August 31, Yellow

I’ve been working on the fourth illustration in my 12 part series - Seasons of the Cypress. It represents March, featuring an Eastern Screech Owl, Wooly Pipe Vine and Pipe Vine Butterfly.

Getting started was the hardest part. I like to have entire days so that time is never on my mind, allowing the piece to set the pace. With so many projects going on I finally just made a tunnel of time - the thought of Moses parting the Red Sea came to mind. So my first big challenge after that was finding sources for all the earth colors I needed. Yellow is what was missing. This is a good time of year to find yellow flowers but I wasn’t sure if any of them would have the coloring power I needed. I really haven’t sampled enough in the late summer. Off I go to the meadow!

meadow samples - patridge pea, golden rod, meadow beauty, jewel weed  

meadow samples - patridge pea, golden rod, meadow beauty, jewel weed

 

My truck is an excellent studio in the field.

My truck is an excellent studio in the field.

I tried all the flowers I could see with disappointing results. I finally thought to try the humble bitterweed growing out of the gravel road. It's a plant I truly take for granted and look past most of the time.

The second I pushed it into the paper I knew it was the one. I picked a large bouquet, really "seeing" it for the first time.  I admired the chevron edges of the petals with their bold color against the delicate, feathery leaves.

blocking in the composition on attempt #1

blocking in the composition on attempt #1

Challenge #2 has been the composition itself. After spending a day with a set of stencils and committing to a design, I know that it is not working. To heavy and without flow. I decided I needed a more white in the design and a different shape and posture for the butterfly. I spent a lovely morning researching, sketching and getting a glimpse of the beautiful order in nature.

"Pipevine swallowtail flying" stencil drying in the afternoon sun

"Pipevine swallowtail flying" stencil drying in the afternoon sun

sketch for stencil #2

sketch for stencil #2

stencil and earth color trials

stencil and earth color trials

stenciled sketch using burned grass and Red Hill dirt

stenciled sketch using burned grass and Red Hill dirt

Illustration #2 went together in a way that felt right - in other words, the design itself told me what to do, so to speak. I put down the reigns and just tried to keep up.

first statements of Illustration #2 with poke leaves, burned grass and Red Hill dirt

first statements of Illustration #2 with poke leaves, burned grass and Red Hill dirt


#2 almost finished

#2 almost finished

Challenge #3 is on going. I feel it is not quite finished and think I know what to do but haven't had the time to create the space I need to play ideas. Today is the day!

Wooly Pipe vine growing along the Yalobusha River

Wooly Pipe vine growing along the Yalobusha River