Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Wonder of Just Knowing


"Moon Over Rabbit Bluff"
watercolor; 10"x14"


Let's see here...how well did I follow the "rules" on this assignment?  Sun?  Nope.  Required palette of reds, yellows, oranges, and perhaps a touch of purple?  Not quite.  Sunset?  Maybe if you rewinded this scene back a few minutes.  Three-tier landscape?  Yes (although I see once I scan it that my horizon line is sinking to the right...Oh well.) 

When my watercolor class was asked to paint a setting sun in the course of learning about layers in a traditional landscape, I knew immediately that I wouldn't be so interested in depicting a sunset as I would be the moonrise.  At the end of the day, sometimes there's a moment where those two celestial bodies coexist in the visible sky, a gentle argument between starlight and sunshine.  That was my guiding vision as I proceeded along blissfully, completely ignoring the fact that almost everyone else was dutifully capturing a variety of toasty warm sunsets.  I washed the background with brilliant quinacridone magenta, medium cadmium yellow, mineral violet, and a stunning, sparkly amethyst purple (yes, it's made from genuine amethyst!)  Once the sky was dry, I lifted out pigment to reveal the moon, readying herself for the coming night.  The foreground is executed in a thick, deep, royal dioxazine violet. 

What really tickled me about this painting is that the "story" - two wild bunnies watching the moon rise over the Pacific - just suddenly appeared.  I had painted the bluff and the trees and stepped back.  In front of me, I saw a place and a time but nothing more.  I needed an event, something to give the painting a bit of power and purpose.  And then, in the next moment, I knew it would be rabbits.  I knew there would be two.  I knew one ear needed to be flopped over.  I just knew.  There was no prolonged, agonizing period of analysis or pitched battle in my brain over finding the "perfect" solution.  Those rabbits just appeared in the painting like a slow-developing polaroid that suddenly resolves itself.  Love that...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lux and Rebellion


"Autumn Lux"
watercolor; 10"x14"
(Insert heavy sigh here)  For the past month, I've been fully ensnared in the college homework, housing inspection/paperwork and art teaching schedule that seems to consume my every waking minute.  The only art I've been doing is during my "Techniques in Watercolor" class and since the start of the term, that work has been focused on the basics such as brush handling, washes, glazing, mixing and color wheel construction and use.  It is useful information but is largely review for me.  I am eager to push the paint into new frontiers and it is only in the last two sessions that we have been allowed to play a bit with assignments that require a bit more imagination.

However, even these most recent painting lessons have been accompanied by restrictions and I have discovered that I am chafing against any sort of rules laid down with the best of intentions by my instructor.  In the piece I present to you today, we were asked to work with a palette limited to yellows and reds (and of course any mixes derived from those).  We were asked to specifically avoid colors from the cool hemisphere of the color wheel.  Well, you guessed it!  I'm one of those students; I just can't help myself.  Here on the Lost Coast, green maintains a strong presence, even in the depths of winter.  And I love those leaves caught in between the glory days of summer and the cool release of fall.  My muse tried really hard to please the professor - honest.  But muses being what they are, I defiantly crossed into the forbidden zone and stole away with a dash of deep, rich phthalo green.  Sorry, Professor Silver.  It is what it is and I love it.
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