Think about creating a walkway in a garden,


a path made with pebbles. Instead of dumping the bag of rocks into the path and pushing them around with a rake, you move them around pebble by pebble. Well, clearly I cannot do that — am not that crazy. But the changes to the picture seem like shifting pebbles around in a path.

I posted this before, and I have worked on it a little more. This is the larger version of the motif.  It’s on blue paper. The other smaller one is on brown paper.  I wonder if the changes are even visible to the spectator. More increments are necessary, I think, before the changes really take hold. I’m not ready to let this go, and yet the differences between where it is now and where it needs to be are slight.

I had posted details of the other drawing. Here are a few of the same passages from this drawing.


It corresponds to this detail from the other version (below).

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And the central portion of the large picture:


And the slightly smaller one (below):

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The one helps me think about the other.

One quality I love about pastel (both oil pastel and dry pastel) is the ease with which you can drag color over top of existing layers. The slight change in the surface, like rearranging pebbles in a garden path, makes the thing more tactile — and (somehow) seems (to me) to make it more real.

A garden scene of floating world with trees above and clouds below is not different from a herd of koi seen rushing through the water, the planes of water shifting as the koi move through. One is like the other. I often think that I am continually painting the same picture over and over, whether it is koi or landscape or flowers or something else.

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Why is a koi not just like a cloud?


7 thoughts on “incremental change

  1. From your beautiful picture, I’d have to say that koi are a little more colorful than clouds. I like your thoughts about incremental changes, too… shifting pebbles on the pathway. Good way to explain it. 🙂

  2. You make me want to go paint with pastels after looking at your paintings. There is something about putting in texture on top of existing layers that is addictive. I love the fact that you give up close-ups, it wants me to grab some pastels! I haven’t had a desire to pick them up since I have started my watercolor challenges. There is something cathartic with pushing color around or shapes with pastel. You are quite productive, aren’t you? I love this painting and of course your koi. 🙂

  3. Some kois are white like clouds, not thesebright ones of course. But the white kois are certainly more muscular than clouds. They plow through the water. But their shapes are wandering shapes, like the clouds.

    The abstract qualities of a picture, the ways of placing things is what provides a (sometimes hidden) constant. The koi occupy places that the clouds occupy or that the round tree boughs and shrubs occupy. Like moving pieces around a game board. The painting is the board. Sometimes it’s a fish, sometimes a still life object. But the positions on the board themselves have a kind of meaning — or so it seems to me. I am always searching out that meaning.

    It’s as close as I’ll ever get to math! Poor innumerate me. Thank you, Judith. Your comment helps me see the idea a bit more clearly.

  4. Margaret, Your watercolor challenge has had a similar effect on me. I’ve been wanting to use watercolor for a month. My watercolors are stashed away at present or I would have succumbed. Putting passages of color on top of others is something that you can do in watercolor too, though. Sometimes I learn a lot from my materials when I try to imitate in one medium something that I’ve done in another. It’s one reason I like redoing the same motifs in different media. The media themselves give you more ideas.

    Thanks for your kind words!

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