Last week, my world suddenly changed! Due to an unexpected fall (are they ever expected?) during our recent snow in the Mojave Desert, my hand is in a cast and my knee twisted (waiting for an MRI). Let me assure you, I feel incredibly fortunate, and this brief rest will allow me time to slow down and ponder many things.
Above - cactus wren nest in the making!
To the left is a sketch made last summer in Gourdon, France. It was too hot to stand and sketch the view from a tower; instead I yielded to sketching the view from the cool grass under a tree!
Today, I had been scheduled to teach and all-day plein air workshop for the Desert Institute at Black Rock Campground, part of Joshua Tree National Park. I was sad to cancel. A bit brisk, but today is one of those gorgeous days we desert dwellers brag about. I chose to drive to the site, close to my home. What a joy to see the clouds, the shifting sunlight, and many visiting campers! I noted busy figures, brightly colored tents, and the changing values and colors of of the Joshua Tree spines.
Photography is quite different from sketching, yet it provides an opportunity to record, making mental notes about colors, shapes, temperature and mood. I opened my car window to experience the cool breeze, and I admit I am happy that I will not sleep in a tent tonight. The wind is now beginning to grow fierce. I noticed several campers struggling over sheets of nylon and poles, hoping they would magically assemble themselves!
Three photos from Black Rock Campground today
Here is a sketch created in France last summer. I learned so much by carefully observing!
However, when time does not allow you time sketch or paint, mentally note small details such as the jagged silhouettes of mountains, the curve of a mouth, and the color blue of distant hills. Imagine your pencil or brush on the surface making these shapes. Note what colors you would mix to achieve that specific tone you see. Encourage your kids to identify shapes in the clouds! Try to imagine the scene as a black and white study - or take a photo and change it to noir!
These activities do wonders for stress levels as well. As we move away from the blue screens of our computers and spend time in God’s grandeur – or even a crowd observing the movements of figures, our spirits and minds have time to take a short restful vacation. Spend some quiet time observing! Thank you to my good friend for your suggestion!