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September 2013



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Journal sketch, 9-28

9-28, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

Painting plein air is tricky--and sometimes more so than others. In this case, it was nearing sunset, the light was changing by the second, AND I'd complicated matters by driving out into the sunset wearing my brown sunglasses and forgetting to take them off once I arrived and settled in to paint.

If you've ever worn brown lenses, you know it imparts a beautiful, stunning, intense amber glow...I had to try to capture it, never thinking about the fact that my palette and my paper would be artificially tinted, too. So this is really nothing like I THOUGHT I was seeing, but probably fairly close in value to what was actually there.

That's the thing...if the values work, so does the painting. I like this one, even if I didn't really have the faintest idea what I was doing!  (And you can see if you're painting from a photo, how the values are flattened and simplified and the color disappears--a help, sometimes, but you lose something, as well.)

At the Lake--photo

I took this photo shortly after I decided it must be time that I needed to go--you can't stay at the lake in the evening any more, thanks to vandals and thugs. It's gated and locked, like most of the state parks, camping areas, and fishing lakes, and the gates here close a half hour after sunset.  I was pushing it, and the ranger came locking the little spur areas of picnic spots and swimming beach right behind me.

I remember sitting out there at night, watching the moon rise silver or rich harvest gold out of the lake, or listening to the companionable sound of night-fishermen along the shore, their small fires like warm human lanterns against the darkness. I can remember canoeing that liquid silver, listening to nature's night music and the glissando of droplets from my canoe's paddle falling back into the lake.  Beavers slapped their tails against the water at the unexpected sight of a human in their milieu, and fish jumped lazily after a late snack.  It was truly magic, and magic I so wish I could share with my new husband...

...but thanks to the kind of humans who can't allow that, who can't stand beauty, don't understand the earth's magic, it's lost to all of us. A sad commentary--and one that makes me far more angry than sad.



I love how you've translated the basically blue/orange scene into a different set of complements, red and green. The sunglasses? So wonderfully watery and peaceful.
Maybe it WAS the sunglasses...but I wasn't painting what I thought I was painting, so I don't know! I mean, I know what colors are where on my palette, and I know what I was reaching for, but the final effect was different! Not at all sure I can take any credit...but thank you, sweet Xoxa!

And of course the photo was taken after the light faded more, and didn't pick up the subtleties of color in the silhouetted areas...I think they were still at least somewhat visible by then...


Thank goodness there are artists like you to point out the beauty in everyday things and natural places. Of course, those vandal types don't look at art either, but it's their loss.
Hi Casey! I'm beginning to think I'm the official artist of Watkins Mill, I spend so much time out there! And yes, it IS their loss, I so deeply feel that anyone can benefit from contact with the earth if they will just LET themselves. The kind of anger that wants to destroy everything is beyond me...
there is nothing like the feeling you get when you are on a lake that is still, still, still, and your canoe is the only thing cutting a slight wake. that sound of the water being cut by prow and paddle is one that sits in the heart, to rise when we need it and feed the soul that others don't "get"....the ones who make it impossible to keep that available to others. looking at that photo, i can hear it, feel the slight rough of the top of the paddle in my hand, and my fingers chill ever so lightly recalling the droplets of water laid on them as the paddle swings over the top to balance the progress across the water. i can smell the water, and hear the light "plop" of a fish feeding on an unwary insect a little too close to the surface. wow. i haven't visited that place in my memories for a long time. thank you. i needed a little respite...
LJ is being weird, I never got a notice you'd sent this! And I might know, sweet, that you'd recognize exactly how magic that is, day or night...
Love the water marks in the foliage. great water too!
Thank you, Dee, I did too--a REALLY happy accident, only partly purposefully encouraged...

I hope your life is calming down a bit...I miss your regular posting!
Thank you ! I hope it calms down in a couple of weeks. Am painting alot but it's all digital.
Am hoping to learn Corel Painter soon, but meanwhile taking a digital matte painting class so that I can work on live action films too. Would love to just be in my studio with a paintbrush in my hand.
The wedding picture is great, by the way.
I'm just finishing up an 8-week teaching session that always actually takes at least 2 weeks more than that, so I'm pretty wiped too...

Corel Painter sounds like FUN. You GO girl!

And thank you, the wedding was great, too! Wow...