Saturday, April 23, 2016

...and Back to Order

Danny's Trees, 24 x 20", watercolor and pastel on paper

So, you have seen the Fine Mess (4-16-16) and now I will show you how she cleans up. This is a very satisfying process, like polishing up a piece of furniture that has been collecting dust for ages (just a week in my household, with Maddie-the-Dog.) I use the underlying layer to provide a rich and realistic layering of life, like the very soil that grows grass, trees and us! In a scene such as this, with a lot of sky which is screened by banks of trees, I like to start using pastel to bring to life the clouds and to establish the placement of the trees in the fore and back grounds. This exercise is a real push and pull process--I love it! The sky is stroked on boldly. The trees then begin to speak up. Back and forth, back and forth. I stop to evaluate: Is this working? Is it true to the scene?
    And what exactly is this scene? This painting has been requested by a friend. He became enchanted by a stand of trees that he passed on daily runs and while working out at his local recreation center. The enchantment was greatest in the winter, when surprising colors would pop out at him. My friend knew that I was likewise attracted to these glowing winter colors. This adds another layer to the pushing and pulling: my friend's vision, my vision, watercolor and pastel. Then, over all that add the perception of what is currently on the paper and what is the accumulated vision we want.
    Each element has its say. Each element is putting its best foot forward, unabashedly. Let that happen! Then be daring and go ahead and let that next element shine--go ahead, see what happens then. Stop, look and listen to your intuition. Repeat and repeat. Let what you see now tell you what to do next.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Fine Mess

Underpainting set-up

My favorite media for creating art are watercolor and pastel. I start with a rich underpainting in watercolor. My goal is to create an abundance of texture and "chaos" to the scene. Then I can use pastel to bring some "order" to the image. I like to use leftover palettes from my classes. They usually have the perfect colors for this rich layer. I would call this a fine mess.
    My preference is for a certain amount of wildness to keep things exciting and to open up possibilities. Then, I require a certain amount of order to keep danger at bay. Perhaps it is because we are deep in the political season, but this reminds me of what I like about America. It is Earth's biggest political experiment. People come from all over, bringing their perfect colors and ideas to the table, creating new scenes with a rich texture. Yet, they come because they have embraced the ideals of America, a land of opportunity and freedom with a strong sense of community. The perfect amount of government works like the pastel. It makes use of all the resources that the people bring and enhances those resources to create the bigger picture. It also smooths over rough spots to protect individuals and communities. This approach requires a certain amount of faith that good will emerge and flexibility to be willing to do what is needed to create what is desired.
    Down with rigid techniques and dogma! Ahhh, I feel better now! Thank you!