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Bye Bye Birdie

Starting a water color painting is like beginning a relationship.

At first, little is familiar but for the simple attraction.

What follows is a portrayal in watercolor, of seeing, feeling, hearing, touching, imagining this bird over a period of shifting time. Some of what I draw is real; some is not. Over time as I work with this painting, my perspective changes, colors shift, the focus drifts, speculation occurs on what actually matters. Details that are not noticed, at first, suddenly matter. My imagination takes over for a while as I freely add my own personal perspectives on what I see or imagine about this bird and its location.

Eventually, tired of details, I am relaxed by the big picture and remember perspectives, one after the other, left and right, upside down, viewed through a larger kaleidoscope of ideas, shapes, colors.

Then comes the longer-lasting part, the part when we say goodbye. This painting may be given as a gift, or sold to an interested person, photographed and shared with a wider audience, or even put aside, leaving me wondering if there is something more that I should do with it, be with it.

Good friends of all kinds must eventually leave, move on, go to new places, change environments. Life is nothing but change. What remains are things remembered, lost thoughts regretted, happy memories jumping up and cheering from time to time.

A picture is truly a thousand words. And words are thousands of pictures.

Bye bye, birdie. It was real nice knowing you. I hope you like your new home.

And what changed?

I like painting from different perspectives, each one more abstract than the last.

These three are titled “Overhang”, watercolours by MJ Chamie

First, I draw or paint a scene in some detail, doing pencil sketches, or painting while working with values, shadow, color, choice of detail.  At some point, I stop.

Then I may do a second painting using pens or brushes and focus on the overarching theme, letting imagination do the rest.  

Finally, I shape these ideas into a single thought and paint something that is closer to a symbol, like a hieroglyphic.

This is my usual approach to art, and it feels like I am having a discussion with the painting while doing so.  If I ever come back to a place that I have painted, it feels so familiar and welcoming to be back.

In the examples below,  fascinated by the arches of trees over the walkways of South East Portland,  I walked through a place that I chose to paint.   At this location, it felt as though the trees were communicating, whispering, as they arched over the walkway.  

It is one thing to capture the detail, and another to capture the feeling.  

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Photo taken by MJChamie.

Dark overhang of trees in South East Portland, Watercolor by MJChamie.

This thought resulted in a Haiku poem and watercolor that I painted. It says,  “Silence abounds here. I feel its cover and stop. It whispers with me.”

Setting the tone and level of detail in any painting is part technique and part personal judgement. I like the struggle of figuring this out, while knowing it is clear that there is no exact right or wrong to this.

I like the drips and drabs that occur on the sides of paintings, before they are cleaned up and framed.  The side patterns suggest the artists’ level of enthusiasm.  They also show the timing of the oil’s placement on the canvas through the layers of paint left dripping over the sides.  For example, the artist may have done the paint mixing on the canvas itself using various brushes and strokes, rather than through mixing oils beforehand and placing the color on to the canvas.  These differences would be more clearly seen on the unfinished sides.

The sides of canvases may be more influenced by gravity rather than brush strokes and are essentially happy accidents of the artist, capriciously highlighting the color palette.  The drips and drabs of  along the sides may also complement that painting itself, acting as a frame.

Below is a mixed media painting on canvas on display at the New York Historical Society. When I saw this painting by Karen Schwartz, I stopped to appreciate her work, and then spent additional time looking at the sides, thinking about her wonderful approach to painting this picture of Eleanor Roosevelt.

I particularly like the way the dripping sides of the canvas have framed the oil painting and am glad that the artist did not cover it, or paint over these designs, but rather considered it part of the painting itself.

What do you think?

Source of painting: https://www.nyhistory.org

 

Manhattan, Central Park, New York City. 


Waters off the coast of the Abacos, Bahamas.


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Bridge over the Willamette River, Portland Oregon.

Wishing you all a very festive, joyous,
springtime, wherever you are.  

Springtime

Grasses yellow-green bright, leaves are just buds, blooms appear unexpectedly, and the result is spectacular. I react with raw emotion, reminded of happy times past, hopeful of things to come.

Life Change

Trivial moments spiral,

arriving nonsensically,

angst driven.

What is the catch, the trigger

turning sadness to joy and laughter?

Maybe a long, satisfying walk,

vigorous bike ride,

or a child speaking or a butterfly slipping by.

Nothing much, but awareness.

Poem and sketches by MChamie

Canopies of Glory

Branches arch streets and sidewalks,
offer shade from hot sun,
sigh in soft winds saying no relief to roots.
Time for cement to go, loose
dirt to tickle tree toes, share nutrients
and shade, softness, glory, shelter, quiet,
now shifts to autumn to show new glory.