Saturday, March 6, 2021

Art Rekindled by the River

A few things happened recently that rekindled my interest in painting river-themed pieces. An obvious motivation is that we have rented a house with a covered deck overlooking the McKenzie River. Even on a cold and blustery day, I can walk out a door to get a glimpse of fast flowing water, floating or flying mergansers, or the more rare bald eagle. There is something very invigorating in the river air and the moving view of the water. So when I was asked to videotape a paint demonstration for the Watercolor Society of Oregon, I searched through my file of river photos. I chose a photo I'd taken a couple of years ago on the Rogue River. The two white egrets against the rocks had stuck in my mind as great subject matter ever since I clicked the button on my phone. 

Two egrets photographed on a Rogue River raft trip

I chose to paint on a gold gessoed paper using gouache paint. (Gesso is an acrylic base you can use on watercolor paper, which you can then paint on with gouache, an opaque watercolor paint.) I had prepared several pieces of gessoed paper right after the fire and had been dragging them around for quite awhile.

I discovered filming a painting demonstration is not that easy. The particular method of painting I was using is not at all the same as applying transparent watercolor to paper. It takes more time to dry because the gouache is not absorbed by the paper, rather the gouache paint sits on top of the surface and must dry before a second layer can be applied. Anyway, back to the filming, it took me three days to finish the painting. It was truly a go-and-stop-and-go-again process. Also, it is tough to both paint and talk (explain) at the same time. Then there was the editing which I handed over to my clever husband, who soon passed it back to me after a few lessons on how to use imovie. I had recorded over 3 hours of painting and talking which had to be reduced to 1 1/2 hours. Needless to say, that took some time as well as intense thinking and decision-making. But it is now done, and in the hands of the wonderful WSO volunteers who will make it available to WSO members on YouTube. 

And here is the finished painting:  Rogue Flight.

Rogue Flight
Gouache on Gold Gessoed Watercolor Paper
18" x 22"

With more gold gessoed paper easily available, I started thinking about the paintings I lost in the fire, and how in the past I would just let my imagination create symbols to talk about the subject. I would come up with unusual ways to put a painting together, letting go of reality, creating a bridge between abstract and reality. So here is the result of learning from my past -- painted in one day. (Oh boy, it was fun!)

Rogue Egrets
Gouache on Gold Gessoed Watercolor Paper
22" x 18"

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