Thursday, October 12, 2006

Saturday 16th September: A visit to an art store and Walden Pond

Late Friday afternoon I drove back from Cape Cod to my cousin's and it rained all the way. By the time I got back I was so tired from the work done at the workshop coupled with the drive that I decided to abandon my original plan of going to New York for the Pastel Society exhibition on the Saturday. This also meant I did not have to get up at the crack of dawn and sit on trains for a long time in order to get there and back and have more than a couple of hours in New York! In any case Saturday morning brought a brilliant sunny day and it was far too nice to be inside for too long.

I spent breakfast time and early morning eyeing up the trees at the rear of my cousin's house with a sketchbook and a camera and trying to work out how to sketch/draw/paint them - but didn't get very far.

I also wanted to visit :
Walden Pond is credited with being one of the birthplaces of environmentalism and the conservation movement. It's is a good example of a kettle hole and was formed by retreating glaciers 10,000-12,000 years ago. Henry David Thoreau made the pond famous by living by the side of it for a year and writing his book "Walden" about the experience. The area is now managed by the commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Walden Woods Project was set up to avoid the area round the pond from being developed.

The Charette art store is great and has a very comprehensive range of fine art and graphic art products. This was the first time I'd been in art store in America on my own and I took full advantage of the opportunity for a very leisurely mooch round. I now know what lots of things are that people refer to and which we can't get at home in the UK like Gator board (and I want some!) I am still knocked for six every time I go into an American art supply store as they are just so much better than the ones at home. Thanks to Cindy Brunk for the suggestion that I try Charettes. Details of how to get to the store are in the hyperlink.

I was able to test drive and purchase the StudioPak from ArtBin which takes all my boxes of Unison Pastels perfectly - and a few other essentials. (I can't find it in the Charette catalogue so the link is from Dick Blicks).

I was then able to test drive it in the field a little later when I trecked round the edge of Walden Pond to find a point to try a pastel painting from. I carried my very well travelled folding chair; a sheet of foam core with some full sheets of Sennelier Pastel Carte; the new Artbin Studio pak with all the pastels in and my normal backpack which was stripped down to bare essentials. I think that once I get used to the Studio Pak I'll be able to operate with just that - but I was still finding out how much I could get in it. Moving up and down slopes on paths which weren't terribly well formed was somewhat hair-raising for somebody with feet as dreadful as mine! The major issue which arose from the Walden Pond expedition though was the number of bites I collected. I really should have known better given that i was sitting in woods near to water. I had several very large lumps for days afterwards!

The pastel was not great - in fact it's pretty awful, is still very much a WIP and will either need a lot more work or will have to be redone. However, I was fortunate to have three people who sat right in front of me - or rather they sat first and then I realised they had the only decent view through the trees and I needed to sit there too. So I sat behind them - and sketched their shapes as I knew they'd disappear in 5 minutes. The sketch is open on my backpack for reference while I worked on the larger work.

Watching Walden Pond - a work in progress
19.5" x 25.5", Pastel
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Walden is blue at one time and green at another, even from the same point of view. Lying between the earth and the heavens, it partakes of the color of both. Viewed from a hilltop it reflects the color of the sky; but near at hand it is of a yellowish tint next the shore where you can see the sand, then a light green, which gradually deepens to a uniform dark green in the body of the pond. In some lights, viewed even from a hilltop, it is of a vivid green next the shore. Some have referred this to the reflection of the verdure; but it is equally green there against the railroad sandbank, and in the spring, before the leaves are expanded, and it may be simply the result of the prevailing blue mixed with the yellow of the sand. Such is the color of its iris. (Henry David Thoreau - "Walden")
[Note: Whoops - had to republish as I got the date wrong. Only first I noticed the month was wrong - and it took another hour before I noticed the day was wrong too!]

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