Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring - 2015

Witch Hazel with New Snow - First Day of Spring 2015. Photo by Ken Januski.

Normally I plant peas by St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. But wet soil delayed that task. Just as well as today, the first day of spring, we're predicted to get 3-5 inches of snow, of which at least 3 has already fallen. Above is a photo, out a dirty inside window, of the fresh snow on an Arnold's Promise Witch Hazel.

Temperatures in the 50s are predicted for tomorrow though so my guess is that this is winter's last gasp. It's always nice to see the first birds of spring and I've been out looking for them. Instead I've found the last birds of winter. including the male Canvasback and Hooded Merganser, still at Morris Arboretum where they've been for a few days.

Canvasback and Hooded Merganser. Field Sketch by Ken Januski.

If you work in a number of media as I do pictures often present themselves in your minds eye in a certain medium. Even though I had thought of a print featuring the deep mahogany brown of the Canvasback, and lighter cinnamon brown of the Hooded Mergansers, coupled of course with their striking blacks and whites I instead thought of doing it in charcoal, or perhaps a one color linocut. The contrast in black and white, and rich mahogany of the Canvasback head seen as another rich dark seemed more important than color. Rick black and white is what I thought.

So I returned to an old method of charcoal, both vigorously drawn and erased. Someone once mentioned that an earlier work in this method might work well as a woodcut and a few years later that suggestion is what got me to start linocuts. I've toyed since then with charcoal, and sometimes pastel, but more or less stopped because of the health hazards of the fixative used to fix the colored powder on the paper. I probably won't return to this method. But yesterday I was happy to turn briefly to the striking immediacy of this method. The drawing below is 18x24 in compressed and vine charcoal.
Canvasback and Hooded Merganser. Charcoal Drawing by Ken Januski.

And now I think, it's about time for the birds of spring to replace the birds of winter, beautiful though they are.

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