Weekend Work: Meltwater Blue

Meltwater Blue, Copyright 2014, Michaela Harlow, Pastel on Paper, michaelaharlow.com Meltwater Blue, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – 11″ x 9″ pastel on paper  (15″ x 11″)

So, I’ll be honest  . . . The second week of April was exhausting, to say the least. I’m recovering from a health issue —so my energy is well below normal— and the stressful shift from winter quiet to spring chaos is taking its annual toll. I met with two, new landscape design clients this week to discuss projects, and this Saturday morning, I presented the first of my three, scheduled gardening seminars. After spending a couple of days down-and-out on the couch, I’ve fallen behind on my usual one-week turnaround for design notes and sketches, so I’ll be working late tonight and into tomorrow to play catch up.

But the good news is —despite the internal pressure to please others— I refused to give up my personal time with friends and family, and studio time over the weekend. On Thursday evening, I shared a fantastic dinner with my friend, writer Jennifer Audette. And on Saturday, I met up with my friend, artist Melissa Weiss at Magpie in Greenfield —our first alfresco dinner of 2014 together— and we made plans to get together and catch a few exhibits when I visit Boston, MA in the coming weeks.

Meltwater_Blue_copyright_2014_michaela_harlow_michaelaharlow.com Meltwater Blue in progress: pressing pastel dust into fixative-dampened paper with palette a knife

This morning I returned to Vermont bright and early and set to work on Meltwater Blue (posted above and below). Believe it or not, the inspiration for this piece came from a reflection on my mud-splattered car door; the surface so coated in crud that it created a most spectacular canvas and overlay texture for the sky blue and still-skeletal trees mirrored on what little black paint remained visible. After standing and staring at this beautiful dirt-painting for some time, I made a few photo notes before taking Mad Max through the carwash. As usual, the clean up was also a visual treat. I have a feeling that sooner or later, some of the bubble-streaked, muddy rivers I saw flowing across my windshield will work their way out in pastel or oil paint. For now, there’s just the Meltwater Blue.

Studio Muse, copyright 2014, michaelharlow.com

My studio muse and longtime companion, Doctor Goof celebrated her 15th birthday this week

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetFresh sunflowers for inspiration and cheer

Meltwater Blue on my desk with sunflowers, Copyright 2014, Michaela Harlow, michaelaharlow.com Cleaning and documenting this week’s completed work

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2 Comments

  1. Jen A. April 15, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Thank you for telling us the inspiration for this piece. Yesterday I drove past a very shiny dark-gray mini van. The clouds and sky were reflected on the surface of the car in the most amazing way and I thought how I wished I knew a way to capture the visual feeling in a painting. My next thought, of course, jumped to you. I didn’t know you’d been busy at work on just such an image (if muddier). Fantastic that you’ve been keeping your artist time sacred. You inspire me.

    Happy 15th Dr. Goof! Keep up the good muse work!

  2. Michaela April 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    Muddy cars are really incredible to me. Of course, it’s hard to use that as an excuse when surrounded by normal sheeple. I have reasons for my grubbery. So glad that someone out there can understand and appreciate the dirty muse (of course my furry muse, her highness Doctor Goof, is mostly-well-groomed).

    I am flattered that you would think of my work when encountering the spectacular beauty of a mud-splattered car. Most people would never get that! x