We had another big storm, almost a blizzard. Everybody's pretty demoralized as they trudge along through the snow, wait at the bus stops, dig out their cars, or - as I did this yesterday morning - push through knee-deep drifts to try to open a door. The day before I fell flat on my tush on some black ice, but fortunately didn't hurt myself; other friends haven't been so lucky and are wearing casts at the moment. And we're all still shrouded in layers of down, fur, and wool, in the Montreal winter palette of black and grey, with no end at all in sight.
But on Sunday afternoon, incredibly, I'll be here:
We're heading for the sunshine of Mexico City, away from this ridiculousness for a while. I feel really lucky to be able to get away, although it's always a huge amount of work to clear the decks so that we can travel.
Yesterday afternoon, as a little reward after days of accounting and tax preparations and meeting various client and volunteer responsibilities, I spent some time cleaning and revamping my watercolor palette for the trip. These picture above shows the pigments I'll be taking; the palette contains just a couple of changes from before.
I understand so well why Gauguin went to the Caribbean and Tahiti, and Van Gogh to southern France: we just start to crave color, and the effect of brighter sunlight on just about everything. Today I did some color mixing tests, thinking about the brilliant colors of Mexico.The cool mixtures made with Cobalt blue look so northern to me, although that lapis color itelf is typical and necessary, whether we're talking about the Mediterranean, South America or North Africa. It's obvious to me that the determining factor in the tonal cast are the choices of which red and which blue to use, much more than the yellows. I took away one of the yellowish earth tones from my previous palette, and after seeing John Singer Sargeant's watercolors up close this past June, I've given myself permission to take a half-pan of white gouache.
Here's the complete kit, which weighs in at only 120 grams, all in a small ziplock bag. The blue thing at right is an eraser that can be used flat but also has a fairly sharp edge. Below the palette, which contains a small sable brush in a travel case, are my Japanese water-reservoir brush pen, a size 0.1 black technical pen, a warm brown Faber-Castell superfine-point permanent marker, a #2/HB Dixon Ticonderoga pencil (thanks, Marjorie!) and an opaque white gel pen, and it's all sitting on two squares of paper toweling, which I use constantly while painting to keep my brush clean and control the amount of water; that gets replaced when necessary. Today I'm going to look for the lightest, smallest pencil shapener I can find. I wanted the kit to be light because my sketchbook isn't, particularly.
I'm sure I'll have some time to sketch, but not sure about making real paintings - that may have to wait until we get back to the studio. It's hard for me to commit two or three hours in the middle of a day to doing a watercolor when there's so much we want to see and do, and frankly, I don't want to push myself - we both need to relax. My focus is going to be on seeing more Mexican art, both ancient and modern. Today, though, it's done me a lot of good just to immerse myself in color, and remember the glorious pinks and azures and golds of the stucco buildings, the deep greens of the palms, the violet of the jacaranda trees, and the faces of the people.
How much posting I do will depend on the quality of our internet connection, but please do check in from time to time. Hasta pronto!