Admittedly, buildings are not one of my favorite subjects to draw or paint anymore. I enjoy the freedom nature allows creatively. No one knows the difference if an angle is incorrect or care if a line is crooked. Natural subjects are constantly changing due to light, weather or the life of the form itself. But I desired to have a record of the cabin and so I sat on the back hill behind it on a sunny August afternoon, determined to make a watercolor.
I chose to include a good deal of the environment as it is where I am most connected as an artist. In the process, however, I did let go of feeling locked into making every constructed line straight. I just wanted to make sure the main verticals and diagonals were observed in such a way so the structure would appear stable. Capturing the spirit of the place and my response to the experience became important than observing with a mechanical perfection.
I would have to say a rabbit did have an influence on taking this more laid back approach to linear perspective. As I was figuring my lines, I noticed movement on the porch. There was the cottontail who had been making regular appearances over the course of my two week stay. He appeared to look at me then groom his paws (which is why you see him slightly hunched over). I said a hello to him, as I think this is the polite thing to do when one encounters a rabbit. 🙂 It seemed fitting to include him.
I proceeded to work – thinking about the number of panes on the windows, how much of the recessed back room I could see, etc. Then I noticed the rabbit hopping up the pathway to where I was. I wondered, “Was he really coming towards me? Was he as curious about me, as I was about him?” He sat on a rock, not far from me, positioning himself in a dignified way, looking in my direction. I agreed he made a wonderful model and so he sat for a few minutes, very still. I was able to paint him. He then scampered down to munch on grasses in the front yard. I believe he was satisfied he contributed to the artwork (by the way, you will find him a third time in the image – left side, center space, as a tiny, black silhouette).
From that point on, I worked with the moments I wanted to remember – blackbirds flitting in and out, the different shapes of plants present, the layered rock pattern on the chimney, where grasses clumped and the trees I saw each morning from the bedroom. It did not matter if every shingle was drawn, the exact number of wood planks of the cabin recorded or if every life was drawn to be identified, only that they were there and they were symbolized.
(This artwork was produced while I was the artist in residence at Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer of 2015.)