Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

Locomotives in Fall Colors, Grand Saline, Texas

November 7, 2011

Grand Saline UP and GATX in Fall Colors

One day after the Mineola Holiday Bazaar, I find myself decompressing (still pretty exhausted from the return trip and unloading all my freight late last night) and trying to finish this watercolor sketch I began yesterday afternoon.  The fall foliage back-dropping the bright road colors of this pair of diesels I found very striking on an early autumn morning last weekend.  I’m glad the fall finally has arrived (although a dreary one, color-wise–I made up some of the colors in this composition, recalling the vistas I enjoyed last year).  I hope to get in plenty of plein air activity this year.

Railroads have held my attention since childhood.  The bright color schemes fascinated me as a small boy.  They still do, of course, but I also find myself musing over where these huge diesels pull their freight daily, weekly, annually.  I always wondered about what the railroad crew got to see as they road the rails across this country.  I know there has to be the issue of boredom and bone-weary stretches of miles over time, but still, I would love to see American from the perspective of the rails.  And so, every time I’m driving in my Jeep and I look up to see a sight like this, I am filled with wonder and wanderlust.

In a few days, I’ll leave for Galveston, Texas for a four-day conference.  I’m not sure if I’ll have time or space to create art over that time span, but I’ll soon find out.  Meanwhile, I’ll try to push out another watercolor sketch or two in the next couple of days before I leave for that trip.  Incidentally, this watercolor sketch measures 12 x 16″, was done on a watercolor block (D’Arches 140-lb. cold press), using Winsor and Newton watercolors and Prismacolor watercolor pencils.  I’m enjoying this blend of materials for creating quick sketches.

Thanks for reading.

Watercolor of Trees at Edom Festival of the Arts

October 18, 2011

Afternoon Trees at the Edom Festival of the Arts

Though a few days have passed, I still  find myself lost in wonder, flooded with residual memories of the Edom Festival of the Arts.  The weather was perfect, with mornings beginning in the low 70’s, and plenty of sunshine taking temperatures up into the upper 80’s.  Midway through the first day, I turned around, and was caught by surprise at the sight of this tree behind my booth, flooded with color and light.  I think I felt a tinge of what the French Impressionists experienced–that impulse  that drove them outdoors with their easels to paint en plein air.  I set up my own Winsor & Newton easel and went to work, completing this on the first day of the activities.

Painting out in the open, in public view, also affords conversations with curious onlookers, and thus opens up avenues for new friendships.  I was enriched by that as well.  The temperatures are falling in Texas.  We reached the fifties this morning, and my Man Cave is cooling considerably this evening, with winds coming through the open door.  I’m anticipating some rewarding ventures en plein air as our autumn runs its course.

Thanks for reading.

Fall Colors in the Horse Country, November 27, 2010

November 28, 2010

Fall Colors in Horse Country

Saturday morning found me waking to temperatures in the upper 30’s.  Sandi had a riding lesson scheduled in south Fort Worth.  Since it was the first time to take her horse trailer out, I decided to come along to offer an extra set of hands for some of the details of loading a trailer and helping get the horse in and out.  Once we arrived, I found the world to be extremely bright and clear with sunlight.  Sandi got her horse prepped for the lesson, and I photographed her and Andante riding about the pen, stretching and loosening up.  By the time her lesson appointment arrived, I looked around for something to do.

These trees were “calling out” to me from the time we arrived on the property.  The incredibly bright yellow and orange leaves against a dark forest just would not let go of my imagination.  The sight of leaves falling between that dark space of tree cluster and bare ground also raised my ecstasy.  I walked around, looking at this site from three different directions, all the time trying to talk myself out of the commitment to a plein air watercolor.  I felt rusty, out-of-practice, uptight, not ready.  All of this added up to the “dance of avoidance” Ian Roberts writes about in his Creative Authenticity. I knew that, like Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth before me, there would be rewards waiting if I would just respond to the call.  But I was overwhelmed as I continually gazed at the complications–the masses of fall foliage, the dark forest behind, the bald, dirt ground beneath, the shadows spinning out from the trees and their gnarled trunks.  I felt there were just too many details to chase, and I felt tired.

I pulled out four unfinished watercolors, along with the 8 x 10 photographs I had taken of the subjects.  Nothing moved me.  I took out my digital camera and photographed the scene before me repeatedly, trying to convince myself that I could do a better job working from the photographs and inserting a grazing horse beneath the trees.  I knew that I would not do that, however.  Trees from photographs just don’t “do it” for me.

I even contemplated reading; I had a whole bag full of books.  I even thought of writing in my journal.  But I knew I would live with regret if I passed on this opportunity, and Sandi’s riding lesson was going to take up an hour.  So I sat, and looked, and thought–and finally drew out my watercolor block and sketched in the tree trunks and fencing.

Next I pulled the Super Nib Masquepen and began to dot in the hundreds of leaf clusters and falling leaves, along with the pipe fencing.  Once everything dried, I laid in a quick Cerulean Blue sky.  Fortunately the steady cold winds were drying out the surface of the watercolor block quickly.  Quinachronine Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and Sap Green were the predominant pigments to help see me through the fall foliage.

I was pleased at my overall draughtmanship on the gnarled tree trunks.  I mixed plenty of Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Winsor Green and Ultramarine Blue to come up with my blacks and grays.  An HB pencil also aided me in drawing in the tree bark, along with some help from an 8B Derwent watersoluble pencil.  The tree trunks came together quite quickly.

I felt pretty lost on the shadows across the dirt, so I used more of my black and gray mixings from the colors listed above, and swirled them about on the dry paper with my “ugly brush”–a real staple for me.  My “ugly” is a flat sable that I cut diagonally and then used an X-acto knife to pull out some of the bristles, leaving a jagged chisel-looking brush for my foliage, weeds and tree bark.

I’m really delighted that I responded to this opportunity, instead of passing it by.  I was really taken by what Annie Dillard referred to as the “tree filled with lights.”  I could not get over the beauty and splendor of the bright, bright sun reflections coming out of those brassy-colored leaves.  And to think that I almost passed on this to read instead.  I recall Nietzsche talking about how “positively wicked” it was for a writer or scholar to spend the prime time of the day reading–lost in other men’s thoughts–instead of producing one’s own.  I’m grateful that this day was a day that I decided to create.

Thank you for reading.

Afternoon Autumn Glow, November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010

Afternoon Autumn Glow

Well, it’s the first evening of a five-day Thanksgiving Holiday.  My wife and I have been sick with sinus infections for over a week, and I’ve felt too poorly to focus on painting.  But once school ended today I couldn’t get to rural Burleson fast enough.  This gorgeous crepe myrtle is on the property where Sandi boards her horse.  I could not believe how alive it was in color as the sun began to set.  This is a quick, 45-minute sketch of it.  I guess Emerson called it right when he wrote that “nature wears the colors of our spirit.”  This is the first day I have felt “whole” in over a week, and as I stood at my easel, taking in the beauty of this tree, I felt cleansed as I sought to reproduce these fiery colors on the paper.

My own neighborhood is alive with color, and has been for over a week.  It is as though nature waited patiently for me to recover from this annoying illness and muster enough stamina to paint her.  In the morning, I intend to step out into the neighborhood and do my best to capture more of this scintillating fall foliage in watercolor.

Thanks for reading.

Closing in on the Finish, February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010

Jennifer in the Hunt

This painting has had an incredibly long gestation period.  I can say that about my more successful watercolors, and hope I’ll be able to say it about this once it’s complete.  From my website (www.recollections54.com) there are a number of works that took months to complete, even years when the work would lay dormant for several months, untouched.  This is especially true of “Blues on the Corner.”

Jennifer Stewart is the one who created and maintains my website.  Two of her horses are in this composition, and her husband took the photograph (which incidentally has been published–thankfully, he has given me permission to paint from this published photograph).

Those of you who have followed my blog know that this is only about the fourth or fifth time I’ve painted a horse, and the first time ever that I have painted hounds.  All of this gave me pause, to say the least, and the reasons for this lengthy “gestation” process include anxieties, quitting, spending weeks and months staring at it, painting-stopping-staring-pondering, second-guessing, doubting  . . .  I think you know what I mean.  I could never have pushed this painting out quickly.  It contains too many firsts, and the more improvement I saw in the process of creating this, the more I hesitated to take the next step–you know, the paralysis that stems from the fear of blowing it.”  After all these years, it’s funny (or pathetic) to see how timid and tendentious I can be with watercolor.

So.  Today I went with my wife to Lyndon Acres in Burleson, Texas.  She stables her horse there, and was in the mood for a ride.  I set up my studio under the trees and poured watercolor all over the top two corners to enrich the dark greens of the foliage, being careful to apply plenty of masking fluid before the pouring.  After I got it home this evening, I peeled off all the masking fluid, picked up the brush, and restored the feathery foliage to the dark green areas.

My last step tonight, before posting this and heading to bed, was to pour deep plum colors all over the lower right corner (after applying plenty of masking fluid).  I have sprinkled heavy quantities of salt into the drying pigment, and I’ll find out in the morning how that worked out (I like what it did to the lower left corner lavender wash).

Anyway . . . thank you for reading, and I hope you’re getting as much fun out of this as I am.  I think I could be just a few days away from finishing it (if I don’t get interrupted.  Arrrgh!  The daily life cycle of a schoolteacher).