All the recent images and footage of Vermont's rivers made me think a lot about the one I know the best, the White River. Here's a composite photo of the way it looked one winter morning when I was out for my usual walk; this is from the same bridge as in the first video a few days ago, right near our former house. I thought the black and white shapes of ice and water were especially beautiful, and have always been meaning to do an oil painting of this scene, sort of like this one, of an uphill scene a couple of miles away:
The trouble is, as beautiful as that river scene is -- the subtlety of the sky and island contrasted with the starkness of ice and dark water -- I'm no longer very interested in doing a realistic treatment of it. After thinking about potential landscapes for another semi-abstract relief print, I got out these photographs and began doing some exploratory drawings a couple of days ago.
Here's a first sketch, in pencil:
And here's one of several pen-and-ink studies:
That wasn't making it, but the ink drawings showed me what needed to be simplified and through them I could begin to see how the essential shapes related. I went home and thought about it last night, and today did the charcoal sketch below. I think it's a lot closer to where we're headed, but I don't know yet how I'm going to translate it into a print. I like the drawing though!
What an agonizing process, for an impatient person like me! But I'm starting to settle into it; this seems to be what's required! I appreciated Marly's thoughtful comment about how far certain types of art have moved from this sort of mind--and--handwork process, and how some artists are now moving back. Frankly, I think a lot of serious artists have always done a lot of preliminary work, and returned to certain subjects and motifs again and again.