23 May, 2016. While cycling through the countryside this morning I conducted a very informal test in color acuity: How many colors could I spot that could be recreated from a nearly raw pigment, and does blue actually exist in nature? Not surprisingly, the world is an abundance of greens at the moment and I found myself identifying Sap Green, Windsor Green, even Pthalo Green. Certainly nothing resembling Viridian though. Lemon Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow, Magenta, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna. A few instances of pure red were noted, but mostly hues with cooler notes of Quinacridone or warmer flourishes of orange. Fewer still were the cool colors. Some floral accents of violet. But no blue at all. Nothing. Nada. I read an article recently in which the premise was that “until relatively recently in human history, ‘blue’ didn’t exist.”How silly, I thought. But read the story yourself. The writer makes a pretty compelling argument. And while I won’t rehash his points here, I will say that his article has made me take a new look at the world around me. Perhaps I’m not as observant as I thought myself to be. And perhaps an hour or two of idle thought will lead me to reconsider how I approach color in my sketches.
Friday marked the last day of the semester for my students and me. Winding down the school year always leaves me with far less time to make art than at any other time. The silver lining is that I’ll have the next several weeks to indulge myself with drawing and painting, and to recharge for my next group of young artists. A few days ago I visited Jax Oyster Bar for a beer and small plates. The bar was full and although still a bit cool, I requested a table outside. The patio was pretty much all mine and while nursing a glass of KC Bier Dunkel I put together a two page sketch of the cars and structures that overlooked my table. From time to time patrons would venture outside for a few minutes fresh air. One group of women – fellow teachers as it turned out – saw me sketching and came over to chat and rubberneck a little as I scribbled lines in my sketchbook. I’ve grown accustomed to the curiosity of others, and occasionally curiosity crosses over to brazenness. (Is that even a word?) This was the situation with one woman in the group, who chatted me up and eventually gifted me a sketch of her own.
Perhaps I wasn’t attentive enough. After a while they moved on to claim a table of their own. Having finished my first sketch, I managed to make a hurried drawing of a couple of them.
The next day we drove to the house at Table Rock Lake. Sitting on the dock, I read for a while and sketched out a loose interpretation of the trees across the cove. The only kit I brought with me was a brush pen and lead holder.
I’d been sitting at the end of the dock, with a view of the cove and the main channel, rolling hills of green surrounding me, turkey buzzards and a couple of bald eagles hovering above. I don’t enjoy sitting in the direct sunlight. It forces me to squint, which makes reading and sketching more difficult. So as the shade from the roof of the dock moved, so did I. Under cover of the roof, I turned my chair to the boats sheltered beneath. I suddenly realized the scene in front of me was a medley of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. Not my usual cup of tea, but one draws what one sees. (Kuretake No. 40 brush pen)