September 2, 2014 – Brain Flex: Letting Curiosity Be The Guide
What inspires me? Why do I chose such odd subjects to draw and paint? What attracts me to worn and weathered subjects?
These are three of the most common questions I’m asked. Perhaps joining me along this morning’s journey will provide a window into the gears and wiring of my art brain.
Sleepless night, as usual. Finally fell asleep to the song of the coyotes outside our bedroom window. Awoke late…. 6:30 am. Stumbled into the kitchen to heat up old coffee and brew a fresh pot. Headed through the bedroom to the deck with a cup of hot java and was stopped dead in my tracks by the flickering of bright orange shapes through the window. Change my direction and wander to the window. The orange shapes are dried pokeberry leaves illuminated by the morning sun. We have a mountain of pokeberry that has grown up beside the giant stump uprooted by a hurricane and still waiting for us to figure out what to do with it.
No time to waste. The sun loses its yellow/orange illumination quickly as it rises above the horizon. Coffee down, grab phone, slip painfully into rubber boots (I really should have gotten an X-ray of my foot) and limp out through the wet grass and weeds to the Pokeberry Garden.
Only one of the pokeberries is shriveled and brown. (I sprayed it with a vinegar solution a week ago to test whether the solution worked as well as RoundUp.) My first few photos didn’t capture the brilliant orange; they revealed a moodier and more evocative expression of the morning. The bait of the bright orange shapes had worked its magic and I found myself caught in the web of patterns and shapes.
As I explored with the help of my camera phone, the beautiful Basic Triad Color Scheme became apparent (Orange,Purple,Green).
I forgot about my hot cup of coffee, abandoned on my dresser. My senses had been awakened by a Pokeberry weed, my curiosity tickled. The What If questions raced through my mind. Which format is more effective to express the beauty of these leaves? Vertical? Horizontal? How can I capture the leafness while remaining abstract? How can I express the abstract beauty while describing the leafness? (I prefer the veritcal composition.)
Ah….. my coffee…. maybe it still has a touch of warmth to it. I turned toward the house, thinking my morning journey had ended. The new plan was to grab coffee, fountain pen and sketchbook and return to draw the leaves before the sun rose too high.
Ah….. but look at those green and purple berries!
At first glance these two images might appear to be the same. To me, they are completely different. The one on the left works well as a composition. The one on the right doesn’t. My eye gets caught in all the wrong places. Composition is critical!
Okay… enough of this…. I need my coffee, hot, cold, it doesn’t matter. I need to blindfold myself to put an end to this morning’s journey.
Too late…. I make a note to explore subtle peek-throughs in compositions, adding interest where it’s least expected. Peek-throughs also help to create the illusion of space, depth in a painting that might otherwise appear flat. In the image above it helps to see the red, linear lines through the hole in the leaf, breaking up the overall monochromatic layering of the leaves.
I turned to see if the original bait of the morning still glowed with the orange light of the sun. It didn’t. The moment was gone. I smiled. My day had already been filled with joy. I don’t mind cold coffee.