Thursday, December 15, 2022

Closing the Year with Thoughts of Art and the Cosmos

One day last month friends here at Oakwood had  a "Paint Like Klimt" afternoon.  A crazy group decided to look at some of Gustav's work and enjoy it and talk about gold leaf...which he used extensively in his work... and which doesn't photograph very well (by the way). Art therapist, Jennifer, brought in some "fake" but very realistic gold leaf and we talked about using it in a little painting to try it out.  Klimt loved to paint women so I just sketched a make-believe one and looking at his many patterns (which you surely know I loved) I threw them recklessly all over her kimono and did a lot of crazy background patterns.  Then I glued on gold leaf which you cannot even see on this photo.  Many of the small black areas are in fact gold.  The medium otherwise is watercolor and ink.  8 x 10.  


This is just a quick little line sketch done in early November that I happened to come across that I'd forgotten to post.  I'm in the process of sketching around my apartment home this winter.  I LOVE looking back at my in-home sketches from Florida.  Just LOVE.  They bring me right back to the spots I enjoyed.  So I am doing the same here.

The window in the sketch looks a bit different from the way it looked then, as it is now in mid-December filled with the lovely snow out on our Sycamore.  The holidays are in full swing here now in Wisconsin.  The snow comes and goes.  So you never really know if it will be a white Christmas.  But if we have a little snow to remember, it'll be fine.  

My friend Lisa recently sent me her collection of all the old Christmas cards that I had hand painted over the years.  I had forgotten that I did that many!!  I wish it were not SO expensive now to do this.  Even the postage is up to 55 cents each!  I did love doing them.  The cabin in winter card painting is framed and hanging the wall here in Madison.  And I wish I could find the original of the birch tree shadows on snow at the bottom was the view out our window at 7 mile house. 

The dining room table scene is from 7 mile house...just before all the children arrived to have one of those memorable big family Christmases that you think will last forever...and come to find out they don't.  Time moves on.   

Looking at it, though, I can bring back that moment...the sun slanting through the dining room window.  All the grandchildren (12 of them) were so young...many still babes in arms.  A real fire in the fireplace crackling, hot rum drinks, games and presents, wet mittens, and so much food.  Looking at all these cards just brings back so many happy memories.  

I wish you all a hopeful, gentle and sweet Christmas.  I know it's just not like that every year.  There are so many losses and so many changes.  The Christmas cards and email greetings this year were fewer because of that. And old friends and family now live on in our memories.  

Our church here in Madison is focusing on the stars this year...somewhat based on photos from the James Webb telescope to inspire us!  Every song the choir sings has a star theme or a night sky theme.  Every sermon refers to our cosmic connection to the universe.

This has inspired me to do my own personal time line interpretation with a kind of "cosmic" background in many kinds of watercolor.  The center being a sort of black hole looking back a those who came before me.  Then the dots (starlike) on the spiral are events in my know them well from your own time line...births and graduations and losses and joys and the memorable events. 

Now as I approach the outward spiral of my life the events are closer and closer together just before I spiral off the time line back into the star dust of the universe.  The events are closer together because now I know that EVERY event and happening in the moments of my life are an "event" worth remembering.  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Sycamore Tree Part II

The Sycamore Tree Series continues.  
These three will close out the series for the year 2022. The month of November in Wisconsin was filled with highly diverse weather...for the most part much warmer here than normal...barely light jacket weather many days including the day (Nov 2) when I did this sketch above.  And took many photos.  I sat directly under the tree and sketched en plein air for this one.  People dropping by to look over my shoulder and we visited about the tree, about sketching, and about life in general.  This is one of those plus things for outdoor sketching. And it's probably the last outdoor sketch day for many months.  But I took a lot of photos.  

This sketch above was done indoors but directly looking at the tree out our window (and some of the photos I took on November 16).  That day was our first very wet and beautiful snow fall in Madison.  The snow lasted about a week before disappearing.  These branches are highly visible from our window in Sycamore Tree House on 4th floor facing east.  I used toned paper, and graphite tinted watercolors in muted tones for the branch itself.  Then added white acrylic ink for the snow itself.  I shadowed the snow with cobalt blue Daniel Smith watercolor.  I always love how the seed balls on the tree get a snow cap that look for all the world like a child with a white hat. I've had several folks suggest it would make a nice Christmas card.  We've not had any real snow since then but pretty cold temperatures in the teens and single digits at night now.  


This last sketch done Nov 29 is from a photo taken back in early November sitting outside and looking straight up at the amazingly strange bark of the Sycamore.  The bark falls off as the tree expands...usually this happens in the late summer.  Big chunks of bark fall off and surround the base of tree.  The "patchwork" of texture left on some parts of the tree is smooth and in other places hugely textured and unusual.  Again I tried out the Derwent Graphitint Paint Pan set.  The colors are subtle and grainy.  They lean toward pinks, greens, golds and grays.  I think they will be nice for painting rocks too.  

Painting in a series has some interesting challenges.  I've kept the task to just this one amazing tree for now.  Looking at it from different angles, using different seasons and using different media.

There's been a lot of interest in it  among the residents of University Woods because it stands close to where some de-construction will soon take place.  The tree has been here a long time.  It's an unusual tree...probably the only Sycamore on the property and also it's unusual to see one this far north.