Monday, January 25, 2010

Depths Of Time 2: A Green Earth

It's officially a series now—there are two. Or does it take three? Then that will take another month or so. I do have more ideas in this theme.

Depths Of Time 2: A Green Earth
Ink & colored pencil 22x30 $550

My biggest concern with this one was that it would end up looking just like two different paintings, stuck together. I did a few things to try to keep that from happening. The first was to make the first row of trees with strong contrasting colors. The second was to have a steady progression from warm at the bottom to cool at the top, with the addition of some aerial perspective. The third was to use very dark blue violet as a common color on both halves as well as the center. The last was the repetition of the curved shapes of the hills in the details of the rock strata. When I made the initial print, I was hoping that the pair of diagonal cracks in the strata would add an interesting element. I think instead they're too much of a distraction, so I tried to minimize them. Not everything you can think of makes for a better composition. That is one problem with this technique that makes better planning a great idea.

Well, on to the next one—happy painting!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Painting Other People's Gardens

I had the great good fortune to paint the beautiful garden of a friend of mine last fall. Her garden has a fantastic collection of conifers, both dwarf and standard sized, well-established perennials, and Japanese maples. I loved it! Of course I wanted to paint it! (I wanted to own it!) My second visit I spent half an hour just hanging out in it, taking lots of photos from different directions, with close-ups of the smaller plants. From those my friend chose her favorite view. My first effort was to make a sketch to test the color range and the overall design:

Study for Jayne's Garden
Acrylic on Paper

I felt like the overall design and the red-violets and blue-greens worked well together so I went forward with the painting. This was the first time I'd ever done a full color study as preparation, but it really made a difference to have it while I was working on it. It was much easier for me to visualize being in the real garden and remember how the plants stood in relation to each other. In the end, I still struggled for some time to capture the different textures and the rich color palette of the many different plants. Since my friend and her husband own a nursery—the wonderful Meadowcroft Farm in Oregon City—I felt duty-bound to render the foliage at least semi-recognizeably. After a couple weeks of concerted reworking, I eventually arrived at a final version:

Jayne's Garden
Acrylic on Canvas 18x24 SOLD

The painting went to its new home and I have a great experience and wonderful memories, forever. How lucky I am to have friends with such beautiful gardens.

Painting A Series: The Depths of Time

Depths Of Time 1: The First Shelter
Ink & Colored Pencil on Paper 22x30 $550
For some time I've been wanting to attempt a series, and I finally got an idea for a series of mixed media paintings. The theme is to show two aspects of landscapes—the beautiful scenery we see around us, and the secret, hidden structures that lie beneath them. The Earth is every bit as complex and dynamic a construction as the more visible organic forms that inhabit it. In an environment as profusely alive with carbon-based life forms as here in the Willamette Valley, it's hard to remember the beauty that we don't see. A few days' stay in any desert should open a new window for you into this world.

I have been interested in rocks and stones since my childhood, living in the desert at Davis Monthan Air Base by Tucson, Arizona, and after a summertime visit in the Petrified Forest National Park. But I never felt a real sense of the earth by itself until I spend a four-day Thanksgiving weekend in Death Valley, camping out with friends. I'm a tree and plant lover, primarily, and it took me two days of seeing rocks, rocks, and more rocks with almost no plants whatsoever to stop wishing there was more greenery around. On the third day there, I suddenly began to notice the colors and forms of the stone around me. I could for the first time feel the deep strength, the quiet but definitely alive energies that could only have been coming from the Earth. I came away from that trip knowing that I had had to slow down my mind and my body for a long enough period of time to be able to feel the life energy in that great stillness, to sense it in a separate way, as the foundation of all the more active beings that live and grow upon it. I've never lost that connection which was forged there, and for me, the Earth is as alive as I am.

I am calling the series "Depths of Time", in recognition of how this Earth of ours has changed over time, and how its history is written so clearly in the thick and thin layers of rocks and soil that we get to see where the processes of creation and destruction reveal them. I'd like to dedicate this series to the thousands of inquiring minds, professional and amateur scientists alike, who have over the preceding centuries been given the grace to see and understand the clues that have lain around us for aeons—in the depths of time.

Old Friends and New Connections

I've found some great new links to share! My good friend—and great painter—Pam Flanders has started a blog where she's posting some of her new still lifes. Ruth Armitage is an accomplished watercolorist new to Oregon City whom I just met yesterday at a Hardy Plant Society lecture. Marilyn Woods is a truly amazing ceramic artist of Oregon City, a gallery mate at Howden Art, and someone I love to talk with about the divine mysteries of making art. Ben Dye is a very talented sculptor and like Marilyn, a member of our local Hardy Plant chapter. You can visit both Ben's and Marilyn's studios on the Beavercreek Open Studios Tours. The next tour is this summer (ah! what a lovely word!) June 11-13 this year. You can see some really great art on this tour and it's a wonderful way to spend a weekend. I started going last year and Jude Welter's and Jill Montgomery's were two other studios I really enjoyed.

The links are all in my sidebar, 'Friends and Teachers' I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do.