Monday, April 09, 2012

Sunset in Hermann Park

Week after week, it felt like being stuck in purgatory. I couldn't think, much less paint or write. Like a dirty sponge, even a simple task such as folding laundry absorbed all of my concentration. I don't know how or why it started or why it lasted so long -- whatever it was, I'm just glad it's over. After a very prolonged bout of creative limbo, an idea finally percolated in my brain, and voila! A painting was born!

These trees have been featured in several of my paintings, this being my favorite spot in Hermann Park. Lately, for the first layer of paintings, I've used a half half mixture of linseed oil and turpentine. That way, I can lightly sketch either an outline of an image, or rough in some shapes of where things should go. Because the oil paints I use are thick, it helps to keep using some the turp/linseed blend to help the paint spread without clumping. Clumping isn't the right, well, to help the paint not be too hard to spread. (?) Does that make sense?

With oil paints, it's not uncommon to build layer upon layer, sometimes with drying time in between. For this painting, I put in blocks of color where I wanted the trees to go with thinned cadmium red two days before painting. The second day I used thinned cobalt and cerulean blue to sketch the outline of the trees and branches. Then on the third day, I started with dark colors, and put in shadows and then the white in the sky, and then started building the trees. At this point in the painting, one of the neighbors knocked on the front door to invite me over for early happy hour margaritas.

Now, I've mentioned on this blog several times that people are more important than things, or doing things. But, have you ever smelled the rain before it actually started raining? That's how I felt with this painting. I could smell the rain, creatively speaking. Hoping to take advantage of even a small sprinkle in this recent creative drought, I temporarily (and sadly) declined an opportunity to visit with neighbor friends. If anything, that's how this artist suffers for her art....because painting is a lonely pursuit, and isn't congruous with the personality of an extrovert. Toward the end of painting this, I was using my fingers to get everything where I wanted it, which, incidentally, is another way to suffer for my art, as all of the art supplies I use are extremely toxic. Days four and five were spent tidying up the sky and cleaning up a few trees. A photo was used as a beginning reference, and toward the end, I painted from feeling (literally and figuratively) and memory.

This painting is 30" x 40" oil on linen.


Kristin said...

Looking at your trees makes me feel good! And I like knowing where it is...I grew up with cookouts at Hermann with our family....I love those memories. Glad the drought is past....

Sarah Hazel said...

Thanks, Kristin! Hermann Park just recently lifted the ban on cookouts because of the real drought, not the creative kind.