Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Beauty In The Midst of Horror
9" x 12"
Ink & Watercolors
While Fox News was having reruns on tv, CNN actually stayed on the air, live, for reports of the latest conflict. We watched the flashes of explosions as the night gave way to dawn. I had my sketchbook as I watched tv. The colors of the sunrise over Gaza caught my attention and I thought those would look good in a painting. I did some quick sketches as the day grew brighter, wrote in notes as to where various colors would go. I didn't have in mind, particularly, doing paintings of these scenes, but in using the combinations in other paintings later. As pictures began repeating, that gave me time to use my travel set of Winsor Newton watercolors, and put in some of the colors on the sketches. This is why you see my notations of colors in the above paintings.
The soft colors of daybreak were deceptive. The puffy little clouds were not the peaceful little summer clouds we sometimes see. Instead, they were smoke from explosions. But, they could easily have been those little cotton-like clouds we see in Texas. The yellow and gold sky scanned a much stronger yellow than it actually is.
I was going to stop with the first sketch, but the purple and lavendar sky in the next picture attracted me. Again, deceptively soft and peaceful looking, except the darker clouds on the horizon were not normal clouds. Instead, they were smoke flowing across the city. Who could tell what horrors were taking place in the buildings and streets below. I am not sure why the land appeared to be red orange. Maybe it was my eyes, but I thought that maybe it had something to do with dust in the air.
Again, I was about to quit when they showed a hilly scene, with some buildings on the horizon. I was impressed with the sort of olive green grass with darker areas that might have been little bushes of some kind. One little gamboge patch of color toward the top of the hill indicated, to me, an area of sand. You would think this would be a peaceful place where there might have been sheep grazing, but it was empty of life. By this time, the sky had turned to pink with a bit of shadey blue or lavender at the horizon.
It's a terrible situation, but I did find something appealing in the colors as I watched from safety, from a long distance. We hope for safety for all those people, but, realistically, as long as there are men, there are going to be wars and rumors of wars.
I'm having a little more trouble distinguishing colors, and doing things like connecting lines when I draw and paint. I sort of aim and hope that things come close to being where they should be! Sometimes it works!
"Is this pink or orange?" I often ask.
"No, it's red," I am told.
The same thing happens for other colors. I have to take things to the natural light to tell what they are. That works, sometimes.
"That line should be straight, " I'm sometimes told.
"But it looks curved, to me," I answer.
It's frustrating, but, so far, I'm able to work with it. Although I really admire realism, that is not what comes out of me. And, with my vision the way it is, I know that realism is going to be impossible to do. It's a good thing that I can enjoy being loose, expressionistic, putting in pretty colors, experimenting, or I would be really upset and frustrated.
Come sketch with us Saturday January 10 for the 21st World Wide Sketch Crawl. Wherever you are, you can still do the Sketch Crawl with a group where you are, or just sketch by yourself. Start your own group!
It's really a nice day. Just take along your sketching or writing materials, maybe a camera, a chair to sit on, (or you usually can find a bench or somewhere to sit, depending on where you decide to draw.), and things you might like to have for the day. You might like to have a hat or sunscreen, depending on where you are. Maybe you will need warm clothes and pick a spot indoors. You can journal about your day from getting up, to breakfast, where you sketch, lunch, your afternoon, winding up, and those around you, too. Or you might decide to just draw in one spot, or move to different places. If you are going to an event, you can sketch there, too.
If you can't get away from home, draw what you do at home that day. You might draw your neighborhood, your yard, or wherever you are.
Or, you can find interesting things to draw in your locale.
My sister takes her plein aire painting equipment, as well as a sketchbook and pen. She usually does a painting, then sketches a while. She has her oil painting supplies, a camp stool, a tripod, a variety of canvases, etc. She is prepared! She even has bungee cords, and, of course, her ice chest. She also takes business cards to give to those who show interest in her work.
I take my travel set of Winsor Newton watercolors with 3 small brushes-a smallflat, a small round, and a tiny detail brush) , a watercolor pad, a sketchbook, a pencil case with a variety of pencils and pens, a small ruler, eraser, and a pencil sharpener. I also have a plastic clip board that has a space inside. I keep copy machine paper, pencils and pens, and an eraser in that. (You could put sheets of drawing paper or watercolor paper in the clipboard. I use a film container or small pill bottle for water and keep some tissues in my purse. A bottle of drinking water is in my bag in case I can't find a water fountain where I am. A small spray bottle is an addition to use for watercolor techniques.
To avoid littering, I have a couple of Zip Lock bags, a plastic bag from a store, paper towels, and a trash bag.
All of these are carried in a plastic tote bag.
A lawn chair and a cushion provide a place to sit in case there isn't a bench where I decide to draw.
My oil painting things are handy, but, so far, I haven't found that I have time to take photos, sketch, do a little with my watercolors, talk, and do oil paintings, too.
I take another bag for my grandson (age 12) and have a couple of sketchbooks for him, pencils (drawing and colored) , eraser, his brushes. He has a folding canvas chair. (I tried that, but, with my knees, I had trouble getting out of it! I needed more support.)
We have soft drinks in our ice chest, in case we are working someplace where we can't buy a drink.
I've done quite a few sketches at places that I wouldn't have gone to sketch on my own. And that has resulted in more art work. I have more places in mind to go, now.
And it is a good way to spend a day with my grandson. He seems to like doing watercolors better than he has liked sketching-except for drawing the things he is interested in like ships or light sabres! But, he is at an age where he is going to be changing a lot.
Perhaps this will give you some ideas for doing the sketch crawl. Some people only take along what will fit into their pocket or purse. Others use a luggage carrier for their equipment. You might even keep things packed in your car, ready to go when the urge to sketch or paint strikes.
If you have any questions or would like to join us, let me know.
Be sure to sign up for the Plein Aire painting workshop with Virginia Vaughan in Calvert Saturday February 21. For more information and a supply list contact Cecelia at email@example.com . Send a deposit of $40 to reserve a place in the class by Feb. 1, payable to Virginia Vaughan, with the balance due at the workshop.
Since we will all go out and paint for fun on Sunday, you may want to reserve a room at one of Calvert's B&Bs. The Pin Oak B&B and The Bird House both have rooms available that weekend.
I read on the Calvert page of the Fort Tumbleweed website that Calvert has a soda fountain! That sounds really interesting! Ice cream is always good, and those old fashioned sodas and sundaes, lime ices, and such treats are something that we could use more of. I really hated to see Swenson's close here. It was the closest thing I've found to Taliaferro's Drug Store that we had in Calvert. Wish they would open again.
I did find a way to make something that is close to the old fashioned chocolate sodas that we used to be able to get almost anywhere.
I just put some chocolate ice cream into a soda fountain style glass. Put in a straw. Then added Sprite or 7-Up until it makes that nice foam on top.
Pretty tastey. And it helps to settle an unhappy stomach, too!
We'll have to look for that soda fountain the next trip to Calvert. I always thought they should have kept one, but the Dairy Queen seemed to become a popular place when those came into town. I guess that hurt the drugstore soda fountains and lunch counters. DQ is okay, but it isn't the same as the great old drugstores, or Swenson's.