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 3. Wish–pers
On my blog last week I told how I arrived at this particular composition and prepared to paint. How did I start? It was one of those times when the paint just flowed. It was all in the brush—the mixing, trying out tints and shades of my favorite palette of colors: Prussian blue, cadmium red, raw sienna, plus this time I added Payne’s grey. I put generous dollops of color on my flat enamel pan. I dipped the brush in the paint, mixing on the pan to get just the right amount of water and color on the brush. The joy was in the feel of the brush as I stroked it onto the paper. The smooth flow felt effortless, like someone else was sitting there, and the brush was doing all the work.
When I finished, it was all there, the whole composition in one sitting. I sat back on the opposite bunk and watched the painting dry, checking for puddles from time to time. When the wetness was gone, I propped the painting against the wall of the camper and took a long look. My intent for the painting was to show how the aspen looked in the fog, and I think I was true to that image. Did it also capture a bit of something more? something luminous? something indefinable that I find in nature? I hope so.
In the woods, the mist visually invited me into the mystery of something beyond; nothing that would get me lost in the woods, but a spiritual element that stirred up a natural sense of reverence. The truth of what lay beyond the mist was and is an abiding mystery. What is mystery? One author described mystery as “a truth which resists closure”?** I thought about that as I wandered a short distance into the foggy woods. That’s when I heard the wish–pers again. This time I sorted it out. I understood the leaf language, a simple message of peace . . . peace . . . peace.
Do you ever have those moments? Do you sense that message of peace outdoors?
Aspen Forest in the Fog. CO: Watercolor Print on Canvas, 36×24 unframed
Artist: Janice E. Kirk; Owner: the Artist
**Esther de Waal in Lost in Wonder, Rediscovering the spiritual art of attentiveness (Liturgical Press: 2003), p. 125