High Summer Light

Admittedly it is not yet summer, per the Sun, but it’s getting an early start with the amazing blue light that makes me giddy for a few weeks around the solstice every year. The sun is nearly at the zenith at noon, the air is boasting a cool fresh ocean breeze scented with magnolia blossoms, and as I sat drinking all this in, the most colorful thing to be found in corporate landscaping was sitting there right in front of me.

There’s very little color in most office parks. It’s uniformly gray and green, with the occasional brightly-colored shirt or pretty flower to break up the monotony. We have little in the way of pretty flowers, other than the Bird-of-Paradise plants that aren’t blooming much anyway, so this cone was like a beacon in the afternoon sun. I was falling in love with the way the light spilled through the hole in the top and illuminated it from the inside, and couldn’t resist trying to capture it. The only thing I didn’t really love was the background. PB29 and PO73 make an excellent shadow violet, which – mixed too purple and applied in sun and wind with too small of a brush – made for a blotchy mess. A few tips from Twitter and I added a wash of PB29/PO62 at home – perfect!

There’s an epilogue to the story too. I painted this last Friday. Today, Monday, I went out to the same spot for lunch and found a guy repairing a light where my subject had been. I pointed out that there had been a cone there on Friday. “Yes,” he said, “I put it there – and someone took it!”

“Well, I have one right here!” I said, and showed him the sketch. Turns out he had been an art major and changed careers to the work he’s doing now. He still draws, he said, and sometimes drives somewhere cool just to sketch things. We talked art for a few minutes, I wished him well and went off to paint today’s sketch somewhere else. Meeting random cool people is always fun, one of my favorite things about sketching outdoors.

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