topiary cats

topiary cats

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Know When to Jump Ship

Yesterday I went to Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to paint, and it was a cold but lovely time.

While on the train over ***** I thought I might paint in the Japanese garden, specifically the little Shinto shrine which is there.

And that's where I set up my gear.
It is a small space, not much room around the shrine, but it is so! adorable! and I thought if I do my composition correctly I could put the shrine in the landscape.  Even though I was way too close up.

I tried to make it work, three times. I really was just way too close and there was no way to back up.
The third attempt was a halfway decent start on the shrine, but it was turning into a very involved architectural painting and I wasn't enjoying it because I really wanted to paint landscape.

I had been looking forward to this trip all week, I was so happy to be there, and there was just no way I was going to ruin my painting day by painting something I wasn't enjoying.

It is important to know when jumping ship is the only good solution.

So I stopped and pondered.
I had my gear set up and I liked the location, so I didn't want to move to a different spot.

There was some nice landscape with pretty colors just behind the shrine and I liked that, so I moved my tripod to the other side of the little clearing and started over.  One of the nice things about using sanded paper is that it takes a lot of abuse. It is expensive so I refuse to waste it, and it was no problem just working over my three previous starts.

The block-in stage of this painting was really super-ugly- seriously ugly- and of course that's when people came over to look! When this happens I tell myself several things, over and over.  And over.

I tell myself that I can make it work, I will make it work, it will turn out well. I can do it. I also tell myself not to rush. You just can't be in a hurry to get through the ugly stage, as uncomfortable as it is.
A prayer for help here and there is helpful too.

There are several things I felt went really well with this painting.
The clouds- I have a bad habit of making all my cloud edges too soft, and I didn't do that today.  I used five shades of blue (and a purple) in the sky, and I found that small subtle accents of the middle-darker blue around some of the cloud edges made them stand out more.

The trees I did very last.  There are some distant trees behind the dark foreground trees, and I painted from back to forward.  The very distant foliage shapes went better than expected, and so much of it (as well as the clouds) was a back-and-forth between subject color and sky color.

8x10 pastel on Richeson sanded paper (the dark gray one, my fave!!)

I WAS SO COLD by the end of this painting, it was 35 degrees and I had been standing still for almost three hours. This is very apparent on the right side in the foreground trees......

My Belly River box is back to work!

my view behind the shrine

my original location

Apparently the 5 train doesn't go to Eastern Parkway anymore which I find baffling.
I discovered this when the train went way past where it should go, but the 2 and 3 share the same stops so I just switched trains and went back a few stops.

Here are some pictures from around BBG.


  1. Ohhh I'd hate it that people come and look at your work in progress, haha, that'd bug me so much, knowing that they don't get the see the good stuff.

  2. I bet you were cold standing there so long. Brrrrrr Makes me cold thinking about it. I like your painting. Clouds are difficult to me. I like the trees. Thanks so much for the photo tour of the garden. It is a very nice garden. I love bonsai. I would enjoy a stroll through the bonsai display.

  3. I think that is awesome that you figured out a way to work around not being able to paint what you wanted.. I like how your clouds turned out, very pretty... you are highly creative xox

    Thank you for your comment, I always appreciate you taking your time leaving me thoughtful ones... I went to publish yours and accidentally deleted it... I ended up copy and pasting it published it under my name writing that it was from you.. lol... :)


Thanks for stopping by!