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Thursday 10 August 2023

Creating Creeping Juniper

On my first official Fieldwork venture out for this Canada Council project, I snapped a photo of the ground in my favourite colours: orange and green. It was a scene where the orange and the green blend so well together that I sometimes say, "I need that orangy-green colour of thread." If you look on any colour wheel, I suppose it makes no sense. If you look at the prairie in late summer or autumn, you know what I'm talking about.

Creeping Juniper in May, 2023

When I snapped that picture, my first impression was that the bed of Juniper was perhaps sick or dried up. It was spring, so shouldn't it be popping with green? Nonetheless, I adored the composition because of the way it poured forward that the roots were all up on the ground. The vantage point was from lower down a sandy slope with the river behind me, far below.

The second time I went back, I took more intimate photos of the plant.  

Hey there, Bud!

WOW! The young new growth is in fact orange! How beautiful. I had not expected young Juniper to be orange. That changed my mind about the scene, knowing it was a fresh new start, new growth, and fully vibrant.

Up went the new art supplies.

I'm sure I'm not doing this right, but I felt SUPER creative at the time and this was an experiment. Thank you to my friend Suzanne for gifting the paper to my friend Jean who then gifted it to me. 5 ft wide, likely 8 ft up... a few push pins and a bench to stand on.  I figured I would draw this out in the way I prepare for my yarn embroideries - with oil pastel on paper. 

Selfie. A moment of joy.

I don't do selfies, but I was excited to show of the sheer scale of this. There, you can see the first few marks I put on the paper. I think that was the point where I was realizing I need BIGGER pastels. I didn't get very far and the traditional sticks were disappearing fast. Since I have a budget for supplies, and have good paper already, I figured I'd get some good pastels.

I purchased (locally from a brick and mortar shop, 40% off!) some delicious Sennelier Grand "real" oil pastels. 


I bought some singles to top up the colours I felt were missing for me. Let me tell ya!! These work like lipstick. Classroom oil pastels are like colouring with birthday candles. OMG That is literally the difference between artist grade and student grade. They are different materials altogether. You pay for pure pigment and not cheap binder & wax.

This is a little white I'm using.

Oh! I should tell you, I've done most of this with my non dominant hand. In fact, I've done most of my plein air sketches that way as well.

When the muse calls, and when my house is empty and the light is good, I put on a meditative song on loop and draw out the land. There's some Sinead in here more recently (I don't want what I haven't got). I don't remember what I started with, but it's usually a woman's voice.

I'm crouching, working on the Juniper roots now.

Photo of me by my son, Florian. 

I started this months ago. It's done now. The sky in the art turned out perfect in the end! It looks just like my yarn embroideries. However, today is a grey day. I'll get a photo for you as soon as the sun shines. 

~Monika K.

p.s. I thank the women who sang while I worked.

1 comment:

Lin said...

That is stunning Monika, I love it! I don't think we have creeping juniper here, just the upright stuff. Does it still get little black berries? In France we could always find wild orchids on juniper land in the spring. And yes, those Sennelier pastels are just the best. xx

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