There has been a painting germinating in my mind for a few weeks now that I finally began to tackle. Here are some examples of my thought process as I try to solidify my idea and my composition. If I’m lucky I can finish the painting tomorrow and post it. The canvas is 24 x 48 inches and will be the largest work in my upcoming October show. (For more details about that stay tuned!)
Here is a sketch I did the other morning on campus. I didn’t have time to capture the doves cooing maniacally and poking about the puddles so just imagine them in there!
This is my second foray into the world of pastels. The result is much more abstract than what I create in other mediums but this makes the practice even more valuable to me. It is my hope that sketching in pastel will provide some great inspiration and source material for paintings in the future.
(Side note: it did not rain today… this is from a downpour just over a week ago. Maybe this post will work some magic and bring on another downpour soon? Here’s to hoping…)
This week while at Oasis State Park climbing a sandy slope to look for a nice place to paint I stumbled upon a snake. Not at all unusual, but the largest I’ve seen in the wild in New Mexico.
I was walking under a tree when I noticed some very slight movement above my head. I looked up to find a tan/gray shape coiled in the crook of the tree. I paused for a moment and saw that it was on the move down the tree three feet to my left. Obviously I retreated to the car where I continued to watch. Snakey (I named him/her) then investigated the area where I was standing and headed for the car. Unfortunately my nature viewing ended soon afterwards because I had clearly disturbed Snakey and he or she was now moving intently towards me. I didn’t want to let Snakey get so close to the car that I might run them over, nor did I want to stick my head out the open windows to check his/her progress… so I drove away.
I parked the car at a safe distance and walked to a shaded picnic bench where I painted for a few hours (see post “Oasis” which shows another canvas from this day). In this painting, the tree on the right is the one I saw Snakey in.
I described my snake spotting (in great detail) to some park employees and they helped me identify it as a Coachwhip.
Some neat things I learned about Coachwhips: They are often active in hot conditions when other snakes seek shelter in cool retreats. They spend most of their time on the ground but are capable climbers so are occasionally encountered in trees and on cacti. They are slender bodied snakes relative to their length and are extremely fast (believed to be the fastest in North America). If they are cornered, coachwhips will strike repeatedly (often at their attackers face) and bite strongly if given the opportunity (they can raise the first third of their bodies to reach what they want to bite). Though they are aggressive in defense, these snakes will not chase a person down and “whip them to death” as a common legend suggests. Phew.
So, this is just my shoddy internet research (Online Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona among one of my sources) and I could be wrong in attributing some characteristics to Snakey when there are seven subspecies of coachwhips widely distributed across the southern US. But I got carried away with the fun factor of writing about snakes… I hope you forgive me.
Today I feel like sharing with you a rough pastel drawing of a forest in fall.
I am craving the scratchy texture of thick plaid “Sault Ste. Marie Tuxedos” (these are wool button-up sweater/coats for those of you who don’t know the northern Ontario lingo). I’m craving a cold beer on a dock as a summer sun sets. I’m craving guitars around campfires and lobsters spread out on newspaper-covered tables with little dishes of butter. I’m craving the sight of two dozen Cedar Waxwings passing berries to one another in a tree. I’m craving lichen covered rocks under the first snowfall of the season.
There is nothing like a pool of water in the middle of the desert. Bizarre: yes, peaceful: incredibly so.
This was painted at the nearby Oasis State Park. Many people are attracted to the fishing hole here. On a busy day families are lined up along the pink stones dropping their lines in for catfish and guzzling sodas. The morning I set up my paints at a shady picnic table the only other people around were a father and daughter fishing quietly from camping chairs.
I’ll definitely be revisiting this gorgeous place to paint more… if only it was a swimming hole!
This is another painting done from the passenger seat of my car. Early morning I drive around trying to find a piece of shade to park in, open all the windows, set up the metallic window shade, hop into the passenger seat and set up my palette from the oil paints in the bin by my feet. Then I paint for an hour or two while guzzling ice water from a thermos and trying not to get too much paint on the interior of the car…
After this I explore a bit more looking for spots I might like to paint the following day before heading home to finish the oil sketch or work on bigger canvases in the studio.
For those of you following me into the woods, here is a sketch worked from graphite into watercolour and finally pastels and ink. I enjoy the wild energy of the foliage contrasting with the calm pools of light and shadow at the base of the tree as well as the pose of the person whom you may or may not notice at first…