Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stone angels

Its not water and its not fish, so how did I end up with stone angels?  I'm not really sure, but you know how one idea sparks off another, etc., etc.?  In my flurry of ideas that were spinning through my head I had one for a project that I'm starting to explore that involves sculpture in cemeteries.   On the Avalon Peninsula there are a number of cemeteries going back to the 1700s and likely beyond, but markers are long gone, likely victims of weather and nature reclaiming them as they fall over.

Cemeteries have always held a fascination for me.  Even as a child I remember wandering through them as the adults visited relative's graves, exploring headstones and monuments.  I used to take my own children when small on excursions to cemeteries, the older the better.

So turning to local cemeteries which are full of both simple and ornate monuments to the dead, I find areas of interest in every part.  From the overall view of towering trees that create shadow and disrupt the ground, to ancient gravemarkers leaning precariously and finally the sculptures of angels, cherubs, urns and crypts in varying stages of age, a cemetery could provide a lifetime of inspiration.

Of course I get odd looks when sketching in a cemetery but as I'm respectful and usually in an older part where few people go, I'm generally not disturbed.  And some do think its rather morbid, but I think its more a place of history and beauty.

The sketch at the top is done in marker to capture the strong contrast of shadows in the sun.  The blue sky brightens a somber scene of this child angel.

The pencil sketch is another child angel, perched on top of a gravemarker.  I loved the profile view and again the strong shadows is virtually essential for the sculpture to have impact as a drawing or painting.

I've been working on a few sketches and have started this painting of a stone angel.  This is in oils on a 16 x 20 stretched canvas.   The initial colour and shape has been blocked in and I've added a helping hand in the form of pumice paste to obtain a better texture for the stone.  The face hasn't had much work yet, and I need to wait a day or two to let the paste and oil dry a little before I can do more work on it, but you can see the general direction its heading in.


Christiane Kingsley said...

Jeanette, I love these! The stone angel painting is already looking wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see her complete - she already looks incredible. One of my favourite novels is The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence.
Stay inspired!


jeanette all three are beautiful i esp like 2nd angle sketch ..the oil painting is going to be stunning..inspiring subject.. i have taken many ref photos in cemeteries ..i'm sure you had a few memorable looks whilst you were sketching:)

Jeanette said...

Thanks Christiane. It will take awhile to get it to look as I want I think, but worth the effort.

Michelle, thank you. Yes, I know that novel too.

Jane, I'm always drawn to the little stone angels, the children. There is something poignant about them.

And yes, muttered comments about me being 'crazy', 'morbid' 'disrespectful' etc. are all terms heard while I sketched in cemeteries. I try to explain why I'm sketching and the history behind the sculptures, but most don't want to know.

Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

Very sensitive drawing, Jeanette! I look forward to seeing the completed painting as well.

Gary L. Everest said...

Hi Jeanette,
Add my name to the list of fans pleased with your latest works.
When we lived in Italy, I'd sometimes stop by the Orvieto cemetery to wander through the old cypress tress and amazing sculptures adorning many of the graves.
If I can find it, I have a photo of what I considered to be a wonderful subject for a painting. It was a female angel, striking in every way. If I can find it and if you like it, you're more than welcome to use it for an additional painting.
Have a great week.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Diane, drawing sculpture is always a good exercise and the cemetery sculpture is fascinating.

Gary, to me, and obviously you, there is an interest in the beauty and history that cemeteries hold.

And yes, if you find the photo, I'd love a copy to try my hand at painting. Thank you!

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

i love going to cemeteries, such peaceful places to go and sketch. i could spend hours reading the details on the tombstones

angels have always given me the chills tho, even more so since the dr.who episodes lol

RH Carpenter said...

There is such beauty in most cemeteries, they become like parks with sculptures and statuary all around. Nothing morbid about it - just a reminder of where we all will end some day. I like all of these - I think the strong darks and lights in the top drawing is my favorite.