Official music page and soapbox of Matt Snell

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Painting with Bug Blood, Week IV: A Trip to the Cemetery

Wherever I live, I need to have a dependable walking route near my house. When I lived in St-Henri in Montreal, I haunted the back alleys, and before that I lived closer to the Old Port and would walk down to the clock tower. Now that I'm in Peterborough, I use Little Lake Cemetery. Painting bamboo put me in mind of the trees down there, and I decided to start my study of landscapes before all those pesky leaves get in the way.

What is this thing
Luckily, the bugs are cooperating again, and I was able to collect enough over the past week to make a fresh pot of blood. The old stuff had dried and turned black - I'll spare you the photo. Although I'm not getting quite as many maple bugs as I was when the spring weather first hit, I am getting some unusual new varieties. If anybody knows what the hell that thing on the left is, please let me know.

Slingshot chairs
I threw my supplies into a backpack and set off. One cool thing about going to the graveyard is I get to pass the slingshot chairs, which are a hoot. In the fall I often saw Canada Geese stopping in the graveyard and wandering amidst the headstones, which added a nice surreal touch. A few days ago I saw two more making their return trip, but unfortunately they did not make themselves available at the time of the photo shoot.

Scouting a location
My favourite thing about trips to the graveyard is the palette. There's something about those muted tones that is bred to the bone. Even when I lived in Mexico and it was thirty degrees outside with a clear blue sky, I would sometimes pine for the drab greys of my homeland. If I get into this painting thing, I could spend years trying to capture that palette. Unfortunately, right now I have only one colour, and it is off red.

Can't wait until I can paint this
I arrived at twilight, when colours are at their most melancholy. I scouted around, looking for the ideal setting for my first landscape. I contemplated painting the gnarly old bastard at right, but decided he was beyond my abilities for the present. The light was failing and I began to think I had arrived to late, when I found the grave of the Moores, which was shaped like a bench and provided an ideal view of a tree with the water behind.

The view from my lap
I settled into position, uncapped the bug blood, and began. Being fresh, the paint was lighter than it had been and somewhat runny. All the same I was eager to avoid last week's mistake, and quit early before I made my composition dark and overly busy. The result, though still rankly amateurish, was an improvement on last week.

The sun had nearly set by the time I finished. Although I sometimes like to linger after dark and sing murder ballads in a mournful baritone, the wind had picked up and it was chilly for April. I set off for home with another masterpiece in my oeuvre.

Ahem. I would like to remind everyone I'm not a painter. Musician, writer, sure, but not an entomologist or a painter. With that in mind, I humbly present this week's composition:

"At the Boneyard"

Check back next week for more bug blood art!

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