Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Red Clover Landscape Sketches

About this time every spring many of the fields in the valley west of town turn bright red with the blossoms of red clover which is grown for seed. Most of the fields are pure clover with few weeds, just acres and acres of red blossoms with bright green clover leaves hidden underneath. I spent part of Memorial Day alone at the edge of one such field, taking photos and making some color sketches in my journal, doing enough of the work of looking closely so that some day soon the clover will appear in a painting or two.

The sketch on the left is a color field study, supposedly showing the bands of color as I saw them but I didn't nail the values. In landscape painting the sky is the lightest color... #1, the ground is the second lightest...#2 because it reflects the light from the sky. Hills are darker, being on a slant and relecting some light but not as much as the ground, and the trees are the darkest dark...#4, because they don't reflect light except where the sun hits one side in early morning and late afternoon. Can you see that I got it right in the landscape sketch but not in the color field study? Now I'm on a mission to do my best to paint landscapes in only 4 values until I can do it in my sleep.

This last drawing is full of nostalgia. On the way home I drove out Kaiser Road and stopped at the cemetary that's at the corner of the acreage where we used to live. My children waited for the school bus near these 4 big old trees that stand guard over the cemetary where there's a headstone that states that Charles and Catherine Reimer rest here. Now they are no kin of ours, even though we share the same last name, but when we bought the property we sort of adopted this couple even though he died in 1917, the year my father entered the navy in WWI, and she died in 1944 while we were fighting WWII.

And finally, let me introduce you to "Wilson", a brush that John Lovett gave me. It's an ordinary cheapo throwaway brush from the hardware store, an Australian one (though you can find a similar one in your local hardware store for 79 cents). Wilson is great for lots of things, including fields of red clover, grass, and tree leaves.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Checkerboard Tree

Often when I start working I have no idea what to paint, perhaps because I haven't given enough thought to the things that make my life unique or to ways that I am to use these life experiences to make my work have meaning.

Robert Burridge told me to work with intention... definitely a contradiction to slapping on the paint and paper with no end in mind. He says that he does his Morning Pages first thing every morning and from that exercise he states his intentions. Bob says not to start a painting without knowing what the 3-Cs will be: Content, Composition, Color combination.

Cathy Woo talks about organizing a painting with the elements and principles of design in mind.

With this advice in mind I've made up little cards that help guide me when I start a painting, though I sometimes go down a different pathway right in the middle of my work. When starting to work I take a card and write out my intentions:

Design Element... (balance, repetition, etc.)
Dominant Color
Complementary color
2 Spice Colors
Key (high, low)

The collage painting above is one I've worked on off and on for months but it lacked something, so yesterday I sat down and journaled about recurring themes and images that interest me with the intent of developing lots of drawings that symbolize these themes. One was trees. I could not live where there are no trees. I love trees. I climbed plenty as a kid and had several tree swings. I grow trees and prune them. I take shelter under them from rain and sun. So I gulped big, said a quick prayer for a steady hand, picked up a Pitt brush pen and drew this tree directly on the lovely background, praying I wouldn't ruin it. I didn't.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


I enjoyed an art date with my friend Jean Gale last Friday and came home absolutely aching to work. Jean showed me some collages she was working on, done on top of failed watercolor paintings and seeing hers gave me permission to try to make something of the stack of painted watercolors that have sat gathering dust in my closet. Some time ago I decided to make paintings in sizes that fit ready made frames, so I tore the paintings into quarter sheet sizes as well as 7.5 inch squares and into 5 x 7 inch chunks. Then I pulled out a quarter sheet, chose collage papers in colors that worked with the underpainting and set to work. The collage was finished in no time and then I set to work adding some journaling. Since the papers were all about grapevines I chose to write out Jesus's words from John 15:5... "I am the vine, you are the branches; apart from me you can do nothing". It worked, I think... at least my husband complimented me. Some days I work for compliments.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...