Friday, February 5, 2010

A Demo and a Surprise Sighting

This year, during the silent auction for the Monadnock Arts Auction, several area artists have come to do painting demos. Folks have wandered in and out, and really seemed to enjoy seeing
painters working. I was invited to do a demo and had the good fortune to paint alongside my dear friend, Mary Iselin. Mary was working from photos, doing several underpaintings of her famous little lambs. She does a complete monochrome underpainting, and allows that to totally dry before applying color. This way she is able to get the detailed drawing and values that she wants, and also leaving the white of the canvas as the lightest lights allows her to really get that
"glow" of light around the lambs fleece.
I am an alla prima painter, so I set up a simple still life arrangement to work from life. Working on a lead primed canvas panel, I did a quick block in using a warmish medium tone, wiped away the lights, and began to lay in the basic shadow patterns. I think the shadows, or at least the dark areas, are the structure that holds the rest of the painting together, so I like to get them in first. The arrangement is very straightforwards, so I just laid in the color, keeping things pretty loose. I left parts of the background with just the preliminary wash, and only brought to a more complete finish the central focus of the painting. This took about 2 hours (partly because Mary and I would talk, and I would often answer questions from onlookers.) It's good that I could get it finished, because due to a shoulder injury, that's about as long as I can work on anything. I took a photo but did not have great light, so the colors here are just a bit off.
I donated the piece to the auction committee, and it will be offered as sort of a bonus painting
during the live auction tomorrow night.

But the really coolest thing today happened when I took my dog for a run. I started down our local rail trail, which is snow covered and follows the river and some wetlands, so it's also scenic and quiet. Suddenly, as I was running along, something flew up in front of me from the shoreline off to the left. Surprised, I looked, and couldn't believe my eyes. Right in front of me, almost at eye level and only about 10 feet away was a magnificent BALD EAGLE!!! He flew up and landed in a tree about 20 feet up, and sat looking down at me. I was able to observe him for quite awhile, (and got all patriotic about seeing this awesome symbol of our country). Of course, I was SOOOOO wishing I had a camera or even a cell phone, but, alas, neither was to be had. Still, this was the awesomest thing I've seen in a long while. I did contact the NH Audubon to let them know of the sighting, because, as far as I am aware, eagles have not been seen right here. COOL!!!! It totally made my day.. heck, my WEEK!!


Kerri Settle said...

It looks like it would have been a great demo to watch you do! The eagle story is really cool, and it just figures that when something like that happens you never have a camera on you!

Deb said...

Thanks, Kerri! The auction was last night (we joke that this event is the "Oscars" of southwest NH-- our one chance to get really dressed to the nines and party).
They brought this painting out as a surprise in the middle of the auction, and started the bid at $75 (a really low price!) It was crazy!
The painting ended up selling for about 7 times that - it was lots of fun to watch.