Friday, March 18, 2011

Entering my new decade . . .

I reached a new decade birthday this week. No sense in trying to hide from it - I turned 60 this past week! I'm trying to approach it in as upbeat a manner as I can muster, and hoping that it will be a good year ahead. My dear husband took me to New Orleans for my birthday present, in order to ease the transition, I think. We spent 2 days and nights and never even entered the French Quarter - I think that demonstrates that we've been there enough times to learn about several other neighborhoods and many other treasures you can find in the New Orleans area. We ate at two restaurants on Magazine Street, and 2 on Esplanade; and visited the Audubon Riverview Park; City Park; the New Orleans Museum of Art; and Bayou Savage National Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful 2 days of spring-like weather. Spending time in the parks, I was missing having something to paint with. I had just recently read an article in Watercolor Artist magazine about using watercolor pencils, and we detoured to an art supply shop on Magazine and I purchased my emergency art kit: a handful of watercolor pencils and a small art journal tablet. I was then able to complete a couple of little plein air sketches - mostly learning how to use the pencil media, but hopefully I was also able to catch the spring spirit as well. Here are my 2 sketches:

There were several groups of sunbathers at the Audubon Riverview Park (located on the Mississippi River levee behind the Audubon Zoo), and I caught a couple here. The article I had read demonstrated how you could scribble the pencil pigment on the paper to create a little paper palette, and then lift pigment off the paper palette with a wet brush to apply to your painting. I tried that with limited success. I did better shading layers of dry pencil to fill in color in the painting, and then using my wet brush to mix and blend the colors on the paper. Very much a learning experience! I did not have a green pencil, so was mixing my yellows and blues to achieve the greens of the grass and tree leaves.

Here is my second sketch, of the scene in City Park behind the Museum of Art. I had a little more success this time in blending different shades of green, and also getting a little stronger pignmentation. Still need some more darks for contrast, but it is a learning experiment here. Note the ibis in the foreground. It was amazing that there were flocks of ibises in the park that were begging to be fed along with the ducks, geese and seagulls. Also several coots in the ponds. Such a beautiful day and a good feeling that the park has recovered so much since Hurricane Katrina.

We also spent some time at Bayou Savage National Wildlife Area, which is located along Highway 90 east of New Orleans. This swamp was also heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina, with alot of salt water being trapped behind levees and killing the freshwater vegetation. I took lots of photos of the swamp with dead trees rising up to the crystal blue skies. But, there were also observable indications of recovery here as well, with new plantings of cypress, hackberries and other shrubs in the swamp. Here are a couple of photos from Bayou Savage.

Me in front of the spartina marses on the south side of Hwy 90.

One of those haunting scenes of the dead trees rising out of the impacted marshes on the north side of Hwy 90.

And before I close I just have to include a photo I took at the New Orleans Museum of Art. NOMA is celebrating their 100th birthday this year. There were several paintings from the permanent collections on display, and I really enjoyed the Modern Art gallery. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this wonderful painting by Richard Diebenkorn! My artist friend Conroy Hudlow had recently loaned me his book on Diebenkorn, an abstract expressionist painter from the mid-century who also dabbled in figurative art. I fell in love with his use of color, and was pleasantly surprised to see that NOMA had one of his figurative masterpieces in their collection. Here is the woman on the porch!

1 comment:

Jami Buck said...

Really enjoyed the post. I love the palm sketch in the museum park.