Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nature's Water Therapy

Have you ever needed to get away for few days?

At the end of July, our two teens were gone for a week.  We had a weekend to get away by ourselves.  We went camping.  I know, you're saying, "really, again?"  It's what summer in Montana is made for...there's no other way to explain it.  The beautiful blue skies and the landscape is just too irresistible.  We packed up the basics we would need and headed for the mountains.  It's under an hour's drive and we have our little home-away-from-home parked and settled.  We had a great time sharing one another's undivided attention.  There wasn't a set schedule and we ate when we were hungry.  It was so freeing to not be thinking about a regular mealtime schedule.  We ate our favorite junk food.  We didn't have to be a good example of healthy eating!  It was a nice vacation from the typical camping trip for our family of four.  We missed our kids while they were gone for that ten days but the break relaxed us a great amount.  The weather that weekend brought high temperatures and I noticed that many flowers were done blooming.  The vegetation was changing, preparing for late summer turning to become autumn.  There were signs that the local area was dry, which would in turn result in a great number of wildfires.  

While we were out taking the dog for a walk, I had my camera but it late morning which meant the sun was high.  The lighting was not best for photography.  Everything had a tendency to be washed out and had less contrast.  The longer shadows of morning and evening really add to composition.  I ought to make myself get out earlier and sacrifice sleep for my art.  I wished that I'd been out early in the morning but sleeping in late was such a welcome option.  I didn't really view this weekend outing the same as others.  I had been pushing so hard at home in the studio and felt the need for some time off.  My main focus was on enjoying a relaxing time with my husband.  Photography for art references wasn't the main goal that it had been on previous camping trips.  

This area runs along the road and is a series of beaver dams.  The colors were a little washed out, especially in the sky but I used a few Picasa filters for improvement.  When I have a photo I'm not
altogether impressed with, I try to find a way to make it better.  Now I have enough information to help me when I am ready to use it for a painting.  There's enough detail to help me as a guide.

When I look at this photo, it's so cool and inviting with the leaves reflected off the water's surface.  The bunches of lush grass blades in tufts bring another interesting texture.  The blue of sky reflected on the water is a great addition to the bottom corner.  I doubt I'll use this for a painting reference.  I enjoy it as a photograph; it would be a challenge to improve it with paint.

Spongy pale green moss tucked in mounds with water trickling around it is just a lovely sight.  The flowers blooming at the water's edge are growing so thickly.  There's something so soothing about hearing water flowing over rocks and branches.

The water in these beaver ponds is so clear that the bottom surface is easily visible.  The green mossy plants growing on the bottom are gently pulled in the direction the water flows.

This little walk didn't take very long and we were soon heading back toward the campground.  I kept my eyes scanning for satisfying views.  The water flowing in and out through the plants and moss was my favorite.  Soon, we had the dog off the leash so he could take a swim around and cool off before completing the return walk to our campground.

The hairbell is a soft purple flower at the top of this delicate stem.  It's easy to overlook flowers of this size and shape because they are overshadowed by the vegetation around them.

I can imagine the first and last photo here could be great for future paintings, the others will probably not.  They are busy with a lot of information; there's so much texture to describe.  There are photos that seem better as they are, photographs.  Printed and mounted on card stock, they could become lovely little gift cards.  There will be plenty of these little projects to keep me busy on cold winter days.

The green of summer is leaving us soon.  Our days grow shorter.  The bright sunlight of morning arrives over an hour later.  The sun has gone down long before 10 pm as well.  Here we are, in northern Montana, preparing ourselves for the crisp, cool mornings with frost shimmering across the lawn.  I think I've stocked up well enough with a heavy load of photographs to see me through until next spring.  On the coldest of days, the wind blows powerfully and the temperatures dip to twenty below.  I'm not going out in that unless it's absolutely necessary.  Those are the days my stash of photographs will be most appreciated.

Soon, I'll be sharing about the landscape paintings in progress.  I'm realizing it's been a long time since a sky was such a big part of my compositions.  For years, I've been fascinated with the Montana skies.  It's hard to describe the impressive views that make this Big Sky Country.  While painting the scattered clouds in blue skies, there was a lot of frustration with skies in two of the paintings.  Nearly-started-over describes my frustrations.  My dear guy even agreed with me, feeling that a fresh start would relieve the frustration.  Quitting was my very last resort and I didn't want to let the challenge beat me.  I've been learning that I have more to learn about capturing the essence of clouds with a brush.

 On Pinterest, I've been finding many tutorials to improve my technique including one with a magic eraser.  I'll show and describe it in a future post!  The board called Artist Inspiration has many tutorial pins.  I should make a separate board for art tutorials and tips.  If you're following me on Instagram or Facebook you'll notice I share more often as the paintings take shape.

I'll leave you with a sample of landscapes I'm working on in the studio.  No, it's not your eyes playing tricks on you.  The painting is upside down along with the original sketch and reference photo.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  First, my mind works better seeing the clouds as abstract shapes.  I can focus better on what my eye really sees.  Second, the water and paint flow away from the land in the foreground.

There's a trick to protecting the line where the sky and land meet.  I'll explain that when I share this in a full post.  It involves scotch tape and a box knife.  Really.  I'll show you that little trick in another post as well.

I'm reading Blog, Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho in my spare moments.  I've learned some more helpful tips for improving my blogging skills.  I'm less than half way through but must say it's easy to read, understand, and apply.  It's a book I would recommend if you're thinking about starting your own blog.  The information is written in a way that helps inform and equip writers for a more successful blog experience.

I've been fortunate enough for an opportunity to display my artwork locally.  I've got five paintings in different stages of progress at this point.  These paintings are focused on landscape views that describe our local landscape.  Only one of these include the mountains in view.  Several include fields of Montana farmland in our region.  I'll leave it at that for now and share more another time.


she must make art.

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