Monthly Archives: March 2014

Giant sketches, continued

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In August, I was seeing dragonflies everywhere, and I very much wanted to paint one for my giant canvas series. They were so abundant flying over the dusty Gustavus roads that I figured I’d easily find one. But days went by with no luck. I took to inspecting first my truck’s grill, then (surreptitiously) everyone else’s. Nothing.

Finally, the day my folks flew out of town toward home, I found one. But it wasn’t as easy prey as I’d assumed. Here are my notes:

August 14: Clear, sunny, as warm as it has been.

…driving toward 4 corners from airport, saw gleam of wings in road, pulled over, went back to pick up.

It’s a mosaic darner, still alive, seeming disoriented. I picked it up by folding its wings over its back, the way John does, brought it to the car, put it under my hat in passenger seat. At Glacier Bay Lodge, decided it should have a chance to fly if it was just stunned, so I set it on a boulder and went to dinner. Over an hour later it was still there, so I put it in a plastic container and brought it back to the cabin.

Gave it another chance overnight with lid off, then next day (sunny) also with lid off. When I returned it wasn’t moving anymore so I felt OK to bring it in.

I kept the dragonfly for some time; hung it on a thread next to my canvas. Painted on the porch of the cabin in shafts of sunlight. Added details of eyes and legs and wing veins. This was my first experiment with color—just a touch, showing the blue and green shine on the dragonfly’s head, thorax, and abdomen.Image

I kept intending to add words. Still intend to add words. But really the only words I’m happy with for this image (so far) are 

Six days motionless, it is still poised for flight; balanced; waiting

Doesn’t seem like enough, so it’s still wordless.

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Projects update: a whale of a book, and some giant sketches…

It’s been a while! The book mentioned in the last post, When You See Flukes, is now published, and people seem to be enjoying it. You can take a look at it, and find out more about my latest marine-related art, at Spot the Whale, where you’ll also find another occasional blog, with whale-related entries.

I’ve also been busy with a large-scale (literally) sketching project. Last spring, I applied for, and received, an individual artist grant from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. The grant was for supplies and time to create a series of large paintings in the style of my field sketch pages. So from July through December, I battled canvas, splashed paint, wrestled easels, and learned a whole lot about painting with big brushes, working with canvas, and getting over my obsession with tiny details and fussiness. It was a wonderful experience! Here are a couple of the resulting canvases. First, the version that’s really just about making the sketch page big, then the version where I started letting go of the idea of tidy page arrangement and tidy notes, and tried to just celebrate looseness of brushstrokes and the connections between words and images. Both paintings are about four feet wide.

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I might post a few more of the canvases, and the stories behind them, in the future.