If you are in the New York vicinity anytime between now and July, run, don’t walk, to see the show “John Singer Sargent Watercolours.” I have been studying these paintings in reproductions for years but that is nothing like looking at the originals. There are 93 paintings in the show from both the Boston and Brooklyn museum collections as well as detailed analyses of Sargent’s pigments. Fascinating stuff if you are in any way interested in watercolour painting. The paintings don’t go on exhibit very often because of their sensitivity to light. In fact I heard the show referred to as “once in a generation”. The show will be in Boston next and I may just have to make another visit to see them before they go into hiding again. The catalogue is excellent and the quality of the reproductions quite spectacular.
I got to be a passenger in the car today so drew this while on the road which was a first. I have painted before but never drawn. Excuse the wobbly lines.
Last week when I was at Ferme Tournesol I met food blogger Nancy Eperjesy who was taking photos of the produce I was sketching. Have a look at her beautiful shots as well as some she took of my sketches at livluvlaf.tv.
This week I drove out to the farm with a friend and as we did last week, we brought along our sketch books. It was another great day for painting skies — great big vistas, rapidly changing clouds and little bursts of sun. We parked on the edge of a farmer’s field and while the wind shook the car we happily sketched away, enjoying the quiet and the rural views. But we didn’t realize that we had parked at a tractor entrance until we turned around to see this GIANT tractor waiting patiently for us to move. And behind him a line of cars, and facing him a school bus and more cars. Traffic stopped in both directions. Fortunately country people are more patient than city people because it took us some time to locate keys, turn the car around and make room for the tractor. And in that whole time not one person honked their horn… I took a photo of the tractor after it made its way to onto the field.
Here is the tractor…
This is the first sketch I did when I arrived in Kamouraska, sitting in my car in the rain. It wasn’t hard to decide what colours to use — it was a limited palette kind of day. Pick any three primary or secondary colours and mix them up to make grey. Warmer grey for the sky, a little cooler and darker for the road. I think I used lots of cerulean blue mixed with raw sienna and a bit of cadmium red or alizarin crimson.
I was spoiled with flowers for Mother’s Day — so many bouquets I had to spread them around different rooms of the house. The lilacs ended up staying on the kitchen counter and getting sketched first.
Following a very intense period of school and work I was itching to get out of town. So this weekend was set aside for a road trip to Kamouraska, Quebec — a 4.5 hour drive east from Montreal along the southern shore of the Saint Lawrence River. Most of the ride there was pretty boring. The view for the first three hours until Quebec City is flat stretches of highway dotted with industrial areas and truck stops. But a little after Quebec City the view opens up and the long tracts of farm land divvied up along seigneurial lines lead down to the river (not that we could see much of it in the pouring rain.) The village of Kamouraska is said to be one of the prettiest in Quebec but we couldn’t tell through the deluge. The islands across from the village were shrouded in fog most of the day but I got a few sketches done from the car. And of course as we were packing up to come home today the clouds broke, the sun came out and then I understood what they meant in the tourist brochures.
I have been trying out different yellows in my palette this week because of some concern that the aureolin that I use is not lightfast. This week I tried making greens with cadmium yellow pale (successful but a bit more opaque), gamboge (a bit too orange), winsor yellow (also good) and hansa yellow (nice). Not sure what I used in all of these mixes because I was sketching at Ferme Tournesol while people were picking up the first CSA baskets of the year so there were a lot of distractions, mostly people talking and catching up with the farmers after the long winter.
The colour scheme at the plant nursery kind of worked out well for me. Green plant in purple pot. Purple plant in green pot. And to round things out, green plant in green pot. All I had to do was supply the pen and wash.
It’s a minor miracle that I got this sketch done because I spent most of the time swatting mosquitoes (which could be the reason the row of rhubarb plants looks like a line of green cars). But it was a good day for skies and great to get out of the city to paint some wide open spaces and a horizon line. I’d love to work this sketch up into a full size painting but I will have to remember two things for next time: move the horizon line down to include more sky and pack the bug spray.
After a really busy period of work and school I’m finding it a challenge to change gears and slow down. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to really take the time to draw slowly without feeling like I have to be somewhere in seven minutes. Continuing along yesterday’s vein of really looking at lines and contours, I picked a mess of chives to draw. Totally calming.