Love Letter to the Big Empty

End of Day in the Big empty

The painting is End of Day in the Big Empty. Some pretty amazing oil paint in this painting. The gray in the sky, the gray-blue in the mountains and the blue in the water are all the ultramarine blue made of lapis lazuli called sometimes “Lazurite.” I was afraid to start this painting but at every turn it seemed that color was offering to help me. I really love it. You can see all the fantastic things it can do.

The bright blue in the sky is cerulean blue hue by Gamblin; hue means it’s pre-mixed with white. The intense, joyous yellow in the background, where the late afternoon sun has broken through the clouds, is Indian yellow over-painted with flake white replacement. Flake white is an old, old color known also as lead white. Gamblin came up with a way to make a very close approximation without lead. I really didn’t see the differences in whites until I did the very snowy painting. I’ve discovered doing this painting why people loved lead white so much. It’s just “friendly.”

The green in the trees and the brown in the foreground are both from my collection of natural pigments — the green is Verona Earth (natural green ochre from the Lessinian hills) and the brown is Cyprus Umber (dirt from Cyprus). Toning down the Indian yellow is Iron Violet, made from water pollution, by Gamblin Oil Paints. It’s a fantastic color and has a big part in this painting. Along with toning down the Indian yellow, it’s the purple in the mountains, the sky and the water and the reeds toward the back of the pond. I hope they keep making it.

The painting is 20 x 16 inches on panel.

Painting this was more than just doing a painting. It was an incredible experience. I cried when I finished. So strange. Then this came on Mohammed’s Old click wheel iPod.

28 thoughts on “Love Letter to the Big Empty

  1. I love the End of Day in the Big Empty! It’s a best time of day in most places, and this is a beautiful painting — worth those tears when you ere finished!

  2. I think your having a yesterday today, also. A very beautiful painting, Martha. And doesn’t Neil Young have the sweetest voice?

  3. I love this one! The colors and the light and the water and the huge expanse – it is like you are hugging creation or maybe creation is hugging you! Either way this is magnificent. I think sometimes as an artist it is the process rather than the end result that is magical but when it has both components (the journey and the finished piece) it becomes miraculous.

    • Wow. You totally got it! That place has been my sanctuary through all this insanity since March. Sometimes I’m there and I feel like I’m on a moving road through creation and it’s showing me things. It’s weird because I’m actually walking. But the birds are sometimes so close to me that I can see the reflection of light in their eyes and they don’t fly away. It’s like an immense gift to me of light, wind, weather, animals. magic. It’s amazing because I painted it in 2012 without ever having seen it. Now I see it and live in it.

  4. You have captured the golden light of the Big Empty so well. Neil Young is the perfect accompaniment.

  5. “If you follow every dream, you might get lost.” Wonderful lyric from a wonderful song I’d never heard, so thank you for including it. No wonder it spoke to you.

    Here’s to getting lost, following one’s creative muse.

    Love this painting. It speaks of you.

  6. Wow! Such a unique and beautiful creation. I never tried to paint as I wasn’t the artist in the family (my sister was). You’ve presented the painting journey with a reverence I’ve never seen before. 😊 Pairing it with Neil Young – brilliant!

    • I want to think a while about what you’ve said here. Something about the word “reverence” has struck a chord. I have not heard that Neil Young song in a long time. The last time (until yesterday) I was living in Descanso, CA and painting in my shed. I remember buying it and putting it on my iPod, and I listened to it in my shed after that, but who listens to iPods any more? Well, me.

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