This is a good time to step back and reflect on my painting for the year 2015. The creative process depends on an interplay of action and reflection, and last year was definitely an time of action. Suffice to say, quite a lot of painting got done – I continued painting bucolic landscapes en pleine air, worked on two series of city and townscapes , and also experimented with color in an abstract way.
As January opened, I was continuing the series of French street scenes that I started in 2014 after a trip to Paris, St. Dionisy, and Montpelier. Architectural perspective was quite a stretch for me after the softer shapes of foliage and hills. I chose to use a brush, and a thinner application of paint than my usual palette knife empasto.
It was a harsh winter, so my husband and I spent almost two months in warmer places – first Florida, and later, Louisianna. We stayed with a friend in Sarasota, behind which was an ecosystem filled with all manner of wading birds, ducks, raptor, and song birds. I rose at sunrise every morning and did 12×16” acrylic on paper studies of the sun coming up over the Savannah, and studied the birds, sketching and photographing. I returned to Ithaca feeling like I understood more about bird anatomy, and was better equipped to resumed work on the four 20X20 and 18×24 paintings of white ibis groupings that I started the spring before, after a trip to the Florida keys, where I saw ibis for the first time. I completed the first of them, which contained both adult and juvenile birds foraging on the bank of a pond.
At the end of April we were on the move again, this time to Breau Bridge, Louisiana, in the
heart of Cajun country. I continued studying the birds in their waterside habitats – sometimes in the drained crawfish ponds which were being prepared for rice planting – where huge flocks of egrets picked off the remaining crustacians before they burrowed down into the mud, and also in the beautiful swamps, where sunlight filtered down between curtains of soft Spanish moss. I did small paintings en plaine air on the bank of a lake, and in the fields shaded by live oaks. When I came home, this time I started a series of Louisianna swamps. They provided an infinite range of subtle greens – both warm and cool. I finished a 12×16 oil study and had an 18X24 oil underway, when one morning I was struck by the beauty of two colors that I had used the night before on the canvas against light warm colors, and how different they looked surrounded by the dark of the palette.
I immediately put away the work in progress and grabbed a sheet of canvas paper, tacked it to a board and started exploring how those two colors interacted with a variety of other hues – cooler or warmer, lighter or darker. I used the palette knife and just laid down blocks of color, and soon I had shapes with dimension and volume, and space with depth, some colors popping off the page, and others receding. It was a very engaging and thought provoking exercise, and held my interest from July through December and on into 2016.
I did have to take a break in August to start the series of paintings in response to the poem River of time, currently on exhibit at the State of the Art Ithaca. (See previous post for more detail)