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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Goodbye 2020

(This post has turned out to be more of a "sometimes dreaded" Christmas/New Years letter. Read on if you want to catch up on my current situation.)

So much has happened since my last post, it is hard to believe it has only been a bit more than a month. Of course December was full of holiday preparation and events, and Mike threw in cataract surgery to the festivities. 

I made a tiny Christmas painting.

Making the Holidays Personal

Angelica learned to sew.

We had outdoor gatherings with friends and family to visit and exchange gifts--luckily there were some sunny days for that. We tried our best to enjoy the buildup to Christmas. Angelica and I had some projects to complete before the opening of gifts.

On one of our visits to our property, I gathered greens from downed trees. My niece and great-niece joined me in a wonderful day of wreath making. Their addition of holly with berries added so much color.

Our Blue River Christmas Eve

We celebrated Christmas Eve on our McKenzie River property with friends around a huge bonfire. In years past, we have hosted an elaborate holiday dinner. This was quite different, but a gathering of river folk was warming to our hearts and the bonfire warmed our bodies.

Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas morning and dinner were smaller than sometimes, as we were limited to the small group of our germ bubble. None the less, we enjoyed getting a real tree, decorating it mostly with bright red bows. The smell of evergreens wafted through the house as we looked forward to the opening of gifts.

Memories of Christmas past unearthed more sad losses such as the collection of ornaments Mike and I gathered from 51 years of marriage.

Decking the Halls

Christmas Gifts

Mike modeling his new Pendleton shirt.

Angelica's boyfriend, Cassidy, opens his gift from her (her first sewing project) a flag made of bandanas.

Welcoming in the New Year, it was quiet. Mike and I were alone and only I stayed up until midnight. I was more than happy to say goodbye to the year of the Covid Virus, political divides, and our home being burned down. I know many of you feel the same, even without the fire.

The next day, Mike and I took off for the coast to celebrate our 51st Anniversary at Depoe Bay. It was just one night, but really lovely and sweet. We continue to appreciate how lucky we are to have built this long lasting love affair.

Another Move

This past week we moved into another house we hope to rent for the duration while our new home is built. It is just 10 miles from our property which will make it so easy to get to and work on our property. This house is right on the McKenzie River--one of the few homes that didn't burn in the Holiday Farm Fire. So far I have seen more smiles from Mike and Angelica than I have since the fire--we are "River People!"

Angelica on the deck overlooking the McKenzie.

 I promise to make my next post about creating art.