Saturday, 27 December 2008

Reflections on a Pond

I'm having a "ponder" (ouch!) about what's going in my plan for 2009 at the moment. I'm supposed to know and have a blog post written by 1st January!

Anyway, I've been thinking about maybe drawing the same watery thing throughout the year - as per Kevin McPherson's Reflections on a Pond project.

McPherson's project has been highlighted by some painters as a precursor of some of the painting a day projects - although interestingly he didn't actually paint every day.

My understanding is that he produced a painting of the alpine pond, which he could see from his home in the mountains east of Taos, New Mexico - for every day of a year - in different seasons, weather, light and times of the day. However it apparently took him five years to complete the project and he produced 368 paintings in total!

His aim was to capture the different effects of light as the seasons changed. Given the project was about change he held certain things constant - the subject was the same, he painted on small 6x8" panels and he used a limited palette. I gather he also made brief journal entries about each painting.

Subsequently, his paintings have been reproduced in a book about the project and some of the paintings now go on tour on a regular basis. It's now also got its very own Facebook Group! On Facebook, you can see photographs of some of the paintings in a recent exhibition in Pasadena - and see how the paintings look together. They seem to be arranged by seasons.

I don't think I'm anticipating such a big project - however I can see the value in drawing the same thing over and over again while varying seasons, weather and time of day.

The Ecology Park Pond - 26th December 2008
8.5" x 11.5" pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

My pond would either be the little pond in the Ecology Park (next to the Regents Canal) - which I sketched yesterday (see above) - or the lake in Victoria Park which I definitely have not drawn enough. Either way both are a jolly good excuse to take a walk and get some exercise as well and it could be that I could get both done on the same walk.

Above is the effort following our Boxing Day Constitutional yesterday - note the record of the date! The pond reflected the intense blue of the winter sky overhead which contrasted brilliantly with the low afternoon golden sunlight on the pollarded willows and the acid yellow of the dry grass beyond. It was however too cold to draw for long and the coloured pencil got added when I got home!

I like the idea of keeping to the same size and format and I think I want to make up a portfolio of loose paper for the project. I think it might be interesting to vary the media used a little. I know it's going to be easiest to use my coloured pencils so I think I'll see how that notion progresses over time.

Any comments or suggestions?

Anybody thinking about doing something similar? (We've already got Tina doing her Wave Mechanics - Thames 365 blog!)

13 comments:

Gesa said...

Oh, I do like the idea. I think it is so useful to work on the same thing again and again, and trying to control for a number of variables makes sense. I've been stumbling against that again when trying to put my nocturnes in practice. As for limited palette though, I wonder if a change in season will not call for different blues/yellows.

I like your Christmas day sketch a lot, Katherine. I've begun to play with the CPs now too and I will have another good look at your drawings: the building up of colours etc.

Jeanette said...

The differences of light and time of day, seasons, etc., can make the same scene look completely new each time. I think the idea is wonderful.

Keeping the same size and differing mediums too would add interest as well.

Your Boxing Day sketch is lovely and inspires me take out some dry to work on water today as its really cold again and oils are a chore to take out in the snow!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Gesa - what I tend to do is use an open hatching technique and overlay different colours so they mix on the page. I sometimes achieve a very nice effect in terms of optical mixing of colours. Very Seurat without the dots!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

That's why I'm thinking of varying the media. I don't mind using media which take longer - but only when the weather is warmer!

I could backpack with the pastels to this particular pond!

Lindsay said...

Katherine,I too love your layered color use. I like very much how you use the blue in the reflected water in the shadow side of the pond too. It unifies the drawings.

I visit Thatcher Woods a few times a week and have been drawing the over flow pond next to the river since starting Waterways. It is sometimes the only water I see all week. It's very enriching to be looking at the same "bones" often and working with different lighting.

I'll be following along.

annie said...

Well, your series excites us all, Katherine. The pond--or whatever you choose--will be fun, as well as instructive, to watch under changing light each season. I've gone back several times to study the shadows and light in the reflection.
annie3

vivien said...

I like the idea - it's what I did with the Mawgan Porth series but sadly it's too far away to manage to continue it now - but I did paint/sketch it in all sorts of light/weather/times as it's what really interests me.

I'll have to give a thought to something more local and accessible to get a longer series together .....

Kurt Jackson painted a small hawthorn tree every week whilst his daughter had her ballet lesson - he'd walk her there, wait and sketch and then walk her home at the end of the hour. It made a beautiful varying series - very moody and atmospheric.

Gesa I often use a limited palette - but need my wide range of colours with me to select from as appropriate to the light and colour at the particular moment - and that alters through the day meaning changes in the colours I select.

I like this - I think you've really caught the feel of the last glow of the atumn colours in the twigs that will fade soon, glowing in the sunlight against the chill of the frosty bank.

I love the warm glow the twigs develop in the spring as the sap rises, I think you should definitely do this - so will you stick to precisely the same viewpoint or vary it a little?

vivien said...

I like the idea - it's what I did with the Mawgan Porth series but sadly it's too far away to manage to continue it now - but I did paint/sketch it in all sorts of light/weather/times as it's what really interests me.

I'll have to give a thought to something more local and accessible to get a longer series together .....

Kurt Jackson painted a small hawthorn tree every week whilst his daughter had her ballet lesson - he'd walk her there, wait and sketch and then walk her home at the end of the hour. It made a beautiful varying series - very moody and atmospheric.

Gesa I often use a limited palette - but need my wide range of colours with me to select from as appropriate to the light and colour at the particular moment - and that alters through the day meaning changes in the colours I select.

I like this - I think you've really caught the feel of the last glow of the atumn colours in the twigs that will fade soon, glowing in the sunlight against the chill of the frosty bank.

I love the warm glow the twigs develop in the spring as the sap rises, I think you should definitely do this - so will you stick to precisely the same viewpoint or vary it a little?

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I'm thinking probably the same view for the most part. But I also like it from the other side and there's a third pool - which has water lilies and bull rushes - inbetween the pavilion and the canal.

I need to do a drawing of the layout I think!

Rodrica said...

You are off to a beautiful start for a challenging/rewarding self-directed project. I will look forward to seeing more of your deep and complex colored pencil work in 2009. Best Wishes.

Laureline said...

Katherine, this is a fantastic idea for you! I think you should stop thinking and do it! Just start it and keep going! If you want some REAL inspiration, check out the blog of very talented Jared Shear, who in 2007 painted Cougar Peak in Montana, the view from his house, every single day for a year, no excuses. Many of his paintings are superb. All of them are worthy. I felt so envious of his view (and his talent!) I wish he'd make a book of these paintings---he created a real masterwork with them.
http://cougarpeakaboo.blogspot.com/
And I do like very much the sketch you've posted---you have a very delicate but sure touch here.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I took a look at Jared's work - that's some project!

I won't be doing this everyday - I want rather to have some motif which I can try looking at again and again in different seasons. More in the spirit of Monet and the pool at Giverney.

However having said that I did do another one last night - looking the other way! Plus I almost went out to go visit it first thing this morning!

I think I'm saving that to post with one of the Awards posts on the main blog - but I'll post it here too. It's not quite finished.

africantapestry said...

a beautiful sketch...your pond is like a mirror, very quiet and very true. A great idea and I have sort of the same thing in mind with the Loire.
ronell