Monday, 23 March 2009

Birds of La Loire

We were bathed in sunlight this past week, which made Sunday a perfect day to pack my bike and sketch the birds of the Loire. Here is a photo of the protected islands in La Loire((Montlouis) where the birds come to nest in spring.
...a close up of the activities...
Two sketches; done from the riverbank, with the road passing right behind my back. I even had cars honking at me, not that I was anywhere near blocking them, so I can just assume it was encouragement!! I wasn't exactly sure how to capture all those birds. These sketches actually do look a little better in my sketchbook than here on the screen.
...les mouettes...
Sketches done in rotring pen and watercolour in sketchbook, 24x19cm.

Then I just captured two pages of some of the birds in flight. Most of the birds on this island are La Mouette melanoc├ęphale. They are white all over, like the normal mouette, but have a black head and red beak, as you can see on the first page of sketches. They are rare in France, but are found on this island here on the banks of Montlouis, where they share space with La Mouette rieuse, the normal loud mouths.

...fly away...
Sketches done with rotring pen, sizes 0.2 and0.7 in Fabriano sketchbook, 20x14cm.

The biggest surprise of the day, was having Hartman show up on his bicycle a while later with a backpack, stuffed with picnic goodies. We parked ourselves next to the Loire on a green patch of grass and shared in a bottle of Loupiac and baguette with cheese. I made a rapid sketch of le pique-nique,...and the effect of the Loupiac can clearly be seen in the sketch!

...surprise!..
sketch with pen and watercolour in sketchbook, 24x19cm

My trusted bicycle, that takes me everywhere. Unfortunately, it doesn't have enough gears, so you'll always find me pushing and puffing on the uphills.
...push and pedal...
Back home I did some oil work from two photographs. These were done one after the other on Sunday afternoon along with a coffee one after the other.. In the second one I used some palette knives along with a broad flat brush.

...birds of the Loire 1...
Oil on canvas block, 20x50cm.

...birds of the Loire 2...
Oil on canvas block, 30x50cm.

It is days like this that I love being an artist. Being completely absorbed in what you're doing. Maybe not producing an "oohh, aahh!" painting, but being totally present in the moment of painting. So much so that you can feel yourself growing, changing and adapting to the demands of the moment.

Not any of these paintings/sketches I did today, is really notable as beautiful artwork and won't see the inside of a gallery. I see many areas which I could've taken on differently, areas where I could've been more patient, where I could've used more bolder daring colour, areas where I could've been more risky as well as areas I could've been less bold, but when I look back on them, I see my process, and that gives me a huge kick. I am already reflecting on how to take the process on in my next painting, using this past process as reference. We all know that to be an artist, is to have 99 percent of experiments and "failures" and 1 percent of finished presentable artwork! It is in the process that we artists find our happiness, no?

7 comments:

Jeanette said...

What a fabulous place and wonderful sketches. Capturing all those birds - now there's a task, but you did it wonderfully well. The impression of the mass of birds yet individual forms comes across well.

Then the picnic and the paintings. I feel as if I were there with you. Yes a wonderful day to be an artist..

muddy red shoes said...

Wow, I can hear those birds! You have caught the commotion and flap of such a place and you are right, the process is the best bit...yes!

vivien said...

happiness in the process - yes :>D absolutely

These are absolutely lovely - you've caught the dazzle and wheeling of the birds and there's a lovely sense of motion and chaos.

I'm very envious! and a picnic as well - bliss

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Fabulous - I love the way we get all of your process when you go out sketching and then paint.

The work that really appealed to me was the double page spread of the birdies in flight as I know how difficult that is to do (having tried it myself). You did jolly well!

The bit that people who don't sketch or paint plein air often don't get straightaway is 'the memories'. I know you'll now remember that afternoon for a very long time to come - and the pictures in your head are always 'keepers'!

Lindsay said...

Ronell, after all the grimness in my life lately, your post cheered and delighted me. The quality of light on the water was wonderful and your beautiful sketches...even the picqu-nic was a treat for my senses and imagination. You make me want to rush out and buy a bottle of champaign and sit by my own dear Des Plaines River and sketch away.

A Brush with Color said...

These are wonderful, and I so enjoyed reading about your glorious day, Ronell. These are all so beautiful. It sounds like it was a perfect day.

Gesa said...

I think these are great, Ronnell - yes, as source of inspiration and making memories to be worked with - I have two screenprints on metal plates with flocks of tiny geese above my bed, I love them - it's tiny marks, almost indistinguishable bodies of birds that create the most magnificient movement when together - I think it will give you a great set of ideas to work with :)