SCRUMBLE — A Blog About Pastel Art
Scrumble is a pastel painting technique of lightly touching the surface; the result is visually stimulating and very textural. My blog adapts that technique of scrumble, lightly touching on art and the art of pastel painting.
In a word, Petra is awesome: enormous 2000 year old buildings carved into the beautiful colored layers of Jordan's sandstone mountains.
Painting the size and grandeur of just one building in this abandoned Silk-Road city proved to beyond my ability but not my determination.
I wanted to show how massive the Monastery is, looking across an expanse of sand. My pastel of the Monastery itself was pretty good, the sky was okay, and the mountain it was carved into was all right. But the painting did not even hint at size. I could not FEEL the memory of that day.
If the background was okay, then the problem had to be the foreground (I thought). So, gone was my original concept of an abstract foreground brushed with turpenoid drips. Instead, a tall multi-colored rock formation loomed on the right side. A Bedouin woman spreading her woven carpets on flat rocks appeared. Not right.
Then an Arab in flowing white robe surveyed the expanse. No. Change the white robe to black, for drama. No. Figures, diminishing to a dot at the Monastery door came and went. Still not a grand perspective of size, so the man disappeared, then the woman got scrubbed out.
The painting got tucked in a closet, then brought out into a gorgeous frame and exhibited. Still not happy with it, so it was once again relegated to storage.
This last rendition may not truly represent size, but it IS the last attempt. I've wrapped the mountain forward on the left side, obscuring a small portion of the Monastery front and kept the right side simple.
But at last I had fun with this painting. I sprayed the foreground with water and angled the painting to guide the drips, creating rock-like crevices. After it dried, I sprayed the left front with fixative and flicked little particles of pastel into it, repeating the fixative and different colors of pastel many times. Finally, great rock texture and, hopefully, an end to this Seven-Year-Revision.
For reference, view the great watercolors by David Roberts, around 1839.Comment on or Share this Article →
Amazing phenomenon occurs at the equator: the Coriolis force. Water drains clockwise north of the equator, straight down on the equator and counter-clockwise south of the equator, each direction separated by only a few yards. After standing on the actual middle of our planet, and see-it-for-real demo, we drive 3000 feet up to the night's lodging: The Ark Game Lodge in the Aberdares National Park.
Shaped like the biblical boat, The Ark was built over a river and salt area, with four observation levels. When we arrived, elephants and water buffalo were right outside the deck, almost close enough to touch. The elephants seemed to be eating dirt—they were using their tusk to shovel up a patch of dirt and their trunk to put the dirt in their mouth. Actually, it was the salt, mixed with mud, they were ingesting. A leopard prowled close by. This tree hotel may be the only lodging in which the people are captive; we are not allowed to wander outside the building.
Each room has a buzzer, which rings during the night to alert that the big animals are near. At 10:30 two buzzes, meaning elephant or rhino. Struggling from sleep, we watched the most amazing interaction of elephants, water buffalo, and one black rhino.
There were eight or ten elephants, including several young ones, one less than a year old, and water buffalo. The elephant family trait is to surround the younger ones, almost in a circle, when they sense danger. Down the hill strolls a lone rhino. Wow--three of the five most ferocious, gathering in one mud hole.
It’s hard to describe what unfolded in the next hour. The rhino dispersed, one by one, all the other animals, by intimidation only: sauntering in their direction, mock charging, walking away, getting too close, different tactics. It seemed at first that the rhino was uneasy at being outnumbered; at one point he completely left, waddling down the hill. He came back, slowly getting closer and closer to the elephant circle, wheedling them apart.
Then he seemed to think, “enough fun,” started away, up the hill, when one young elephant decided to show his stuff and charged after him. Of course now the rhino’s bluff had been called. Around he turns and stamps after the young one. Big Papa elephant can’t let that happen, trumpets and charges. The rhino was the ultimate winner, however, left all alone in the night, as humans and elephants left for sleep. from the Africa Journal, December 22, 1996
I have painted many of the Samburu and Maasai people, but not the animals of the Maasai Mara. It is an awesome experience, seeing them in their natural environment and yet protected from their unpredictable nature. I've been touched by watching lion, cheetah, giraffe and elephant mothers interacting with their young. I don't know if I can put their personality and spirit on paper, as so many great painters of the Mara have done. Until then, I just paint people!
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