Redux, Vermont….


Nov 9, ‘14

Creative recovery is not an intellectual process. Our adult self merely “understands” the wound. Our creative child must actually heal it.  Julia Cameron

A pleasant November day for me in NW CT.   Pleasant but changeable….  There have been spells of sun and then spells of cloudiness, followed by spells of sun, etc etc etc.    Today, the ratio of leaves on the ground and leaves on the trees is 50/50.  The vista from my front window is changing from a wall of leaves to an airier wall of trees and their limbs and branches.  I can now see a bit of the house a mere 3 houses away from mine; when all the leaves have fallen, I’ll be able to see the entire front of the house that has been obscured by leaves these past 5 or 6 months.

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I spent an hour or so going through more Stuff, mostly photos, journals, cards and letters I’ve saved for many years.  I discovered the painting that I worked on this morning, a plein air sketch I did in ’00 – from my Vermont era.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

A little back story….  I moved to a town in Vermont in ’92 to live with and work for an Artist and former teacher who’d seen better days and was now  living in a former farm house up a dirt road on a mountain in upper north central Vermont, 8 miles from the Canadian border.  He was making a living doing graphic art work for a variety of clients.  He’d received a job offer to teach Art at a somewhat nearby college and hired me to do his graphic work and leave him free to commute and teach.    Soon after I moved in, I discovered that my childhood family doctor lived in the same town, down the mountain from me and halfway up another mountain.  I was thrilled by this discovery because I’d always had a good relationship with this doctor, his wife and 2 of their daughters, who were classmates throughout Grammar and Jr High school.   I knew them well from when they’d lived in my hometown.  After they moved to Vermont they came to visit in my hometown quite often, so I’d occasionally seen them in the years since they left town.   Until I moved to Vermont,  I never actually knew exactly what town they were living in.  I reconnected with Doctor and his wife and they were a big part of my Vermont experience.

I moved back to Connecticut in September ’94 when my father died.  For awhile I lived with my mother and then spent the winter house-sitting  for a friend.   I moved to a small apartment in Litchfield in May ’95.   In early June, the news came to me that the doctor’s wife had suddenly died, which was a shock to me, and seriously saddening to all those who’d known and loved her.

I went to her Memorial Service that September.  Up until 2001, I went to Vermont 2 or 3 times a year to visit friends I’d made while living there.  I was on civil terms with the Artist I’d worked for, even though our brief association hadn’t worked out well.  I never stayed with him in his house on the mountain.  I went to visit the Doctor for drinks and sunset on his patio (out of view) at least once a year. I told myself often that  ‘someday’ I’d like to do a painting of his house in its awesome natural setting and that ‘someday’ presented itself in late August of ’00.   I found a place to sit and paint for a few hours where I could see the Doctor’s house in its natural setting.  Up the hill to my right – and not visible in  this scene – was a clearing in the woods at the edge of an open field where people had gathered to celebrate Mrs. Doctor and where her ashes were interred under a modest memorial stone.

A lot of things were and are going on, in this painting….

As I recall from the time I spent sitting in a sunny spot and working on this painting was that there were large, puffy clouds in the sky that were being blown across my view by a gentle yet persistent wind, creating big spots of moving shadows across the entire landscape.   There appeared to be a storm brewing in the northeast and yet the sky overhead and to the northwest stayed clear and blue except when masses of clouds were crossing through.  I felt grateful to be there and it was beautiful to see but very frustrating to try to put down on paper with paint in a scene with such active wind and clouds in constant movement.

I was frustrated by the watercolor paper this morning and recall it being a problem for me that day, as well.  It was inexpensive paper that I thought would be perfect for loose watercolor sketches but turned out to be so saturated with filler and glue that painting on it was almost impossible without a huge amount of water to overcome the glue and filler and render the paper less ‘grabby’ and then the paper so wet it takes forever to dry.    I decided that  day not to use that particular paper anymore and after re-working this painting this morning, feel that earlier decision was a good one.

What I did this morning was to cool down my warm Ultramarine Blue shadows with Prussian Blue, deepen the all over tone with a cool, Prussian Blue-gray and heightened sun-struck areas with pure color.  I pushed the distant mountain further back and brought the trees in the foreground farther forward.

Well, that was my goal, anyway….

Pardon me for not creating fake names for Doctor and Wife or for using their true given names….

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One Response to Redux, Vermont….

  1. beetleypete says:

    I think that the restored painting looks 100% better than the original, but that is easy to say, with both to compare. And the second try does have those blues…
    It was nice to read the back-story of your friends, and how you came to paint this particular house. The names are unimportant.
    Best wishes from England as always. Pete.

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