Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting for the rain

It's not really spring any more - but to me it's not quite summer until it rains. And not the miserable attempts at rain we've been having on and off for the last few weeks: a few grumbles of thunder, a few drops, and nothing more. I want proper rain. To demonstrate what I mean by proper rain - and by way of encouragement, since my rain dances haven't been working - I thought I'd post some photos from a couple of years ago, in our old house, when our garden flooded.

You know it's real rain when you're worried about your fish escaping.

I simply had to make paper boats.

My lovely Katala, who is fascinated by water of all kinds.

So here's to rain, the kind with more than 27 drops. It had better come soon, because I'm feeling dry, dusty and irritable.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cymbidium hybrid

This orchid gave me an inordinate amount of trouble to paint. The pencil drawing was easy. I ignored everything you're supposed to do and put the focal point directly, exactly in the middle of the picture, and cackled with glee. I was very happy with the drawing. Then I went away for a week on an archaeological dig (pictures forthcoming one day when the findings are published), and when I came back I had to start painting.

First I stared at it for a couple of days, afraid to mess up my beautiful pencil drawing. Then my cat saved me by planting a couple of muddy paw prints on it. It couldn't possibly get worse, so I got going. I painted and painted, but I never reached that meditative zone you find yourself in when things are going well. By the time I was about halfway through, all the flowers got pollinated and promptly died, the culprit being a slug that had stowed away on the plant when it was brought indoors. So I worked partly from bad printouts of bad photos I'd taken of the flowers before going away, and mostly from memory.

I consoled myself with something C. S. Lewis wrote (just don't ask me where; I think he was talking about certain kinds of Biblical textual criticism) that one can labour over a piece of writing, and the end result can appear spontaneous (or vice versa). I told myself that being in a bad state of mind while painting doesn't necessarily mean that the painting will be bad.

I'm not sure about that any more, though. Eventually I finished the picture and thought it wasn't so bad. Then I took it in to the exhibition I painted it for, and it just didn't measure up to the other entries, even to my own second entry that I hadn't sweated over nearly as much. So maybe feeling good while painting does matter after all. Next time I don't feel like working on a painting, I'll use this experience as an excuse to procrastinate... just a little.

I like the last view - leaves with dead and/or eaten bits are so much more fun than perfect ones.