Sunday, January 22, 2012

Last Thursday's SCVWS Plein Air

 "Mystical Waters"
Rosicrucian Museum, San Jose, CA
13" x 19" watermedia

The weather predictions were not good -- rain by noon or shortly after. About ten of us hardy souls decided to brave the elements, art as an Extreme Sport. If you look closely at Sylvia who grew up in cool and wet England, you will see that she is wearing her long wool coat and hand-knit cap.  Fortunately, the rain held off til almost 1 pm as we arrived at the Triton Museum to view their exhibition.

The Museum has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the Western United States and has beautiful buildings and grounds. They are truly much more picturesque during the warmer parts of the year. Though the scene looks very peaceful, we were surrounded most of the time by about 200 schoolchildren. This is a popular destination for educational groups. They were running, yelling, laughing, and watching - being kids and having lots of fun. Some were in town from Sacramento on an overnight visit.

 I decided to do a fairly large and ambitious piece of the side of the museum where there is a lovely courtyard and fountain. What was I thinking?! (Well, needing more pieces for my Forum show came to mind.) I soon had to discard my new warm gloves with the lower fingers cropped because they were shedding bits of yarn onto the painting. After about an hour and a half, I was so chilled that I packed up my things and walked to Starbucks to buy hot coffee and a sandwich, having forgotten my picnic lunch. We munched and chatted next to the museum and admired the nice work everyone did. Others chose to do smaller sketches and they were lovely. My piece was half completed.

Thursday night I met with my South Side Art Club members and continued to work on this piece. I still had about an hour's worth of work to do today to bring this to completion. I hadn't planned well for the water flowing from various parts of the fountain, and considered just lifting some paint. I discarded that notion and grabbed some gesso to add those details. Thus my watercolor piece became a watermedia piece.

What attracted me to this view? The architecture of the white building, and the repetition of shapes, especially the Ankh on the building mirrored in the woman on top of the fountain. I like the layers of the building and the way the shapes overlap. I was woefully ignorant about the ankh, so I looked it up. The ankh is also known as the key of life, the key of the Nile, or crux ansata and was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read "eternal life." (Wikipedia) I was pleased that I managed to  bring out the layers of the  building while continuing to have it read as off-white.

Next we headed to the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, a few miles away. They were displaying their 2011 Statewide Painting Competition/Exhibition that includes all mediums. A half a dozen of our members had pieces selected and Nina Uppaluru in my critique group received an honorable mention. Do check out her beautiful art.

SCVWS plein air blog will soon have post for this outing.


CrimsonLeaves said...

You handled this beautifully, Mary! I especially like the linear aspects of the building itself and the way you've handled the white. Too, the woman atop the fountain mimicking the ankh atop the building is so cool! I love it!

janice said...

Nice work under very trying conditions, Mary. You really did capture the planes of the building surface, yet maintained the white color-always a challenge. I won't be going back to my incomplete piece and finishing it, I'm afraid. The Rosicrucian is a wonderful place to paint, though, and I look forward to our returning when the weather is more cooperative. And maybe catching a day when there's no school field trip going on!

hw (hallie) farber said...

You're right--this piece is so peaceful, you'd never know there were lots of kids running around. I've always loved the straight lines and curves of the Ankh. A beautiful painting.