Monday, May 14, 2007

For Purple Mountains Majesty...

When I was about 10, I think it was, I asked for a set of watercolors for my birthday. My maternal grandmother was an artist and I loved looking at her work. My parents gave me a set of watercolors--a palette of eight colors: red, yellow, blue, purple, orange, green, brown, and black--and I was thrilled! I wanted to paint with them right then and there! But Mom asked me to wait a few days; Grandma June would be visiting and she could teach me how to use them.

Waiting for Grandma to arrive was almost as painful as waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. It took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. for her to arrive! But finally, she was there. We sat down together with a drawing pad and paints and the tutorial began.

I grew up in Utah, which--if you haven't been there--is very mountainous and has impressive peaks and ranges that are majestic and beautiful. The mountains were our subject that day.

The first thing Grandma did was to sketch a mountain scene in pencil. I recall five or six peaks in the background with a lake and a little hut in the foreground.

Then Grandma asked what color we should paint the mountains. Naturally, I said "Brown." To which Grandma said, "Brown is certainly the color of the dirt and rocks when you're standing on the mountain, but from a distance mountains look purple, just like in the song." In my 10 year old mind I thought, "Purple?! Na-uh." But I obediently went along and watched Grandma carefully add a little water to each of the paint disks. Then she began painting one of the mountains. She handed the brush to me and I painted a little, too.

By the time we were done, we had a landscape that featured "purple mountains majesty above the fruited plains." To this day, when I draw and sketch--which is pretty infrequent and unfortunate--my mountains are shaded purple. When I did the drawing test this morning, I chose mountains because that's what I started with 29 years ago and I guess I was drawing what I know.

I've decided this year I'd like to take a drawing class again. The last class I took was in junior high school and then I stopped. So, here's my goal: by this date next year, when I turn 40, I want to post a drawing of majestic, purple mountains. It's never too late to learn, right?

Take the test here.

Photo copyright: Peakware


Mary Ellen said...

Re-embracing a pasttime you love sounds like a wonderful birthday present to yourself this year.

Looking forward to seeing your masterpiece next year! Happy Birthday!!

oxox ME

Sideon said...

Gorgeous picture.

I don't/won't say this often, but I'm missing Utah.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

You can do it, J. Totally. I have total faith in your drawing.

Janet M Kincaid said...

ME: Thanks! Now if I could just find a class...

Sideon: It's odd (and I can't believe I'm about to say this) but I sometimes miss the beauty of Utah, too.

SML: Thank you! That means a lot to me coming from you! I'll let you know how I progress in this endeavor.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Damn right you will. I demand to see what you produce. And I am the least judgemental because I know how much is put into art. It's all good.

ME said...

J, if you can't find a class easily, pick up Betty Edwards' "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain." Jing was always trying to get Jason, the reluctant tattoo apprentice, to actually read this.

Anonymous said...

Because I am a pedant, I feel compelled to point out that the quote is really "purple mountain majesties."


Liz said...

That test was interesting! And boy, is it hard to draw using a mouse.

My results were:
You tend to pursue many different activities simultaneously. When misfortune does happen, it doesn't actually dishearten you all that much.
You are a thoughtful and cautious person. You like to think about your method, seeking to pursue your goal in the most effective way.
You are creative, mentally active and industrious.
You have a sunny, cheerful disposition.

I hope you'll post some pictures of your work. :)

Janet M Kincaid said...

SML: I promise that you and my sister will be the first people to see anything I produce.

ME: My sister just finished a week-long seminar in NYC taught by the son of Betty Edwards. The results are absolutely AMAZING. The contrast between her self-portrait on day one compared to her self-portrait on day five is stunning!

JA: Yes you are. ;-)

QITS: Drawing with a mouse is hard, isn't it? Would love to see your sketch, though.