I’ve been clearing out a lot of junk from one of our attics lately. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were taking several large bags to the dump one morning. A big storm was moving in from the west so we put the rush on to get it delivered before the skies opened.
The dark clouds were rolling up behind us. As I was hustling along the road, I made a note of how beautiful the early morning skies were, especially the dramatic contrast between the rising sun and the storm clouds. I wished I could take some photos but kept my hands on the steering wheel. I decided to use an old trick which I haven’t practiced in quite some time. This is to memorize the scene.
Landscape and plein air painters often use this device. That is, to set their easels up facing away from the scene, then study the scene for a bit and try to commit it to memory. The point is to try not to capture every detail, but to make note of the key aspects. Then turn around and, facing your easel, begin to paint what you remember. It sounds difficult but you get better as you practice.
We made our deposit at the dump and scurried home. By this time, the skies had opened and a torrential rain was beating the car.
As soon as I got home, I went to my studio and did two quick pencil studies of what I had seen. Of course, I couldn’t remember every detail, but I think I got the jist of it. Noting the main colors which had attracted me in the first place, plus some primary shapes. I fired up these two small paintings (8 x 10) and am pretty pleased with the results.
I think the best part about using this technique is that it forces the artist to focus on the main shapes and not get lost in the weeds of details. Certainly worth a try if you have never done so before.
It’s no secret among those who know me that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The holiday of gluttony and naps I always joke. But that’s nearer to the truth than most would admit.
It’s a time for sharing with friends and family. A time to reflect upon the rapidly receding year. I love the new holiday this has evolved into called Friendsgiving, where we share a meal and company with a chosen family if we can’t be with our loved ones. Isn’t that a great idea? Since people are spread out all over the country now, we find friends that we can share the spirit of the day with.
Other than the cooking and food shopping, there isn’t really much to preparing for the day. No presents to buy and wrap. Minimal decorations. No cards to mail. Just sit back and relax, enjoy our company, talk, argue, maybe watch some football on TV. That always leads to more loud discussions.
I always like the term breaking bread which actually extends beyond Thanksgiving. The idea of sharing food is universal among all cultures. A little while ago I did an entire series of paintings called Breaking Bread which depicted people eating together, or sometimes alone, the aftermath of the table, or even the presence of a well-loved furry member of the family. I tried to capture the warmth of the occasion. I think this was one of the most missed things about our isolation during the pandemic.
In honor of my favorite holiday, I am holding a temporary sale on all of the Breaking Bread series of paintings, a whopping 50% off! And free shipping, too. The sale will only be for a couple of more weeks so if you see something you like, grab it. These are all original paintings on stretched canvas which should arrive in plenty of time for the other big end of year holidays.
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!