Above, “The Old Apple Tree”, 6″ x 6″, pastel, matted and framed, available on Etsy.
For me, a bit part of the joy of summer is getting out there in it, on the trails, canoeing the creek, walking around the streets and neighborhoods of my town and growing my garden. And from that, of course, come images, paintings, photographs, block prints, and all the other things I do.
Above, “Summer Field”, 12″ x 10″, pastel, matted and framed, available on Etsy.
I will always remember summer for the time I had to learn to paint en plein air during long, hot summer afternoons when the sun seemed to move slowly enough that I could keep up with it, out there in a field somewhere with my easel and drawing board, listening to insects and deciding exactly what shade a cerulean the sky was that day.
Sometimes these are studies for larger works when I’m remembering a scene or working from reference photos and trying to get back to that moment of inspiration to find what was most important to me then.
For instance, I had taken a number of reference photos for a painting of a scene I’d seen on Chartiers Creek while I was canoeing. I couldn’t do a plein air painting in a canoe because I didn’t want to hold up my group of canoers, but I did a quick reference sketch either that night or the next day, doing my best to hold onto what I had perceived in that space. The result was “Sunbeams”.
I didn’t get a chance to paint the painting until January, though sometimes waiting until January or February for a big work is by choice because it’s a better time of year to focus one something big and complicated, and business is a little slower. But in this case it was also icy cold and snowy, a long way from the warm June morning in a canoe. Looking at photographs will bring that back, but my sketches hold my memories and thoughts at the moment of creating more than my photos do. Photos aren’t always accurate for color, especially contrasty ones like this scene, so I’m also careful to choose the colors I feel at that moment for later use. The result is “Morning on the Creek”, though trust me, this one in particular was no quick sketch! It’s the only one in the set that was a planned and long-term piece.