When I exhibited on a regular basis I worked hard at producing new paintings and prints to exhibit and sell. It was seen as pushing it to attend an exhibition without new paintings, or new prints. It could actually jeopardize your chance of being invited back the following year. Art festivals, and the like, are held with the sole purpose of the organizers making money. After all, there are expenses involved, such as space rental and advertising, not all of which is covered by fees paid by the exhibiting artists. As a consequence artists are juried, accepted, into a show as much based upon the salability of their work as its quality.
I had little use for the so called limited edition print, or painting reproduction, viewing it as nothing much more than a calendar of questionable value. So, unlike many that I exhibited alongside I found myself working my butt off to produce original, salable work. Hand colored, open edition, etchings were my bread and butter. However, as few knew what an etching, or original print was, I found myself producing small watercolour paintings. Working this way, however, doesn’t satisfy the need to grow creatively, so from time to time I’d challenge myself with a large, complicated, original print or painting. A painting entitled, “Forest Floor”, was one such painting.
Late autumn is my favorite time of the year. The trees stand naked, and the forest floor is covered in fallen leaves. I’ve always been amazed regarding the complex eco system that turns the fallen leaves into compost, food for new growth, and one day while walking in the woods and looking down at my boots and the fallen leaves, I hit upon an idea for a painting. I prepared a full sheet of watercolour paper and drew an outline of my boots and began to paint. The boots were easy, but what came next took much longer than I thought that it would. You see, I’m a bit of a purest when it comes to watercolour refusing to use white or black pigments, and tend to paint in a painstaking dry brush method, or style. I’d foolishly thought that I could finish the painting in a couple of weeks. Instead, at the end of two weeks I had less than a third of the painting finished. Another exhibition was on the horizon so the forest floor painting had to be set aside. Long story short, as every leaf, or two, took almost a day to paint, it was almost two years going back and forth before the painting was framed and ready for exhibition.
“Forest Floor” was a great experiment, or exercise. While painting there was quite a lot of time for thought resulting in ideas for future paintings involving fallen leaves, as well as the odd poem about my favorite time of the year.
The leaves fall silently
To the forest floor
And swirl together
Like long lost friends
In the autumn of their time
Their colors linger
Long past prime
Comes the frost that withers
And they are buried
Beneath the softly falling snow
In the silence
They join together
On their final journey
Eastern Chipmunk Watercolour Painting
Black-capped Chickadee Graphite Drawing