Thursday, September 15, 2011

Discovering Delaware ... or Canvasing Delaware

Fallow Field in Delaware
     The countryside around Delaware constantly reminds me of Holland - flat, tranquil and rural. Good biking country. And it’s lovely in its sparseness - it gets all moody with various marshes and wildlife reserves. There are fabulous beaches showing off big dunes and miles of sand, but some of the inland vistas are breathtaking for their sheer simplicity. This is a very small state but somehow, and unlike Holland,  it seems to have a big sky. I guess it’s the flatness. I think of big sky in Africa or Montana or Nevada. Not the East Coast - and here’s little Delaware with a BIG sky. Delaware is also changing the way I paint - and I just love it when that happens! A “new” always gets the creative juices flowing like nothing else - the sheer excitement of discovery.
     During my life as a professional artist, there’s been nothing subtle about my use of colour - tons of crimson, strong yellows, orange etc. Hardly any blending… just wham! Straight out of the jar. Now I suddenly find myself blending and lathering on layers of whites, soft blues, sweet greens, olive greens - only adding just a touch of red here and there. It just sort of happened, I didn’t think about it. And, strangest of all, it feels so right. Just as strong colour seemed to work before, now soft light is in.
     No doubt I’ll go back to strong colours every so often - I’m from Africa, it’s in my soul. Just like whenever I dance to African music, I wiggle my butt and yell “Ehh-yeh!” Just like whenever I hear a penny-whistle, my whole body starts to vibrate.
     I’ve decided the first show I have here is going to be called, “Canvasing Delaware,” (with thanks to my old New Orleans friend, Patrick Burke - wordsmith supreme - for suggesting titles.) The paintings will chronicle my introduction to my new state. I am so enjoying thinking of which scenes to paint, or seeing a scene and thinking “Well, if I leave that out ..” or “just use that section…” I have always enjoyed painting vignettes more than the whole, so this dear wee State’s topography suits me well. I was looking at a field and remarked to Lee, “I’ll just use that bit, make it smaller perhaps,” and Lee, typically American, replied, “Anne, you can’t make Delaware any smaller.” Sometimes I think there’s a bit of Texas in them all!
     There’s a field near here that’s lying fallow right now and there are a couple of scraggly old trees on the side. The small space is so sparse, open and inviting, it tricks you in to thinking it is huge and you could get lost in it. This is the 12x24 study I did for it, and I’m not sure I will do this one bigger. In it’s case, I think the small, long canvas captures the spirit of the place.

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