Cracking the Landscape
You can’t see it, but my car is parked just up ahead.
You can’t see it, but my car is parked just up ahead.
Here I am sitting on the floor in my tiny house, working on the third pastel of the morning. I’ve been trying to do more work per day because I think it’s the only way I’m going to get better. The first two little paintings were fine and I’ll probably post them later but this one is the one that I really liked. Just like the overall ominous quality of it and the way the path just stops dead in front of that line of dark forest.
Here’s the finished piece:
This is a pastel painting about the bright light at the end of Kinney Road, which is a place that I love to walk with my dogs in the mornings.
Here are some details:
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I really like how this turned out. I tried to keep it simple. Wasn’t sure about adding the dogs on the first day but then walked in this morning and thought, “Why not?” So that’s what I did. I like all the gestural lines around the dogs. I love the dark tunnel ahead of them and the light filtering down through the tree canopy. Enjoy!
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This is a pastel painting of my dog Daisy, walking along a path through the Manistee National Forest. This road in particular is one of our favorites. It winds along the Pere Marquette River for about a mile and goes past a couple of really awesome camping areas. They’re usually full of campers on the weekends, but now that it’s after Labor Day I’ll probably come here more often.
Here’s a video of me working on this piece:
Some detail shots here:
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I went out walking after the rain this weekend. So good to be out in the woods! I love my little cottage in the forest, but you know, it’s awful nice to be able to stretch your legs every day in such beautiful surroundings. I’m trying to soak up as much as I can.
Here’s a video of me creating this piece.
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At least it gets me off the couch in the mornings. Truthfully, if I had my way, I’d spend all day on the couch eating bonbons and flipping through Imgur on my iPad, but the dogs aren’t going to let themselves outside and since our yard isn’t fenced (yet!), I have to go with them.
This involves piling them into the back of my minivan and driving out to the woods. See, I’d walk them around the neighborhood but there are too many potential pitfalls involved with this, i.e. other loose dogs. So my preference is to drive about five miles south on Walhalla Road, turn off onto any one of half a dozen “seasonal roads” and tromp around the Manistee National Forest for an hour.
The dogs get to sniff and dig around, I don’t have to clean up after them (although I’ve unofficially adopted the first two miles of 6890 because, let’s face it, people are pigs), and we all get some fresh air and exercise.
Sometimes we see deer, sometimes a dead snake, and once Roger thought for sure a cat walked out of the ferns not six feet in front of him, but it was a skunk and he was not allowed to get any closer to it although he fussed a bit about my decision. I held firm, though. You should see the divots my feet left in the road even two weeks later. I held on for dear life, I’m telling you.
So how does this make me a better painter?
It provides subject matter, of course. I won’t tell you how many pictures of my dogs are on my Google drive right now, but it’s a lot. Like thousands. Sometimes I keep my finger on the camera button, snapping pic after pic of Roger digging in the dirt just to get that one glorious moment when he leaps back into the road to try to catch up to whatever he’s smelling off in the distance.
It lets me paint wonderful scenes of my dogs enjoying the great outdoors. I used to think I went out to the woods for me, but really, I go out there for them. They’re the ones that are having the great time.
I guess I’m jealous. Here I am, covered in Deet to keep off the bugs and checking for ticks and bears and swiping at deer flies and those two are just loping along with their tongues hanging out, having a grand old time. Every. Stinking. Morning.
I love it. I love them. I’m a lucky girl to have these lucky dogs.
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This little painting is about sitting on top of a log in the middle of the Manistee National Forest. Steve and I had gone walking around a potential camping spot near the Pere Marquette River and started wandering along a deer path. Deer seem to pick out the prettiest places to walk along. Anyway, we came across this huge tree across the path and naturally, Steve wanted to climb aboard and pose for a picture. I love living around here.
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I like this landscape a lot. It started out differently than any of my previous landscapes because I didn’t rub the color in until the very end and that was because I wasn’t happy with the way the painting was going.
I started out with a nice gesture drawing. I usually like my beginning sketch.
And then started filling in some other colors. I liked the background on this but the foreground and middle ground just weren’t cutting it.
By the time I got to this point, I wasn’t happy at all. The shadows on the path were competing with the tree trunks and it all just looked stripey and unnatural. I brushed all the color off in the front, except for the little tuft of grass on the left middleground.
I used a middle value warm blue and re-worked the whole middle of the painting, laying the strokes in loosely and trying to pay attention to the shapes and not what my head was trying to tell me ought to be there.
So, so much better. The happy accident in all this was how the foreground got much calmer because the brushing took away all that white mat board that was showing through the pastels, so a bonus. I think I may do this deliberately in the future when I come across a bright sky and a shadowed foreground.
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