This was painted while looking out over my back yard. It was late in the day when the color appears to be very saturated. You can see how wet the paper was. It’s all soft edges and very atmospheric. The wet paper creates mush for me so I can put in a few tree branches and make a believable landscape.
I take my cue from the king of the abstract ground, John Singer Sargent. He could put watercolor down and have it look like mush only to put a little detail here and there and have it snap into something very recognizable—like trees or a pool of water or fruit hanging from their branches. I look at his work and marvel at that ability. He made it look easy. I have been painting with watercolor for nearly 30 years and foliage is still a struggle for me. I think I see too much. It can be very difficult to leave information that is right in front of me out of the picture. It is just not possible to get it all in. Edit! Edit! Edit!
I’m in mourning for summer. The fall season is moving along too fast for me. It’s nearly November and the leaves are nearly all off the trees. The ash trees were the first to become denuded. They are also the last to leaf-out in the spring. I’m not looking forward to the first snowfall either. I have a questionable history with ice and snow. I’ve had three ankle fractures associated with icy, snowy conditions. I don’t go out until it’s likely that snow has been cleared from walkways. I’m too old for broken bones. It’s time for me to become a snow bird.
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 5.25×14″
This is one of several paintings done in Algoma, Wisconsin, a resort town right on the western shore of Lake Michigan. It was done late in August on a very sunny day. We now have to say goodbye to daily sunshine as winter sets into the upper midwest. Sunshine will be rare until next spring.
The fall season has been beautifully color rich. The maples in my woods have put on a brilliant, dazzling display. They dwarf the house in their magnificence. The light in the woods surrounds us in a golden light. It’s heavenly!
The dreary cold of winter can be very oppressive here. I’m thinking about winter projects to keep me busy and energized. I’ll be of turning my attention to quilting. I have all the equipment and lots of scraps which might lend themselves to some modern quilt making. I’m sure I will ruin a lot of fabric getting it right. It’s the learning curve one must experience in mastering any medium.
Meanwhile, I give you this last taste of summer encapsulated in this little painting.
I completed the piece during the same session as the painting of the previous post. It has the same kind of amorphous background which implies landscape. This is the same model as the model with the extensive tattoo on her body. I had no time here to paint that in. I was too focused on the striped fabric. I am always surprised to see how effective very few marks are in communicating a whole. A few dark spots on a knee says “knee” so well.
The transition through the joints is one of the more difficult things to master. It’s a combination of good observation and an understanding of the anatomy. One can understand anatomy in a medical way but not understand anatomy in as a draftswoman/man. Connecting the structure underlying the surface with what one sees on the surface is essential. It takes so much practice to really put it all together and actually see it. The first time is an Aha! moment. It’s very difficult to explain. It must be experienced.
Once experienced, there is no difficulty putting only the necessary marks to tell your audience what they are seeing.
This a classicly beautiful pose. The human back is very beautiful. That’s in a subtle way. The muscle structure is not well defined unless the subject is a body builder and very lean. The structures are lovely just the same. This little painting had been sitting in my portfolio for some time. It had no background. When I took it out I added the color and the wet colors bled into each other to create the atmospheric effect. The result is a suggested landscape.
I think it best not to look at my paintings for a while after their completion. What I might think is not good, takes on a different assessment after a little time has passed. Artists are our own worst critics. We may struggle with some aspect of a work and that particular struggle becomes the sole criterion for judging the whole. After some time our judgments becomes less one-dimensional and we can self-critique in a more reasonable way. I’ll come back to a piece that I had, initially, hated and think, “This is not as bad as I had thought!” Many times it becomes a favorite. Go figure!
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