Who loves trees best? I, said the spring, Their leaves so beautiful to them I bring. Who loves the trees best? I, summer said, I give them blossoms, white, yellow, red. Who loves the trees best? I, said the fall, I give luscious fruits, bright tints to all! Who loves the trees best? I love them best, harsh winter answered, I give them rest. — The Pearl Story Book” by Ada. M Skinner
For two days now I have been painting under Shari‘s wonderful guidance a stillwater view of a lake.
I struggle with every painting that I do and I guess that this is part of the fun and the excitement of it all? If it were easy, would I keep at it? Would it keep me challenged enough to find it interesting? I don’t think so. I must say that I will always question my competence, as this is part of my temperament. The key to learning and improving is to keep on doing it, without taking long breaks as I am doing… with the Covid-19 situation, my life has changed a bit and underneath my apparent calmness, there is a struggle and anxiety that is there. Today and tomorrow it will be there too. So because I have not painted in a while, I felt rusty and of course I redid the same scene three times… not once, twice but three times! And talk to any artist, and they know what I am talking about.
So if you can, I would be really interested in knowing which one of these three paintings that you love best? And could you let me know? As I am very curious -) Top one is A, middle is B and lower one is C.
I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields,
that it kisses them so gently?
And then it covers them up snug,
you know, with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says
‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’ — Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871).
The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is an important day for us in the northern hemisphere as this is the day that has the longest night and the shortest day of the year… so this means that tomorrow the days are starting to grow longer… already! Ancient cultures viewed this day as a day of death and rebirth. This fills my heart up with joy as the promise of spring is coming, even if it will not appear before mid-April. And to add to this day, there will be a full Cold Moon.
Here is another beautiful poem by the great Ursula K. Le Guin
HOW IT SEEMS TO ME In the vast abyss before time, self is not, and soul commingles with mist, and rock, and light. In time, soul brings the misty self to be. Then slow time hardens self to stone while ever lightening the soul, till soul can loose its hold of self and both are free and can return to vastness and dissolve in light, the long light after time.
— Ursula K. Le Guin
Why do you paint? For exactly the same reason I breathe. — E.E. Cummings from Brainpickings.org
These Inktober themes are really challenging me as I usually am more of an Urban Sketcher, meaning that I try to paint what I see in my environment and not through the computer screen, nor photographs and oh my, certainly not from my imagination! Well, not anymore as these themes have to be found within me and then drawn or painted as I see fit… they are never close to what I had in mind, but I think that the correlation between my imagination and my pen is improving.
I drew in pencil first, as I do not have the courage for now to go straight to ink pen as I usually do, and then I went over with my Hero 573 Fube Nib Fountain Pen. I originally thought to keep this in a monochromatic black theme, but I got carried away as usual… some buildings in the distance, a road and this “crooked” person stealing an innocent bystander.
Paper: Stillman & Birn Zeta Series sketchbook #20
Pen: Hero 573 Fube Nib with De Atramentis Document Black Ink
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada from my imagination
#Inktober 8 Crooked Theme
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep.
— by Robert Frost
Today is the beginning of winter as the Winter Solstice has officially arrived about 45 minutes ago (5:44 am). I welcome this day every year as I know that by tomorrow the days will start growing longer… and Spring will be around the corner even if still far away. At the end of February I will start feeding my houseplants. Every season brings in new hopes, new beginnings & endings. It is the beginning of the holiday season, flu season, family reunions & festivities with friends & family, it is the end of a teaching semester, of a sketchbook and of yearly resolutions… these will pass and make place for new ones this coming New Year. As the day is at its longest night, I will stay up late tonight, watching the night & the stars, cherishing its deep shadows.
Paper: Travelogue Sketchbook 8″x5″
Colours: B. Sienna, Cobalt Teal, Indanthrone Blue
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Ink Black
Location: Reference photograph taken by Eric Girouard
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains the solstice this way. “It has the fewest hours of sunlight in the year.The word solstice comes from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still.”At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn.”
If I shall sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do,
I’m sure that, for me, there would be nothing left worth living for. — Henry David Thoreau
Charles Reid’s video was just what I needed… he takes his time, and really shows us how to dip our brush in the paints and how to put it on paper. Actually it is one of the first times that I am happy with flowers that I painted as they seem to be singing away.
When I started to paint I decided to erase haphazardly some pencil lines as I found that they were too strong (see yesterday’s post). Then what is amazing is that Charles Reid paints with the tip of the brush facing downwards towards you… I really liked that idea. The other thing that I really enjoyed was continuing the object’s color into its cast shadow, as with the small jug on the left hand side… The perylene maroon is a very strong staining colour but I love its’ intensity and vividness!
The quote from Henri David Thoreau rings true for me, as when the sun sets it is a time that permits me to fulfill my own dreams and pursuits (most of these lie within the realm of painting, reading, thinking and organizing the house). Daytime is a time that is given to others or for others in order for them to fulfill their dreams and pursuits. In a way it makes sense as a teacher I spend most of my days thinking of my students, working for my students, preparing and correcting my students. Do not get me wrong, I am constantly thinking of how I could improve my teaching so that my students get more out of it too… but when night time arrives, I shift gears and think of my own needs -)
Paper: Arches 5″ x 8″
Colours: Q. Gold, Perylene Maroon, Cobalt Blue mostly
Source: Charles Reid Flower DVD
While I was drawing a typical house architecture in the region of Valleyfield today, I started thinking about certain differences that I encounter when drawing versus watercolour painting. When I first start looking at a subject, in this case the house, I start thinking in terms of layers… what will be behind, and what will be in front.
When I start drawing in the lines, I start with the objects that are in front of the other ones (this way you do not run into the problem of having lines crisscrossing behind other objects). Once I finish the drawing, then I start in a reverse order with the watercolour… I paint the objects that are behind and finish with the objects that are in front… funny huh? I just thought that it is kind of funny to realize that both processes are in reverse order of each other. So that’s it for today -)
Quand je regarde mon sujet de la journée, je pense aux objets qui seront en-avant et en-arrière… en calques…. et quand je me mets à dessiner, je dessine toujours les objets qui sont en-avant en premier m’en allant vers l’arrière (de cette façon on évite de dessiner des lignes qui devraient rester en-arrière). Par contre, quand je commence à peindre en aquarelles, je fais exactement le contraire! Je commence par peindre, en calques, les objets qui sont en-arrière en avançant vers le devant… étrange, huh? Je trouve ça intéressant que les deux procédés sont inversés… selon mon humble opinion -)))
Sketchbook: Handbook Travelogue
Colours: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna & French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship EF
Ink: Noodlers Lexington Grey
“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death” ― Leonardo da Vinci
Today I was ruminating on the process of painting and I suddenly realized that the musical process is very similar to the painting process (as some of you know, my first degree was in music). In learning a musical piece, we actually cut it up into small sequences, and concentrate on the very demanding parts… once these parts have been mastered, then all parts can be played in a seamless manner.
Painting is similar…. as we tend to look at the most difficult parts of the painting, we practice them on scrap paper… once the logic of the angle, or of the perspective or the values or of the colours have been solved, then we can start painting our piece. So here are little bits of practice drawings to show the process… these are called thumbnails.
Aujourd’hui j’ai beaucoup réfléchi sur le processus de peindre… et il ressemble beaucoup à celui de jouer de la musique. Pour apprendre une pièce, nous nous concentrons sur les parties plus difficiles pour les maîtriser et ensuite, nous regardons la pièce dans son ensemble. Pour peindre, nous regardons les niveaux de difficulté de certaines régions de la pièce… les valeurs de tonalité, la perspective, les couleurs à utiliser, et une fois que nous avons pris la décision, nous sommes prêts à peindre le tout.
Pen: Twisbi Mini Classic EF
Colour: Noodlers #41 Brown