The snow buried us cat and caboodle last week.
Even the slow-to-snow-panic New Englanders got a little hinky about the storm so my book event at the Tower Hill Botanical Garden was cancelled due to weather. This was a call that I, as a cult author and major American doodler/diarist and loather of the cold, heartily approved of. So we all stayed cozy in our bungalows and coped with The Weather in our own ways.
For me, it was breaking out the 1,000-piece picture puzzle and a fresh loaf of baked-from-scratch corn bread:
Corn bread goes very well with frozen champagne and a snow day with my Top Cat:
Taffy did his thing:
Bibs got in some serious bird watching:
And then the day after the day after the storm, the morning dawned eerily bright . . .
. . . and Dennis ventured out from his guest quarters in our house to inspect the new landscape . . .
. . . while Steve found a sunbeam very much to his liking:
And, oh yeah, a raccoon that I was trying to rescue from my back fence bit me so Top Cat took me to the local emergency room for rabies treatment (we looked it up and called the public health dept., who ordered me there), which is too-long a story to go into BUT all I have to say about spending three hours in an ER is: America, you have to stop being such cry babies when you have minor back pain, for chrissake. I refused to lay down on the Stryker cot the ER assigned me, just so I didn’t have to listen to the two blondes on either side moan and whinge about how much their shoulders hurt (diagnosis: nothing neurologically wrong, try sleeping with a better pillow). And what is with all the double-wide wheel chairs? No wonder health care costs are so high.
Back home again, I hunkered down and got back to work on painting Christine’s Winter Tree because I’m a cowgirl at heart.
It is vital to use only the powdery Grumbacher “opaque” watercolor paints for this kind of painting because you will need to “pick up” the colors later. The most important colors are the blues: Prussian blue, Ultramarine, and Cyan blue (isn’t that redundant?), which I will be mixing with black and violet:
The next series of photos are my attempts to get good bleeds as I lay down a coat of paint (three different times) that changes intensity from rather lightish blue-violet to deep dark rich midnight blue:
If I am not happy with the bleed, I start over:
I should also tell you that it takes practice to get a nice smooth wash of color that doesn’t show brush strokes.
To answer Dear Reader Vicki’s question from the Comments last week, I photograph my own self while I paint. I paint with my left hand and when I get to a point that I think is important for you all to see, I just pick up my Panasonic Lumix point and shoot camera and snap:
Anyhoo, I did end up with one good wash that had the right bleeds and the depth of color that I wanted — the one on the far right (below):
Some how I got lucky with that one — see that neat haze of brightness on the horizon? that’s going to look good on the finished pic, for sure.
Whenever I paint nature I have to fight my tendency to fall into patterns , so to avoid that I like to have a reference photo within sight when I do Winter trees so I can get a more random distribution of branches that will appear more natural, rather than what I do when I paint from memory:
Pencil guide lines:
I will use two brushes for this tree — a size 1 and a size 00. I start with the fatter brush . . .
. . . but I finish with the really tiny one:
For the next part, all I need is my size 00 brush and some clear water. I will load up my paint brush with water before I apply it to the dry paint, in order to “pick up” the color (kind of like an eraser), which is something that Grubacher paints let you do, which is why I love them:
I use the roll of paper towels that I always keep on hand to clean my brush in between the times I dip my brush into the clear water:
Again, when I am painting in these big snow flakes, I have to fight my pattern-making nature and try to make “snow” appear very random:
See below — I think it looks random, nest-ce pas?
Lastly, I dab in some smaller snow drops (I’m using my trusty acrylic Titanium White, of course):
Crop, and I am
Christine, I hope you like it, because this one is for you.
I can see how you could play with this effect, by putting bright colors in the tree and making halos around each one, or maybe “erasing” a whimsical Milky Way in the background before you paint the tree into the foreground, that kind of thing. I’m thinking, future Happy Holidays card, right?
And you know which world leader is on my ChrisHanuKwanSolstice list?
** Sigh *** Really, doesn’t everybody in the world want to be Canadian at times like this?
I was listening to the radio when the joint press conference between Der Drumpf and Monsieur Dreamy came on, and I heard JT speaking French — which the damn people at NPR decided to talk over with an English interpretation.
So I ran — yes, I RAN — to my computer to get it streamed live so I could hear my favorite Trudeau person speak my favorite foreign language. Confession: I haunt Youtube for videos of JT speaking French, so I am already a huge fan of Monsieur Dreamy’s bi-lingualism. But today I have a question for my Dear Readers of the Canadian persuasion:
Is M. Trudeau’s accent rather less Celine Dion and more, let’s say, Megan Calvet? Although I can clearly hear the historically impeccable Quebecois accent whenever Celine speaks, I don’t hear it when I listen to The Top Cat of the Tundra, but I don’t know what exactly I’m hearing. Does he have what the Brits call a “Trans-Atlantic” accent? Rather like the way Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn used to speak American English in their old movies? Is it just a tiny bit more French-French than North American French? And is it dreamy?
And so, wonder Ones, if you need to lift your spirits from the latest Drumpf debacle (a new one reliably comes along every 48 hours), there’s this:
O, Ooooooo, Canada.
***Breaking News: I just watched Der Drumpf’s press conference today (Thursday, Feb. 16). It’s official. Der Drumpfster is bat shit crazy. I really, really do not know whether to laugh or cry. To paraphase: Der Drumpf is a comedy for those who think, a tragedy for those who feel. So, basically, if you think or feel, you are fucked. Unless you are Canadian, and then you are living the dream, mes amis, you are living the dream.
Have a great weekend, and à tantôt.