Next Stop: OLDS 21
Next Stop: OLDS! was created for the Olds Library annual fundraiser, “Pillage the Village”, that features a Medieval theme. Twelve of the shields were cut and sanded, to be painted by volunteer artists from the community, then auctioned off by silent bid the evening of the Feast, the 23 rd of May, 2015. It seemed innocuous enough, so I signed up to paint a shield. HA !! Then the fun began. I first expected to use traditional heraldic layouts and emblems. Research was not terribly satisfactory. Olds does turn out to have a “logo”, but it is thoroughly modern and just not the flavour with eagles and dragons and such that I was hoping for. The next idea, of putting a different local symbol in each quadrant became entirely too cluttered. Ye gads, what was going to do with this chunk of plywood ? Finally, a week or two after this major set-back, I began to envision a painting that told something of the story of Olds itself. Many sketches and a deadline looming (why, oh why, do I work best under pressure ??) had me slathering the board with gesso, and the painting had no more excuses to use. I rather bravely began at the top–with those Alberta Wild Roses, after underpainting the entire board with diluted burnt sienna as a delaying tactic, and found myself repainting the roses four times and the sky beneath them at least three times. (The right shade of blue IS critical, you know.) The mountains were not expected to be a problem–anyone who lives near the Rockies can surely paint a mountain–but they did go from classic purple to a bluish green, shrank a bit, became several layers, not just one, and finally decided that a change in the sky colour would do the trick.
The river that began the next area, leading into the pasture and wheat fields, refused to co-operate, changing colour from blue, to too green, to greeny blue, to finally just green, for distant trees. So much for that idea. The Prairie Pothole that provides the basis for the clump of aspen/birch trees actually seemed to like where it appeared, and even the trees were pleased with the sponging used for their leaves. This left me with a huge wheat field that desperately needed some regression into the distance; alternating burnt sienna mixed with yellow ochre and cadmium yellow medium (hue) sorted that out. I put in the fence to rest my weary head, then did the research to find just the right steam train to be seen heading for Olds. Even the tracks worked out responsibly with the engine ! Now that I knew how much of the front edge of the wheat field was taken up with the engine, I settled into making the wheat stand-up (no hail storm yet), so the requisite blackbirds could perch on a couple of stalks. They reminded me that some crows were destined for the sky, and signing the bottom point finished this piece. Then, of course, I hated it ! Not totally, though, as Bob quite liked it and didn’t want me to let it go. We have compromised, and if I will cut another blank, he will design one for me to paint for him. Please don’t ask me where we will put it !