Diurnal Update 43.22.ix.b

A front came through yesterday and while it only brought us about 10 drops of rain, it was still fun to be out in and to watch. I took out Bear for a walk in the wind (we had plenty of that!). The clouds over the San Juans were dropping snow and moving on and new clouds more snow and moving on — very dramatic and very beautiful. The local ski area was the first to open in Colorado, but this ancient lake bed is between two rain shadows so… There were lots of cranes in the air, none close. No people. It was wonderful to be out there.

We saw a new creature — a little tiger salamander, green from moss, shiny and beautiful. Bear really really wanted that guy, but I stopped her three times. At one point she got loose from my leash and all she did was go to the salamander and look at me. I don’t know about that dog. I guess after six years, she views the leash as part of our relationship which is mildly sad. Still, I didn’t want this to turn into a salamander corpse.


Yesterday I dived into a painting that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m using my new-to-me acrylics and was immediately reminded how different they are from oils and WHY you can actually buy products that slow them down. They dry. Here in this zero humidity world, I have now experienced that to a new degree. I’ve only done two serious paintings (not garden signs) in acrylics since I moved here and they were not the type of paintings I would do with oils. I also did these with a set of liquid acrylics I ended up giving away.

For me, one of the pleasures and challenges of painting is working with a medium, answering to its imperatives, but considering how amazing and large my inheritance of Alex’ acrylics is, I might revise my thinking and get some of that acrylic paint slow down stuff. NEWS FLASH! I have some of this very stuff in my studio!

I’m happy enough with the painting, but I should have approached it differently, and now I’m torn between painting over it and giving it another chance. Rocks are difficult (for me) to paint. Yeah, it’s good they aren’t moving around, but the thing is my strength as an artist has always been motion and, essentially, I prefer painting and drawing people. Strange, huh, considering all these landscapes? The truth is that nothing in nature is static. Even if rocks don’t move, everything around them does which was, I guess, the entire schtick of the Impressionists ‘Capture the light!”

The Owl of Penitente Canyon

I’ve come to understand my limitations as an artist and one of them is laziness. Back when my brother was relentlessly practicing value drawings, I was bored by it. That’s the kind of thing an artist needs, though; it’s like technic exercises in piano. It doesn’t matter. I am happy to have the challenge even if the greatest part of the challenge is me.

I got a flu shot last week and the flu shot pain went right to the OPPOSITE shoulder from the shot, the shoulder I injured two months ago, and it was like the injury had just happened, incredibly discouraging and painful. I seriously feel pretty whipped right now. Painting and finding salamanders in the Big Empty are good medicine against those feelings.

The featured image is of some geese hanging out on an island in the middle of a large pond. In the sky are several dozen cranes that you can’t see in the photo or hear. 😦 I zoomed in as far as I could just to see what was on the island.

19 thoughts on “Diurnal Update 43.22.ix.b

  1. Tender and sweet portrayals of the children. I especially love the first one. I feel the movement of the little girl–her skirt–and the contrast of the spellbound puppy. Is there really a rock that looks like an owl like this?

    • Ah – the “puppy” is a goat. My step-granddaughter had been out to a local farm and visited some baby goats. Yep. There really is a rock that looks like that. My friend sees a dog’s nose but she’s wrong 😉

  2. The power of a good walk cannot be overstressed. (Both in the sense that they are important or the fact that one rarely becomes stressed by a long walk, unless a need for a bathroom is part of the equation.)

    The first thought I had when looking at the acrylic paintings was a sense of movement. So, when you wrote that you felt that was your strength, it clicked. Yes. Movement is evident in your brush strokes. Physical movement. Emotional movement. You may never paint ‘technically precise’ rocks, but I bet you can paint a rock that has movement at its core. Like it has never forgotten being a piece of molten slag and that, given enough time and pressure, it could return to a magma state.

    And, I also liked the ‘crocs’ you painted on the child’s feet in the second picture. How often do you see such a realistic and modern touch to a sentimental subject! And you have the best hair studies I have seen. I totally believed the curls and the swoops of little girl hairstyles. Even if acrylic isn’t your favorite medium, you do a fabulous job of conveying emotion and capturing the feel of your subject. And not everyone can do that at all, none less well.

  3. The salamander is exciting! Having one out and about means your ecosystem is healthy!!! and Bear is such a good girl – she just wanted a closer look… I hope you are going to really cut loose with the acrylics – the sky is beautiful, the red rocks with the little bits of trees and greenery are delightful – and the grasses in the front just make me happy. I’m not sure what you are unhappy about with this painting. I see it and the sky is wheeling behind the rocks and the wind is bending the leaves and ruffling the grass…

    • It was wonderful to see that little guy. Bear calmed down after she realized I would be unhappy if she jumped on him. The third time we saw him, she calmly studied him. The painting was giving me a hard time because I paint the WHOLE painting not just parts and I had forgotten that acrylic dries incredibly fast. If I’d remembered, I’d have approached it differently — mechanical problems. With oil you have time to go back and forth and still working into wet paint. BUT I found I had the slow drying magic fluid so today was easier. Every color on this painting except the dark brown is Alex’ paint and it is one of his favorite places where he loved to climb rocks. I thought it should be the first subject for my new-to-me paint.

  4. I love your two acrylics, Martha. They are so joyful. You paint the best grass. I agree totally with you. Rocks are hard. 😉
    The salamander us such an interesting creature. Bear is a good girl for sparing it.

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