….November

November 14, 2015

It is the most blessed of months heralding the muted pallet–the toned-down greens, beefed-up greys, complex browns, accents of burnt orange, titian–trees simply/complexly themselves, displaying their line, frost-kissed leaves flashing their last colour, refusing dismissal.

Wonderous November--leaf-whipping, mini-cyclones, clouds suddenly letting forth face-lashing first flakes on towards frost-spongy earth–days framed by late mornings and early evenings, one’s home truly one’s castle, warming against the elements.

wells gray November a

Showboats gone, one paddles purposefully, keeping warm, the lapping sounds musical, deep-throated rooks ricocheting their call round rocky bends echoing, bouncing off glassy surfaces, wood-smoky mists rising.

Banished is the garish, overly-festooned–any and all too-muchness falling away to let be what simply is…..

November

Winter’s cusp

Summer’s compliment

Spring’s concealer

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blue moon

July 4, 2015

Because watercolour basically amounts to taking white paper and staining it with various colours by way of a brush and water-activated pigments, the possibility of texture using a buildup of paint, gesso, gel medium and other ‘helps’ available to painters in acrylic and oil just isn’t there.  IOW, in classic watercolour technique the word ‘impasto’ doesn’t exist.

Some painters get around this disadvantage by way of collage, and apply watercolour to glued on tissue and similar textural material…..

forest forager by shari hills,  “Forest Forager”, watercolour and collage by Shari Hills, source: httpwww.drawntothevalley.co.ukartistsdetailshari-hills

Here, the painter, Sheri (Colours by Sheri), used ‘delicate papers’ as a glued foundation to provide textures which then received watercolour paint to complete the effect.  On her site she describes how she also has used organic leaf material at times.

Winters Chill 12 x 9 Watercolours Collage Mixed Media Original -

“Winter’s Chill”, watercolour collage, Colours by Sheri, source: httpwww.coloursbysheri.comcurrent-series.html#sthash.aUBXtd8f.dpuf

If this method is used, painters are required to identify their medium as ‘collage’, or ‘watercolour collage’ if entering the piece in an exhibition or juried show.  Such work falls outside the accepted boundaries of what constitutes a ‘watercolour’.

In order to remain within the rather strict boundaries painters cannot have more than one third be of another medium or it then becomes a ‘mixed media’ work or ‘collage’ or ‘gauche’.   Gauche is watercolour which uses white tempera paint, and thus is opaque, not transparent. Of course, that is perfectly well and good.  Every painter does as (s)he is led to do.

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‘Moonrise’, watercolour on art board, 19cm x 24cm, (7.5″ x 9.5″)

Personally, like writers who enjoy the challenge of staying within the bounds of iambic pentameter and composing 14 line sonnets, being ‘confined’ to the rather strict parameters of traditional watercolour is rewarding.  These protocols include reserving paper to serve as white in a painting (such as the moon in the above example) — and the white of the paper is what brings life to the pigments laid over it.   And it means having to discover ways of creating texture which, in the end, remains just an illusion.

raven moon

May 20, 2015

PAINTING NIGHT has become something of a preoccupation.  On a very bald and pedestrian level, one could simply say that ‘night sells’.  However, it is the ‘why’ which is intriguing–why do scenes of watercolour-rendered night have an appeal.

raven winter aa

‘Raven Moon’, watercolour, 35cm x 25cm (14″x10″), Art Board, (sold)

THERE IS A FASCINATION over what goes on in nature while we are sleeping.  When walking the dog at 4 a.m., there are owls hooting, deer eating in people’s yards, the occasional cries of coyotes, and the enduring scent of lilac.

HEARING, TOUCHING, SMELLING all come alive, while seeing is at the pleasure of the muted moon–at once reassuring and mysterious.

The Gleaners

April 30, 2015

THE GLEANERS is a renowned painting by Jean-Francois Millet, finished in 1857.

Jean-François_Millet_-_Gleaners_-_Google_Art_Project_2

It was controversial in France for its depiction of the lowest classes of society, picking from the fields what little was left after harvest.  Prior to this, paintings of people were usually paintings of people who were rich enough to have their portraits done.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE GLEANERS, as we know.  And each of us, in our own way, were often taught by our parents to make good use of every last bit of something, including the meal(s) in front of us.

The Gleaners a

IN THE ANIMAL WORLD, Ravens are gleaners supreme, going after what little remains of just about anything left behind, tossed aside, or just there for the taking.  Yesterday I encountered one in the parking lot of our local Mall, hopping about a garbage can with a broken wing, waiting for someone to provide some slim pickings.  Its noble bearing and size–the gloss of its plumage, the inherent dignity–only added to the poignancy of its situation.  And yet, it wasn’t exhibiting signs of pain or discomfort, just a keen willingness to take what it could get and survive.  And glean.

a constable of ravens

April 24, 2015

YOU’VE HEARD OF ‘a murder of crows’, a ‘volery of birds’, a ‘brood of chickens’.  The term for the groupings of Ravens is less fixed.  Ravens were/are often seen gathering about The Tower of London, and in meaner times, The Tower was a Royal place of execution (Anne Boleyn, et al) .

AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS is what a grouping of them was called when a Royal was awaiting death–as though their presence was a foreboding, a cruel anticipating, a sign of ill will.

A CONSTABLE OF RAVENS is what their grouping was called when The Tower was no longer sinister, but rather a symbol of The Monarchy itself.  Their presence in such times meant they were keeping guard over the Royal Family.  Ravens were a constance, a watchful presence–a constable.

A CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS is another label for their gatherings, stemming from their ganging together whenever there’s carrion or bodily remains to be picked apart and eaten.  Ravens don’t allow other than their own to share in the find.

A WOMAN IN OUR TOWN THUMBS HER NOSE AT by-laws and ritualistically feeds Ravens all through the Winter months by pouring out cat kibble in several of her collection of decorative cement-cast bird baths around the yard of her time-worn and historic home.

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‘Where The Heart Is’

watercolour, 41cm x 50cm (16″ x 20″), 140 lb. Arches Hot Press Paper, J. R. Weisser Collection

THE INTENTION of this rather busy piece of work is simply to allow the viewer entry into Joan’s world.  Sometimes our hearts want to be filled–if not by another’s affections, then by the things we’ve grown fond of–and sometimes, not just filled, but rather overflowing with so much that we’ve come to take heart in, that its accumulated presence brings with it a comfort.

A CONSTABLE OF RAVENS watches over and protects and guards the fading beauty of Seasons gone by, loves had and interred, and a lasting, loving sanctuary of the heart–as yet another Autumn invites one inside to sit by the fire and grow warm, and remember.

November

January 7, 2012

About the most exciting month is November.  Moody, always in flux, caught between Autumn and Winter, November features days that are intriguing to wake up to.  I never know if, when glimpsing out the window first thing in the morning, I’m going to see flakes of snow drifting down or one of those assure November skies.

Not far from the town of Clearwater, British Columbia, (about an hour’s drive North) is Wells Gray Provincial Park.  One of its most pristine lakes is Mrytle Lake, and I’ve done two watercolours of this same lake.

The first is rendered in a very traditional style, relying on a photograph . . .

"Wells Gray November"

Another version of the same painting was done from memory, not relying at all on any photographic image.  Both paintings are now in private collections.

"Wells Gray November"

 

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