It’s unprecedented! I drove part way to St. George this morning, had my appointment, and drove the four hours home, arriving around 4 o’clock. Usually I’m spent after so much driving, and wouldn’t dream of not resting, at least for a while. But the afternoon was so utterly beautiful, the light so clear, fall at it’s finest, that I decided I must go out and work on a pastel drawing, in large part too because …it wasn’t windy! Recently, the wind has not been kind to painting a large pastel on paper mounted on light foam board at a canyon’s edge. I needed to take advantage of this uncommon calm.
Weeks have gone by with only a few days of being able to work on this three foot drawing and even then needing rocks in my knapsack, hung on the easel for ballast. I associate mid September onwards for several weeks with the idyllic sweet light, clarity , calm, and temperature that allows for making big paintings. Not so this year, nor I think the last, though still I waited with longing all through the hot summer for this magical time to come. So I was unusually galvanized and collected my gear and set off. I arrived at canyon’s edge and set up my easel with just an occasional breeze.
I was amazed at how different the shadows and shapes were, outcrops appearing that had been in shadow and others having disappeared into the shade. And the relationships all seemed a bit off…was it through the eyes of fatigue? Was what I was seeing now more truthful? I found my drawing to be wildly inaccurate. It’s amazing how the eye will see what it wants to, the unconscious shifting of masses to fit them on the page. I was sure that some of the changes were due to the passage of time, but the ancient rock isn’t so fickle. My eyes and desire however are. I had managed to squeeze a very long series of undulating rock formations into a space way smaller than what I was seeing now. And it had looked good too! So now I was utterly confused. Somethings needed to remain as they were, and others I changed…but of course in my haste I forgot my eraser. I wonder what I’ll see next time!
ps. Days later I am here typing this from a yellow legal pad where I had hastily scribbled these thoughts that evening….because it’s too windy to paint!
another ps. I am never quite comfortable calling a pastel drawing a painting, as I feel I am drawing, not painting, with color. However I’ve gleaned from art magazines that pastels are called paintings, so I interchange the two terms….