Tag Archives: Watercolor

Describes a painting, a paint or a process.

The Band Played On


The-Band-Played-On_web

The Band Played On 17″x25″ Watercolor on 90# paper

Sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures, or several words!  My son and I had set up to paint plein air in Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. There, a “dry docked” retired tug boat sat in an oversized “planter” on the sidewalk and became my subject for that day’s watercolor painting.

Land-tug_web

I sketched and began to lay out my painting, wet the paper and had just begun to wash in a sky when….these guys came out of nowhere, toting folding chairs and musical instrument cases. They set up right between me and my tug subject.  Rude!  You know they could see we were there first!  Not a word; nope, they said nothing, they just took out their instruments, looked at each other and begun to play—–the most amazing brass quintet I think I may have ever heard.

I did not know what to say, so I just began to sketch them into the picture, painting quickly as could be.  Soon a large crowd gathered around them and us; the band never looked up, playing one piece after another. They played for over an hour this way, long enough to roughly paint them when all of a sudden the very loud signal horn for the lift bridge went BOOOOOOOOOFFFFF announcing the arrival of a Great Lakes freighter.  The crowd (whom I had not had time to paint in), turned and ran to the harbor channel to watch the great ship coming in and leaving us and the musicians alone, and the band just played on never looking up.  Later in the studio at home, I added in the ship and the crowd and finished up the tug which is all I had wanted to paint.

After the band finished I did make the effort to go over and meet them and find out what this was about. They were all professionals in the medical field and met twice a year for a impromptu concert in a public place just to keep their skills sharp.  They practice all year for the events but never perform publicly except for these two concerts.  After a rude start, I felt privileged to have experienced this, so I named the painting, “The Band Played On.”

 

 

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Spring Thaw


spring-thaw_web

Watercolor on Illustration board 15″x20″

               Spring Thaw

There are places

      Where the melting snow flows

      Where beside a stream grows

      The wild tree

Random glances in open spaces

      Where the searching eye goes

      Where the sunlight shows

      The unlocking key

Earth warming traces

      Where new reflections pose

      Where all life knows

Spring ….. is breaking free

—John Michael Cook

All paintings unfold from a frozen state into a visual thawed state.  Much like spring, they were planted sometime before, awaiting the warming light of inspiration to bring them forth.  An idea comes into mind by some form of germination, or experience, or suggestion, from some stimulating moment.  Even the simplest of images are born this way.

This image is a mixed process watercolor.  Done with wax paper resist. Salt over the watercolor washes, and gouache white line brush stroke and drafting pen stroke.

jmc/emc

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Kaleidoscope Butterfly


Kladiscope Watercolor on 90# paper (1995)

I have always drawn and been drawn to butterflies, as most artists.  It is not only the colors, and patterns, it is that we share a moment, transient in its perception.  They are there, now they are here, now they are gone. Like the fleeting images of entire painting collections, filled with color, don’t touch, can’t catch, can’t even really own.  We reach for the art of the moment, flit from here to there and then we must do it again.  To those who observe artists, they might as well try and catch a butterfly. We flitter willy nilly about, we show and hide our colors, basking in the sunlight, hiding at the least attention, trying out our wings, seeking appreciation of any viewer.  Our days are brief.  We crush easily. Everyone reaches for us, no one reaches for us, and there is no safe place to land. Sometimes it seems better to be a butterfly than an artist, or maybe we already are.  So whenever I sit and doodle, often a butterfly will appear on the page. They symbolize a similar peaceful response in most everyone who is not going so fast they see nothing.  The image of any butterfly conjures up a paragraph in the mind that includes childhood, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and story, coupled with the wisdom of that transcient moment of how frail our lives are, in which we all share.

butterflys group

jmc/emc

Dye and watercolor stain on paper

What does a Butterfly see? 14″x18″ water dye on illustration board

THIS WEEK’S STORY POST:  So what does a butterfly see?  Do you know what you think you see?  If I paint a butterfly, should I paint what I see or what I feel about it?  But when you look at the painting, it should remind you at least of how you feel about butterflies, or if not, maybe you get how I feel.  Must we paint what we think some one else might want to see?
A butterfly probably doesn’t have an opinion of how it should appear for its portrait.  There are no pictures of people hanging in butterfly houses . . . oh wait, there are no butterfly houses!  Don’t think I am being silly, I think this is at the core of all good art. The ability of this little creature to feed, flash color, reproduce and flourish, avoiding extinction long past the dinosaurs, has more to do with its collective beauty than it does with it’s brain (it doesn’t have one).
Collective beauty because: The Native American Indians did not speak of bears, they spoke of “bear” as if all bears made one creature called bear. Grass was not blades of grass, it was grass, one thing; the trees and flowers were all known as grass, as we call it flora; they call it grass, one thing with one common life.  One entity, living as many things from many places, as trees, as flowers, as weeds, it is all grass.
Bird meant all birds as one entity, fish the same thing, one fish.  To give honor to the one thing was to ask for a single bear or a single fish or bird to be taken from the whole as food, and because they, too, were part of the whole, living in harmony of the one thing, it was acceptable to take from self.
The collective creature is somehow sentient with the ability to exist in a collective world where most every other creature would see a butterfly as food, we see it as inspiration worthy of decorating our lunch boxes, stationery, t-shirts, and bed sheets.  In the end, we study, protect, cultivate and will probably make sure this time to get it on the next ark, (unlike the unicorn which missed the boat).  Like the stripes on a tiger, there is a reason for decoration and style.
There is a good book about this effect called the
Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, TED talks
So, why be shy in painting a butterfly?  it represents our highest hopes for our own societies.  It is like the rainbow, or the four leaf clover, or even the moon.  Celebrate your love of design and art, paint this beautiful bug.
jmc/emc

What does a Butterfly See?


Dye and watercolor stain on paper

What does a Butterfly see? 14″x18″ water dye on illustration board

So what does a butterfly see?  Do you know what you think you see?  If I paint a butterfly, should I paint what I see or what I feel about it?  But when you look at the painting, it should remind you at least of how you feel about butterflies, or if not, maybe you get how I feel.  Must we paint what we think some one else might want to see?

A butterfly probably doesn’t have an opinion of how it should appear for its portrait.  There are no pictures of people hanging in butterfly houses . . . oh wait, there are no butterfly houses!  Don’t think I am being silly, I think this is at the core of all good art. The ability of this little creature to feed, flash color, reproduce and flourish, avoiding extinction long past the dinosaurs, has more to do with its collective beauty than it does with it’s brain (it doesn’t have one).
Collective beauty because: The Native American Indians did not speak of bears, they spoke of “bear” as if all bears made one creature called bear. Grass was not blades of grass, it was grass, one thing; the trees and flowers were all known as grass, as we call it flora; they call it grass, one thing with one common life.  One entity, living as many things from many places, as trees, as flowers, as weeds, it is all grass.
Bird meant all birds as one entity, fish the same thing, one fish.  To give honor to the one thing was to ask for a single bear or a single fish or bird to be taken from the whole as food, and because they, too, were part of the whole, living in harmony of the one thing, it was acceptable to take from self.
The collective creature is somehow sentient with the ability to exist in a collective world where most every other creature would see a butterfly as food, we see it as inspiration worthy of decorating our lunch boxes, stationery, t-shirts, and bed sheets.  In the end, we study, protect, cultivate and will probably make sure this time to get it on the next ark, (unlike the unicorn which missed the boat).  Like the stripes on a tiger, there is a reason for decoration and style.
There is a good book about this effect called the
Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, TED talks
So, why be shy in painting a butterfly?  it represents our highest hopes for our own societies.  It is like the rainbow, or the four leaf clover, or even the moon.  Celebrate your love of design and art, paint this beautiful bug.
jmc/emc