I saw an ant

oil pastel of fir garden whole image wip

On the weekend past I took a long walk.  It was mild when we started out, but it got hot quickly as the sun rose higher.  Finally we had to rest under some trees to catch our breath in the heat.  I looked in the leaves of grass around me while I rested.  I saw a humongous ant, one of those big monster-like ants, a muscle ant.  It was gradually heading in my direction patiently traveling on flattened leaves under the grass canopy.

As ants are wont to do it took a meandering path.  I was prepared at any moment to get out of its way as it came closer to me.  But with much watching it never did get close enough for me to need to move.  It seemed as though it would, but then for some cause it turned back upon its path and went back toward the direction from which it had first appeared.

I think I am somewhat ant-like in my travels with my art.  I have several projects going at once.  I try to be more focused but it never works.  Instead I juggle many things.  It is part of my ant-nature.  That’s just the way it is.  Thus I pulled out this drawing above, something I found in the pile, only a sketch when I found it, and began reworking it.  It’s a study for a painting.  I need to resume that painting too.  I have a pile of things to finish.

I travel a meandering path, but somehow things get done.

 

on the easel

landscape on the easel

I have been bit by the landscape bug again.  I am still working on my myriad projects — various still lifes that have appeared on this blog in recent weeks — but, you know, sometimes you just have to paint some landscape.

Here’s the block in.

crazy stuff

abstract vertical garden

Well, the embossing at the bottom gives you an idea how small this drawing is.  It’s a wild and wacky landscape, drawn quickly using Neocolors on stiff watercolor paper.  The materials are identical to what I used for a large koi drawing.  I made this drawing because I wanted to test rolling out a layer of acrylic varnish over it to seal the Neocolor.  I needed a fast trial picture.  A successful test means that I next apply the varnish to a large koi drawing, one that measures a whopping 42 x 51 inches.

It seems to have worked.

abstract vertical garden detail small

The varnish makes it harder to photograph (and I have suboptimal conditions as I write), but it seems to have created a sturdy acrylic coat and the dense pigment hasn’t prevented the acrylic from grabbing the surface.  I rubbed as much crayon as I could into the paper, leaving bits of impasto and texture deliberately so as to give the procedure a proper test.

Now I have my work cut out for me, to apply the same varnish to a humongous sheet of paper.  I’ll post that drawing next.

something a little different

backyard landscape oil pastel

An easily distracted artist like myself needs some forms of entertainment so I set up my plein air easel and drew this landscape on a 24 x 18 inch sheet (Strathmore 400 pastel paper) using Neopastels.

Indoors.

I did my plein air indoors — at the window — because — MOSQUITOES!  Even Accuweather reported yesterday that the mosquito situation in Washington DC was intense given our recent weather.

Our weather has been lovely and mild too.  You’d think that mosquitoes would give us a break.

Anyway, I had difficulty actually seeing the whole scene I wanted to draw — long story — so I decided — what the heck — throw all caution to the wind — I took off my glasses, drew with my left hand.

And voila!

I kind of like the wacko gestural effect …

tattered images from memory

memory drawing of view from Sousa Bridge july 31 (2)

In other news, my daughter and I took a trip into town for coffee and contemplation on a beautifully mild and cloudy last day of July.  Driving back across the Sousa Bridge on our return, I was noticing the tree line and the big grey clouds  and wondering how much of the aspect I could retain in memory.

It turns out that the answer to my mental question is “not very much”!  I would love to draw the view from life (which I’ve seen more times than I can number), but I’m always in my car.  This is the first time I’ve ever even tried to draw it.

Call this the dream version.  But it’s a fun drawing to make.  I should draw from memory more often.

en plenitude

two lilies 2 july 11 (2)

Been drawing!  En plein air, I drew these two lilies.  There were three, but I ran out of time (parking regulations), the sun shifted finding me straight in the path of its hot rays, and the mosquito invasion began to wear upon my patience. But I like what I managed to depict in just under 2 hours.

It would have been fun to have taken a photo of the set up.  I could have shown my flowers right next to their models because indeed they were “right there.”  But I am getting the hang of going out to paint and still learning what equipment I want.  I forgot my camera.  Need to form a habit of including it among the gear.

Here’s a close up of the main flower —

two lilies detail july 11

in between times

rock creek park scene

Courses in life seldom run straight.  Like a river or creek they bend against time.  I work steadily toward my “big painting” project and yet it seems to be standing still at present.  In between times I am also beginning to draw landscapes outdoors in oil pastel.  I made this drawing quickly.

Might be going out again today.  These drawings — at present — aren’t ones that I set out to make — not yet — not so far.  They are instead things that I do while I’m waiting around for someone else.  So sometimes when I am on someone else’s schedule, I still draw.  I am finding more and more that bits of time gathered here and there are useful for seeing.  I probably never would have made this drawing had I not found myself momentarily at loose ends.

And you never know where these things lead.

the pine tree

pine tree painting on the easel

After much time spent painting with acrylics, oil paint beckons.  I have a couple large acrylic flower paintings that need finishing — and they will not be neglected.  But I long to smell the linseed oil again too.  So I’ve pulled the pine tree from the stacks and have been getting ready to work on it further.  Here it is pictured with a couple of preparatory drawings.

And I have built a picture frame for the dark flowers seen on the right.  It’s getting ready to go on exhibit at the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia.

A busy time.