Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fireweed Drawing 1

Fireweed 1, detail, mixed media on paper, 55½ x 36 inches  2014

Fireweed 1, detail, mixed media on paper, 55½ x 36 inches  2014
The fireweed, like the thistle, provides an interesting metaphor for the degradation of the environment. This plant prefers transformed and burnt habitats.  It declines as a forest ecosystem recovers its health. Fireweed seeds remain viable in the ground for many years, waiting for an opportunity when the ground has been opened up to light. The fireweed rapidly colonizes disturbed sites and is considered by some too aggressive to grow as an ornamental plant.

Fireweed 1, mixed media on paper, 55½ x 36 inches  2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Burning at 6 below or -21

Fireweed 1 in progress, graphite and burns on watercolor paper 55½ x 36 inches
The -21 C (6 below 0 F) temperature outdoors discouraged us from continuing the burn process yesterday.  I managed to keep a candle lit long enough to set fire to the paper is strategic places.  My assistant held the paper above the snow while I applied the candle flame.  We lasted through two half-hour stints outside in our driveway before abandoning the project for another day. The weather is supposed to warm up a bit in a couple of days, so I hope to finish this stage of the burning then. If I wait for spring, I could be waiting another 6 weeks!

The next phase of the work will go faster than the initial graphite drawing.  After burning around the edges and the remaining holes, I will apply ink washes around the plants and emphasize details in ink over the graphite.  Burned tree trunks and branches will be added in the background.

This morning I went back to my camera manual for instructions on setting the white balance. This is basic to photography, so you would think I would know how to do it on this camera! The automatic balance works fine for most things, just not pictures of white paper!  I am beginning to realize that the failings of this camera are really my own. It has its limitations, but so do I!