Kelpies, if you’re not nerdy enough to know already, are mythical creatures in Celtic folk tales. They appear as white or black horses at the edge of rivers and ponds to lure unsuspecting folk into riding them (a genius move, really – I know there’s no way I’d turn down a free pony ride). Once their victim has touched them, however, their skin becomes viscous and the victim is stuck fast – they’re whisked into the deep to be either eaten, or – in some tales – married (yeah, I dunno about that one either. Probably a metaphor.)
As for my part in the tale – I enjoy painting pale, white, strangely elongated horses in shallow water. It’s just something I do.
The whole walk over to the duck pond, there was a massive, beautiful, about-to-turn-glorious-pink cloud bank floating above me in the East. It promised to be so lovely, I quickened my step in anticipation – unfortunately, by the time I got there, the clouds had settled themselves directly above me, covering up the sky entirely. Wouldn’t you know it? But as I started to rather sadly paint the grey sky in, a little cloud window opened up and gave me a taste of the sky. Very magnanimous of you, clouds. I still wish you had stayed put – it would have been such a lovely portrait – but I’ll take what I can get. Thank you, at least, for not raining on me. I’m sure you were tempted.
So after a few sessions of hurrying to catch the dawn before it broke, I decided try my hand at waiting to start my painting after the sun had crested the trees and morning was well under way. I wanted to capture the moment the light first hit the tree-tops in the distance and the hazy atmosphere of the morning – so I sat myself behind this clump of closeup trees so I would have something to contrast with. The surprise of the morning was the little unexpected rays of sunshine that came peeking through to illuminate my foreground – I had to paint them in quick before they moved away, but they really added an extra pop to my painting.
Some days there isn’t a cloud around when I walk out to the pond to paint, so I settle for trying to catch the general color of the morning – and this particular morning it was a nice muted rose. I do find that without the brilliant clouds to try and pin down, I tend to paint much slower – and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. I start thinking too much and not painting what’s in front of me so much as what I think is in front of me. I lose the spontaneity in my strokes. I know you’re supposed to take your time when you paint, but I’m seriously considering an egg timer – maybe the tick-tick-tick will remind me just to paint and not fuss over details.
This may well have been the last glorious cloud-filled sunrise of the summer for me – and too bad, too, because I finally found a proper place to view them. We have a nice duck pond 15 minutes walking from my house – it’s a big enough break in the trees to afford a good view of the sky, so I’ve been heading that way every morning to see what I can see. Of course, since the day I painted this, there’s been nary a cloud in the sky – save some whisps here and there that never seems to stay in one place. But, who knows, now that the sky holds no sway over my canvas, I might take to painting ducks. I just need to woo them, first.
There seems to be a fine line between overworked mess and unintelligibly loose mess in watercolor and I am ever tumbling over it. In any given painting session my first sketch will invariably be too closely painted, and my second will be too loosely painted – on the rare occasions of a third sketch, it will be almost abstract. So I guess watercolor isn’t so much about painting carefully and deliberately as seeing carefully and deliberately. I want my strokes to be carefree, but their placing to be precise. So, think ahead but don’t over-think once you’ve put brush to paper. Maybe? I’m still just a couple weeks into learning this stuff, so it may be early to be having epiphanies.