Pitt River, looking West…

img_0087.jpgimg_0086.jpgimg_0085.jpg Lila and I gathered our outdoor painting stuff at 8am on a warm April day, piled them into her Ford Focus and drove to the end of Harris Road in Pitt Meadows. The road ended at the dike and we parked right next door to the barn in which Dry Sherry kept her beautiful Percheron/Andalusian, Paris. He was out in his paddock cruising around, munching hay, a splendid dappled, distressed grey -white monolith in motion. Because I was busy gawking at him I nearly ended walking my easel into the ditch. Lila meanwhile, being much better organized and less of a wool-gatherer, made an efficient job of carting her easel, large canvas, and carrying bag up onto the dike. I dragged my easel and set it up. Had to go back to the car to get my drawing board and paper pad as well as my bag with my drawing stuff. Once set up near each other we sussed out the place; looked about us to select an area to work with and from.

I had earlier in the morning determined that  in no way was I going to get precious or self-conscious about my materials or the imagery which would absorb my attention. I was in a rebellious mood. No museum quality paper, archival drawing medium, or picture-worthy, picturesque subject would distract me from the pure pleasure of looking, seeing, making marks, moving freely and playing.

So, the paper was plain old 18 by 24 newsprint. The tools, oil pastels. The challenge for me today with the subject was to take the least picturesque aspect of the landscape in front of me and to find the rhythm and unity of forms in front of me. It didn’t have to be an earth-shattering or mind-blowing image. So there was the spring growth of sedges near the river’s edge; shrubbery, low-lying near the shore, denser and taller, more vigorous further from the river, and in the distance a massing of vegetation, then the sky. The log-booms snugged along the river provided a warm contrast against the sky-reflecting blue of the water.

I windmilled my arms to get the blood flowing, did some knee bends and lunges and then selected the pastels colours and began the drawing dance. And kept drawing until the study reached the above stage. Lila may as well have been on the moon, for aside from hearing her brush scratching and swishing on her canvas somewhere to my right, her presence didn’t infringe on my concentration.

We spent the whole morning, working in silence, absorbed as the sun rose to the zenith and we began to tire. Lila worked on an ambitious 22 by 30 inch oil of the mountains and river and had a strong start with which to work later in her studio. I made the three oil pastel studies and felt satisfied with having met the goal I set for myself.

As my vision has failed me now, to the point that I no longer can make such distinctions visually as in these three-year-ago drawings, I like having these rather flimsy pieces of paper up on the walls of my studio. As I come and go from the house the drawings are an aide memoire. Now when walking along the dike this is not how I see what is there. It has changed so profoundly that patterns have lost their crispness, shapes have lost their clarity and tones and colours have become of paramount importance. Now, I realize that already, three years ago my vision was starting to change from the almost painful acuteness and clarity I have been gifted with throughout my first fifty years of life. These drawings represent a change, though not necessarily for the worse. A change toward some different ways of seeing, maybe a different way of being.

10 Responses to “Pitt River, looking West…”


    These are beautiful drawings.As always, you are very clear on your motives and goals before and as you work. They are fresh and lively. They have a van Gogh directness to them. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Vanni B Says:

    Happy to see your artwork…and another side of you.

  3. Nita Says:

    You must have had a beautiful day. Sounds like the best fun ever! And you haven’t let your problems with your eyesight stop you from going out there and doing it. Lovely drawings.

  4. Deborah Barlow Says:

    G, these exude a deep tenderness for nature that I can feel. Thank you for sharing these images.

  5. tysdaddy Says:

    Beautiful. Both the art and the words. It’s always a pleasure . . .


  6. mariacristina Says:

    As always, I’m amazed at the breadth of your vocabulary. As your vision was precise, so have your words evolved.

    Your drawings contain lots of movement and energy, just as you described your process of drawing. I smiled at the image of you doing knee bends and stretching your arms, losening up for the big dance.

    I felt like I was there with you on the spring day by the river.

  7. ybonesy Says:

    What a wonderful thing to do! The outcome — these drawings — are alive with movement. I love their looseness. The color. The shapes. Glad you published them and the narrative of your experience.

  8. suburbanlife Says:

    Looking for beauty – thanks for your comment. I know you feel that seeing and drawing is so special a thing to be able to do. G

    Vanni – thanks for visiting and comenting. G

    Nita – it is so wonderful to see what is special in one’s own surroundings. The lushness of growth here is amazing. G

    Deborah – the world is a strange and wonderful place, amazing for its diversity and true oddness. Even the commonplace can be so exotic. G

    Tysdaddy – thanks for the kind comment. G

    Christine – drawing is one of the ways to connect internal energy with phenomena perceived – different times, situations, different energy – but the activity is so close to meditation. Thanks for your kind comment. G

    ybonesy – by God – a set of student grade oil pastels can come in handy. I have always had difficulty in relaxing into drawing when using expensive materials – the rarity and cost of some stuff frightens me into stiffness. But give me newsprint, even with type on it, and i fly, fly , fly in abandoned drawing. Must think on what this means. Thanks for your comment. G

  9. onemoreoption Says:

    Lovely landscapes.

  10. Collecting, Recording, Interpreting, & Sharing The Last Sensual And Sensuous Things We May See, Hear, Touch, & Feel - And A Request For Assistance For A Friend « Sexuality in the Arts Says:

    […] https://suburbanlife.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/pitt-river-looking-west/ […]

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