Tag Archives: Art Inspired by Nature – Winter

Thirty in Thirty, 2014: Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect, 2014, copyright Michaela Harlow - michaelaharlow.comRipple Effect, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 32″, oil on panel

Do you know how, when you open a bottle of champagne —or in my case proscecco— you have to either finish it right away, or develop some method to keep it from going flat? There’s a clock ticking on that bottle and you know that you have to drink it, or you’re going to have to throw it away (or if you are clever, repurpose it as an ingredient in a culinary masterpiece, such as risotto). Yes I know they have those air-stopper things, but do they really work? I always use a recycled rubber cork (from my favorite table red, Hey Mambo), and aim to finish the bottle in a couple of days. Well, the same is true for alla prima oil painting. No dilly-dallying allowed. You have got to finish the work right away. And of course, the larger you go, the more physically demanding the task.

Oil paint takes a long time to dry —months as opposed to days— but the consistency and character of the paint changes quickly. Some color mixes form a film at the surface, and others develop drag. Most of the time you have 24 hours, but the thinner the layer and the dryer the conditions, the faster the paint will set. There are a few tricks you can employ to buy yourself a little more time —and you can carefully follow rules about paint “thickness”, aka oiliness— but from the moment you begin, the race is really on. I started this piece —along with ‘Stirred’, posted on 1/5— yesterday morning and I didn’t have time to finish. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Today proved to be another challenging day. This time, the distraction was New England weather; rain on top of snow with a fast-following freeze. I had chores to tend to —hand-sanding the entire, 1,650′ driveway— in order to keep my studio access open. I made it. But the natural light was already lost by the time I took this photo. So, this afternoon, I had to deal with the challenge of tungsten lights. I prefer to document my work with natural, indirect illumination, but as the Stones say, “. . .you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need”.

And now for that left-over prosecco.

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Eleven . . .

Where the Wind Took Them II ⓒ 2013 Michaela HarlowWhere the Wind Took Them ll ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow 17″ x 14″, Pastel, Charcoal & Pencil on Paper

A very grey morning today, and a very early start. After a break yesterday evening, I returned to the studio and started work on a second piece. I was thinking about it when I woke up, so I returned to the studio before first light. It’s such a luxury to work this way; time I can only afford in winter.

Freezing rain coated the mountaintop overnight. Now that light is penetrating the low clouds, I see that although the ice is melting, pine trees are still drooping beneath the weight. Outside, the only sound I hear is dripping water and the clucking of wild turkey.

where the wind took them - day eleven ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow

Where the Wind Took Them ll ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow 17″ x 14″, Pastel, Charcoal & Pencil on Paper

I’m starting on another piece now, but I need to stop work earlier than usual today, so today’s additional efforts will form the base for tomorrow’s work. I dreamt of color —lots of it. Neutral tones —rust, brown, blonde, umber, grey and white— dominate the outside world right now. Winter is all about light and shadow, line and geometry; form, pattern and texture. When I’m out walking or driving, and I stumble upon color —a tangle of purple brambles, colorful twigs, bright green moss or brilliant orange lichen— it really stands out. I noticed this particularly when I am out flying and light illuminates tree tops, barns, stubbly fields; momentarily lighting them up in a blaze of color.

I posted photos from my late afternoon flight over the valley on my other blog, The Gardener’s Eden, here.

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Thirty-in-Thirty, Day Six: Winter Pool III

Thirty in Thirty Day Six ⓒ 2013 michaela harlowWinter Pool III ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 14″ x 17″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper

Early start again this morning —my feline muse awoke me at 4:30 am— which was a bit inconvenient as I was out later than usual last night; enjoying drinks and dinner with a friend. Why must Woo perch on the board above my head, attempting to sip water from the half full glass? She does this, of course, because she knows it will get me up when the purring, mewing, swatting and toe biting fail. Sometimes I fail to catch her, and the glass spills over, resulting in a rather unpleasant start to my day. Fortunately, I had a dry morning, and I headed into the studio before first light.

I started this third branch painting yesterday evening before dinner. I have to cover the paintings every night to prevent uninvited, nocturnal feline collaborations.

After speaking with a friend about some older artwork, I realize how important it is to properly document paintings by number & date, photograph them and place them in order in my dry storage. I often work in series, with many pieces sharing the same name; sometimes I can not recall which piece is where (with a collector, an exhibit, a gallery or in storage). The numbering helps when the titles are the same, or similar, and it’s even more important when they are Untitled!

Thirty in Thirty - Day Six ⓒ 2013 michaela harlowWinter Pool III ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 14″ x 17″ – Pastel & Pencil on Paper

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New Work on Paper: Tsuga Triptych…

Tsuga I ⓒ Michaela Harlow (Pastel on Paper)

Tsuga II ⓒ 2011 Michaela Harlow (Pastel on Paper)

Tsuga III ⓒ 2011 Michaela Harlow (Pastel on Paper)

The Tsuga series… Here is the complete triptych. I intend the three to hang together as they appear here. Each piece is painted on 19″ x 24″ bristol vellum. “Tsuga” is the Japanese (and botanical) word for hemlock. I am fond of hemlock trees in general, but in winter —when I find dead and broken twigs, cones and needles imbedded in melting ice— I am always taken aback by the beauty of this conifer’s skeletal branches.

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Posted in "Ice" painting series, "Tsuga" Series, Work on Paper Also tagged , , , , , , |