Here's the present state of "Before the Storm". I've been working on the foreground and the irrigation ditch leading into the middle ground. The creative challenge has been to find a visual language and appropriate color palette to render the stray wheat growing in the foreground and the crumbling wall of the ditch. The wheat has full fuzzy heads of ripe grain, and the wall of the irrigation ditch has both soft soil and jagged protruding stones. Problem: lots of soft and hard edges at a time of the day, the gloam, when everything is dissolving.
I've tried to use direct and energetic brushwork to echo the mulberry tree foliage. This is done with several sizes of filbert brushes loaded with paint mixed with drying medium to a syrupy consistency. The medium I use allows the oils to set up quickly. Once the colors are almost dry to the touch, but still slightly tacky, I go back in with a large dry filbert and delicately "caress" the surface to unify the brushwork. This method avoids muddying the colors, marries the different surface areas, yet allows the basic energy of the original stokes to come through.
My palette relies heavily on the relationship between green and violet. It also takes into consideration the complimentary of violet, which is yellow. In the background a full pale yellow moon is rising in a cloudless softly muted purple sky. To keep things natural and at the same time capture the elegiac mood of the gloam, I've mixed a touch of burnt umber and cobat violet dark into almost all my color mixures. At this wonderful time of the day, which photos can rarely capture, objects take on an inner glow; I've focused on the stones tumbling out and into the deteriorating ditch, the wheat heads and the hands of the sitting Marine to communicate this evocative effect.
I hope everyone had a fun Fourth of July with kith and kin, burgers and buns, and plenty of fireworks. I saw where some folks in Santa Cruz, Kalifornia celebrated by burning American flags on the beach. Why? Just because they could. What could I possibly say that all of you haven't already thought about this yourselves? Nothing. I, like you can only shake my head. As I tell my daughter, democracy allows us to be as stupid as we want to be.
My gonzo documentarian friend Pat Dollard made it on to Fox's Hannity and Combes Wednesday night. He did a good job of holding his own, made some nice jabs a Michael Moore and looked strangely healthy.