I have been thinking about Paul Cézanne and his approach to art (Hajo Düchting, Cézanne, Nature into Art Taschen, 1999). Perhaps I am wrong, but I picture him wandering about Provence looking, not only at the vistas, but also at smaller objects of nature. He said, “This region is full of undiscovered treasures. There has been no one to date worthy of the riches that lie slumbering here.” (Ibid. pg 11) The author tells us that Cézanne was focused on “the unchanging fundamental structures of nature” in his explanation of the lack of paintings concentrating on different ‘beauty spots’ in different seasons or atmospheric conditions. I picture him looking at leaves, among other things.
I don’t wander about much. Even if I did, I can’t imagine my town having ‘undiscovered riches’ of any kind. I live in a suburban area, so I am not even in awe of manmade cityscapes. So I paint leaves.
Lately I have been painting leaf after leaf. I’ve painted fig leaves (Fall Fig Leaves, Fallen Fig Leaf), palm leaves (Palm and Oak Leaves), persimmon leaves (Persimmon Leaves, Leaves in the Rain) nascent kiwi leaves (Baby Kiwi Leaf), abstract leaves of many stripes (Abstract Fig Leaf, Tough Day, Backyard Spaces, Fig Leaf Inspiration). That is one of the of the good things about living in California: the variety of leaves that live here too. I may have deceived you into thinking that my post ‘Last Leaf’ would be the last leaf I would paint. Alas, it was the last leaf on the fig tree in our neighbor’s yard.
I try to keep things interesting. Actually, when you really look at things… when you look at leaves, the are interesting.
However, I detest mindless repetition. I try to incorporate the following advice by Leonardo DaVinci in each of my watercolor studies:
“Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without rudder or compass and who never can be certain [where] he is going. …”
Leonardo da Vinci The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
Today’s watercolor experiment:
I was walking out of a store with my wife, Joy, when I came upon the following leaf:
I stopped and kneeled abruptly to take a snap. If we had been the city, we could have mistaken for a pickpocket team.
I liked several things about this leaf. It was truly finished being a leaf. It was lying on the ground, leaking water from the recent rain into a kind of muddy halo. However aside from love at first sight, I wanted to try capturing the glistening white streaks shadowing (anti-shadowing) the prominent veins. That was the knowledge I brought to my practice today: the desire to glisten.
When I focus on the details, I see a lot of flaws… things I could have done better. However, when I see it for the first time (such as when I inserted it into this post after writing for a while) I like it quite a bit.