Bouquet of Carnations


Among the first of a suite of small flower paintings, this simple scene depicts a glass jar filled with flowers sitting on a table top with a gold-green cloth against a backdrop of rosy violet. The principle flower of the group is a large yellow tea rose and surrounding it are carnations of different hues, pale pink, rich red, pale yellow.  The green stems of the flowers create a lively abstraction in the jar’s interior where reflections of light enliven the pattern of light and dark shapes.

Bouquet of Carnations is a pastel painting that measures 13 x 16.5 inches.


morning people

window drawing.jpgA morning person, I’m learning to become one.

My dog Lucy deserves most the credit. Lucy is an early riser, ascribing to the old saying of Benjamin Franklin, “Early to rise, early to eat.”  Oh, wait ….

Anyway, Lucy claims that’s what he meant no matter what he actually said.

I was looking out the window at the spring, this being the studio window which overlooks the back yard, the window that hasn’t been cleaned since whenever I last wrote about cleaning it.  (I can relax knowing that no one is likely to ever look that up.)  It’s an exceedingly messy window, much in need of repair. Here’s where the squirrel came to munch on the internet access cable.  Here’s where each year, generation after generation of spiders makes a home between layers of glass because, apparently, whole civilizations of bugs also make residence between the window proper and the storm window frame.

So looking out at the view I’m confronted with abundant visual complexity. A chronicler of days could find an entire magnum opus with this view alone.  For outside I see the lovely spring composed of new green, and I see pale overcast sky, and bare branches reaching up in every direction ready to leaf, and new leaves from the early strivers of the tree domain.

  The architecture of the window is there to confuse the geometrically perplexed (such as myself). But there are other subtler features too.

The glass (very dusty dirty and spider webby) catches reflections.  It dulls over the passages of color lying behind it.  Some areas of the tree trunk nearest the window (remind me that I need to cut that down) are affected by this grey veil of dullness, that softens passages of the elegant tree trunk form, leaving other parts full rich in tree trunk darkness. The warm/cool changes in all these passages are mind boggling.

So I draw it with morning coffee, fully aware that I cannot depict these many perceptions.  Even sorting out which to attempt and which to exclude puts my caffeine addicted brain to task.  It’s mostly for the loveliness of beholding and the idleness of contemplation that I decided to draw this scene.  It was here.  I have coffee to drink.  So why not?

Does it count as plein air landscape when you’re sitting inside looking out the window?

(En plein intérieur)

koi variations

The big koi drawing got a rework.


big koi april 9 drawing state 2 (2)A few days ago (April 2nd) I posted a large preparatory drawing that I have used to rehearse a large painting that’s in the works.  The drawing is 50 x 42.5 inches large.  One challenge an artist faces making large works is photographing them.  In my case there isn’t enough natural light available in the room where I work to get a good photograph.  Doing photography outdoors, of course, introduces its own challenges (not the least of which is how to drag the drawing and its huge heavy drawing support outside).

Well, I got the drawing and its heavy support outside. But then I had to locate a place with indirect light because the first and easiest location for my photo shoot produced the image seen below.  Very charming, but not descriptive of the drawing.

koi drawing with lights (3)

The photo did however prompt a wonderful idea: the photograph with its “clouds” was so lovely.

 Why not make those effects part of the drawing itself?

And I have since altered the drawing (new version at the top of the post) to introduce some of these lights that remind me of cloud reflections floating over the koi pond.  The over-exposed sections of light, made more dramatic in contrast to various shadows, are not real clouds, but they’re close enough to push the picture in that direction, and do note that these effects were still natural ones.

These were lights and shadows I found in nature. I’m still imitating nature here.

Certainly it’s possible to continue a process of this sort, I’ve taken the reworked drawing outdoors again and repeated this process.

big koi april 9 2 (2)

New lights and shadows in new locations on the reworked drawing.

Portraying Nature is a complex endeavor.  Nature is everywhere.  It’s in your head as well as “out there.” Time is a part of Nature too.

The stages are part of the lovely game of painting. Taking the picture into this direction is, granted, not the same thing as making a faithful representation of the motif en plein air.  But it is nevertheless a kind of naturalism and a kind of fidelity too.