This is Lisa, a woman after my own heart. She has raised chickens in the hostile climate and conditions of Northern New Mexico for years and cares for them greatly. She fights off coyotes, bobcats and badgers, as well as sub-freezing winter temperatures, to protect her flock. Here she is feeding her flock a recent 20 degree morning.
My friend Rick sent me a small photo and the above story describing Lisa. I started with a underpainting in a warm, grey violet because it sets a great overcast mood. The photo was small, so it was fun to fill in the fuzzy areas with color from my imagination. I intentionally left the hens as a blocked in mass of colors. If you have ever fed chickens, you know they never would sit still long enough to capture their beauty (at least mine won’t). I like how blobs of color allow them to move in my mind.
The influence of the impressionist on my perception is strong. Sometimes when I look at a pond filled with waterlilies, or a field of cut hay it brings tears to my eyes imagining the impressionists studying their subject matter. If the impressionists would have been in Texas, they would have painted the wildflowers, for honestly, the quality of the light is not that remarkable. This field had lovely strong shadows, but the color was muted. I am in Texas, not France, but because the impressionist painted, I know what is possible. I followed the light and shadow, but imagined the color, and was pleased with the result.
“Why is everyone always questioning my motives? “
The Old Ruins
by: Mary Dow Brine (1816-1913)
If ye could speak, old ruins,
That rise in stately pile,
As tho’ ye longed to boast the power
That ye possessed erewhile;
If ye could tell the grandeur
Of the old days long past,
Ere Time, with his destroying touch,
Came ruthlessly and fast,
To level all the glory
That clung to your proud walls–
Ah! grand would be the story
Of those ancestral halls!
What tales of high-born maidens!
What tales of Cavaliers!
What comedies and tragedies!
What tales of hopes and fears!
What stories, too, of triumphs,
And tales of wrong and right!
What histories of the clouds of life,
And of its joys so bright!
But solemn is the silence
That reigns about you here;
Your secret hides in the deep heart
Of the old forest drear,
And Peace is ever brooding
Above your crumbling walls,
And heaven’s sunshine dances thro’
The space of vanished halls.
This old rock wall is on our farm, oh that these old rocks could tell their stories. I love to imagine the life that took place within the walls of this old house a hundred years ago. As I painted the fireplace I wondered what might have been stuffed into stockings hung by this mantel Christmases past. I painted in plein air, but I had to remember the lovely apricot light, for it never lasts long.
We don’t really have Indian Summer in Texas, we have cold snaps. Nevertheless, after a long, hot summer, a few warm days feel like a gift. Even in Texas, our barefoot, sundress days are numbered. We try to make today count.
These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.
These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June, –
A blue and gold mistake.
Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,
Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!
Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,
Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!
I came across this painting today. I didn’t like it, but I hadn’t thrown it away. So I sat down to figure out why it didn’t work. The background had to much contrast, and was perhaps the wrong color. (sorry no before picture). Originally the background had bright green and yellow (which is how the grass really looked), and had a lot of the dark paper showing through. So I took a hard teal pastel and scumbled over the entire background. Ta-da! It works now. Sometimes reality isn’t the best place to base your subjects.
I hope you can feel your pupils constrict as you come into the dark hen house out of the bright day to witness this sweet moment.
I took my workshop to a local lavender farm to paint for the day. After painting red rocks plein air all week, the lavender was a delightful change. The farm was beautiful, surrounded by mature cottonwood trees, and blooming chamisa plants. We painted in the shade as we watched workers prune the bushes, placing neat bundles of lavender on top of each bush. It was really a lovely day, perhaps if you take a deep breath you can catch a waft still lingering in the air.
Rooster white. Farm beautiful.
I love roosters. They remind me of traveling in Central America, and life on the farm. I like the idea of shouting out the greeting of the day. I usually choose some quiet time with coffee, but I smile at the idea of “cock a doodle dooing” at the first hint of change from black to blue.
I had fun stylizing the head….making it like a big map of blended colors; sort of an O’Keefe -enlarge and simplify.
So, top of the morning to you. Whether it be with a cup of coffee, or a “cock a doodle do”, I hope you are off to enjoy a fine new day.