Parsnip Creek, Part 3 (end)
I let the watercolor dry, then switch to my ink pen, a Rolling Writer, a favorite with me for years. Why? Because of the permanent black ink that doesn’t fade, variation in line, thick or thin according to pressure, and the ease of moving it across the paper. I squint at the tumbling water and assess how best to draw the actual line of curve and flow. I decide where to leave white paper to indicate sun reflecting off the water and for the white foam bubbles afloat at the base of the falls. How do I make this look real? With a light touch and easy stroke, I draw curving lines to indicate water flowing over the rocks, but not too perfectly. I leave some strokes uncompleted to let the eye of the viewer fill in lines and shapes. Foaming water and bubbles require circular lines, again mostly uncompleted, just a suggestion. The pool of flowing water appears level, the lines horizontal. I stroke in several side-to-side curving lines, somewhat parallel to each other, to represent the current I see on the surface of the water. I remind myself to avoid the white space I left as reflection of the sky. I try not to overwork the line. If I do too much, make it too busy, or too dark with ink, I’ll lose the motion and the light. It could easily get muddy and messy. Now I should STOP.
I shift my thoughts away from drawing mode and stand up to stretch. The water still sings. What is it saying? Where is it going? I glance up and down the creek. The plunge and flow harbor a rush of freedom, but with intent, for it is heading to the lake, a holding basin for moisture, that remarkable source of life for plants and animals alike. Along the way, the stream waters the mountainside, shapes it, drains it, and slakes the thirst of animals that come to drink.
This South Warner Mountain range in NE California has a unique character all its own, uncommon in its isolation, a sanctuary for life. Parsnip Creek is a major contributor to that life. I hold up my sketch and squint at the scribbled lines and shapes. Does it look like water falling over the rocks? Does it work? I certainly see more contours and ripples in the creek than when I started, but of course it’s impossible to draw everything and still make it look good. I add a couple more squiggles to the foaming water and declare it complete. I’m satisfied, but that’s not my only reward. An hour beside this creek has given me something more: a calming sense of rightness, a certain peace. It’s in the air and has settled into my very bones. I hate to leave.
What would we do without water sources like this? An undercurrent of life centers around this water source, and I love being part of it. I now have a special bond to this place. I’m sensing more, seeing more. It’s because I stopped to take another look.