(The piece above is in indigo, not manganese but close on the colorwheel)
It’s been a long slog here in Seattle, buried in Paynes’ grey, and so today when manganese appeared in the western sky with tints of Maxfield Parrish cloud-happy-white one could not help but feel elated and at peace simultaneously. I went over to visit a painter friend who just incidentally has a studio overlooking the sky, a copse of urban trees, a hill, various houses, and what she described as “my version of Vermont.” We stared in raptness. Blue through bare branches: mitered, metered, salvaged, savored.
She only uses the real manganese, still made by Old Holland. We must have devoted at least half an hour to discussing pigment variability, granulation, viscosity, and the reinvention of Winsor & Newton, which she demonstrated to my complete amazement has NO color shift. (This means you can paint a nose in perfect flesh color on Tuesday and come back six months later and get back to the lower lip with no fear of dry paint not matching wet.) In between discussing paint we talked about The Idea of Vermont. This is a place where they never say “let’s do lunch.” They simply drag you out of your cabin through six foot snow-drifts for cabbage and a roast. Lord, I like those people. They have woodpiles and flannels, and wool-ruddy cheeks made that way through sheer scratchiness, which they never complain about. I myself am a complainer, which is why I live on the west coast, but dream about the other.
I stared out of the studio window, mesmerized. It really was Vermont. A sense of place so palpable you just wanted to pull out your rocking chair and never leave. And yet also here, and so: placeless. I have been stationed for quite a while at ground level, and it made me long for flights of stairs and lands unseen, for distance. Here, a view from close-up. Brayer print and charcoal on paper.
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