Old Walls, QP
Wisteria / Lilacs
The Quarentini Painters challenge for ‘old wall’ had me looking through my photos of a old Santa Fe neighborhood - Aqua Fria. I wandered this area many times over the years before I even lived here. I don’t go back that far when sorting photos, stay more recent, and even immediate. I took pictures of doorways and gardens and adobe houses - fascinating old Santa Fe charm. The area is a walk west of downtown, defined by Railyard district and the river. I describe the river more as a ditch with little water, running seasonally. I’ve learned the Santa Fe River ran all year prior to 1700 and now tops the list of endangered rivers in the country.
The first of my more recent photo shoots was in the early fall, Labor Dayish, when the shopping area Sanbusco Market Center was still there. Lovely photos of autumn gardens. Another time, I was shopping for a used car and arranged to see one in the neighborhood. Since I was without a car that time I strolled at my leisure all the streets photographing my way back through to the other side (my side) of downtown. It was late fall, early winter. On a different occasion, early for a rendezvous to help a friend house shopping in the neighborhood, I found the old wall with wisteria as it was spring. This was what I was looking for.
It’s nice to have the opportunity to do something more from all the photographs I take. That’s fun about the challenges - seeing if I have ‘something’ I want to paint that fits the prompt. I also like to push the boundaries and find something unexpected. Like ‘cow’ - I painted a carton of half n half. What? There’s a cow on the label. Photo shot was in the freezer for the lightening reminiscent of my old “Doll in Refrigerator “ series.
Back to the old walls and wisteria. Santa Fe is full of interesting old stone, rock, and adobe walls so a lot to choose from. There’s also a lot of cinder block walls like in my yard which I don’t like so much. Wisteria is everywhere. Lilacs too. Both in all colors - shades of whites, pinks, and blues, purples too. I grew up with lilacs in Illinois they’re everywhere. Our patio was surrounded by them creating a green harbor with branches hanging over. We lay under them in the spring and pick apart the tiny blooms to drink the nectar. They do not grow in Texas except the Davis Mountain area - Marfa, Alpine. The mountain laurels of the hill country are nice, tho.
I haven’t painted lilacs since I was young. They grow here and in my yard. I looked at them while painting the wisteria to capture something the photo was missing.
Wisteria like lilacs in the spring reminds
me of a ‘family favorite’ poem my Grandfather often recited and we learned in school:
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d (1 stanza)
By Walt Whitman
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love. ~
First attempt at ‘old wall’ wasn’t right to me, too stiff. My favorite is the #3 - fresh, loose, and gestural. I’ve been using Arches Watercolor 140 lb. 100% cotton Block paper, 18” x 24”. It comes 20 sheets to a block. This is the largest block readily available. Perfect for the QP challenges otherwise taping loose papers to a board. Due to pandemic, I ordered online and accidentally got hot press instead of cold press. Think rough vs smooth. I prefer and am use to cold press. I don’t why I got confused - blame Covid. Anyway, I notoriously never return anything so 20 paintings in I reordered cold press (rough). If money, time were no object I would paint on 300 lb. full sheets. Now, looking back on the hot press paintings I’m thinking I might order more. For certain work the smooth surface may work better, ink & wc perhaps.
Old wall x 3 :