Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Leaf

One of the paintings I did on vacation was a struggle. At first the colors were all over and totally out of control (some might say they're still out of control, but they're now where I want them to be). I hated the composition (it was going to be something completely different than what it is now). This went on for several days. I barged out of our rented house at one point to come up for air, feeling like it's tentacles were around my throat instead of my hands around it. I wanted to run it under the hose - I almost did. I was having a good time. I was feeling very alive.

The leaves on the ground, out there during my break, were amazing. Every one uniquely flawed and with the sweeping lines of their veins and edges accentuated by the changed colors and the movement in the wind. I always notice fallen leaves - I still pick up hands full every autumn. This was nothing new (and it's always new). But this time the leaves echoed with the painting. I carried several back into the house. Then I saw how one should be overlaid on the diabolical mess the page had become to that point. I drew and redrew the leaf to get it how I wanted it in the square, and to get the asymmetry and the veining correct, so it said "Sugar Maple" and not something else. One or two small sections seemed to make sense and I could gradually expand the order into the chaos until the whole thing finally got where I wanted it. The negative and positive spaces got pleasantly crossed and slightly ambiguous, like the flickering light of autumn under trees in the wind.

I was totally lost in the doing of this.

I set it aside, finished, I thought. Then several days later I reversed the negative/positive play of foreground and background of a significant section of it, improving it.

As I remarked later, to Dearest, I could paint more of these, and I know they'd sell (this one will have a higher price on my website than others). But this isn't where I want to spend the time yet. It's nowhere near big enough or interesting enough. I'm still looking for that. I'm still looking for the answer to, "What do you want to paint?"

19 x 19 inches - watercolor and white charcoal on hot press Arches 140 lb.


giggles said...


DebD said...

For all the troubles it gave you it still turned out quite lovely.

susan said...

There are a couple of times a year when I find myself looking at the ground more than the sky. The first is in spring especially when the blossoms have fallen into water. The other is autumn when I see the patterns of leaves on the ground as a message I can almost decipher. There have been moments when such sights have stopped me in my tracks.

'The Leaf' is very beautiful and I think you have captured one of those very scenes that speaks directly to my heart. Nice work :-)

linda said...

this is gorgeous and yet, i am still asking myself this very same question...i don't have the answer because i have too many things in my head i want to paint rather than a shortage however, limited energy makes me have to pick, a process i detest....i can see a whole series of nothing but leaves, one two, dozens, beetles here or know..