A difficult Challenge Part 1 and 2
A difficult Challenge Part 1
When the theme for this year’s challenge was announced of Landscape followed by Sea-scape I was very excited. I love landscapes! All those trees, fields, rocks, trees, hills, rocks… OK I live in Ontario just at the edge of the Canadian shield (mountains so old that they are worn down by a glacier to rocky hills lakes and trees) some areas can barely support sheep but I love the look. Not as majestic as mountains or as vast as the prairies but it feels like home. Grate first challenge was easy.
I started thinking about challenge #2, water that has proved to be more problematic.
I went to PEI when I was very young, I think I was 2 or maybe 3? I remember huge tall red sandstone cliffs that towered above my head quite clearly (they are really less than six feet tall). The Giant Adirondack chair I was trapped in and could not get out of! (I have no idea why I did not clime under the armrest I was small enough to fit through there and escape!) I remember being awoken to see the northern lights, but I don’t remember the northern lights. I am also missing any image of the ocean (Water has always been a bit Traumatic, or maybe Horrific is a better description).
So my first musing over the image of ocean turned out not to be ocean but a river bifurcating over a cliff and falling off the image and into the sea. The format was very small so I could use it as name tag or broach or really tiny landscape.
First draft of sea-scape, the sea is what the river is cascading off the picture into…..ok so that sea is the part you cannot see. Hummm.. This may be a bit more problematic than I first thot.
I realized this is like PEI all over again, my mind doesn’t want to look at the ocean it wants to see the safety of the land. Well that’s interesting but really I have to turn around and look at all that unpleasant wetness or I am going to flunk this assignment.
I tried my usual creative approach which involves a lot of photo reference gathering. What quality of water do I want to investigate? How do I approach something I don’t really feel comfortable looking at?
Can I approach it by colour? The Prussian blues of the arctic water did appeal but it was more the river running into Baffin Bay or the tiny lake behind Iqaluit rather than the Hudson straits which I had flown over and had held a lot of pan ice.
I looked lots of images of beaches, I like beaches but only with the shallow parts of the water. I didn’t really find an image that jumped out at me. So I broadened the search. Let’s add some weather, OK storm ocean and beach into google image search…creepy! Oh well I cheer for Vampires (yeah!! non Garlic eaters!!) Defiantly more dramatic, but still having trouble finding an image that will work.
Horrific waves 4-6
Wild life! I like things that are able to move faster than a geologic time scale! Polar bears (yes l like those), narwhals (interesting horn but not as appealing at the moment), orca… they do make a big splash… ok better from a distance but has potential.
2 Poler bares and a Narwhal
I noticed most of the images that drew me were looking from the ocean back to the land. If only water was dryer and warmer!!! And maybe more solid.
My other option is to use the fiber I had collected for the project generally and see where that leads me. I have thrums, silk waste in silver and teal, many shades of various types of wool; blues greens rusts yellows ambers purples, handspun yarn, and the rest of the fiber stash to search. If I approach it from colour and texture I may be able to get in the water. (Really it can take me a long time to actually get into the water, I’m on the second page and all I have managed so far is a bit of cost line). This is a very stressful challenge!
Looking at my stash did not lead to any epiphany so back to the internet in hope of tripping over an image that would work.
Sunrise and sunset
I found a few more that looked like they were possibilities so I added them to the file. I waited a bit then chose a few to consider further. I finally came to the realization that no matter how dramatic the pictures with waves and storms were I just hated to look at them. witch would make creating a reasonable representation of them very difficult. The pieces with calm water and something that distracts from the ocean were much less stressful to look at.
A difficult Challenge Part 2
I narrowed it down to a bit of ocean hidden behind a walrus and an arctic seen with muskox. I consulted with Elizabeth, who insisted that the original muskox looked like a fat squirrel (it was a view from behind but I didn’t think it looked that much like a squirrel). So I looked back through my reference for a front or side facing muskox. When threatened, muskox join ranks with any young in the center of a circle, the adults position their horns towards the threat. So I chose the front facing one replacing the butt view.
I used a sharpie to block in the background leaving an area for the muskox to be inserted.
I started as you would in a pastel or water colour; working from the background (sky) towards the foreground. Starting with the sky then adding ocean.
Finally blocking in the land. I added wisps of colour overlaying the base layer to add a bit more depth.
The original muskox (described as a squirrel)
Options to replace the original – I liked the vertical aspect of the one on the left
I pulled up the alternate muskox on the computer and lay in the general shape in dark brown, adding the lighter areas of feet and horns. Finally the nose was added.
I think it will need a bit more detailing but it’s almost done. I looked again this morning and didn’t like the way the horns were sitting, so puttered with them too. I did a bit more overlays of colour and added a bit of vegetation for the muskox to snack on too. I will likely reassess again but I am happy at the moment.
It is good to push yourself with challenges, I will try oceans again but I don’t think I am destined to be a famous boat in harbor or storm at sea painter not unless the boat is hiding most of the water or the storm is so far out to sea you can’t see it! I will hopefully take a shorter time to get into the next challenge.
9 thoughts on “A difficult Challenge Part 1 and 2”
Your aversion to the ocean has allowed you to create a different focus point, the muskox.
Yes i was going to hide most of the ocean behind a walrus if this didn’t work!
What a challenge this was for you Jan. It is hard to create artwork of something that you really don’t enjoy. Glad you worked through it and found a happy solution. The result is great.
thank you! i really fought with this one. but sometimes it is good for you to really work at an idea. it took the hole quarter and it definitely was fighting back!
What a fascinating read Jan. You faced the challenge and won through. Your muskox by the sea is lovely and the colours you placed him against are subtle and pretty.
thank you i was impressed with the subtlety of the landscapes on Baffin island. i went up quite a few years ago to visit my brother while he was running the geological servay office there. it was a wonderful trip but watch out for those arctic musketos!! i wish i could have also seen Elsmear where most of the muskox are. another thing to do if i ever win the lottery!!
It turned out great Jan. I am glad you persevered.
you did see the frustration and wrestling i did trying to find a way to approach this! i was vary impressed with your beach seen carefully protecting you from the impending wetness!
Congratulations Jan on both your fabulous finished piece and for pushing yourself to the other side of something you would normally run away from – your achievement is all the greater for doing so. Also for sharing your difficult journey with us.