Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Draw it." Together we traced the outline with our fingers in the air, imprinting the trumpet flower shape on our minds, like we did when I was small....."Ill paint it tomorrow," I thought. "She can watch me." I pulled away, back into my own life and when I was ready to paint she had turned to stardust.
             Send me a parcel with a hundred lovely things Chapter 1, p.30.

Last winter I was life- drawing in London; my eye on my subject hardly on the paper. Throughout the summer, I have sat in a field still drawing from life, meadows packed with wild flowers in June. I had life- models, slender stems of grasses, rarely still, wind rustling through them so they stirred and shuffled. They whispered whilst I drew tiny grass buds, lacy mop-heads and blades either reaching up towards the sun, or bending down to mother earth who gave them life.

Sometimes I painted skies yellow, sometimes grey as another storm whips up over the Vosges Mountains where I am living.That’s when I discovered monochrome grasses against a sky washed with pink and violet.

Every evening I went into the studio to glaze another layer, in the changing light, at the end of the day. Mixing orange on the palette, too deep, more pale yellow, no a tinge of rose madder spray water across the sky and drip the colour wet on wet, mopping a sudden puddle and walking quickly out of the studio for my tea. I force myself to stop fiddling and widdling and wait till its dry.

Try again the next evening, a tinge of violet….a speck of ultramarine, keeping well away from white, the source of light on the page.

The grasses went in later, the more distant blades and stems in Chinese ink diluted with water, grey layers of grasses and tiny leaves staying close to the earth, in the grasslands My final layer is a denser growth; many seed heads, thistle wild teasels lone solid shapes in a lattice of criss-crossing stalks and stems impossibly fragile captured against a sky coloured apricot by the setting sun

This is my fourth grassland painting, I painted the first one after walking through the autumn leaves as the season changed around us. Every day glowed with colour under a blue sky.

My first grasslands; I was overwhelmed with the sadness of having to return to the city. Every grass, as I walked along the path seemed to whisper goodbye, to me, to the season indeed to the year,itself.

Last Autumn’s grasses were illuminated by orange light, gold tinges and a sharp wind rippling through them. They hang now in living rooms across London, you can see the wind in the grass. I can feel it in my hair.

My grasses of the spring mingled with blue and yellow flowers, they had fat green stems growing under pale, uncertain skies.

Now my monochrome grasses, tinged with purple; soon we’ll slip into the glory of autumn, into the twilight of the vanishing year.

I shall be back with my grey fingerless gloves, a coat collar turned up and the wind whipping my cheeks red raw. What happens to the grasses in winter? Does Jack Frost coat their stems with shards of ice?

Will I be painting monochrome grasses under a monochrome sky?

My monochrome grasses

Eileen Cooper
Images from Between the Lines exhibition catalogue

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