Oh give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the spring of the year.
— Robert Frost
Under massive oaks and maples: dappled sunlight and hundreds of Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Oh give us pleasure in the flowers today. I had come to the woods feeling heavy-hearted, weary, needing spring. And give us not to think so far away as the uncertain harvest. How well Frost understood his time and ours. Drawing kept me in the moment; later it brought me pleasure again when finishing this page at home. Keep us here—all simply in the spring of the year.
Wishing you the pleasure of flowers.
I headed into the woods last weekend to find mayapples in bloom. The flowers are hidden underneath large leaves, so sketching them required squatting at ground level. Within a few minutes, my knees sent me packing, which is, in part, why I only filled half the page with mayapples. I also wanted the white space as a place to rest the eyes and contemplate this thought on painting:
In painting, as in any art, persistent practice is not working on the object or the image or the performance alone, but rather, working on yourself, which is the constant behind all the “product” of your art. (From Learning to Look Carefully; the Art of John Morra by Ned Depew.)
Tips and Techniques– I painted this using negative painting techniques, and in trying to get deep darks to bring out the white flowers, I lost much of the light and transparency that I like to have in a painting. I would have preferred to convey a more dappled light, like that in the woods where mayapples grow. One way to avoid this is to select just a few colors — 3 or 4 — to work with for the entire painting. I started with just three, but they were too light to give me deep darks when mixed at full strength. So, I experimented with adding some dark staining colors, which gave me good darks, but began to muddy the page when added on top of the previous washes. In the process, however, I discovered why many artists have Phthalo Green (PG7) on their palette. It’s garish on its own, but when mixed with Transparent Pyrrole Orange (PO71) (and other reds) it produces a range of very nice dark greens. I plan to add these to my palette and continue seeing how they perform.
There isn’t a winter that goes by without losing a glove. Worst of all, I even saw this one lying on the ground as I got back in the car at a Thruway rest stop. “Geez, it’s too bad someone lost a glove. I hate that,” I thought, not recognizing that the glove was mine. Ugh! When I got home and realized my stupidity, it was too late. But for some inexplicable reason, I wasn’t able to throw out the orphan glove. It’s been sitting above our coat rack for three weeks—until yesterday. That’s when artist Laure Ferlita posted a fine tutorial on drawing garden gloves and it inspired me to memorialize my annual glove loss and move on. Thank you Laure!