I’m not much for dry media. Even my colored pencils are watercolor pencils. I have a beautiful set — untouched for 25 years — of Swiss made Conté Crayons in all colors, but chances are I’ll never use them. But when we were kids, and my brother and I got Jon Gnagy Learn To Draw kits for Christmas, the charcoal was the coolest part of them for me. At that point in my artist “career” I didn’t know how to manage watercolors. Part of that, I now understand, was not having had real watercolor paper. That stuff is a big help. All I had was so called “good paper” (it was all white and had never been used before) and ordinary paper (we got to draw on the backs). Once in a while we’d get an entire drawing pad.
Charcoal was especially good for the exercises in Jon Gnagy’s book that pertained to “values.” My brother was perfectly happy to turn 2 dimensional circles into spheres through shading over and over. I wasn’t. I did it once and that was enough for me. “OK, I get it, NEXT!!!” When I got oil paints, my world changed.
For those who don’t know Jon Gnagy, here’s a video.
The Weather Forecast
This is the forecast for Monte Vista, Colorado. It’s going to be a wild and freezing shit-show with big losses for agriculture, and not just my beans. The total forecast indicates that Monte Vista could get as much as a foot of snow in the three or four day period of this storm. It’s still officially summer here in the US (even though I know those Aussies declare fall on September 1 or Spring, if they happen to be in Australia). It’s snowed in September before in my memory, the fall of 1983, but not this early.
And then it’s supposed to turn back to summer/fall and go on like nothing happened. I’m on the fence about how much I want to fight this on behalf of my beans and tomatoes. I’m going to pick the largest bean pods and bring them in. I’m going to try to cover everything, but four nights of below freezing might turn out to be too much for all of us. Too bad I don’t have one of those charcoal smudge pots they use in the orange orchards.
But I know deep in my soul that nature will as nature will and in the end I have no choice but to resign myself to her/it.
But, I woke up with this poem in my mind. I don’t even like the poem, but considering that last night I trimmed back iris under a fire-sky, red from smoke, and I’m now considering how to cover my plants from frost and wondering where my snow shovel is, it seemed right.
Fire and Ice
BY ROBERT FROST
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
On that profound note, I leave you. I have to clean up the deck for a Covid-19 tea party, or wake for summer, not sure yet.