Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day before leaf-fall

soft pastel on sanded matboard, 5x7 in. (13x17 cm)

A challenge in pastels: blue, red, yellow, and any two sticks of your choosing. Instead of painting from one of the photos provided, I decided to paint a simple plein air of the view across the street. I wanted to catch the glow from the late afternoon light. I picked out the pastel sticks quickly so that I wouldn't lose the light, and inadvertantly picked out only one extra, a pale grey, so this was actually done with only four sticks of color. I held the piece of matboard in my hand, and worked quickly before the light faded-- about 15 minutes, with a little touchup the next day.

This was quite fun. And I like this little piece. I'll do more of them. And try more challenges like this.

And yes, the leaves began falling the next day, which was yesterday. My daughter and I stacked my firewood in a glory of falling leaves. By afternoon, the ground was red and orange.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Horse, # 48

Soft pastel on archival paper, 14x18 in (26x46 cm)

A brief explanation: my computer crashed. Right after I fell and badly sprained my ankle. I am just now getting all my software and stuff working and organized. It wasn't quite as high a priority as catching up on all the things needing done before winter once I got back on my feet. So that's where I've been.

While laid up (with my ankle in an air cast and elevated-- no standing at easels), I kept my sketchbooks handy and drew randomly, mostly in charcoal or soft graphite broad pencil. I drew memories, odds and ends around the house, and sometimes, images that crept out of my dreams.

I had been repeatedly dreaming (and still am) variations of a big-boned, muscled filly, many times with the sensation of being astride her. Rarely any but partial images: muscled haunches, tail flaring, the curve of her neck as she heaved upward, a flank, hooves pushing against dust-roiled earth, odor of equine sweat and dust. I felt compelled to capture the intensity of these images, and drew them again and again. I wanted to get out to one of the stables nearby to study and draw horses, but was unable to. I looked up pictures of horses and studied them to learn more about horse anatomy (not having been a horsie girl in my youth). I wanted to capture the sense of mass and movement and struggle that feature so strongly in my dreams. I am gradually getting there.

I've lost count of how many sketches I've made. She started coming together about a dozen sketches ago. I'm still working on her. The composition I have in mind of the final painting is quite different, more dynamic, but first I needed to see her whole, welcome her into my consciousness. For in some way, she is me.