I found the Aque di Rose vase at the thrift store on August 12th. And since then I’ve painted it three times. Many more plans for it. It’s an amazing vase — the first paintings just scratch the surface. Sometimes life brings you exactly what you want — that something you didn’t even know you wanted! But there it is.
Each of us is different and the things that appeal to our sensibilities are different. For me, part of the enterprise of painting is finding those touchstones. The subjects of painting do matter to me. I don’t always know what they are or “should” be — for me, I mean — but when they come into my path, there’s this marvelous sense of recognition! It was you all along!
I never even knew this thing existed — and yet it’s as though I was looking for it. Isn’t that wonderful?
Here’s the earliest version, the one I painted soon after getting the vase home. The painting above measures 28 x 22 inches, and the one below is 18 x 14 inches. (A third painting is still under wraps ….)
I was at the U S Arboretum a few years ago when they were giving away old books. Most of them treated obscure topics. I found one book that I thought I could use for making sketches. It sat in the back of my car for a long time. When I cleaned my car, it migrated indoors. It sat in one spot, then another. After I started reading Marie Kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” I figured it was destined for the trash pile. Something stayed my hand. This morning it “struck joy,” to use Kondo’s phrase. And I’m drawing one of the third or forth foliage studies I’ve made so far for a project that crept into my head last night.
This book feels kind of perfect for what I’m doing. I have felt so excited that I wanted to write about it and I haven’t even finished the first drawing yet. But it is so perfect. We are definitely striking joy this morning.
The book is so perfect that even the panels in it, the lines drawn on every page are as though designed to help me figure my foliage studies out. The text is minimal and offers simply some random extra texture on a related theme: flowering plants.
The Big Tidy Campaign of 2017 is on-going. It will be a while before I complete my household transformations. I continue with my regular work during interludes — and while my muscles rest from the exertions of much moving stuff about ….
The big koi drawing got a rework.
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.
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.
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.