#P3: Almost Home

#P3: Almost Home (Pastel on Canson Paper, 10 x 12 inches)

This is my third attempt at using pastels. Since I am a rank beginner in pastels, I decided to limit the unknowns and simply make a copy of one of my own oil paintings. In this case, I copied my earlier Painting #60 – Morning Light. This earlier post also shows the source photo.

I have now expanded my pastel set to include more colors but all in all I only have about 15 colors. And I am sorely missing some grays and blues – or perhaps I just need to learn more about mixing them! Other than my inexperience, I really like the forgiving nature of pastel, and the very tactile feel of it. At times it feels like I am carving the painting by hand.

I used the rough side of the Canson Mi-Teintes paper. In my next painting I tried the reverse side and liked it better (next post). Think I will stick to that side from now on, or use Hot-Press watercolor paper.

The past week the rain and wind has been relentless. At night I hear the wind shake the world outside, rain pounding roof and windows. I feel my breathing quicken. Wide awake now, I feel for a moment a giant hand enclose my entire fragile life – a slight tightening of the grip, then release. Sleep comes again. In the morning I see signs of the cycles of like outside in plants and animals.

Being sensitive to this fragility is good, I feel. It makes me “see deeper into paintings” (Rilke). Robert Henri writes:

That time we sat in the evening silence in the face of the mesa 
and heard the sudden howl of a pack of coyotes, and had a thrill 
and a dread which was not fear of the pack, for we knew they were harmless. 
Just what was that dread — what did it relate to? 
Something ’way back in the race perhaps? 
We have strange ways of seeing. 
If we only knew — then we could tell. 
If we knew what we saw, we could paint it.

When I hear the giant pines being shaken to their roots in the night, I think of this poem by Transtromer:

The man on a walk suddenly meets the old
giant oak like an elk turned to stone with
its enormous antlers against the dark green castle wall of the fall ocean.

Storm from the north. It's nearly time for the
rowanberries to ripen. Awake in the night he
hears the constellations far above the oak stamping in their stalls.
Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly in
The Half Finished Heaven.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you are happy and content.

#O60: Hill Road Landscape

I have been trying for a week to take a photo of this small landscape without any glare. But I need to move on to posting later paintings, so I am posting it as it is. Please imagine it without glare! The source photos is below.

This was just a little exercise. I was not trying to create anything for posterity, only practicing how a paint a realistic landscape. I was interested in the curves of the small hills on the left, and how it leads into the distance. I warmed up the grass colour.

Here is the source photo, snapped with my cell phone during my daily walk:

#O60-Source (2)

I have painted this place so often, it feels like a new friend now. Maybe over time it will become an old friend.

Psalm 19 (last verse, by Stephen Mitchell)

Help me to be aware of my selfishness,
but without undue shame or self-judgement.
Let me always feel you present,
in every atom of my life.
Let me keep surrendering my self
until I am utterly transparent.
Let my words be rooted in honesty
and my thoughts be lost in your light,
Unnamable God, my essence,
my origin, my life-blood, my home.

Last part of Psalm 19, translation by
Stephen Mitchell in The Enlightened Heart

I hope you have a great weekend, filled with joy and contentment. Thanks for visiting my blog!

#67: Dusk Landscape

Num-67-Charcoal- Landscape
#67: Dusk Landscape (Charcoal and Pastel on Paper, A3 size)

This weekend I bought some pastels. This is my first attempt at using them. I was not really trying to make a pretty picture, just seeing what could be done with these two mediums together. The source photo is shown below. Continue reading “#67: Dusk Landscape”

Charcoal Still Life

Charcoal-Still-Life (2)
Charcoal and Chalk Still Life (approx A3 size)

This is an invented still life in charcoal and chalk. It is a happy outcome of a play session in which I basically start with a shape in mind, in shadow and light, and drew away. The reflections in the foreground were not planned but stole the show. Continue reading “Charcoal Still Life”

#66: Waikato Farm


This small painting is – again! – of a spot I pass on my morning walk. A larger resolution image and the source photo is shown below. I was really just playing around when doing this painting, not expecting any outcome (thanks Aletha!), so I did it on an old, very rough canvas.
Continue reading “#66: Waikato Farm”

#65: Edge of Camp 2

#64: Edge of Camp (Charcoal, Chalk and Watercolor, approx A3 size)
#64: Edge of Camp (Charcoal, Chalk and Watercolour, approx A3 size)

This is a larger version of the oil painting shown in my previous post, this time in a charcoal and chalk over watercolour. I started this with a broad colour washes to establish warm and cool, light and dark  areas. Continue reading “#65: Edge of Camp 2”

#64: Edge of Camp

#64: Edge of Camp (Oil on Canvas, 10 x 8 inches)
#64: Edge of Camp (Oil on Canvas, 10 x 8 inches)

This painting was based on a charcoal sketch I made of a spot that I pass on my morning walk. The charcoal sketch is shown below – I actually like the charcoal a bit better and have since made a watercolour and charcoal painting of it – I hope to post this tomorrow. Continue reading “#64: Edge of Camp”

Intimate Objects

Intimate Objects (Charcoal and Watercolour on Paper)

This is an old still life, done probably 10 years ago, using the same technique of combining charcoal and watercolour on Hot Press watercolour paper as shown in my earlier post 

This is a very private picture to me – it lives in a box I seldom open. I think I have used this razor for more than 15 years now. The green cup and bowl were hand made and glazed by my mother in law.

Every morning when I shave is the time I come to myself – “Are you really awake? Are you present and alive here right now? If you were shaving now on the morning before your execution, and then heard that you got a miraculous reprieve – would the remainder of this ordinary day feel different for you?”.

These are my intimate objects. On my better days, I use them with care. When I do that, I can feel – with every move of the razor – the universe move slightly:

The Position of the Sparrow (last verse)
Because the whole is part, there's not a whole,
Anywhere, that is not part.
And all those happenings a billion years ago,
Are happening now, all around us: time.
Indeed this morning the sparrow hopped about
In that nebulous whirlpool
A million light years hence.
And since the morning is void,
Anything can be. Since mornings
A billion years from now are nothingness,
We can behold them.
The sparrow stirs,
The universe moves slightly.

Shinkichi Takahashi, translated by Lucien Stryk in 
Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breezes Enter

Thanks to all who have encouraged me with likes and comments. A special thanks to those who follow my blog . I wish you happiness and contentment.