Friday, August 20, 2010

away from green

 middle  August  field 

click on sketch to enlarge
Field colors are leaving green. Each day shows more and more spent, drying, browning stalks and flower heads that are going to seed. There are blooms still and even some new blooms. Goldenrod is moving from green to gold.  Joe Pye weed is becoming less carmine, dustier, dustier.  Lemon-yellow blooms of late-year primroses bob, tall in the breezes.  Queen Anne's lace is curling up everywhere, dunn-green, almost brown, almost ashy. But, still in the fields, also, some Queen Anne's lace is startlingly white, lacey, crisp.  Around the blooms the greens are changing, frosting with mildew from humidity of the days and the nights' coolness or simply giving up, no more chlorophyll coming through: too much sun finally and night hours that are advancing.

goldenrod & primrose in the field

In these small paintings, I have the autumn colors underneath and starting to appear above the greens.

Monday, August 9, 2010

curly dock

liatris, goldenrod & curly dock in the field

The curly dock is the dark dry brown "bottlebrush" in the fields in August.  This image is from last year's autumn paintings; this year we are not seeing the goldenrod fully flaming yellow yet.  Maybe we will in another two weeks.

So almost a year later, I am still working in this format:  8x10" or 10x8" views from the fields and treelines.  This image, like the others, is done on a printmaking paper, Stonehenge or Rives BFK.  (For larger pastel painting especially, a favorite paper is 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico, hot-press [smooth, not so much textured] watercolor paper.)  I use several finely sprayed layers of fixative, even on the small works.  I make my own fixative sometimes, and I also like to use Weber Blue Label fixative.  The layering colors are mostly soft pastel, with some charcoal and lead and graphite pencil marks.  The pastels I most often use are the soft, buttery ones from Sennelier and Schminke, and the slightly harder kaolin-based ones from Rembrandt and Winser Newton.  I use other pastels sometimes, but these are my "regulars."

Many years ago I would sometimes use touches of oil pastel, for nubby texture, in combination with the soft pastels, but I have some concern for the non-drying aspect of the mineral oil in oil pastels.  Will there be holes eaten into the paper where the nubby texture marks used to be?  Will the nubby texture marks become darker and darker?  Still, if a painting's surface changes over the years, it is still the same painting, yes?  The same painting with, maybe, more dark curly dock than it had earlier!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

autumn fields

queen anne's lace & tickseed in field

liatris & coneflowers in field

sweet peas, spotted knapweed & bee balm in field

We have quite a few colorful characters in the fields nowadays.  They have wonderful names:  Queen Anne's lace, Spotted Knapweed,  Tickseed, Coneflowers, Sweet Peas, Black-eyed Susans, Bee Balm, Goatsbeard, Bladder Campion, Bouncing Bet, Smartweed, Curly Dock.  And of course there are the grasses, turning from green to all kinds of russet reds and siennas.  Dried seedheads that have turned brown and dull brown can yet erupt from their color-stillness whenever a goldfinch or purple finch or hummingbird alights upon them.

The small paintings are mostly pastel, on a printmaking paper.  Each has quite a few marks and so a good amount of layering, which, still, only translates a bit of the multifarious field activities.