and a sunset

river summer sunset

The same piece of river as the last two, this time at sunset. Al is correct that the long sloping bank makes for a dead spot in the picture, but I knew that when I looked at the photograph I was working from. I've done what I can to add texture and interest to the area, but really they are all experiments.

illustrated process

how a piece gets made

In a series of nine images, you can see the order I generally use to make a piece. This one has an average number of layers. The stitching in the second image shows how I sketch things in to make sure the top layers will fall correctly on the underneath layers.

In the second row, you can see the details sketched in with stitching, including the reflections in the river and the foliage on trees.

The third row shows the final details added to round out the picture.


contra luna

There is a phrase that delighted me when I learned it: contra-jour. If you have some French or other romance language, you recognize that as, basically, "against the day" and it means, in art at any rate, to sit looking towards the sun, and draw or paint (or photograph) what you see. If you think for a minute, you'll realize landscape painters and photographers generally do not do it that way. They position themselves at right angles to the illumination so the objects they are working on depicting have shadows that imply mass and form. Sometimes they look down-sun, and see everything illuminated in an interesting, flat way. Contra-jour means the sunlight is making you squint, and all the shadows are pointing directly at you, and things are oddly dark with very bright halos. There are moments when that is what you want, which is why there's a word for it.

This is sort of contra-jour, except my light is the setting moon, shining across the stretch of river north of Hadley. So I called it Contra Luna.

false color

river abstract 3 false color

I think part of what makes me so fond of this one is the utter absurdity of the colors involved, and yet the forms of the river are all present.

When I worked with satellite images, particularly Landsat imagery, we would composite three bands of an image together using different colors for display. That sounds like murblemurble, I'm sure. False color shows what the terrain would look like, if you used different eyes; ones that could see in infra-red, or ultra-violet, or x-rays.

Earth Observatory has a very nice explanation, with examples.


abstracting continues

river abstract 2

This is the second one I've finished. I feel now like I should go look up what it means to be abstract, but I'm not entirely sure it would help.

I'm pleased with the lines and colors in this one, and particularly pleased about the places where the lines that indicate fields interact with the lines that indicate terrain.

No sooner was the above finished than I started the next. When I asked the kids what color the river valley was, if the hills were blue-green, three voices all said purple. Alice originally specified a redder color than I eventually chose for the river itself, but the whole thing is making me happy in a goofy, giggly kind of way:

river abstract 3 process

another run at abstraction

abstract river 2 process

One easy way to make something more abstract is to change the color scheme (and then simplify)(at least, that's the way I understand the process).

I started thinking this would be brown fabric with blue stitching again, but that dusty purple just called out to me, so I stitched the river (from the back) using perle cotton through the bobbin. The colors in the edges of the river still have a speaking relationship with the real world. I think for the next one I might go whole-hog otherworldly. There are some colors sitting in my room that I don't get to use often enough in landscapes.

Or, I might have to incorporate those colors in more of the landscape work I'm doing.

moonless night


I just finished this one tonight – it is a great deal of black and navy blue, and silver thread. Those are real constellations, if you choose to stare at it for a while. The reflections were … trickier.

What I am realizing is that taking time off to think or gather chi or inspiration doesn't work for me. I gather inspiration from effort expended. Each piece I finish leads me to think about something different, or how to show something in a new way. Each thing leads to a next thing. A break is counterproductive. Which is a good thing to know about oneself.

August full moon

august full moon

I finished the moon and stars this morning, and then re-reading the poem Janet wrote I realized I had drawn from my memories of a night on an island looking at stars and the moon, and hadn't actually rendered the imagery that Janet had put in her poem.

So this is my moony night, and I started another, moonless night, after a second, closer reading.