Painting the sunrise without the sun.
At my “Dawn Observation Post” (the best place around here to observe and paint the sun rising) I empty the rucksack – camera, lidded palette, plastic paints box, karrimat to sit on, brush case, canvases, and the board that canvases go on to keep me paint free.
Each long brush handle is pushed into the short grass at my feet, pointing up ready to grab. The kitchen roll is rolled out ready to clean my brushes and a jam jar of white spirit placed upon it… also ready.
My white’s prepared and now I’m just waiting to mix up the first paint – to the traces of colour that appear in the sky. Into these colours I’ll add a little time element, some experience and a lot of guessing so that I’ll try to have a set of the basic colours that might appear in the sky 15 or 20 mins from now.
I’m waiting for the first colour to appear. “Dawn’s first tracery” if you prefer. (I like that – Dawn’s first tracery)
I’m waiting for the day to appear between my feet, splayed out as they are upon the grass. A bit like Stonehenge I think my feet are, on mornings like this at my post. It’s elusive this morning though….”Dawn’s Tracery” is elusive I mean, and I spend the time guessing what shapes will appear.
I can’t make any out yet, let alone any colour other than battleship grey, aware that this could be unfair to battleships.
I’ve forgotten my sketchbook. I usually spend this time sketching the formations of clouds as they exist in the half-light before the sun trots out between them. It doesn’t matter though because there aren’t any this morning. There’s nothing to draw. Two feint blurred grey bands have suggested themselves grudgingly across the sky, one two. Grey upon another grey. I wonder if this is enough to start a painting with.
A minimalist at heart, it’s too minimal even for me. It’s too empty even for a nihilist. Deconstructed though. Yes, it’s Dawn Deconstructed. Conceptual then. Hey I could do that. It seems to be a bit brighter than it was 30 minutes ago.
A quiet time. Contemplative.
I’ll look at some seagulls. There they are – three tiny white dots about 1/2 a mile away. I think they’re seagulls but they could be polystyrene washed up on the tide. I could watch the ducks and swans but there aren’t any.
It’s Monday morning I suppose even for birds.
Soon though, the street light beside the cycle path will go out….. I find myself actually looking forward to this event.
There’s …well …nothing to paint. No sun, no colour, a basic monotone of dull flat grey and no shapes.
Absolutely nothing. It’s not even cold…..Or warm.
There’s not much wind but it’s not still either.
Well, thank you God for giving me this opportunity to know myself better.
I empty my mind of all wordly thoughts and yea I value the blank canvas that such stillness creates within me, but the trouble is….God it’s Boring!
Especially after a minute or two.
“There’s no such thing as a grey day” I seem to remember writing recently, in a fit of visionary enthusiasm, and now my own words seem to dance along this beach like some mocking, malignant entity… up on its hind legs prancing, taunting me along the sand. “There’s no such thing as a grey day, a grey day, a grey day….”
I’d throw stones at it but there aren’t any to hand.
Time to go. I’m off.