Over the last several weeks I have devoted my time to a smaller area of the Chattahoochee/Big Creek Estuary that I call the marsh. It’s right at the corner of Willeo and Azalea Roads. I worked on a large 20 x 20″ canvas to start with a view northeast and the sun rising, I call this Dawn. I didn’t want the high contrast of the morning light so I’ve been working mid-morning and the light is rather flat but picks up the water as it goes back in steps perhaps a mile or so. A beautiful spot with marsh grasses in various states of growth from very green to a bleached out orange. There are several dead trees that decorate the area too. The Canadian Geese love this spot, so you’ll hear them the whole time you are there pronouncing their territory loudly to anyone who intrudes. This is the only area on this part of the river that has cattails and they have an interest to me.
I decided to paint a companion piece to Dawn the same size but later in the day. Of course, I call this piece Dusk and it’s the same size. I started a few weekends ago looking for the right spot and ended about 50 yards north of the Dawn painting. I used a goose in each and the dusk version features later light and the bird standing one leg with its head tucked in. It’s a very strong design element and I tried to place it so the direction would point back into the painting. I put another pass on this painting this weekend and have a bit more too but it’s pretty much set. I’m now shopping for frames that will look good with the thought that these paintings will hang on either side of a bed. I’m also considering making prints of these two paintings, there might be some interest in this bedroom art concept.
While in pursuit of the Dusk painting I used an upright element to the left of the painting. I thought that this might be a good spot for a cattail so I did a few smaller studies of a group I found off the running path on the other side of the marsh. It was a rainy day Saturday and I started both views—one indirect (gray) light and the other backlit by the afternoon sky. I got the first done and was rained on —I never have too much problem in the rain but my finished 9 x 12″ was so pelted with rain that it moved the paint around—so pretty much a wash! The second painting was going alright but I felt was getting a bit thick and the light was flat so I took a break. I reset up the other view, scraped it down, and repainted it with much better results. Then I did the same on the other with a stronger but still cloudy sun setting.
Sunday I returned to finish off Dusk with the thought of using the cattail painting to help me paint the section I intended to use them in. Well—long story short I ended up just using the tall weeds that were there—thinking that the cattails would take away from the bird too much. I spent most of the day there, working on the mud in the foreground —lots of darks, as most of it is in shadow in my version. I wanted to spend that hour or so at the end of the day sharpening up the lights but I had several hours to wait until sundown so I decided to do a small 11 x 14″ of Willeo Road as it trails up toward the Chattahoochee Nature Center. I noticed how nice it was while working the first weekend here. So I set up right on the roadside and worked on this view—which quickly turned to sunset. I took a break for about an hour to finish Dusk and then spent about another hour putting some final touches on the road view.
Next weekend I’m going to work on an 18 x 36 canvas and see if I can get those banded colors of water and marsh that you can see from this vantage. I’m sure Spring will be the next big thing and I’m ready for it, but it’s been a wonderful winter painting here and I can say for the first time I’ll miss it’s light and subtle colors.