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Sparkling Water

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Sparkling Water

Last August I was invited to paint at a street fair in Racine Wisconsin. I hoped it would be cooler up there by the Lake. It wasn’t. Still, It was all very festive and I shared a tent with another artist who was busy sculpting and a nearby artist was busy firing pottery. He needn’t have bothered to bring his kiln in my opinion but there it is.

This is the painting I started that day. I began with a wash of pink, which you can see peeking through the green here and there. Once I’d painted in the general shape of the stream it was just a matter of indicating layers of greenery. The far shore I softened with a blue-grey wash. That made the foreground pop. A young girl came up and looked hungrily at what I was doing so I handed her the brush and instructed her where to add some green dabs for foliage. She did great, and looked so delighted that it made my day.

Since then the painting has been languishing in my studio, waiting. Finally, now, I believe it is finished.

The rivers around here are depressing to me. Sluggish with mud, choked with brush, not a boulder in sight. I know I shouldn’t judge, but… One day I was walking along the Des Plaines River Trail and came across this little spur. It has been engineered like this, given a meander and some nice big rocks to trip over. It doesn’t fit here, in Illinois, but I like it. It reminds me of home.

32 thoughts on “Sparkling Water

  1. So beautiful! Our creeks are the same here, muddy and stagnant. But just spent a week in WY where the rivers were glorious!

  2. It is so hard to be satisfied with home creeks when you know what is out there, isn’t it? I’m glad you got to spend a week in WY. It must have been wonderful..

  3. Nice! A nice sparkling scene to offset a gray day. The bend in the river, even if engineered, looks very lush and nice. I like the heron, too, it’s nice to see something with a wingspan that big. Sometimes when I’m walking in scrubby 2nd-growth woods, or some of the marshes, in the fall, when it’s a monocultural expanse of mud & dead stalks, of some invasive weed, I try very hard to see something interesting & redeeming, and just cannot. (Then I think about finding an army surplus flamethrower, but they’ve gotten surprisingly restrictive on stuff like that)

    1. Thank you!
      You tickle me, with your subversive thoughts of a flame thrower. I know just what you mean, and I confess I did a bit of editing for this painting. Thank goodness the herons don’t seem to mind the rip rap along the shore, held in place by wire mesh, or the thick stands of phragmites where more interesting natives could be growing instead.

  4. A charming cooperative effort!

  5. Thank you Gunta πŸ™‚ She was a sweet child, and by the gleam in her mother’s eye, I suspect art lessons are in her future.

  6. I like the reddish accents near the center of the painting. Even if you started the painting in August, the reds ended up being appropriate for the fall.

    I don’t know what’s with my perception this afternoon. I saw the heron’s right wing long before I resolved the rest of the heron.

    1. I do see a lot of reds pop out toward the end of August. I am delighted that the heron did not pop out immediately at you. That is just what I was hoping for πŸ™‚

    2. You’re not alone. The first two times I looked at the painting, the curved feathers of the right wing reminded me of the head feathers of a cockatoo. It wasn’t until I came back just now that the entire heron popped out at me. Now, the cockatoo has disappeared.

      1. Yes, a cockatoo, that’s what the end of the right wing reminded me of.

      2. A cockatoo! That’s fun.

  7. Very nice painting, Melissa. You are getting better and better!

    1. Thank you Eliza~you are so kind!

  8. Perfect surroundings for a heron. Love the reflections and the movement in the water.

    1. Thank you. I wrestled with the placement of the heron because you aren’t supposed to have a creature leaving the scene, as it were. However, that is where he wanted to be and I think it worked out alright with a few branches to anchor him. I’m so glad you like it!

      1. For each supposed-to, we could ask: who do you suppose came up with that? A portrait of a person is “supposed to” include the person’s face, but one famous portrait was taken from behind:

      2. Hmmm…..I hadn’t thought about the fact that the heron was leaving….it just seemed to be doing what it was supposed to be doing.

      3. Oh good πŸ™‚

      4. Well, it IS the way we see a lot of herons – leaving the scene. πŸ™‚ I think it captures that fleeting moment of disturbance that many of us are familiar with.

      5. LOL! You’re right, it is the way we usually see them. You made my day πŸ™‚

  9. Oh yes and there is something very evocative about a portrait that omits the face. I have a dear friend who is a steward at Grant Woods. She doesn’t like the camera so I’ve snuck in a few shots of her from behind…when she wasn’t looking πŸ™‚ I debate over whether to paint her like that, standing before one of her beloved bur oaks, perhaps. I think she would not forgive me but perhaps if I ask nicely….

  10. I had the opportunity just before Thanksgiving to be in the hill county, enjoying the streams and rivers there as well as all of the area’s other delights. I constantly fight water envy, even more than I fight beach envy, or dramatic scenery envy. Galveston Bay, as well as the bayous and rivers in my area are slow, muddy, and generally unattractive — except when they’re roiled up by a storm. Then, they’re fast, muddier, more unattractive, and dangerous..

    So, I understand your delight in and affection for this place. Despite my rather odd vision of the heron in the beginning, I think you’ve done well at capturing its liveliness and complexity. I especially like the movement of the water over the rocks, and the bits of spume that you’ve included. I think I even see a tiny whirlpool!

    1. When I put in the heron I was afraid that it would be too obvious and totally dominate the painting. I’m delighted to learn that in fact it is a bit cryptic.
      I would not have guessed that the waters in your area were unattractive. I’m sorry to hear that and I certainly do share your water envy, more than anything else.
      Incidentally I’m reading, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” by Egan. It is pretty difficult reading. I had no idea the Great Lakes were in such trouble, or that the trouble they are in threatens all of the water in the country. I feel this book should be required reading in HS but I was talking with someone yesterday and she assured me that the younger people get it. I hope so.

  11. Looks just like what I see in the northeast, especially the GBH. Love the story about the girl assisting you! Do you read Orion? You might find the anniversary issue interesting.

    1. Thanks for your comment Tom. Yes, that girl was sweet. I’m not familiar with Orion~I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for telling me about it.

      1. Orion’s site is orionmagazine.rg

  12. Wonderful water reflections! I love how the different shapes and colours in the painting work together. The reflections join the water and the foliage, and I get the sense that the heron is intruding somewhat on this couple with its animal ways and its sudden burst into flight. But the sense of intrusion is temporary… the curves of its wings and neck are in harmony with the curve of the river and the dead branches on the left (which are so annoying when photographing birds! :-D) give me the impression that the heron is just breaking away from the embrace of its environment.

    I know what you mean about disliking muddy rivers. No reflections! The river in Edmonton moves fast but it is a “meh” shade of beige (when not frozen). The river in Calgary was clear, shallow and had lots of charming rocks. The river here looks really cool now though. It forms these huge chunks of ice which stack together at weird angles. So wild! πŸ™‚

  13. Thank you Myriam! you caught me~the heron was from another place in another time and I just wanted to put him in there because his original spot was, as you so wonderfully put it, “meh”. I hoped I could get by with it if I tucked him in behind some dead branches πŸ™‚
    Ah, the rivers we have known… In Lake Michigan the chunks of ice do interesting things too and it is fun to watch as huge waves heave under them and move them about. So far we haven’t had enough cold for ice to form but I do see some frost out there this morning πŸ™

    1. I’ve seen YouTube videos of ice chunks on the Great Lakes. Even wilder than the ones here! Is winter late where you are? We had 3 super cold weeks the first 3 weeks of November, but after those, the temperature has been a bit above freezing most afternoons, which seems oddly warm, though pleasant.

      1. We had a few really cold days, probably about the same time you did, followed by weeks of very warm weather. We hit the 60’s! Now we are back pretty much to normal for December here, although almost no snow. That is probably bad news, but selfishly I’m glad.

  14. Love the warmth of the colors

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