To live and enjoy every day to its fullest, use my gifts to help others, I travel to wherever passion finds me.

What Will She Paint?

So many friends I met here...!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


One can turn whichever way at Sentinel Bridge and get a completely different view. I have come back to this spot several summers, just to paint. To get this view, I stand on a narrow wooden bridge. Everyone passes me on foot, also the cyclists, because on both ends of the bridge are stairs, with maybe seven steps before continuing on the road.

Click on the sketch to enlarge the image and see all the details and the notes I made to myself. Also, click on the images of the oil and the pastel to really see the difference that a medium makes.

The sketch is really the backbone of the paintings. The notes to myself are everything else that is built around it. The sketch is also a journal page. On my vacation I see so many scenes that I don't get to work them all out into a painting. A photo does not give me what first sparked my inspiration. A sketch serves my needs better, so I can make a decision right away what the focus, and what the background items are.

When we arrive it is dead silent. Only the wind is heard in the tops of the trees. It appears like we are the only people on the planet. But as soon as I have set up my painting gear on the bridge, the mosquitoes start circling around me, people appear out of nowhere, to pass or to sit on the grass at the foot of the bridge, or on the sandy beach across from me.

For the mosquitoes I have prepared myself. I have the deadliest mosquito spray on, which means a very thorough shower at the end of the day. That stuff reeks :).
After 10 minutes or so, a group of children with Mrs Jones sits down in the middle of my painting scene, to have a science lesson. Kids walking back and forth to the water to do their science project. I hear her name being called out by the children just about a hundred times. All this activity!

Welcome to the wacky world of painting en plein air! You'll understand, most of the painting is done later, on the balcony of our cabin.

The view in the oil painting suggests that the painter is looking down. The colors are brighter than in the pastel painting. The shadows merely have the function of giving form to the rocks. The darker colors surrounding the bottom of the tree trunks are suggestive of the shade that the leaves of the crown of the tree gives. The dead tree trunk on the ground reinforces the diagonal direction that this painting has.

I began the pastel painting of the same scene with an under painting of watercolor. While some artists do this so no white paper will peek through later, my reason is a different one. There are so many elements in this scene that I felt the need to follow a path that would lead me to the end destination.The watercolor layer helped me to decide what would be strongest in this painting today. My mission, I discovered, was to paint the mysteriousness of the trees, the rocks, and the brown part of the river. I arrived at that goal by blurring the edges. The shadows of the rocks here play a major role in the mood of this painting, as well as the darker colors.

People often ask me how I got to paint a particular scene. My question to the viewer are these
Three little questions for you.
1. Which of these paintings do you like most?
2. Why (a "don't know" is okay)
3. Did my explanation play a role in your choice?
One-word answers suffice. More elaborate ones are okay, as long as it does not turn into a book! I'm looking forward to your opinion :)


TheWritersPorch said...

How interesting to see the notes you've made to yourself! I never thought about artist doing that, only writers! Beautiful painting!


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

My anser is going to suprise you, I like your first sketch!! I am not crazy about B&W or in this case grey, but it somehow appeals to me. My second choice would #3.

Your explinations are fanstic for an old fool like me who knows absolutely nothing about art. :)

I know what you mean about it suddenly becoming invaded with people, this happens with my photography too and is most annoying. :)

Reader Wil said...

It depends where you want to expose them, Jeannette. The oilpainting is stronger and very impressive. The pastel painting is softer and more exquisite and I love the colours. I think I'll have a place in my heart for the latter.
Thanks for your visit and comment on my blog. I answered it on my blog!

Michelle said...

I like the pastel better....but that's just me, I love pastels and can appreciate the work here.
They are both lovely but the pastel does it for me.

jeannette stgermain said...

Writing down things helps me to "see" the list of things I need to do. I do this through the whole procees of painting on sticky notes till I am totally finished.

Actually, it would be interesting to do a little research if this is common among painters, or if this is just me. Thanks for that observation!

jeannette stgermain said...

Since I've posted my sketches (just with the intention to explain the process) I noticed that some (you're not the only one:) ) like my sketches more than my paintings! Great discovery!

My sketchpaper is actually white, but I darkened it in Photoshop, so it would show up my sketch better.

I don't mind people looking while I paint, as long as it becomes noisy with activity like grand central station - Glad I'm not the only one who gets distracted :)

jeannette stgermain said...

Reader Wil,
Hope that I understand you correctly in this when I'm saying that in America anything goes - wherever, whenever - especially artists, they'll do whatever they want to.

Thank you for making a choice, the pastel is indeed softer and more subtle. It seems that Europeans (on my blogs, at least)in general like my pastels more.

I'll go over to your blog and look :)

jeannette stgermain said...

Since I have seen the paintings on your blog, i expected that you would like the pastel more, because it leaves more room for interpretation. Your "dream" series" is all about self-interpretation :)

Don't know if you know, but in the USA photorealism is a very popular approach. On one hand it's very skillful, but against my own grain - I really don't want to stick to reality - haha- imagination is much more rewarding for me!

thanks for giving your opinion. How is life in your corner?

lovelyprism said...

They're both beautiful, you're incredibly talented. I prefer the pastel. I like the muted colors and the more realistic quality of it. :-)

Whitemist said...

My own favorite is the sketch, tho I would quickly say that your concept with watercolors matches mind...I do not often leave unpainted paper or board. Still i say I am too impatient for any other medium than watercolor, but I do respect them all. Thinking about it, there are my abstractions with lasers......

jeannette stgermain said...

when looking up your name I saw you were in Paris! (gotto go back to read your whole story LOL) My son climbed the Eiffel tower, so he got a little statue, and has taken it with him to China (he lives there).
About the paintings, thanks you for your opinion - really am glad I asked the 3 little Q. - to know people's reactions is so rewarding to me. Seems the pastel is a favorite, and 2nd the sketch.

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you for choosing your favorite. I am so (pleasantly) perlexed - where I come from (Netherlands) a sketch is considered as just "scribbles/doodles." And several people on the blog have chosen my sketches above the painting.
About the laser abstractions...what are you referring to? Or are you joking?
Bytheway, thanks for the "Follow" - welcome anytime at this blog!

Michelle said...

Yes. While I appreciate the skill involved in photorealism, I also think that if I wanted a photo I could have taken one :)

jeannette stgermain said...

you crack me up -haha

HalfCrazy said...

Hi there!

Your sketch is so beautiful, so very detailed, it's like you gave life that is something on paper!

I especially love your oil painting. If I have the money and a credit card, I'll probably buy that work of yours. But I don't LOL. So yes, definitely the oil painting to answer your question.

Much Love,

jeannette stgermain said...

thank you for giving your opinion - you're very poetic about the sketch. About the oil painting -who knows when you get money:)
Went to your blog to see who you were, and you are from the Phillipines. My daughter was there I think for a week and she brought me the cutest bag/purse from Manilla.
So what are you studying?
An another question is, how did you find me? (i'm glad you did:) ) love to you too

Chrisy said...

Ooh the sketch takes us with you into this world...the little notes...observations....thank you for all the time and effort you put into explaining your process to us...

Ruth said...

I like your sketch. It reminds me of the drawings in A.A. Milne's original Winnie the Pooh books (not Disney's)

The Weaver of Grass said...

I love that sketch and also the painting Jeanette - I appreciate it is difficult to paint with mosquitos around - I hate the wretched things and they always make a Bline for me - I seem to attract them - once they are around you can think of nothing else, so best to go home and paint. Thanks for visiting, I am now going to put you on my blog list.

Dick said...

The 3rd one is my favorite because it has a great atmosphere. Something mysterious.

Gaston Studio said...

I love the oil because it's more dramatic and I'm in a dramatic mood today. Love the notes you made to yourself!

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you - your opinion really helps me much to determine what I should write about with my paintings, and what people are exactly interested in. Was for some time checking out those little landscapes on your blog - soooo cute

jeannette stgermain said...

Oh wow, what a compliment! I have the original -it was in my highschool one of the required books for English class - and I have taken it with me to every continent I moved to, because the drawings add so much flavor to the story.

jeannette stgermain said...

thaks, Weaver of Grass -Yeah (sigh) I have the same, and can't ignore the pesty critters - I wish money made a B-line to me, LOL - I think I could suffer through that.
By the way, I love how you tell your stories on your blog!!

jeannette stgermain said...

I agree with you, and thank you for telling me your opinion - mysterious. Wish all my paintings turn out like that, but I don't want to make it "my method," or "my mark" as an artist. I'd rather be more diversified.

jeannette stgermain said...

Gaston Studio,
Thank you, are the first to say something very specific about the oil. And I can relate to that - my hubby at times think I'm dramatic :)
Enough people have commented on the notes that I like to find out at some point if all painters do that, or it's just me LOL
PS. Thanks for the "Follow"

Gaston Studio said...

Oh, I love your sketch and the pastel as well, but I'm really partial to the vividness of the oil.

jeannette stgermain said...

Gaston Studio,
thanks so much Jane!

Rosie said...

It is fascinating to read about how you work and the different reasons for the diferent mediums you use. I love the initial sketch and the last one because I like the gentler, softer colours:)

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you, it is so rewarding doing these blog posts, because it actually helps me!
I get a lot more info. from bloggers than people I meet for the first time, because they know me a little better:)
It's a total surprize that I'm getting so many comments on the sketch!
Have a great week!

Kilauea Poetry said...

Whatever it be, the mysteriousness of the trees or the shadows of the rocks..I love the pastels! Nice job-

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you for your opinion, it helps me to know what people like "more!"