Total Art Soul - for artists

" Art is the proper task of life "
Friedrich Nietzsche
Tags >> watercolour


If you’ve ever been in Africa on a hot afternoon when the smouldering sun is intent on roasting anything which is stupid enough to be found exposed on the dry cracked hot plate of soil, then you will know what the intense heat of such an afternoon can do to an artist’s imagination. One of my favourite things to do on days when all sane individuals have retired to the cool shade of veranda’s and trees, is to brave the scorching heat and to walk into the veld.  Once alone I locate a small hill which will afford me an open view of a valley. From such a vantage point I can see miles across the swimming and dancing landscapes as the afternoon heat brings mirages and illusions of cool water flowing across the thirsty scene.

Once out of the stinging view of the sun, the hot shade of a Mimosa tree allows me to relax and enjoy the silence of the African bush.  It is a silence like no other and at first one could be excused for thinking that you have lost your hearing in the thick silence. It is like having a pillow over your head and just as you are about to click your fingers to reassure yourself that you have not lost your hearing suddenly some flying insect races past. Its sound passes, in stereo, first from one ear, then past your face and onto the next, punctuating the silence with its buzz. As you sit and wait, slowly your ears become accustomed to the soundtrack which accompanies the scene and you begin to hear the bush as if for the first time, the scene ushered in on an overture of sound from screeching cicada beetles.

To those who are familiar with the bush this will not be a new experience and will be one which is almost taken for granted.  For me who has had his ears anaesthetised by the white noise of the city however this is like regaining consciousness after surgery. The sounds of the hot afternoon begin to penetrate my memory banks of sounds deposited from the years I was raised in Africa.

I have never found it easy to paint in the outdoors; perhaps it’s the uncertain and disorderly nature of painting away from the familiar and ordered character of my studio that I find hard. Painting with watercolour under these conditions is difficult as the heat dries out the paper and pigment very fast, adding another layer of complexity to the process. On these occasions I rely on my camera, lenses and an ability to compile a scene which I will enjoy painting on my return to my little studio. During the long cold and damp months of an English winter, painting scenes like these will bring with them the warm memories and sounds of a hot afternoon in the veld. The contrast of colours are inspiring; from the vermillion orange of the aloe flowers to the duck-egg blue of the sky and from the rich browns and khaki shades of the grass to the deep greens of the mimosa trees.

 

The memory of this view and the small outcrop of iron stone boulders and shady mimosa trees will serve as the canvas on which I will paint the narrative of an afternoon spent in the company of these five lovely ladies the “red heads” of Harrison Farm.

Although I have many photographs of similar scenes I have used this lovely photo taken by my good friend and owner of Harriosn Farm & Harrison Hope Wine Estate, Ronnie Vehorn The Traveling Writer


blacksmith watercolor painting

12×16″, watercolor with touches of gesso on Arches CP 140lb. I’m done and I’m glad I haven’t overworked it. But I keep thinking that the background on the right should be darker. What do you think?

For comparison, here is what it looked like before gesso touch-ups: http://watercoloredhands.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/a-portrait-a-day-23-blacksmith-wip/. That post also has a link to the reference photos that I uploaded to WetCanvas reference library. Please feel free to use them for your projects :)

In case anyone was wondering what happened to me, I am quite well and keeping up with the Portrait A Day project. I am also a mom of a 14-month old boy, who takes a little too much time per pound of weight :) I have about 6-7 posts worth of material (including some watercolor book reviews) that I will try to post soon. Stay tuned!

 

 


 

Originally posted on October 28, 2010 at http://watercoloredhands.com/2010/10/28/blacksmith-watercolor-finished/


I am officially back! Had an okay visit in Sacramento, two highlights of which were a figure drawing session (thanks to Sandra!!)  and the Second Saturday Art Walk. It was my first live figure drawing (or painting, in my case) session ever. I am completely hooked now and intensely suffering at the lack of anything like that here in the high desert. Here are some of the results:

female nude figure sitting watercolor painting

about 2-3 minutes, 9x12"

nude female figure sitting watercolor painting

5 or 10 mins i think..9x12"

nude female figure lying watercolor painting

15-20 mins 9x12"

nude female figure lying watercolor painting

20 mins 12x16"

nude female figure lying watercolor painting

another 20 minute one, 12x16"

nude female figure sitting watercolor painting

40-45 mins, 12x16"

There were some seriously talented and skilled people there. I only hope that I’ll get to their level when I get to their age! :)

Second Saturday wasn’t that great but it was something. Saw some new works by Bernie Weston and they were nice. He is still very affordable, so all you collectors out there should hurry up and collect :) I was hoping that the gallery still had some of his smaller 8×8″ paintings that I saw last time (something I could afford) but they weren’t there anymore.

As usual, I had grand plans for all my “free” time, and as usual, the free time didn’t show up. In Russian, there is an expression, “to divide the skin of an unkilled bear” – for which I don’t know a similar English expression. It means to make plans for resources that are not yet in your hands…Anyway, I’m back, and the portrait-a-day project is restarting tomorrow!

 

Originally blogged on October 19, 2010 at http://watercoloredhands.com/2010/10/19/im-back-and-i-have-some-figures/


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