My tantric garden
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If I had my canoe, I'd drift among the marsh, binoculars in hand.
If I could identify one essential summary statement about myself it would be this: waiting for spring. That’s it. I wait for spring. For warmth. For expansion of self and sense. For heady fragrance in the air. For return of the fringe tree and the black ash and the ground phlox. And most of all I wait for color.
And this year, I painted it. But that's a problem, because the color most identified with spring is green. If you look for tips on painting greens you more or less end up with this: Red is intense, yellow is cheerful, blue is peaceful, pink is romantic and green is -- a problem. Green (the combination of blue and yellow), falls midway between warm and cool on the color wheel, unlike purple (the combination of red and blue, which is squarely on the cool side (and can, as it turns out, be used instead of green in multiple instances). (http://landscapesinpastel.blogspot.com/2010/06/chapter-twenty-one-green-problem.html). Green is elusive and abundant. (Check this out: Terry Ludwig Greens: ( https://terryludwig.com/product/90-greens/)
Here are my most recent spring attempts, with comments on green.
1. Torrey Pines in May: hardly any need for green! It’s the SoCal coast! But check out that purple. Luscious.
2. Buddha Rocks: The background bamboo leaves add atmosphere and called for a very light touch. Really, I believe I could have used almost any variety of green here, with minimal (though likely significant) shift in tone.I do love how the green, especially in the upper left, is almost translucent.
3. My Maryland Spring: The photo I took of this scene turned out to be very mid-tone and neutral (see the photo under the pastel). I heightened the tone of every color to result in this painting which seems to rely on green as a foil for every other color. Michael Sastre, my studio colleague, mentor, and great friend (http://www.michaelsastre.com/about/) admired the use of the full spectrum in this painting, (vs., for example, Torrey Pines and Buddha Rocks, which use a limited palette). I wondered whether I was avoiding greens in my use of such an intense green in this painting. In my final rendition of this, I turned the very cool blue tree on the right into a green; will be posting that soon. I have to say that whatever the photo looks like, my painting is really much more how I saw this landscape, and probably the world in general.
4. Zelly’s Poppies: My friend Zelly lives in British Columbia. Her photograph (below the pastel) has far more green surrounding the flowers than my painting (which I later changed, using more blue and purple in the foreground than you see here), but I think my favorite part of this painting is my slight use of very light green in the background, which I invented, and in the group of trees to the right. The far-away green especially, combined with the atmospheric purple I chose, makes the poppies “pop” even more than in the original, exactly what I was looking for.
5. Spring Again: This painting is really very cool, temperature-wise. The tree trunks are cool and the very little green that does exist is rendered for the most part using very dark purples and even very dark reds, mixed with medium-tone greens and yellows. (I loved watching orange appear through my use of a chrome-green over purple.) The light is clearly very strong and it’s very clearly early spring. This might even evoke a kind of promise of green rather than green itself. Emerging green. As Joni wrote, "like the color when the spring is born."