More panic. More furious brushing and detailing. I opt for the broad work before the detailed work and try to get my big brush to do as much detail as possible.

Once the whole top portion is done, I lift the paper and try to lift it on a greater angle so that the paints will run down evenly along the paper. I’m hoping to end up with a very smooth wash when I’m done.

When it’s dried enough and there are no remaining wet shiny areas, it’s coffee time again. It has to thoroughly dry, even if I’m going to turn the paper around and do the same to the bottom third.

Of course, I’m impatient. This time, I decide to wet down the area that is to be covered in the dark wash with a clear water wash first, damp away the excess water with a paper towel or tissue and let it almost dry. Then maybe I won’t have the same problem as I did with the upper wash.

It works!

There is only one area where the dark wash has not settled in as much, as dark, as I wanted, but it has the same sweep to it as the leaf I was going around. I will be able to save this somehow.

Now all I have are finishing touches.

I still need to “save” the centre of the white flower, but I’m otherwise done.

As often happens, I’m not thrilled with the results. If I leave it alone for a day or two, I may come back to it and wonder how I managed to do it! When all the frustrations of doing the thing are over, sometimes the perceived faults go away and the picture looks mighty good after all.
Here’s hoping.

And just a last thought.

This has been the first large watercolour I’ve done in several years. I got the feel of it again but maybe that has to do with my disaffection with the final product just now. But I’ve learned from the past. Sometimes revisiting the same image, now that I know it, now that I’ve tried it out once, will give me a better and freer painting. I might just do it again. Or maybe a variation. Or maybe with a blue background. Maybe Cerulean sky blue, or a pure yellow. Or change the flower colours, or flatten them, not looking so much to reproduce the flower but represent it. Or maybe……

My desire is always to do better than last time.

And that’s how a series grows.

Advertisements

Anatomy of a new watercolour

August 28, 2008

I took the opportunity of a free ride up to the Kootenay mountains where my sister lives, high atop Red Mountain. She’s an accomplished watercolourist, and since I”m trying to travel light, she offered to lend me her watercolours to paint with.

We’ve both got this project of painting images from our trip to Fiji last March and I looked through our photos to see what might inspire me. I chose one of the floral arrangements that these tropical hotels often display with fresh flowers brought in in the cool of morning, simply sitting without vase or other container, on the tables in the open entry of the reception area.

The simplicity, when I first saw it, was stunning. Two brilliant hibiscus flowers and a few leaves sitting on low black table.

I paint quite differently than my sister does. She has found a way, more or less, to control the wet on wet technique. I’m more studied. I put more planning into it – a careful drawing to start, either in graphite pencil or in watercolour pencil which will mostly disappear when the first layers of wash are laid on.

I use 300 pound Arches rough watercolour paper almost exclusively. I like the way it handles; its consistency in absorbency over the whole page surface and its lack of buckling once it’s wet. With the 300 pound paper, I don’t even have to stretch it. Yes it bends a little, but your framer should be able to press it back into flat position with little trouble.

I like to use a whole sheet now that my eye sight is less sharp than when I was younger. It takes a bit of nerve to tackle a large sheet since they are so expensive, but it allows a great liberty of movement that a small sheet size does not.

So there I was at the drawing table, sketch generally in place; the outlines of the hibiscus petals defined; the leaves drawn in, all very lightly. I don’t have any of my supplies with me except my brushes. I really believe strongly that ones brushes are very personal and shouldn’t be lent. Besides, good brushes are a must and they are expensive. You wouldn’t want someone to ruin a fifty dollar brush on you. would you? And so, despite her kind offer that I might use anything, I brought my own.

When working large, you need large brushes – ones that will hold a lot of water or a lot of paint load. I use a two inch brush flat for painting broad areas – squirrel hair, I think, though I bought it so long ago I’m not sure. I have two number 8 rounds and two or three fine ones – number ones and twos that come to a fine point for detail. I also have a flat brush a one inch and a three quarter inch which I don’t use often, but when I do need them, I need them. When I get back to home, I’ll illustrate for you what this brush can do and why it’s useful.

To start painting, I take a lightly wet sponge or a wet paper towel and soften the whole surface of the paper. The purpose is to remove the sizing, a water soluble glue that holds the paper together but which, in the drying process collects and hardens the surface. If you don’t soften it or remove it gently, then the water colour will not absorb consistently. and you will get blurples and stains where you don’t want them. Then I take any excess water off the surface so the surface is evenly damp.

When it is just dry to the touch, I use frisket to put in any highlight that I want stark white as finishing details. The only areas for this painting are the long brilliant pistils that I will want to have stand out light against the strong colour of the flower. I let the frisket dry thoroughly, wash that brush out thoroughly or lose it, and then start to paint.

On this one, I’m a bit nervous because I haven’t painted a large watercolour for over three years. Trepidation rules! I might not always do this, but feeling cautious, I want to block in the basic shapes to see that my composition is valid without committing myself with strong colours. I want to be able to correct the shape if necessary. So I decided to block in the lightest highlight colour on what would eventually be a strong vermilion coloured hibiscus.

My sister works with different colours than I do. I normally would have used a Windsor and Newton Cadmium Red Light for this. We both swear by the quality of Windsor and Newton pigments or alternately Holbein. I’ve also used Schminke, but we don’t often see it here in Canada and when we do, it’s far too expensive for my pocket. But I’ve used it in Europe; and Schminke paint is really lovely to work with. So here I was, rummaging through her stash of paints and finally selected two colours I never have worked with before – Scarlet Lake and Quinacridone purple for the shadows.

I like to use small yogurt containers to mix large batches of paint in. Any small washable container will do. I poured 150 cl of water into it and put in a small amount of Scarlet Lake, then mixed it until it was completely dispersed in the water. Then, petal by petal, I coloured in a flat pale pink over the entire flower shape being careful to come just to the edge of each petal so that a finest line of paper white showed through to define where each petal was. This is important for when the tones are going to be laid on. You don’t want to lose your drawing at this stage. I was fortunate. The shape emerged as a very flat, soft salmon pink when it dried. Next I did the same to the second flower in a pale, pale yellow, almost colourless. This second flower is a white one with a coloured centre. And when that was thoroughly dry, I painted in a very soft sap green – very diluted – on the leaves. The drawing looked good but I still wasn’t seeing the composition well because of the white flower against the white background. Nothing for it, I was going to have to fill in the background with a wash so that I could see where that was, also.

At the end, I would like to have a very dark background. The photograph I was using for a memory guide is completely black, but photographs are only source material. I’m not trying to copy it slavishly. I was planning a background with more colour, but a dark background in any case and relatively flat. I want the flowers to be the main focus and the background to support that, or at least, recede in importance.

Maybe a dark blue, generally; maybe a dark green although I’ve often had difficulty in achieving a flat wash with green. I think it is because green is more of a stain than a pigment. A French Ultramarine settles beautifully, evenly. My black background will be a mixed black. You can do this with opposites – red and green or orange and blue. If I’m working with my own pigments, I use Aliziron Crimson and Windsor Green or Hooker’s green. On the blue scale, I use French Ultramarine mixed with Burnt Sienna.

But for now, I want only a neutral grey that will indicate the dark ground and I know that the green/red mix will commit me to a green is undertone while the blue/sienna can be mixed almost to neutral grey, so that I will be able to modify by another layer when I get closer to finishing the painting.

This next step is harrowing for me. I have to work fast.

I have large areas of grey to fill in with an even colour. I use the two inch brush. I have at least a half cup of the prepared grey. I use the large two inch flat brush to re-dampen the whole lower background and pat off excess water so that the pigment, when applied, will not soak in too fast leaving brush marks. I keep the watercolour board slightly tilted. I put on my first large brush stroke of pigment up close to the flower edge, being careful to let the water pool at the bottom of the mark as the pigment empties from the brush. This pooling ensures that the next stroke does not have an overlap line between it and the first brush full. I take my largish round brush and paint right up to the edge of the flower, filling in where there are notches in the drawing, taking care to get these precisely. You have to do this quickly.

When that’s done, I paint another brush-load with the big flat brush, catching up the pool that has formed, extending this both downwards and to the left as I fill in the page; continuing to define the flower and leaf edge in the middle as I go; continuing on with big flat brush-loads until the whole bottom part is covered with this pale grey.

Now paint and water is collecting at the bottom of the painting. Do not pick this up with a paper towel . It will suck the water rapidly out of the area you touch to and suck pigment with it. Then you get a lighter area. Also do not touch up somewhere you have missed, because it is going to add more water to the spot and make a flower of watercolour with little fine darker edges where it stops spreading.

For the water collecting at the bottom, just let your dry paint brush pick it up , or put a paper towel under the painting where it’s not touching the paper, This water-settling process is what makes a good flat wash on your painting but it’s good to try it out, smaller size before you tackle a big one.

Now, watercolour is a great medium to work in. There is a lot of technique to learn and no one method is better than another, but each one you learn to work with well gives you better freedom for the next painting you do. One of my wonderful mentors, Paul Kuzma, underscored the importance of letting things dry thoroughly. The relative dryness or dampness of the painting surface is critical to many different effects you can get when you work and only trial and error will give you the experience you need to work with this.

His recipe was – Paint in the area you are working on, then have a glass of wine, a few crackers, enjoy yourself, have a bit of conversation. When that comes to a lovely hiatus, your painting is probably ready for another go. So I did just that, although painting under the influence for me impairs my judgment and my hand, so I went off to get a cup of coffee and sit with a book.

When the paint was sufficiently dry to run no longer, I simply turned the thing around and tackled the top part of the painting in the same way. It’s important not to do a large wash otherwise (right side up) because you want the wash to run ever so slightly, but you don’t want that running into your imagery uncontrollably.

Next, once that was dry, I was able to tackle the large red flower. I continued on with the same red but used more concentrated pigment to define the darker areas. Now I use the photograph as a memory guide as to where the lights and darks are. With the large round brush, I painted in petal after petal in large free strokes, leaving that pale peach underlay as my light tones. This stage is where I begin to wonder why I ever do watercolour. I get in a panic. I have to work fast because I don’t want strokes to dry and then overlay them with another stroke. If that happens, the painting looks overworked, and the overlaps may place marks in the painting that you don’t want and can’t get rid of. If paint starts to run into each other, you must prevent yourself from trying to make it perfect. Let it run, within reason. Some of that free stuff makes your painting look lively.

The panic comes from realizing that my drawing is not anatomically correct, so as to speak. I drew the flowers in freehand – no copying, no magic lantern/overhead projector. And of course, now I could see that I hadn’t gotten it right. But I’m in the middle of painting it and now I have to fake it. The painterly decisions have to be split second. I have to understand what the flower is doing, how it curves, how it flows, so that I can make the flower I’m painting believable. All the petals must come out of the centre. Where a petal overlaps, the under part is in shadow. The veins on the petals must also come out of the centre.

Then comes a moment when you know that you have to stop. You can come back into it later. It’s time for a glass of wine. Enough for today. Tomorrow, the frustration and panic of that last spurt of painting will be gone and I can look at the image more dispassionately and see what needs to be done.

Tune in tomorrow (or maybe the next day for the sequel.

Gallery Hopping in Fort Langley

August 19, 2008

My sister, also an artist, is visiting from the Kootenay region. Today we went over to Fort Langley. We saw a Local Artist exhibit of about thirty different amateur artists. It was some collection! Mostly flowers, several paintings of horses and other domesticated animals, pet portraits, a few fashion figures in imitation of Erte. We didn’t stay long.

Sierra, my sister’s collie dog, was with us and very frightened of the rumblings of thunder and lightning. We’ve had extremely hot weather (for us) in the 30s Celsius, and we would welcome some rain – it’s hot and humid to an uncomfortable degree.

We had to pick up some merchandise at Opus Framing Supplies in Langley, so we hurried on in order to get there before closing time. On the way back, we stopped in at the Fort Gallery, a collective of artists, each exhibiting for three weeks in succession so that there are plenty of interesting shows all year round.

Suzanne Northcott is the driving force behind the cooperative and for these three weeks, this is her show. Her current work is all figurative with large paintings on canvas 4 foot by 5 foot, that is, almost life size. Here’s a web address for you to enjoy the paintings too:

http://www.suzannenorthcott.ca/NewWork.htm

I find her craftsmanship excellent. She works with varying points of view – many of them looking straight down on her subjects. There is a compositional boldness and clarity like Egon Shiele’s and a simplicity of background which gives greater force to the figure itself. She has a good handle on textural contrasts and a lovely sense of colouration, shifting through several shades of warm red glazes through cool ones in the skin tones to achieve form and shape.

Her drawing is draftsman-like but not too much so. The hands and feet are well done and anatomically very believable.  She doesn’t avoid doing them, nor does she hide these extremities that are often hard to draw well. In fact, she often makes them a focal point in the composition.

She leaves sufficient to the imagination and asks her viewers to enjoy some of the mysteries that she creates within her paintings. What is the relationship between two figures? What is this person waiting for? Why the melancholy look? The people that stare back at you, that engage you from inside the canvas, they have lives lived; have issues with others; have emotional quotients.

There is a liberty in her drawing, a looseness that speaks volumes about the years of work she has put into figure drawing in a painting medium to arrive at this apparent ease in her imagery.

If you are in the Fort Langley, British Columbia are, try to see this show before it ends. It’s excellent.

Suzanne shared a glass of wine with us, saying that Art and Wine were two things that should always live together. While we chatted, several gallery visitors came through, each staying quite a time to absorb the work before them. This is not work you want to see in the traditional three seconds per image, the museum and gallery average. You will want to focus on each painting and the delicious painterliness therein.

Eventually we had to go. I live on the other side of the river in Maple Ridge, so we parked our car in the Albion Ferry line-up and waited an hour before we got on the ferry. It’s a short ride to the other side once you are on it. It would be lovely if the Provincial Government could keep the ferry going after the new Golden Ears bridge across the Fraser River has been completed. It’s a charming trip, great for tourism.

And so I’m home again. I’ll have these visions of paintings in my mind for a long while.

Good morning

August 8, 2008

I woke up at six this morning to find the sun just ready to crest the distant mountains. By the time I got the camera, it flared over the top making this beautiful light:

and this:

Window treatments

August 3, 2008

Blind, curtain and coffee cup

With a little encouragement from Fencer, I’ve gone looking for some of my favorite art photos. Today’s offering is on window treatments (Suburbanlife’s bete noire , the name for curtains n those house fashion magazines).

I like them because they filter light and sometimes create great shadows or with sheers, offer layers of visual imagery that has to be guessed at. It can be clear on one level and obscure and tempting on another. (The verysame reason why I like Canadada’s superimposed photos). I inherited the window treatments in this house and I would never have chosen them myself because they are a bit more baroque than I would normally chose; but I’ve fallen in love with them. The photo above captures the opaque blind with the see-through fringe, the curtain with its two layers of see-through-ness – the mesh and then the embroidered leaf figures. the nature of the fabric when doubled (it’s hem), and then the shadow/light it casts on the window sill. I like the restraint in the colour, almost monochromatic, with the only touch of brighter colour being the peach on the cup’s decal.

Curtain and yellow flashlight:

Same window, same drape: Here I’ve left a large flashlight on the sill. I’m hesitant about all that yellow. It disturbs the austerity of the remainder of the coloring. Is it provocative or disturbing? (That’s an either or question; not both).

Here it is again, desaturated so the yellow is gone and sepia-ized. The photo is less jarring colourwise, but the meaning is harder to grasp. The object behind the semi-transparent curtain becomes less definable and so the meaning of the picture is lost as well. It leaves me doubtful, but the experimentation was worth the try.

Next, I’ve two curtains with light falling through them. It’s like being at the Optometrist. I look a this first one and then the second and ask “which is the better composition” . They are so similar but different. On the first there is a deep shadow on the left hand side. Does that imbalance the image? Does it make the image too vertically challenged without sufficiently strong horizontal action?

Neither one of these photos have been adjusted colour-wise nor cropped. I like the simplified and stylized plant forms embroidered on the curtain and then some very busy evergreen branch (fir or pine?) outside the window casting a precise shadow onto the semi-sheer fabric. The window mullion traversing horizontally is in better tonal balance than the first picture. I think the composition proportions are better too; but there are some nice subtleties in the tonal ranges of the first of these two images where the mullion shadow crosses horizontally. Does one have to choose? Can I have both?

And now for the last image:

As I was playing with the desaturation function in Adobe Photoshop, I was looking for a sepia-making function. I didn’t find it so I went exploring other things and found shadow highlight under Image , Adjustments. Look what it’s done to this picture! I like it. Especially, I like what happened with pushing the shadow function in photo 2 of this series:

Here’s the photo I started with. I used brightness contrast in the adjustments function to lighten up the photo, it being quite dark around the edges. It didn’t improve it sufficiently for my taste. It was too heavy and dark on top and that created an imbalance that wasn’t useful to the image.

When I found the shadow/highlight function, I produced this by pushing the Shadow scale up to 100 p[ercent:

The Money Plant arrangement at the top of the blind popped out of the gloom, making a leit motif of floral movement in that dark space. The dark space was no longer heavy and oppressive in the total image. It also introduced some light tan colour and some warmth into the image which makes it more hospitable, more friendly. So being the curious sort that I am, I wondered what would happen if I pushed the highlight function to 100 percent. I used version 2 for this experiment and here’s the answer for what happens:

It almost polarized the light in the lower portion. It made the picture warmer again and the spiraling figure, if you can call it that, from the wrought iron decoration in the middle of the venetian blind has become more like a shadow than an object. Curiouser and curiouser. I like it.

It’s getting late. I’ll have to experiment some more another day.

It’s fun. It’s grand. Thanks, Fencer, for the encouragement. I hope you enjoyed this.

Nature versus Art

August 2, 2008

Whenever I can catch Recreating Eden, a television program series celebrating great gardens, landscaping architecture and gardening, I do. This morning whilst looking for a bit of news which I have neglected for the last few days, it being so often all the same – a few stabbings, a bit of war bombings, the latest exposure of corporate fraud or greed and some in-your-face commiseration with the family of some tragic car accident victim – I found that Recreating Eden was on at this early hour.

I got caught up in the world of Charles Jenks and his creations – marriages of science, art and gardens. The gardens are very formal, very obviously constructed and grandiose in size and style. It’s a curious mix, incorporating representations of major recent scientific discoveries into a man-manipulated nature and a wild bit of planned garden plantings.

Jenks described four categories or levels of natural environments: wild untouched nature;hunter/gatherer man-altered nature (fields, husbanded forests, etc); gardens; and planned landscaped environments with the marriage of art, science and landscape.

I found his work fascinating, awe-inspiring and emotionally meaningful, not to mention the cerebral underpinnings that have triggered his design concepts.

Thinking of this and recent conversations on the validity or appropriateness or worth of art-altered nature, i had to dig a little deeper into my thought processes. Does one’s approval of “environmental” art, landscape art or architecture depend on how much one likes it?

Jenks’ work is certainly disruptive of the natural environment; but I like it. Mind you, I would have been mightily upset if he had needed to destroy a forest to create his built environment. I presume, though, that he was starting with an environment that had already been altered centuries before by man’s hand.

Is it only when we have something that is shocking in the environmental scape that it becomes objectionable? If you’ve been following this tennis match blogging between Art is Eternal (in defense of some thoughts and artworks of an experimental bent) and Forestrat.wordpress.com, (in defense of Nature as it is), then perhaps you have some comments to add.

I have no answers, I realize.
Forestrat referred to an artwork installation that included brightly coloured plastic forms of rats hanging from the trees in a natural environment. I’m sure I would find that shocking but it would make me wonder what the artist was trying to say and I might look further into it. I would also hope that the display was temporary, as many art installations are. I think it would distress me if it were left permanently.

And yet, the Inushuk stone piles of the Innuit – they seem almost mystical to see in the rocky, snowy environment in which they were created. Having them there permanently does not offend me aesthetically and it’s doing no damage to it’s natural surroundings.

On the other hand, when I see one of these Inushuk plunk in the middle of a city, I shake my head. They jar with the cityscape. I also object to the ones made in Inushuk workshops on municipal beach edges surrounded by bikini clad bathers. They are equally jarring when constructed by Ferry Terminals. They don’t fit. It would be more contextually apt to construct a sandcastle! If these misplaced Inushuk topple back into their stony components on the ground, I’d be happy.

So is our appreciation of things based on our liking of things? Or is there more to it than “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like”.

Can we apply some criteria to our judgment, or if you like, our appreciation, of new forms of art work?

Who gets to judge whether or not an installation can stay in a natural environment or not? Does it depend on who owns it? For example, if one owns large fields and chooses to create a maze or a crop circle, is there any regulation that would prevent a person from doing that? But if it was in the middle of a state or national park, obviously someone in the park administration would have to evaluate and pronounce on one’s right to proceed with a similar alteration of the landscape.

Is it alright if it doesn’t permanently damage the landscape? If it’s a pick up and go kind of work (like filling a rock pool with a vibrant and clashing red colour or like Christo’s wrapped environments that get unwrapped at the end of the day with nothing damaged in the end)? Many of the installations are temporary with the only lasting record being photographs once an installation has been set up.

As I keep thinking about this idea, I keep coming up with more questions than answers.

Is anyone listening out there? Do you have some wonderful examples of installations in nature that you think should be left there permanently? Or ones that you think are there to stay that you’d like to tear down in the middle of the night when no one is looking?