The beginning of this blog story starts August 10. Please refer back to Aug 10 for context.
When you spend some time in Writing On Stone you come to realize the Spirituality of the place. Many of the hidden rock art pictographs will reveal itself during certain lighting conditions. Raking light is useful in some instances, and ambient, cloudy days are great for viewing other panels of rock art as well.
When outdoor painters paint their canvases, lighting conditions are the most challenging to work with. What reveals beauty one minute, hides it the next. The same would go for this project of camouflage.
The best way I could come up with getting a solution for "fooling the eye", in all conditions, was to find the right value identity. Then worry about color. This proves to work for Sandstone painting as well. Just getting that value right on a porous surface was a struggle at best, and very time consuming.
I liken the process of value adjustments to sitting in traffic. I paint an area and wait for the light to turn green. Meaning the pigment goes on wet, waiting for it to dry to give me the signal. if I have succeeded in the right value and color match or not. More often than not, I was stuck in a long line of traffic. The light was red for a lot longer than it appeared green.
As an artist you know how important lighting conditions are. In the studio you can control the direction of light and type of light to work to your benefit. Even if you are outdoors you can position your easel to achieve the benefits of greater control over what you are about to paint. This project has none of those conditions to manipulate. Red Light Green Light.
Panels worked on (or not worked on) were entirely based on the movement of the sun. If at all possible, the value matching had to be done on panels that were in shade. This way you could better evaluate a local value/color. If you could match the value in the shade, it will match in the sun as well. I found it easier on the eyes to work on shaded panels whenever possible. I value my eyesight and prolonged staring at a strongly lit panel would do considerable harm to those valuable retinal receptors. As outdoor painters will contest. Starting on a white canvas/paper for this initial start is hard on the eyes. Working in direct sun is very detrimental to visual acuity.
Stepping up to the challenge of this project was met with many disappointments. Many of which come from working with Mother Nature and getting your ego pummeled. The challenge to think you can come up with a better solution. The challenge to communicate with the rock.
In the end, after so many trials and a lot of prayer (remember "a spiritual place") there was some success (at least temporarily). There was much elation as well. When a challenge is accepted, and actually succeeds, there is a great sense of elation.
I learn a lot from Mother Nature. Working alone with her along the trails and sandstone cliff walls. b There are whispers heard when you really listen. Working in early mornings to beat the excessive heat of the day, brought a new kind of sense of calm to the soul. Mother Nature was awakening. I could hear the deer munching on the grasses. Footsteps through the grass echos through the valley. Life as it meets the rest of the day. As the earth warms, the insects come alive. Buzzing at the foot of the cliff walls. When you are alone in a place you begin to hear life all around you. The buzz of the wings echo against the sandstone. So much so, you begin to realize they are communicating. It almost sounds like a group of people talking and I begin to listen closely to make out the words.Or I look over my shoulder to see if there are people drifting down the river. But no, it was just Nature doing its thing. When you have the time to stop, look, and listen you will find a joy in this "Spiritual" place. The joy that Nature expresses, if you only take the time to listen and as artists...to see.