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.
I was leafing through a very old Architectural Digest today and I came upon a reproduction of a plant lithograph by Ellsworth Kelly. Although Kelly is best known for his hard-edge, often geometric abstract paintings, these lithos are simple contour lines — keenly observed and expertly drawn. It made me realize that sometimes I try too hard to find the right scene to draw or paint. Sometimes all it takes is a simple line (and in my case a bit of colour).
I sketched the tulips in my garden twice today. The first sketch was a compositional failure — colours all over the place, no clear lights and darks, and everything a bit too pale. So I turned the sheet over (before it even had time to dry) and started again. This time, instead of penciling in the flowers, I went straight to paint, just trying to achieve some sort of unity through colour or shape or direction of line. The tulips were in front of me but without a pencil in my hand I was able to think more about the composition on the sheet and less about recording every leaf or petal. It was an easy exercise to try with flowers but would undoubtably be more difficult to repeat with a street scene.
Working on the illustrations for a children’s book about a Canada Goose has been keeping me inside during one of the most beautiful weeks of the year. But with the paintings nearing completion I felt I could take a break from the birds and enjoy a bit of time outside to get back to my daily sketches (which I have been missing terribly.) I was at a bit of a loss about what to paint. Everything has exploded. Magnolias are blooming, tulips are up, and the trees are bright green. So what is the first thing I draw? A goose standing in the water near the shore. But I came to my senses pretty quickly, turned my chair around and painted the trees on the other side.