The dog wanted to sit in the grass. We’ve been riding a sine wave of temperatures through the last month or two, going from unbearably hot to jacket cool. Today the temperature swung back up to the hot again after a few days of pre-autumn chilly, and the dog, half way through our afternoon, pulled me in the shade of some big old trees in the park and plonked down in the shade in the grass.
I relented and sat down beside her. To my back, the sun was glinting through the leaves of the trees and shimmering in a romantic sort of way as if pushed through a bit of atmospheric smoke that has decended on the city from a forest fire burning a thousand kilometers away.
My camera didn’t do it justice, but then neither did my painting. That said, the shimmer of the light on the individual leaves made me consider that my rough squiggly-line trees with blotchy shadows may be dramatically improved by a few carefully chosen layers of a thousand individually coloured watercolour leaves.
Points of Colour
I can’t say if patience is truly a virtue, but there is a time to rush through the blurry colourful mess that is a huge tree and there is a time to be more patient and ask if it’s worth painting every indivual leaf. Truly, such a task cannot be accomplished in the short ninety minutes it took me to attempt such a feat, but my light to dark layering of hundreds or thousands of individual splotches over my rough wash, each splotch an attempt to convey the sense of an individual leaf on that tree, resulted in a depth and variation in the final result that seems to me more impressive than any mussy blotch of greens and yellows and shadows that I usually attempt.
Obviously, given more than a rushed ninety minute piece and proof of personal concept I may even improve upon the approach. I also suspect that more care and attention to put a more fulsome subject of focus in the piece would enliven the result dramatically. All that said, I am finding myself unable to steer directly into the headlights of abstraction as I so often set out to attempt before losing my way on that road and simply paint within the narrower confined of realistic colours and shapes.
It is a fault I hope to work towards recitifying as the months press onward.