of vegetable matters.
As much as I have a minor pre-occupation with so-called “urban” sketching, my situation, life, and local environment often steer me towards subject matter that is decidedly more suburban, rural, or parkland.
In other words, leafing through my growing stack of sketchbooks, the common theme seems to trend towards nature, trees, insects, and outdoors… in the wilderness sense.
In the winter this has meant snow and brown, leafless trees.
In the autumn I specifically went to the art store to buy and build an autumn foliage paint collection.
And as spring approaches once again for what will be my third warm-season of outdoor painting adventures, I’m anticipating not just building a new “spring” foliage paint collection as a seasonal counterpoint, but finding lots of blossoms and insects and fresh growing things to sketch and paint through April and May.
Leaves Aren’t (Just) Green
Nature is tricky and like so many objects that we find emerging from the tips of our paintbrushes, has a subtle colour palette that bears explanation through a glimmer of science. Leaves seem green because leaves tend to be stuffed full of chlorophylls, a family of plant-chemical that absorbs all the blue, yellow, violet and orange light in an effort to make energy. But biology is tricky and chlorophyll can fill leaves in varying patterns, be missing entirely from one part of a leaf or another, degrade due to plant health or through the season, and more. And all this means is that the reflected green light is often mixed with a variety of other colours, sometimes yellow and sometimes oranges and sometimes reds, pinks, violets or blues, all merging into a green that is rarely just green, but some other collection of hues that define the very nature of the plant we are painting.
I was longing to be outside painting plants today, partly because it’s been a long winter, partly because the weather has started to warm and people are talking about the near future state of the streets and parks free from snow, and partly because it’s almost exactly one week until the spring equinox and we can run out into the front yard shouting that “spring has arrived!”
So I painted a houseplant in my window instead, and I used just three colours, payne’s grey, sap green, and indian yellow to blend and blur and mix the various shades and depths of colour that defined that particular spider plant sitting on the ledge looking at the longer, sunnier days outside.
Soon that window will be full of life, but most of it will be on the other side of the glass. For now, I’ll use what I can to inspire me.