Friday, January 22, 2021

Beauty in the Burn

 My new color palette has been greatly influenced by my trips to our burned property. It is not hard for me to see the beauty of the black, brown, orange and gold colors. And doesn't it seem fitting that such a huge event effects a persons viewpoint, at least for a time?

Every time I travel up to the ruins of our home, I take pictures. I think using my phone to capture a small area, documenting the remains, looking for the fascinating, looking for what's beautiful helps me heal. I can look at what is, rather than dwell on what was. And through that process, I can begin to see what will be.

A few months ago, I took a photo of some dead, burned leaves that had wonderful colors. When we finally got a printer, I printed the picture, thinking I would use it to create a painting. I did an initial drawing on a piece of watercolor paper and left it for a few days. In the meantime, the house we were living in had a leak during a rain storm and the printed paper sitting on my drawing left a stain.

This is the stained paper next to the photograph. The blue on the paper is a film I use to keep some white as I put a wash over the whole piece of watercolor paper.

When I first saw it, I thought I'd just toss the watercolor paper and start over, but the penny-pincher in me won out. What did I have to loose to paint over the stain and see the effect? So I forged ahead, working to find a way to convey the beauty of those dangling leaves.

By using a limited palette of burnt sienna, orange and indigo, I was able to recreate the colors that drew me to take the photo in the first place. I first used a wet sponge to lift as much of the stain as I could, then I wet the whole paper and dropped the chosen colors on the paper to do their thing.  The movement of the paint really led me throughout this painting.
After pealing off the blue film I had an idea of where I would keep my lighter areas. Again I let the paint instruct me--where should the darkest darks go? How many shapes should be truly defined and how much should remain a soft edge? By adding some line work I created more definition to the leaves and branches, then added more color to some areas. Eventually the paint and my memory decided it was done. Does it look finished in your eyes?

Burned Leaves
Transparent Watercolor

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love that you can take a real tragedy and turn it into something beautiful..I'm sure this helps in the healing this painting and your choice of colors, Margaret...better days ahead!