I spent the month of June working with ideas, sketches, color palette, and shapes gathered from our stay at Edisto in May.
I set up a special project for this year's Edisto stay. With a Strathmore 500 series softcover art journal I had a plan to create a kind of resource book that I could reference throughout the year. I had no set goals for what it would include in terms of the type of images, only that I wanted to use it to collect visual impressions of that island environment.
With the goal of two page spreads per day I wanted to completely fill the book during our two week stay, which I did. I used a variety of media for this book, watercolor,watercolor pencils and crayons, graphite, grease pencil, white gouache, and a bit of ink. In places I intentionally left space to paste in small photos once we returned home.
We spent a wonderfully recharging two weeks at our beloved Edisto Island. In order to share all of the images from the trip that I would like, I will divide them into two posts. This first group features plein air watercolor paintings. For these paintings I had with me a 10 x 14 inch Arches watercolor block and a 9 x 12 Kilimanjaro watercolor sketchbook that had only a few pages left unpainted.
The painting above was done at Edisto Beach State Park. Although the campground is still closed due to last fall's hurricane damage the park itself is still a beautifully peaceful place to spend an afternoon.
This is one of the many marsh views from a small park on Jungle Road.
. . . or how my sketchbooks evolve with my art.
Last month I completed ALL of the pages in a 190 page Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook. I had not kept this sort of "studio" sketchbook in a very long time. When I discovered this sketchbook last fall it was in a way like returning home. Although I have been keeping sketchbooks forever I spent many recent years keeping visual journals, where I practiced drawing and painting from life, honing my skills.
And not unlike the way sketches in my visual journals helped me define my representational painting voice, my experiments with abstraction combined with sketchbook explorations helped integrate and define for me a process for developing an abstract visual language. This sketch above was inspiration for the painting below.
Appalachian Spring, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 inches
(this is one of my favorites from my Mountains Abstracted series)
It's been a while since I got out the watercolors to make a painting. Have I missed painting with watercolors? Probably a little. There is something so satisfying about watching wet pigment spread and mix on the paper's surface. Yet it's a daring adventure too, bordering in the edge of chaos, as you never really know exactly what you'll get. Last week's delightful visit to a nearby farm inspired me to get out my watercolor palette and load up my brushes once again.
On a recent fine spring afternoon we took a drive up to the Parkway looking for a different perspective. At the Raven Rocks overlook we were able to notice the almost imperceptible signs of spring just beginning to be visible in a softening of the tree branches.
My paintings of late have been inspired by the changing season in response to color and to the variable spring weather.
In spite of the bitter cold we have had this past week, the spring Equinox is happening in just a few days, so here's a little winter wrap-up of the goings on here in my cozy studio.
I began the winter season exploring abstraction and finding new ways to paint while using acrylics, a media I have not used for years. It was like trying something new and revisiting an old friend all at the same time.
That is the question with painting, what would happen if. . . I change this shape, or the intensity of that color, or even approach the subject in a different way? Towards the end of last year I took a side step with my art and began exploring. My "what would happen if..." list of questions was getting longer and more extensive and begging for some answers.
Off and on over the past few years I would try a little bit of exploration but usually returned safely to my comfort zone none the worse for wear. Yet the questions still nagged and I had a desire to say something else with my painting, something that I hadn't yet said. So I began to change my methods, just a bit, to see how it felt. And when that seemed okay I then pushed a little further.
Sometimes a change is needed for creativity to grow. And a bigger change was needed. A bigger step away from what I had come to know. So I switched to a different media. A different process altogether. I told myself that I would just do some experimentation, just for me, thinking I would soon have enough answers. But that's not what happened.
Instead I had opened the door to more questions. Each new painting is a resolution and a puzzle. I am finding this to be an exciting way to work, to approach the challenge of painting not from how it relates to the world but rather how I relate to the painting. Intuitively, looking inward rather that out.
If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.
So thank you for visiting and following along on my painting journey! All of the paintings featured in this post are available for purchase in my Etsy shop, Bluebird Hill. Clicking on the image should take you right there.