Debra Darvickenhance your now in word and image
I took a non-traditional watercolor class this spring semester and loved it. Part of our first week’s assignment was to sketch something — fruit or vegetable — from 12 different perspectives. These sketches served as weekly warm-up exercises using a different technique or color experiment each time.
By the final class, I wanted to do something completely different. Why not use grey, black and white? And some leftover ultramarine to set off the color scheme. Somehow the color choices made the onion pop against the background, reminding of a lost planet that might have been called Allium.
I love it when Martin goes abstract with his camera. He captured this the morning after a late, and I mean late, spring snow. The trees were in bloom, the flowers were up. And down came the snow on the hood of this Corvette. The little seed casings froze and dropped. Not Nature’s most successful sequence of weather, but it did make for a great shot.
photo courtesy of Martin Darvick
I can find fault aplenty with this watercolor onion of mine, but that’s not where I am going today. I can spend way too much time in the land of fault-finding. I’m thrilled with how this came out.
In our first class, we were to draw an onion from 12 different perspectives. I hadn’t even peeled it and already felt a few tears welling up. How was I going to do this, and a dozen times no less? Then I remembered I was there to have fun, to learn new techniques, to play with color.
Each week, as a warm up exercise, we choose a different onion to paint. One week it’s monochrome, one week primary colors. The week of this onion it was tertiary colors, blending primaries (red, yellow, blue) with neighboring secondaries (orange, purple, and green). I loved swirling a bit of red into yellow, then a bit more and more until I had a red that barely tilted orange. Could I swirl red into blue for a blue-violet of similar intensity? To my eye, the outer onion skin needed to lean way toward yellow with just enough orange to resemble an onion and not a clementine.
Skewing the background on the diagonal was my anarchy for the day. The most fun? Patterning the blue-violet section. You’ll never guess how. With stencils and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. First, paint your watercolor. Let it dry and then tear off a small bit of the Magic Eraser. Wet the eraser and squeeze it until it’s barely damp. Place your stencil over the painted section you want to modify and lightly scrub the area. Carefully lift your stencil and there you are. Magic! I have a stash of the erasers but no stencils. Gotta change that.
Cranbrook. One word, six marvels. Formally known as the Cranbrook Educational Community, the CEC consists of a graduate Academy of Art, a contemporary Art Museum, an historic House and Gardens, a natural history museum and Pre-K through 12 independent college preparatory schools .In August 1989, Cranbrook became a National Historic Landmark, America’s highest designation for a place of outstanding historical significance. To walk these grounds is to experience the vision of apogee of human potential.
This week, I share with you Martin’s latest image from the gardens just behind Cranbrook House. If you live anywhere in Southeast Michigan and haven’t been here, what are you waiting for? If you live farther away, put it on your list. Let me know you’re visiting and I’ll come with you!
Photo courtesy of Martin Darvick
Light is so fleeting! Martin and I were walking along this path on Skidaway Island (Savannah) when the light shifted into a peridot-tinted glimmer. The wonder remains and, thanks to Martin, so does the scene.
photo courtesy of Martin Darvick
The original inspiration for this pachyderm painting was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oh, What a Beautiful Morning. I would paint the elephant and then collage corn as high as, well you know how high and curl a cornstalk in the elephant’s trunk. But once I had laid down my verson of the bright golden haze (way brighter than hazy), I set aside Curly’s song and went my own way. Bye bye, cornstalks; hello, spiky grass.
Don’t ask me what a hedghog has to do with an elephant but I liked the look of it peering up from its nest. Had the hedgie awakened to blares of trumpeting? Was the elephant frightened of this little creature—a seeming cross between a mouse and a thorn melon? Who was on whose terrain?
More pressing for me was what to place in the elephant’s trunk since I’d shucked the corn cob idea. Easy, a tree trunk. I had some bits and pieces stashed away and clipped a few shapes to use as palm leaves. Now, what about that upper left corner? Leave it blank? Add another incongruity? Why not?
This is the first piece where I’ve been able to say, reality shmeality. Do I care if that rectangle barely resembles a tree top? Or that it’s impossibly suspended in mid-air? No and no. My art, my reality. That’s the lesson of this little elephant collage. Oh, what a beautiful dawning.
Art courtesy of Debra Darvick.