Archive for the ‘watercolours’ Category

Framing

November 21, 2011

I sometimes rescue paintings from secondhand shops or thrifts – originals that people have junked, not knowing what they have. Many are anonymous. I can’t figure out the signature (which is a good reason in favour of clearly printing one’s name when signing an original work of art).  It’s amazing what you can find. It’s also amazing what you cannot find – like any information on the author of the work. If anyone can help me out on that front, please do so.

Sometimes they come with framing and sometimes not.

I found a subtle watercolour portrait marked Don Quixote, very sensitively done, about six months ago is a beat-up black frame with a hand cut mat around it. The image is done in loose watercolour washes with blues for the shadows and warm tones of peach, rose madder and yellows in the warm tones. The eyes are beautifully drawn and the mouth and nose sensitively described.

Signature not clear: Kjariscal or K. Jariscal? Don Quixote, 2000. watercolor

“Never fear!” I thought, “I’ll just re-mat and re-frame it.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take it out of it’s frame. Oy vey!

It’s backing was a dusty, dirty pulp board – the cheapest kind of cardboard with no refinement whatsoever and prone to picking up moisture. It was full of acid. The mat wasn’t acid free either. Where it had touched the painting, the watercolour paper was going brown. Yuck.

It was taped in with brown paper tape – kraft tape, it’s sometimes called. The backing was nailed in with rusty nails. I don’t suppose they were rusty when they were first tapped in there.

This is just a reminder – a cautionary tale. It just costs a small amount more to buy acid free matting and backing; or to use barrier paper (an acid free paper that separates the work of art from a cardboard backing).

An acid free framing will last a lifetime or more without losing its crisp whiteness; the non-acid free will be brown in two years and spoil the appearance of your gem, not only dulling the framing, but eventually attacking the work of art itself.

My new acquisition is now looking crisp and proud in its new frame.

My favorite custom framing place is Final Touch Frames in Vancouver on the corner of  4th and Quebec in a blue warehouse space. They are reasonably priced; and if you have works on paper that need mats in the smaller sizes, there are a lot of pre-cut mats that might suit your work.

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Intent

November 30, 2010

“I don’t really like them. What’s your intent? ” asks Mrs. Stepford next door.

Since I came back from a vacation filled with visits to contemporary museums and galleries, my art production has taken a 180 degree turn around.

“I don’t always know, when I start something new.” I answer. “I start intuitively. I know I want to accomplish something, but I’m not sure what. I’m just mucking around with paint. I have an idea what it might look like and an idea of how I will achieve it, but how I get there, in the end is much to do with how the paint works with me or against me. I put it on and manipulate it. I know how watercolor paint reacts with its surface and I hope to control it but that doesn’t always work and sometimes I have to find a way to get around something that happened during the process that I didn’t expect.”

“You’re painting sidewalk cracks?” she says, not really in disbelief, but nonetheless with some concern that this might not be too serious or that my intent might be spurious.

“Not sidewalk cracks. They are concrete floor repairs that I saw at the Musee d’Art moderne et contemporain in Geneva.  In fact these are realism.  They are paintings of something I have seen. They are modern found drawings, interpreted. ”

“Are you going to put one in the current group show?”
“Of course not.   They won’t fit in a Christmas show. Especially not a small works show. They all have to hang together. They have to be in context or they won’t be understood. It’s not that each one can’t stand alone, it’s just that the intent is clear when the viewer can see the context of them; that it’s not just throwing a paint pot at the paper. Each one is a specific discovery of how the paint flows but each is also a study in placement and spatial relationships. ”
“Think about Rothko and Jackson Pollock. One of their paintings stands alone now, and magnificently, I might add; but the first ones? Without seeing that they all spoke together, a single one would seem incomprehensible. It’s the context that speaks. ”

“True, too true,” concedes Mrs. Stepford.

“It’s a real leap of faith to go out on the edge like this. I like it. It’s not really comprehensible to myself yet. I just do it, knowing that I have a vision and an intuitiveness working for me and I have to follow it until I’ve seen it to a logical end.  It’s an exploration. I’ll try to explain it afterward. But right now, I’m just painting and I stop when it seems right.”

“You are getting better at this,” Mrs. Stepford says. “Before, you couldn’t even tell me what you were doing. Now at least you are trying to put it into words. This is a step forward.”

Mrs. Stepford is my devil’s advocate. She pushes me to express myself. She’s a great critic, in a positive sense. She doesn’t let me get away with drivel nor saccharine work. If it borders on it, she will push me into defending myself. It makes me examine what I”m doing with a fine tooth comb.

In fact, I have been very resistant to putting my intent on paper. I think that the work should speak for itself; that if words are necessary to explain it, then it has failed somehow. And yet, when I was recently traveling and absorbing the work of many contemporary artists whom I had never heard of before, I was glad of some explanation to help me understand what they were getting at.

My sister, also an artist, is staying with me for a couple of days.  We were driving this morning and had time to chat about our art work.

“I don’t understand why you didn’t want to connect with that gallery in Santa Fe that was looking for some abstract work. You do some pretty good abstract stuff. Why didn’t you send it?” she asked, then added, “I guess you had your reasons, but it seemed like such a good opportunity, and to waste it…. But you don’t have to tell me. ”

“That’s not a problem,” I reply. “I haven’t worked seriously for twelve years now. I don’t know where I’m going. A gallery needs to have a body of work to deal with. They have to promote an image. It has to be a vein of work that you can continue to produce in. I’m not there yet. I don’t know where I’m going or which of the various things I’m currently working on that  I will be able to continue on in. I have between ten and twenty works in that vein of metallic ink drawings that you like,  but they are old. I don’t know if I could keep on with it. And I want to produce a whole new body of work, something I can get my teeth into. I’m not there yet. I’m still fishing around with what direction I will take.”

“OK. I get it,” she answers. “I understand.” And we dropped the conversation.

Words. Ideas.

The world of art expects us to explain ourselves, to validate our work. I find it difficult to find words that don’t just feel hollow to me.  It all boils down to intent.

If you don’t explore, you don’t find something new. If I knew what I was looking for, precisely, it probably wouldn’t be interesting anymore.  I just have to keep painting and practicing. Something valid will come out of it.

Terry Nurmi – Inconceivable

June 4, 2010

Our best art comes from expressing our deepest concerns.  The more heartfelt a subject is, the more intensely involved the artist is, the better the final outcome is likely to be.

Thus, when a young woman’s heart bears the distressing failure to produce a child she so desperately desires and all other avenues have not helped to assuage the inability to conceive, and this same woman after years of putting away her personal pain decides to express it through her art to let it free, a most interesting body of work springs forth.

This woman is Terry Nurmi, who after years of trying various methods to understand and then conquer sterility, decided to explore her voyage through visual expression. Nurmi is rooted in her community and her community became not only the physical place in which she resides, but a larger community of women who share with her the frustration of trying to conceive a child.

Nurmi had spent years going in and out of clinics, being tested for this possibility and that, engaging in trials of Artificial Reproductive Technology treatment then waiting to see if they would bear fruit. Through those years, an idea germinated and grew. Nurmi would find a way to express the feelings of frustration, hope, disappointment, pain, envy, grief, and anger that a woman experiences.

When it came to realizing this exhibition idea, Nurmi called out to her sisters-in-infertility. She called upon the Infertility Awareness of Canada (IAAC), Fraser Chapter,  asking each women who was willing to contribute to the project to provide a collage that expressed their feelings. Those who responded were given a small round petri dish, a round, clear plastic laboratory dish,  in which to  provide a visual expression of their personal story. (Double click on each one to see it larger).

Nurmi then installed a black line on the wall to indicate a temperature chart and then placed these petri dishes at each point of the chart (see first photo, above). The chart takes up almost the full length of the gallery’s north wall.

This part of the collaborative exhibition mixes installation art (the temperature chart) with conceptual art (the petri dishes); and each of the petri dishes is a miniature collage “in vitro”, meaning “under glass”.

The following photos illustrate the diversity of image that resulted. Some are cold, keeping the viewer at a distance; others indicate frustration; still others manage a bit of black humour (the one with Frosty the Snowman). Some are empty (Anger)  awaiting the babies that do not come.

It was a delight at the exhibition to see people pouring over each one of these little, clear disk boxes. Raw sentiment is contained within.

Across  on the South wall of the gallery, are several cross-over drawings-become-watercolour (and some pastel). Each represents a baby in Nurmi’s life – babies belonging to  sisters and sisters-in-law; friends or extended family.

They express that fragile and innocent time a child’s life.  The infants are sleeping or just waking.

Knowing Nurmi, there is bittersweet heartache in these images that does not go away.  Yet these images capture the innocence and beauty of infancy.

From a technical point of view, these drawings are fresh and lively. Each is drawn with strong and sensitive  line, then  enhanced by chalk pastel and watercolour. She is mistress of her medium. The work exhibits a lot of freedom and yet there is nothing gratuitous. Every mark made is necessary to the drawing and the maturity of the hand is delightful to see.

Once again in reference to “in vitro” , each of these mixed media, mostly watercolour paintings is framed between Plexiglas and clips to reinforce the concept of “under glass”.

For more information on Terry Nurmi and the subject of Infertility Awareness, check out the article in the Globe and Mail of May 23rd, 2010

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/life/family-and-relationships/when-couples-come-to-terms-with-infertility/article1578863/?service=mobile&page=1

There is quite a bit more information on the web about this recent exhibition, so if you are interested, I’d suggest a Google search.

The exhibition is on until June 6th at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley.

McCoffee

December 19, 2009

McCoffee Watercolour on a full sheet of Windsor and Newton  paper (24×32″)

I’ve struggled over this, my latest watercolour, over two months or more. I love this guy in camouflage having his coffee at MacDonald’s. It’s cool inside and dimly lit, no need for those shades, but they never came off. He can see out, you can’t see in.

He’s got a colleague with him, with his mitt wrapped around  his coffee, but you can’t see him, and Mr. McCoffee is not looking at him anyway.  McCoffee is alert, his ear stretching out to hear conversations around him. He’s finished his food – two empty boxes, a big white napkin scrumpled up on the left hand side.

Below, the table there is a profusion of pattern – the South West Indian flavour in colour and shapes and then McCoffee’s hand sitting idle.

It’s a slice of life, arbitrarily cut off on all sides. If I’d asked him for a photo, he would have straightened up and posed. This way, I got him – his erect quasi-military bearing, his ennui. At the same time, from a work-lifetime habit of being at the ready, all senses alert, you know he is very aware of what is going on around him.

The only thing that defines the edges of his arm is the shift from the camouflage pattern to the upholstery pattern. That was particularly difficult to achieve. Every time I painted something in this area, I had to stop and check if everything else was in value still, or I had to bring the other things up to the value of the last addition of colour. The other difficulty was working in such a dark range of colours in watercolour.

I’m used to the brighter range of colours, so working in the dark ranges was a challenge; and so was working with the napkins, both above the table and below. White is always defined by its shadows.

The painting probably refers most to the geometric genre of composition, but there are some difficult things here – the table top goes from left to right in the picture plane, cutting the painting in two unequal parts. Maybe it works on the “Rule of Thirds” also. What allows this composition to work, despite that dark force moving across, is that just above the line, the most interesting objects are compiled, disorganized, one after the other like a batch of unruly and  unkempt children standing in a row. There’s the napkin and then the MacDonald’s cup, then the boxes and then the coffee cup, each item demanding attention. The figure is the upright, perpendicular force, with the complicated details drawing the viewer in.

The man looks outwards to the right and this, composition-wise, could be a difficult and unwieldy thing, but in this image, there is tension between the person whose arm we see, which makes for a mystery. Who is his companion? What does our protagonist see? It keeps us in the image; and though it goes against “the rules”, it works.

I’m going to pack this one away for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes – maybe a week from now. Maybe there will be some minor adjustments, but I think it’s done.

Can anyone tell me what organization this uniform represents?  This fellow has a few stripes on his left sleeve.

Christmas is coming. I’ve invited people for Christmas day dinner. I need to pack up my watercolour gear and put it away so that I have use of that table. Like many of us, I suppose, I am very busy with seasonal events and preparations for Christmas Day.So I’ll probably be back after following Christmas, so….

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

At the lake

September 11, 2009

Shuswap - Beach playpen small

I’ve been away for a two week holiday to Shuswap Lake. Our cabin is a time-share one, on lake shore.

In other years, we’ve gone on hikes through second growth forest that haven’t been touched since the early settlers logged it off. Trees are about a hundred years old, and the moss forms a thick blanket over the debris and windfall that has fallen to the forest floor.

Another beautiful trail that we’ve hiked is up one side of a raging river and, after crossing a small wooden bridge,  back down the other. It’s about a four kilometer hike in all, with seven cascades or waterfalls along the way, each as beautiful as the next.

Although I had worked hard at the gym all year to be able to walk these trails again, about a month ago, I pulled a tendon in my knee which still hasn’t healed and so I couldn’t walk anywhere except on the flat. With foresight, I had my painting kit and I took it almost daily to the beach to draw the children playing, the adults lounging, the dogs leaping and cavorting in and out of the water.

I discovered that Art is a hard taskmistress. She doesn’t forgive if you haven’t kept up your skills. My first attempts at figure drawing were disastrous but they improved over the two weeks.

Also, I brought four kinds of paper with me to try.  I’m a firm believer in Arches and prefer the rough texture, coldpress.  I tried their smooth watercolour paper, hot press and found it interesting to work with, much more controllable than I thought it would be. I also had some Legion paper which I have used before, also a smoother paper than the Arches rough. I find it not quite as easy to use. The fourth paper was aa coil-bound Strathmore recycled drawing paper which I used mostly for drawing with a broad graphite stick. I’ll show some of those drawings in a separate blog.

Here are the results:

Shuswap girl w red bikini small

And this wasn’t even the worst one – but after a while, I found this drawing amusing and I like it now. It’s cartoon-like.  I’m going to have to go back to figure drawing this fall.

Shuswap yellow life jacket 2 small

Yellow life jackets small

So these reconciled me with my ability to draw; but they are really small, these are about 4 inches square. If only I could regain this liberty in larger format!

Shuswap red beach blanket small

Shuswap - Beach playpen small

The colourful structure there in the middle is a beach playpen for infants! There were lots of those folding metal tube chairs and I found the patterns of them fascinating. This one was fun for its bright cotton-candy colours.

Shuswap Bathers and Dog 5 x 10 small

but I like the fluidity of this painting much better; and I like the chairs much better. This is that smooth paper and the paints settle differently than the rough. It’s not better or worse, just different – and something I will have to get used to managing, if I continue on with hot press paper.

Shuswap - Pine trees 7x19 small

We took a picnic lunch to the Provincial park which was about a mile up the road. After lunch, my younger sister and I stayed to paint while my older sister and her husband went off exploring by car down the 30 kilometer road to Seymour Inlet.

I used the smooth paper again, and limited myself to a big hogs hair brush to keep myself from getting too fussy. It’s an interesting challenge. At the end, I couldn’t get the effect of the bare branches with my big brush, so I gave in and used a large Kolinsky martin brush with a fine tip to sketch those in. The jury is out on this painting. I haven’t decided whether or not I like it.

Shuswap - Smoke from the Sorrento fire 7x10 small

I used smooth Arches watercolour paper for this. The smoke from the two major forest fires across the lake created fog-like conditions where the trees get cut out in layers. On a clear day, this grouping of trees blends in with the rest of the forest and they are completely unnoticeable.

I tried it again on a different paper and here is the result:

Shuswap  Smoky lake 2009 10x14 small

This one is on Legion paper. It has a blotter quality and absorbs the paint a bit too quickly. But I like the results of both. Because of the smoke, the sky was almost a peachy grey. It was very curious – and hard to mix, but this colour is really accurate for what I saw.

Shuswap - Smoke from the Sorrento fire 10 x 14 small

This is a 10 x 14 inch painting of the smoke welling up from the fire across the lake like a humungous storm cloud.

Shuswap -Cloud at end of lake 10x14 small

And here is the end of the lake after all the smoke had cleared. I don’t think this one is successful. I don’t like how the paint settled but I rather like the sky.

Shuswap lake 2009 7x10 small

And this one is the same view of the end of the lake, on the smooth watercolour paper. Again, I’m not crazy about how the paint settles and I’m still working with  it.  (It’s the journey not the destination that is important, right?)

Shuswap Banana boat 7x10 small

And then the kids had these inflatable boats that looked like bananas!

Shuswap Bathers sketches 7x10 small

This is the last one. I did it before I did all the others, above. It’s a warm up on the smooth paper and these are all fitted into a 7 x 10 piece of paper. Sketches, really.

And that’s all there is!  … in the watercolour category, anyway.

McDining – Privacy laws

August 5, 2009

There is no image to accompany this post. You will see why.

A couple of days ago, I posted my latest watercolour called “McDining” and if you look back a couple of posts, you will see a modified image of “McDining”, the object of a legal question.

I was uncertain as to my right to publish the painting since I had taken a photo of a man eating at McDonald’s without his permission. He had no idea that I was photographing him.

I have since altered the photo in Adobe Photoshop so that the face is missing. Anon is eating at McDonalds!

Over a late evening cup of tea at Mrs. Stepford’s place last night, I had a chat with her husband a well respected lawyer in town who is quite aware of legislation and precedence on this subject.

“I thought you guys knew this stuff a long time ago,” he exclaimed, chiding us on our ignorance concerning privacy laws. He explained:

Military and police have the right to capture a person’s image without their permission. It’s in the best interests of law enforcement and the public good.

But an individual is not allowed to take a picture of another individual without their permission and they may not publish it without the subject’s express permission.

“Well,” proposes Mrs. Stepford in support of my cause, “what if she took the picture before she asked permission and then asked him if she could take his picture afterwards, and he agrees. Couldn’t she use the picture?

Mr. Stepford is completely disgusted with our moral turpitude. No means no!

We run through a number of scenarios:

If a model is hired to be painted by an artist and takes money for it, it is assumed that he or she is giving permission in the process.

If you ask someone before you take the picture if they mind if you do so and they are willing, then you can take their photo, but if you want to paint them using the photo for reference, then you must also get their permission to use their image in the art work.
This applies to photographers, including the press who must ask permission before publishing a person’s picture that hits the six o’clock news.

So I guess my McDining is confined forever to my own private viewing. I could take a risk and show it, says my lawyer friend – a risk that might end up with a $20,000.00 fine if the owner of the profile decides to sue for the breach of his privacy.

Well, maybe a few friends will see my painting, McDining. And maybe, like Roger Bacon, I could distort the faces; or like those pop-up books we had as children, put someone elses face on the image, someone I know, who gives  me permission for the use of their facial image. Or maybe take some self-images to put in place of the colonel’s head.  It might be quite surreal.

I haven’t given up on my McDining image. It’s just got me thinking.  I shall try it again in another configuration.

McDining

August 3, 2009

Have I been too silent lately? Must be that I’ve been working at other things…

Like this!

I drew this in pencil first. It was too big a painting to try without some directions to follow. I haven’t been this ambitions for a long time.

I imagined this retired officer from the navy on his own on a sunny midday, stopping for a quick lunch. His dignity and military bearing – the straight back,the impeccably clean clothing, the formality of eating in a fast food outlet with a knife and fork – at once amused me and made me admire him.

There is a bit of mystery. Is his wife out shopping so he, not ever having had to look after his own meals, simply goes out for lunch rather than having to make sense of a home refrigerator?  He never lets his guard down. If he had to salute, he would do it crisply, precisely.

On the other hand, he has a flamboyant shirt. It’s the opposite of camouflage fashions.

He’s dressed for summer. The light pours into the place. Just beyond the window is a whole section of the restaurant set up with play equipment for kids. It’s just like boot camp with things to crawl through, things to swing on, to climb  and to slide down. Only these are coloured in bright primary colours and fluorescents of pink and orange.

And here’s the final (minus the face – see more recent post re privacy):

McDining a small anon

I think I will leave it up to look at for a week or two to see if there is anything else to be done.

This may be the only place that I publish this painting. I don’t know what official rules are. They seem to ask if the person knows they are being painted and whether one has permission. Quite frankly, I don’t.

I took the picture I was working from without the man’s knowledge. If I had asked to take his picture, he would no longer have had this terrific natural pose. He might not have wanted me to take one at all.

I have several other paintings I want to do in a similar vein – beautiful people, not in the magazine sense, but dignified, normal, doing what they do without affectation, without posing.  And here’s the other no-no. I’m working with photographs. Ones that I myself  have taken of people and of  situations that I find interesting or extraordinarily typical.

Plein air

July 28, 2009

x 045 small

I was invited to join the local art club’s plein air paint-out today and I accepted. It was in Florence’s back yard – the two acre parcel of the total seven that has been developed with house, Florence’s studio. a green house,  and orchard. It’s very beautiful; very out-in-the country-like. It’s what I remember of my great-aunt’s place before they totally redeveloped White Rock. The house is 1960’s modern, though. It’s a Frank Lloyd Wright type of house, close to the ground, single level blending into the landscape as if it had always been there.

The sad thing is that Florence is now in her eighties; her husband died last year. Her adult children are convinced she must move.  She admits that she can’t manage a seven acre place herself. Her offspring are building her a new place in West Vancouver.

She sighed with little-accepted resignation. “It’s not just the house. It’s thirty years of memories and more. It’s all of my studio, the paintings, the books, the materials. It all has to go.”

I got thinking on the fragility of life, the fugitivity. What is left after a lifetime of work, of raising children, of keeping house and keeping family history alive, of painting and creating?  In the end, you can’t take it with you. But in the meantime, when you are trying to clear it up, what do you do with it? It becomes a problem.

It strikes home. I’ve been working in the last month or so, giving a concerted effort to recycling various things that I’ve inherited that I don’t particularly want to keep. Last week, I found a box of father’s writings. I can’t read them. They’re all in Engineering language. I don’t understand it’s content nor do I have any sense of the importance of it. I think I will call the University and ask them if they want to keep them. The other members of the family aren’t interested; and amongst the younger generation, there is no one likely to develop an interest for them, even later in life.

The thing with plein air or outdoors painting, is that you have to bring everything with you – paints, palette, table, chair, drawing or watercolour pads. I had forgotten a table but I had a cooler in the car which I up-ended and used for one.  The lid of it I used to set my art bag and camera on since the grass was heavily laced with dew still.

I picked a landscape to transfer to my watercolour paper and then  settled myself into my transportable folding chair. The landscape photo, above, is what I chose to paint. Here’s what resulted from my endeavours:

Chez Florence Arches small

While I waited for the first wash to dry, I got out that pad of Yupo “paper” that I experimented with some months back. It’s a slippery paper and if it doesn’t sit absolutely straight as it dries, then the paint goes southwards and loses all its definition. Control-oriented as I am, this is not a comfortable thing for me, but I”m not going to waste the paper, so this was a good opportunity to see if I could get anything with it today.

Here’s the Yupo solution:

Chez Florence Yupo  small

I tried some photoshop adjustments that were not successful. It’s not quite as garish as it looks here.  The blue is less metallic looking, but the yellow is as yellow as what the finished work looks like.

I felt that in neither drawing had I got the branch arrangements right so I went back and did a pen drawing. There was an implied heart shape to it that I felt I did not capture in the watercolour paintings.

Here’s the pen drawings”

chez florence ink drawing

And here I’ve pinked in the implied heart shape:

chez florence ink drawing w colour

In all, I must have had two hours to do all this . Shortly after two, I headed back for home. When I went to get in the car, I burnt my hand on the metal, it was so hot out. Heat gathered all day and in the end I believe I heard 37 degrees was the highest it got.

It’s cooler out now, at half past midnight. It’s so hot nobody wants to do anything. I have the fan on and have reduced the heat in the house by one degree, but it’s not going any lower. Tomorrow will be another scorcher.

Painting from Memory 2

July 20, 2009

I went walking early again today. Same place, on the Alouette Dikes. Nothing has changed. The temperature is steady around 25 degrees for an hour and then it heats up. When it does, I refuge myself indoors.

I took another good look at the bridge. It’s a tough composition because the bridge is such a driving horizontal force without a break that it tends to drive the eye right out of the picture. It’s only the surrounding shubbery that could save it.

The other memory describes where the dike pathway  is midway in the image. I see the image as four quadrants, with a centre much like a pin wheel. One is the blue sky with small (distant) cedars on the bottom of it. Beside it is a tall, round shaped tree that does not have a very visible trunk, so it really looks round. The third is the shadow from this tree cast over the ochre coloured grasses.  The fourth is a sunny sweep of grasses down into the hollow, the level of the fields. But now, when I try to draw the pinwheel, I can’t fit these elements in as I saw them. My logic gets in the way. It’s couldn’t have been like that.

As I was walking, I was looking for this spot that I had so carefully memorized. Today I couldn’t find it. Was I dreaming?

Here’s the painting

Mem 2 Alouette Dike 20090720 small

Painting from memory

July 20, 2009

Mem 1 Alouette Dike 20090719 small

Without my camera, without even a drawing pen and paper, I went walking on the dikes today.

For the twelve years that I was caretaking my aging mother, often I could not  take the time to paint and so I would paint in my imagination. It wasn’t good enough. I wanted to preserve beauty or anecdotal incidents, a bit of humour, a slice of life, but time was consumed elsewhere.

I promised myself upon retirement to go out walking every day and to paint every day but I’m far from keeping that goal.

Today, walking without the camera, I set myself a task of remembering what I saw and challenging myself to painting what I remembered. Don’t laugh! I had three sites in my mind and came home with one. I left the other two behind somewhere. I can’t remember quite. Perhaps they fell in the ditch or got covered in dust from the gravel path. Maybe they are tucked into the grasses like a daytime bear, so camoflaged that I can’t see them.

In any case, I took up that challenge. When I got home, I got out the brushes and the paint and fired up the painting arm.  Since I didn’t have the camera, I can’t show you exactly what I saw.  Somewhere in between the inaccuracy of my brain and the inaccuracy of my painting techniques, I came up with this gem.

Then I searched back in my archives to see if I couldn’t find a photo of the area I was remembering. When I wrote about it, I said,

There was the way the dike path split the marsh grasses like a bolt of lightening diminishing to its pointy end far off in the distance, only to be stopped in the mid ground by two small poplars and the heron tree. Overpowering everything were the pure blue  mountains, receding in distinctly shaped layers of progressively lighter hue.

zz 711 small

but I realized that when I painted it, I didn’t get that awesome size of the mountains to show. It was a fun exercise, but I’m not entering this one in any local painting contests, that’s for sure.

When next I go walking, I’ll try to find the two other ones that I lost and give them a try.

It’s an interesting concept, but I think it needs a lot of work.