They were knocking down a building at a strip mall near my house today. It’s amazing how many people love to watch demolition. Car after car stopped nearby, people got out and watched for a while, and in the time I did this sketch a whole building disappeared.
I admire the artists who leave large areas of a painting unfinished, allowing the viewer to imagine what they might look like. My tendency is to colour in all the areas with the paintbrush, just like in kindergarten. But that can sometimes be boring, especially when the subject is very linear, like these railings or the stones on the building. This is my attempt at getting away from painting between the lines, at least in some areas.
This little old farmhouse has a roof that looks like it might collapse at any time so I figured that now would be a good time to capture it. In fact there is already a big hole in it and I like that you can see into the interior and then out to the sky again.
I stopped my car at this spot in l’Anse à l’Orme woods today, not only because there was a view of water (an actual flowing stream instead of a frozen lake!) but also because of the yellow concrete blocks that obstructed my view of the reflections. I have no idea why they are there but it allowed me to add a complementary colour to my usual blue/purple colour scheme.
Someone asked me the other day if I intentionally add a dominant element in the composition. I guess the answer is that I do create a “centre of interest” in my sketches, but maybe not always intentionally. That comes from my watercolour training with Ed Whitney. When I first studied with him in Maine he was over 90 years old, and he taught me, and countless other watercolour painters, to plan our compositions carefully and then paint them quickly to retain freshness. And part of that planning was establishing a dominant colour and value, and a centre of interest in the painting. A place where the darkest and lightest areas meet and where the brightest colours reside. I still carry my painting supplies in my green canvas Whitney bag and perhaps every time I do a sketch in my Moleskine these days one of Mr. Whitney’s principles comes to mind.
The best thing about painting in my car on Saturday morning is listening to “This is my music” on the CBC. Every week there’s a different invited musician who makes a playlist and talks about the music that shaped their life and musical career. Today the host was cellist Susie Napper and when I tuned in Artur Rubinstein was playing Chopin. Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNcb3inSg2I
This is my second sketch of the day. I did one during my lunch hour that I worked on for some time and realized that it was really boring. Then leaving school today I saw this bike and wondered if it had been there all winter or if someone decided that spring was here. I sketched this one pretty fast but sometimes the fast ones work out better than the ones that take a long time.
I’m running out of cobalt blue. That’s the colour that I use for all the snow shadows (sometimes I mix it with a cool red like alizarin crimson too). In the fall I wondered if I would be able to continue painting all winter long in my car. Now I know the winter isn’t over yet (there’s still March with all the “in like a lion and out like a lamb” stuff) but somehow I did manage to do quite a good lot of snow paintings. More than I ever thought possible back in the fall. And except for the day when my paint froze right on the brush, it has been a surprisingly great experience. I think I may actually miss the snow when it’s gone.