Sunday, February 17, 2019

Chaos

Color play: Golds, Bt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue & Dioxazine Violet

For the past year I have been doing a daily online course through DailyOM - A Year to Clear.  It's a lovely slow drip that helps people learn to tackle the mess. Soon you see that the real treasure it offers is this:  It guides you, in equal parts, to put in order your outer life and your inner life.

It's been enlightening.

I'm on day #337/365.  I realized this morning that even though I started this course to find a way to deal with the chaos of a huge, several-years-long house remodel and the never-ending mess, that in addition, what I needed to learn was to *allow* chaos into certain parts of my life

I need to let my studio stay messy - so that I can see the things that inspire me and so that it's easy to maintain a creative practice. Because I could not impose order on the house, I had imposed too much order on the studio. I have found a better balance now: There is one area of neatness and visual peace, with another area behind me that is a working space where I can leave the supplies and inspirations out and create on the fly. This has helped my creative practice enormously.

But there's more.

As I explored more deeply, I found that 'chaotic' was a part of myself I have kept punched way down and locked away. This class was another attempt to eradicate it from myself completely, when really what it needed was to come out and play.










Thursday, February 14, 2019

First Light

© Robin Edmundson, 'First Light', watercolor, 14 x 10 inches
Framed to 22 x 18 inches.  $375

You know that moment on a winter morning, when the sun finally breaks over the horizon and the twilight blues and purples coalesce into bright shadows on the snow?   

I love that moment.   Hello, morning!



Sunday, February 10, 2019

Winter Barn, Purple Shadows

© Robin Edmundson, 'Winter Barn, Purple Shadows', watercolor, 10 x 14 inches
Framed to 18 x 22 inches. $375


The shadows this winter have been really interesting.   It's been so wet that there is a perpetual haze in the woods and it's been so cloudy that the shadows aren't their typical winter blue.  I've enjoyed the challenge and have been happily experimenting with new color combinations.   This one made me particularly happy. 


Monday, January 21, 2019

Belonging



© Robin Edmundson, 'Haybales, Blue Trees, Quail', watercolor, 10 x 14 inches. 
Framed to 18 x 22 inches.   $375


I've been thinking a lot lately about belonging - or rather not belonging.   It's a human thing to gather into like-minded groups and to identify as 'belonging' vs. not belonging; it's a 'we' vs. 'other' thing. 

Like most people, I belong to a number of groups, and I identify with many different things.   Most of the time, I am very aware of how I am different from others in the group and in the past some people have been unpleasant when they found out about those differences. For that reason, I hang out around the fringes of most of my groups, participating cheerfully, but never quite going all-in.   I never feel like I truly belong.

It occurred to me the other night that while I don't feel like I truly belong to any particular group, I do feel like I truly belong to a particular place.

I belong to rural Indiana.  I feel it deeply - at the atomic level.  The wind is my breath,  the earth my flesh,  the creeks my blood. 

That one realization was a turning point for me in my work.   When I tap into that feeling of belonging - of being 'one' with this place - then my work takes on a certain kind of pleasing character and flow.   People respond to those pieces in ways that I would never have predicted. 

This kind of belonging is a powerful thing.




Thursday, January 17, 2019

Winter Cornfield, Blue Barn

© Robin Edmundson, 'Winter Cornfield, Blue Barn', watercolor, 10 x 14 inches.
Framed to 18 x 22 inches.  $375

Here's what I like about our winters:

  • They're varied.  This has a negative flipside when it comes to things like beekeeping, but mostly it makes things really interesting.
  • There's a lot of green.   The fiddlehead ferns in the woods are evergreen, as are the southern red cedars.  Then there are the lowest layers of grass in the fields, and the moss on the trees [and the north side of most houses/roofs]
  • Willow tips turn gorgeous reds in the winter and get brighter as the weather warms in the spring. 
  • Cornfields retain a lot of gold all winter long and can really glow when the light is right.
  • Last year's little blue stem and wild petunia plants turn the most gorgeous orange.  You can see it in all the hayfields, roadside ditches and windbreaks. 
  • The old gray tobacco barns turn blue - it's probably because the old rusty roofs really show their orange this time of year.
  • Oaks and young beeches hang onto their leaves most of the winter.   Beautiful russets, rich browns all season long.
Right now I'm loving the quieter palette of a southern Indiana winter.




Sunday, January 13, 2019

Winter Bean Field

© Robin Edmundson, 'Winter Bean Field', watercolor, 10 x 14 inches.
Framed 18 x 22 inches, $375

I've been really studying our winter fields this year.  Cornfields retain a lot of gold, even after harvest.  Bean fields turn luscious umbers.   On cloudy, misty days, the woods, clouds and shadows turn all the shades of purple.  The subtleties are breathtaking and make for interesting play in the studio. 



Thursday, January 3, 2019

Claire's Portrait

© Robin Edmundson, 'Claire Introducing Pepper to the Duckling',
watercolor,  12 x 9 inches.

For a few years now, Claire has been asking me to do a painting of the ducks and the dog.

There were several challenges:

  • Ducks are a moving target.  You can practically watch them grow when they're little and they're either hiding or racing away at light speed.
  • When the grown ducks are still, they tuck their heads under a wing and look like giant fluffs, with no discernible features.
  • Dogs are frequently still, which is lovely, but this dog is black.   Black dogs show their features as they move and the light reflects off their fur.  If they're still, they're a black lump with no discernible features.  
  • I'm a landscape artist. I like barns and hay bales. Painting people and animals makes me nervous and when I'm nervous I don't paint well.  
Claire told me I was being ridiculous and to just paint the dog or the ducks for heaven's sake. 

So I kept stalling.  For another year. 

In the meantime, I had the camera close by one day when Claire was snuggling the ducklings and teaching Pepper that ducklings are not snacks.   I was able to get a few pics of the three of them - enough to combine some poses and come up with this composition.

Whew. 

But I kept stalling.

This year I decided I wanted to surprise her for Christmas, so I pulled out the photos and went to work.  I knew that Claire would love a painting of one of the animals, but getting her in there with them would put me in the running for BestMomEver - as long as it turned out.   I figured I'd just keep doing draft after draft after draft until one clicked.   First I did a couple of pencil sketches to get down the composition.   Then I started painting.

More challenges:
  • My daughter is ghostly pale.  What pigments to use for skin?   I used a very pale wash of burnt umber with a tiny bit of quin magenta.
  • She changes hair color frequently.  Which color to put in the painting?   I went with her then-current color -- natural [dark blonde] at the roots and dyed red and burgundy at the tips.  [Those colors didn't last much longer - her hair is purple as of New Year's Day]
  • She was wearing an old work shirt that she hated.  What to do instead?  Since she had red [orange] hair and I knew the background would be greens, I went with a pale purple shirt. I really love the purple/green/orange combination and I figured that would make me feel easier when I was painting.  It did.  
  • The dog is black and in photographs looks like a big black hole. How to get a look at the rest of her features well enough to paint them?  For this, I went to photoshop and adjusted the brightness until I could see Pepper's features.  It was so bright that you couldn't see much of Claire at all, so I just focused on the dog and then when I was painting Claire, I darkened the reference photo back up. 
I kept telling myself not to worry about getting every detail - to use this as practice suggesting some things instead of spelling everything out.  Each time I painted the piece, I tweaked the colors or shapes a bit and each time I got more practice painting the dog, which turned out to be the most difficult part of it for me.   I did two sketches and two paintings and the third painting was a keeper.  

I framed and wrapped it and gave it to her after dinner on Christmas Eve.  She was very surprised and very happy with it.  [I did get the BestMomEver award.] 




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