On a remote corner of the north unit trail at Illinois Beach State Park, there grows an umbel similar to cow parsnip. It isn’t that, but I can’t seem to recall the correct name. For my purposes here, it doesn’t matter. Toward the end of summer it turns a gorgeous rosy pink, set nicely against clumps of a lighter pink flower which could be campion. I can’t remember that one, either. Oh well. I like how several of our native flowers go pink toward the end of their season. It can get pretty hot and uncomfortable, walking that trail in August, so it was quite a reward the last time I did that and came across these two plants growing in such abundance. The rich colors just stopped me in my tracks.
Last week, while I was at my easel working on this painting, a flash of yellow out my window caught my eye. It was a goldfinch, working his way through my native plant garden, harvesting seeds for his lunch. Entranced, I watched him for several minutes. At one point he perched on a slim stem and reached up to eat the seeds from an allium. (OK~not everything in there is native…) Oh, I thought~he could be doing the same thing in my painting! I tried him in a couple of different poses until I found the one I liked. I’m really happy with how this painting turned out. I love how the colors play together. It wasn’t always thus~at first, my background was way too light and looked kinda phony. Then it swung the other way, too dark. Some judicious color washes later, pushing and pulling the values, I got where I wanted to go. I am sure there are artists who could get their values correct right out of the gate, but that isn’t me. I need to struggle a bit, it seems, with every painting. How dull it would be, I think, without the struggle.
“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment. ” ~Monet