One sees the prairie in layers: sky, grass, soil. And then there’s the forest, constructed from tall, thin strips: tree stems, stacked stones, waterfalls, a slice of sky at the top. One set of laminations lays out flat, the other stands on end.
It’s a nice theme and a way to re-imagine a few of the plein air drawings from Harvard Forest : as tall thin sections sliced out of the originals (in Photoshop) and enlarged in paint. Into each goes a tiny wood warbler from sketchbooks of the same period and place. American redstart, ovenbird, northern waterthrush, chestnut sided warblers.
And in the process, an interesting thing happens. Each painting recalls, for better or worse, thoughts, moods, and whatever was playing in my ears when I drew them in in the first place (podcasts, audio books, the annoyingly redundant song of an American redstart). Moving the pencil over the exact pathways of the original lines unleashes some vivid flashbacks. Do you also experience art-triggered sense memories? Is there a neurologist in the house?
9 thoughts on “Studio Paintings from Plein Air Drawings”
I think most artists touch a hair trigger when they revisit sketches.Words can do it for me, too.
Beautiful! Wonderful! I’m in awe of your talent.
i really admire your original Harvard Forest drawings. They capture the essence of New England woods so well! I grew up in Massachusetts, now live in Vermont so I know these woods.
A quick question. For your originals are you using soft pastel or pastel pencil? Do you need fixative for the Rives BFK?
Thanks in advance.
PS. I love your Copenhagen sketches too!
Hi Dory, Thanks for your note. I came to really love those woods, and am glad to have gotten to spend so much time in them.
On technique: I’m using soft and hard pastels- a mix of nupastels and various brands of soft types: mostly Ludwigs but also Unison, Great American, Sennelier and Mt. Vision. The pencil is a Kohinoor Triograph 6B. I try to be sparing with color, letting the paper be the dominant tone. Here’s a tip: never use dark pastels with this technique, especially colors darker than the pencil’s darkest marks. It looks really weird. Let the graphite be your deepest value. I’ve used fixative frequently with the Rives/pencil/pastel technique, but try to avoid it with all-pastel-on-sanded-paper paintings.
Thanks for the good comments and questions. I hope you will give it a try yourself!
It could be similar to the experience that a musician feels in revisiting an old familiar song. The muscle memories coincide with the emotions recalled. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing your process! Very interesting to see how you work.
Love the detail with the warbles. Didn’t you do something similar once with a hermit thrush?
I did, Hillel B, a few years ago, from the same place. It was in pastel and graphite, and can be seen here: https://drawingthemotmot.wordpress.com/plein-air-new-england-2008/
The work even made it into Birds in Art. You have an exceptional memory! Thanks for the comment.
I work in mapping and listen to audiobooks quite often. When I have to revisit an area I worked I hear the book again in my mind where I was in the book when I created a building or road. Not artistey but similar I think.