Sunday, October 14, 2012

Following this blog gives you the inside of an artist's work and struggles. Some paintings may never appear anyplace other than this blog--Not because I've hidden them from the world but that I started work on the painting again and turned it into something else. Remember this one?

My reflections on this painting several posts back made me wonder if I might work some more on it to develop the moment in which one might see both rain and sunshine at one time.

I started out by putting more of the orangy-lemony sun of autumn on the far left side and try to develop the feeling on rain on the left. While doing so I found that I kept having two paintings in one. My challenge was to pull them together. Quite a different effect, isn't it? No doubt there are those who would prefer the more tranquil scene above. That's okay. But it is no more. It has been replace by the painting below which I find more vibrant.
I'm now calling in "A Change in the Seasons."

To everything there is a season. A challenge of human existence can be to live fully into the season in which we find ourselves. Each one in its own time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Woke up at 3:30 this morning and found that I had so much on my mind. There were other things planned for the day but I knew that I had to set everything aside to paint. Worked some more on the painting that I'm calling "Fracking in Process." Everything is in vibration (the action involved in exploring for the valuable contents deep in the earth) and a bloody oily something flows around the painting against the fresh green of nature which is endangered by our relentless search for fuel.

Perhaps you can see the detail work in this painting that you could not have seen in the last post. Yes, it is acrylic. No, I can't say this in watercolor. I've got to have thick paint that I can scrap back into. It's labor intensive. It's therapeutic.

Oh, yes, I'd like to learn to watercolor; but when feelings are strong I have to go with the medium that "speaks" for me now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fracking explorations are beginning in my woods. We rejected requests to come onto our tiny piece of land but our little 21 acres don't matter to them. Property owners on all sides gave them permission when the money crossed their palms. Bulldozers have been preparing sites for the fracking test just across the property lines. I can hardly stand the sound of their careless and violent pushing through the woods taking down anything in their way. Have the drivers noticed the little old woman standing just across the way? On the other side of the property line.

Today they passed me on the road as they went down the road to another property. In this part of the world we all wave at one another. But these people are brought in from elsewhere for this task. What do they care about me or our woods? They passed me by-- tossing dust in the air. I glared at them. They didn't attempt to wave. I would not have waved back. But they don't even know that this is the custom of the land. They'll do the job they have been given and leave. Go home and have a few beers.

A watercorloring friend said to me, "Watercolor whatever you're feeling." I feel so angry, helpless, frustrated, and worried over this second great intrusion upon our woods. (The first was last year when they put in the great pipeline.) If it is at all possible to watercolor such powerful emotions it is certainly outside of my reach right now.

But acrylics I know. I must speak of this violation. I will use the medium I know--not the one I am learning.

 This just doesn't show the agony of the artist in expressing her feelings as Mother Nature is violated time and time again. Up close you would see that the paint has been applied  thickly and with various instruments (including palette knife) has been scrapped back into the canvass. The blood from the earth flows out and turns into a think oily dark green. The bright green of nature edges the scene but it cannot endure this kind of violation for long.

Is humankind on a track toward self destruction?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Walking on the edge of night. I'm not usually out this late. Just enough remaining light enables me to see a buck running across the field, then another. Each one leaps across the path before me. Night sounds begin to emerge from the woods around me. I refuse to turn around until I get to the gate. 

The surge of energy that pushed me over the creative hump must play itself out before I can stop walking.

I had been stuck. This morning I remembered a writer that had encouraged other writers to just keep writing every single day--even when you don't feel like it. I thought: And that applies to art. I'll go down to the studio and just keep painting even thought I don't know where I'm going with this.

I added more color. By mid-afternoon it occurs to me that I'm tying myself down too much to the sketch. Surely I had  studied and absorbed the scene enough so that I could just paint how it felt. I left to let the last wash dry.

When I returned in the late afternoon I had agreed with myself to just let the feelings flow onto the paper. I painted, washed away, painted again and then--to my surprise-- I began scratching into the surface to retrieve some whites. Hard. I felt as if a midwife was urging me, "Push, push, now, now!" Then, it felt birthed. Stop, I told myself, stop. Go for a walk--although it is late. When you return you'll know what you think of it.

Oh, this is not at all what I had envisioned when I began; but it feels exactly right. Is this acceptable as watercoloring--including this violence done onto the paper? Am I failing as a watercolorist? Those beautiful scenes I have seen done by others. Graceful, pretty. This is not it at all! That lovely scene that I had in my head in the beginning has twisted in upon itself and become something else more . . . truthful.

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, how dare you conclude the story in such agony!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The fields are awash in brilliant yellow. This photo pales before the reality.

I was stalling, I realized, making one excuse after another. Then I knew: The beauty of all this was beyond my little skills. I was overwhelmed. I was too much of a beginner to try to do this. And yet I felt I had to capture it because soon it would fade away. Only weeks ago the landscape was fringed with a lovely white flower; and while I pondered over how to express it in watercolor the flowers faded away. Hadn't I learned? Now was the time to capture the yellow. Now!

Go back to the basics, I told myself: Walk the roads, pick the scene, stop and study it and sketch it. Just that much. That's all for now. And so I did. The sketch below is basically of the area where the photo was taken.

Upper left on the sketch pad is the initial sketch. Lower left the shapes of the values. To the right the lines and textures are indicated. Lots of notes. In the studio I used colored pencils to lay out the colors.

So then what watercolor paper would I use? Rather than stall again by preparing the paper I chose a watercolor block. By then it was nearing mid-day so I told myself to just do an initial wash of two main colors. I could then take a lunch break and come back with more courage.

I didn't come back. In this not-climate controlled place that I call my "studio" the paper had buckled. I knew the uneven surface would get in my way and cause all kinds of mishaps. So there it sits: The buckled paper with the first wash, the carefully done sketch propped up for reference, the big brush I used for the wash, the colored pencils I used to lightly sketch out the basic shapes and of course the bucket of water to the right.

Days later it continues to sit there just like that. Many other things compete for my time. I knew I would have to work for the time to paint. I knew that learning to watercolor would not be easy. I will have to make some decisions. Can I find I way forward or will I allow distractions of one kind or another to allow me to stay stalled?

These brilliant flowers: Some call them bitterweed--they say that cows won't eat them. If they do they make the milk bitter. The locals shrug their shoulders. They're just a weed, they say. The severe drought has caused these fields to "go to ruin." They say that with some good soaking rains and proper attention these weeds won't take over like this again. This bittersweet beauty blazes across the fields only this season, they hope. I must hurry, I know, if this scene is to be captured on watercolor. Yet, there's more at work here. In the taste of next season's local honey might be a blazing hint of yellow.