Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20, 2009

Today is a beautiful day; a Sunday, the last Sunday of Summer 2009.  I’m already nostalgic for summer.  I’ve been up since 8am, feeling restless and mildly unhappy, not sure why.  While my coffee was brewing, I hung the Flag on the clothes line in celebration of this beautiful day – also hopeful the cheerful sight would perk-up my mood.  I watched tv while drinking coffee and working on a drawing.  I ran a load of wash through the washing machine while I was watching tv and working on the drawing.  My feeling of restlessness, dissatisfaction and general low-down blues persisted.  I decided that when Sunday Morning was over that I’d get dressed, hang the clothes on the line and then go out and paint somewhere for awhile.

When I came from the living room into the kitchen, after Sunday Morning, the sight of the flag hanging in the sun struck me as oddly beautiful – got my attention, put my mind in gear –   I quickly made the decision to stay home and paint a picture of the flag in the sun on the porch.  Without bothering to get dressed, I ran to the car in bathrobe and pajamas for my Biggie Journal and my traveling painting stuff, then immediately sat down at the kitchen table to do this small sketch, using UB, CR and CY.  Since I’m working in my Biggie Journal, I didn’t bother to do a thumbnail sketch.  My Biggie Journal is nothing but thumbnail sketch....  I pretty much established the composition of this painting by using the view finder and zoom lens of my camera.  The drawing took about ten minutes.  I decided that after my last Biggie Journal entry, to make a little more effort to make my lines straight but without using a ruler.  At this point,. I’m going more for spontaniety than I am precision.

Note: the pink glow in the upper left hand corner of the drawing is from the intense red in my fuzzy warm bathrobe.

The next step was to mix a neutral gray from UB, CR and CY.  I filled in the area behind the flag, the part of the house under the eaves was the darkest, lightening up for the eaves, lighter for the roof and chimney, lighter yet for the sky portion and even lighter for the ceiling of the porch.  For the ceiling of the porch, I added a tiny bit of yellow.  I used a much lighter mixture for the porch door.

‘Lighter’ mean, I added more water, thinned-down the original mix....

Since the color of the entire picture depends on the light of the sun and the light of the sky, I started adding color there first.

The color of the sky was obtained by painting the entire sky portion with a light gray and then adding in more and more blue at the top, where the sky section and porch section meet while the paper was drying until I felt satisfied the intensity – until I felt the blue in the sky on the paper matched my sense of happiness, the amazement of discovery... in the blue in the actual part of the sky that I could see.           
The next part was to use some of the gray from my original mix and to use it as the basis to mix the color I wanted to add to the house behind the flag.  I used a mix of CR and CY for the roof, the same mixture with a little blue added for the house, with a little red added for the chimney.  I also dabbed in a little color to the dark area of  the screen on the door, just for a sense of continuity.

My initial layers of paint are thin, I’m trying to develop a thin skin of paint over the entire painting.  In adding the color to the house, my paint is slightly heavier than it was in the initial layer. The paper isn’t entirely dry; the moisture in the paper helps to spread the paint somewhat evenly.

As I was observing the scene in front of me and referring to my painting, I realized I’d forgotten that I wanted to put in the Morning Glory vine and leaves that are growing on a string over the clothes line.  I lightly pencilled them in over the roof and sky, then I dabbed in some leaf-shapes with a gray from my original mix, then quickly mixed up a green from UB and CY and worked that into the wet gray.  I used some darker shapes behind the screen of the door, also added in a light bit of sky color behind the door.  Then I started the flag.

Drawing in the actual stars would have been waaaay too time consuming so I roughly indicated  the  pattern of the stars with boxy blobs.  There are not the required amount of stars.  By now, I’ve realized that I could have used more space for the Blue.  Oh well....

So that the ‘star’s would still appear white (light) but not too close, I tinted the blue area very lightly with CR.  Then I lightly tinted in the rest of the flag with UB so that the white stripes would appear white against the red stripes.  Since I’m only using the 3 pigments and they’re all combined to make the gray, there should be harmony.  While the flag was all still wet, I put in some shadow areas with some of the gray from the original mix.  When the blue area was dry, I mixed up a deep blue by adding more and more UB into some of the original gray mix.  The paper wasn’t bone dry, so I had no trouble painting in the blue, then smoothing it out with a cleaner and dryer brush.  The blue mixture of paint is heavier than the initial washes, but still somewhat ‘inky’ – watery.  I mixed a dark red by using CR and original gray, plus a little blue.  While the dark red was still wet, I added more CR in the sunny spots on the flag using a mix of the dark red with a little more CR added plus a tiny amount of CY.  The darker red was still wet, so after I added the more colorful red, I ran everything together with the brush.  Because the roof portion in the background was dry, I applied a thin glaze of CY to give it more light.  It was a very light glaze; I added more to the roof closest to the eaves, thinning it down and drying it with the brush as I moved toward the peak.

This sketch was done in a little more than an hour.


I took this photo of the flag in case I decide to make an actual painting from this sketch.  I’ll use the photo to draw the flag because trying to get a flag to hold still while I draw in every fold, stripe, star, shadow, is impossible.  All I’m able to record in the quick sketch, whether drawn or painted,  is my impression using the skills I have.  I’m not good at drawing or painting things that are moving.

I’m thinking of doing an actual painting of this porch scene on a very small canvas for a show in October.  I think that the memory of the experience of painting this scene this morning will help make a good painting.

My mood is much sunnier, my sense of restlessness is calmer.  My heart is happier, my head is happier.  Focusing on capturing a moment is forgetting everything else and enjoying the gift of the Present.  Things have changed with me, and for the better.

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