In Amanda's back forty I saw the same flowers. She told me they were "sweet peas." Aha. Perhaps I would include one of these in my painting.
Jan and I went to the Tamarack Gallery in Omena Monday afternoon. We saw assemblages and paintings and sculptures and when we left I was ready to paint. I was thinking about the woods I had seen along the road coming up. Much more trunks than in my side yard back home. You could look back and back past rows and rows until it was completely dark. How I wished to stand among that kind of "forest." Hang out, get my bearings, and drink it all in.
Instead, in his yard, I noticed that Dan had a big tree that went up and up. With branches winding like vines, next.
He had shaded trunks in clusters on his property. These beckoned to me when I saw them on the Sunday we arrived.
Their front porch was a haven. Down the hill from where I sat, my eyes fell on a tucked away grove. As I investigated I found a cluster of wire chairs nestled among saplings and a cover of resilient orange leaves on the ground. Like a hide-out or a hidden meeting place.
As I surveyed the grove from within there were many leafy branches reaching up, blocking out the sky, save for a few breaks. Woods enough to satisfy my hunger. Soon there were two or three scenes I had my eye on. Lifted and dragged fallen branches, plotted the angle, sized up the elements I wanted. Then it was up the yard, pulling the heavy backpack from the car, trading summer wear for long sleeves and denim pants and bug spray, and returning to the grove ready.
Laying out the dabs of tube paint from which all colors would be mixed on the glass palette. Titanium white, phthlo blue, viridian hue (green), cadmium yellow light pure, cadminum orange pure, and naphthol red light.
The process of laying in the light blue sky, the dark mauve tree trunks. Silvery blue bark lit by reflected light on the right diagonal log, the branch edges, the trunk edges. The medium blue shadow way back across the road and the lighted yellow green grass across the road. Whatever color my brush was loaded with went more than one place on the painting, many places around in the scene. So the orange of the ground leaves were also on the dark part of trunks and branches. The dark branches up high in the right corner were a solid dark color. I wasn't interested in showcasing those branches. At some point I was satisfied and stopped the process. Double click to enlarge images.
It was a joy to gift them with a plein air acrylic work. As thanks for the research Amanda Holmes had helped me with - to understand about my father in 1948, when he was 26 years old and doing his own watercolors at Fish Town in Leland. Plein air by my hands in Onema, where the couple live, July of 2016. The routine of mapping out colors, misting the palette with a pump spray, evaluating the scene, focusing on select elements -- just like I did back in Carrollton, Missouri. Clocking it was an after thought. I painted from 4:50 to 5:50 pm. Over the years my time has improved. Working with a 140 pound water color block has been new to me.
In preparation for the trip I practiced using the cold press water color block in my yard with two pieces. It worked well. See both of those works, next. 14 by 11 inches.
Tripod case was held there by the backpack straps. Paint kit went back inside. I no longer carry the pack on my back. Two hands heft the top handle. It's heavy enough.
Dan's mother used to refer to that place among their trees as "the grotto." A sacred place. I called the finished work "Grotto In The Woods."
After the tripod was collapsed, the palette scraped of paint, brushes cleaned up, palette unit closed and stored in the backpack, along with the brushes roll, water bucket, and everything else -- I trudged back up to the house, and washed up fresh.
Jenks was in the hall, sniffing my paint backpack. He would not let me get close enough to hold him, but we reached a compromise. Dan gave me a metal wire arc with bits of wood attached to its end. Jenks enjoyed battling at the hovering toy as it swayed and returned to him for another swat of his paw. I had the satisfaction of watching his involvement. Our two tabby cats, Henry George and Pookie, were a long way from here.
I will miss being served Scottish oatmeal by Dan, tales of squirrels running back and forth on outstretched arms, laughing and wine from the local Leelanau vineyard and Two Hearted Ale along side Michigan cuisine.