Sabbatical painting: . . . I move to another good spot to work near a stand of aspen. Their characteristic black scars contrast vividly against their smooth white trunks. Some knots and scars in the bark are from damage caused by animals or storms. The theatrical gestures of lower branches beg to be drawn. What artist can resist?…Aspen leaves flutter in the slightest breeze and whisper to me as I sketch . . . (Excerpt from: The Road to Beaver Park, p. 36)
Part 2. Leaf Language
In my previous blog I wrote about how I grew to love aspen trees. When I felt a breeze and aspen leaves were aflutter, the trees came alive, or so it seemed to me. I heard leaf language. I stopped and listened. It relayed its message in whispers; I want to say, wish–pers. What are they wish–pering? Surely this is more than telling the daily forest news. It took me a while to figure it out.
On those mountain explorations we saw aspen woods in markedly different moods—the clear detail of morning sunshine, the softened lines of cloudy afternoons, the shading of a darkened sky during the rainy season deluge. One morning we drove higher up the mountainside and right into a cloud that covered all. The misty veil obscured everything. I paid close attention as lines and contours of trees appeared and disappeared in the mist, only to reappear again. The colors waxed and waned too, now stronger, now paler. The soft sienna yellows of dry grass stood out as the only warm color in a cool spectrum of grays. Spots of brown soil and forest duff anchored the sturdy trunks.
I confess I didn’t paint on the spot that morning since there was no place to stop and paint en plein air. I could only look, listen, and sense in every way possible. I stored those images in my inner art gallery for quite a while. Then one morning I woke up with this composition in my head, a strong visual image that wanted to be put on paper. While the family went fishing, I commandeered the bunk in our homemade camper. I cleared off bedding and mattress and set up my large board. I taped down a large sheet of my best watercolor paper (I was using Morilla at the time), and proceeded with the painting. Read more next week about actually painting the picture . . .
*The Road to Beaver Park, Painting, Perception, and Pilgrimage, by J. E. Kirk (Resource Pub/WipfandStock: 2016)
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