We moved closer to the Equator last weekend, landing in Brasilia, 7° north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Ted had some business at the University of Brasilia. His colleagues, our friends, Adson and Diana, showed us around several of the campuses spread far and wide throughout the city.
Brasil is going through political and monetary tough times. Unsurprisingly, the turmoil was evident throughout the city, particularly on campus.
Sidewalk Graffiti, University of Brasil
This red, white and blue sidewalk painting shows the arm of the USA offering a bag of money to Brasil who in turn offers a barrel of oil. These images overlay the great waterfalls of Brasil which turns to blood red as it flows into a sewer drain. Copies of dollars and Brasilian raeyes are glued to surface, pouring with the blood into the drain.
The truth of this matter lies between the Left and Right extremes portrayed in the painting. I was startled when I saw this graffiti. In my book, this painting is good, honest art, nothing less. Salud to the artist.
Jardim Botanica, 2016, 8 x 8″, watercolor on 140# CP paper
Ted and I have toured a few major highlights in Brasilia proper the past few days, places honoring the founders of this latest Brazilian state, monuments which commemorate, venerate and relegate these men who once held power to eternal memory. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
The botanical garden, Jardim Botanica de Brasilia, on the southwest side of the city provided perspective when compared to the hard built shapes of its Brazilian architect, Oscar Neimeyer. The concrete plazas of greateness are so very hot and thirsty, the garden is cool and quiet, life abounds. A docent, Melissa, student of entomology, explained that bees, her specialty, are threatened and under great environmental pressure due to human activities. She studies at the University of Brasilia.
We have met other students, mostly in fields of engineering . Ted gave a couple lectures at the U of BR, which is why we’re in this capital city. Ted teaches design.The gist of both lectures was that when searching for design solutions, identify the true nature of the problem before embarking. Interact with people who have different academic backgrounds to achieve wider vision when designing. The students we met are at the end of undergrad studies and must decide what to do next, pretty scary, I recall.
Bananas Ouro, 9×12″, watercolor on 140 # watercolor paper
Here is a tribute to the Gold Banana. It is less than 4″ long, it’s sweet and nutty and irresistible . The last bunch looked like a spikey headdress when arranged just so, sculptural and all realistically abstract. I had to paint them. Now all that remains of the bunch is a sweet memory and this full-size painting.
Sweet memories is what I paint and why I do it….they will be all that is left when I cease to remain .
Tropical Sun and Shade, 140# h0t press watercolor paper
A couple years ago when I decided to paint with watercolors I found a book by Tom Hoffaman, Watercolor Painting, 2012, http://hoffmannwatercolors.com. I got a digital copy of it and refer to it frequently. Tom put out a post today about his upcoming teaching schedule for this and next year so I checked out his blog. Reading it led to the painting above.
Tom is very clear-headed in his approach to painting, suggesting that all paintings initially be directed by identifying the value, wetness, composition and color of the topic at hand and then consciously proceeding with these attributes as guides for subsequent painting. He says to place each brushstroke with purpose. That advice has resonance with me. I did a lot of architectural drawing at one point in my zigzag career and remember I well that an architectural drawing has NO superfluous marks, that every line must mean something.
Thinking on this, I did today’s painting and am pretty happy with it. Remaining mindful and attentive to each movement of the brush, how much paint and water to apply and keeping the total design in mind works way better than letting it rip in any ole direction.
Tumbergia de Sara, 8×8″, watercolor on 140# hot press ppape
The time changed overnight in Campinas, Brazil. Now it’s much hotter earlier in the day as the spring moves toward summer here.
I painted a tumbergia, a very long and thick vine which has spread to shade the entire south patio of our apartment. Their flowers tend towards a purplish cobalt color in very, very light shades. Five petals circle a deep yellow-green center from which fine purple stripes emerge. They seem not to have much fragrence.
Humidity is often high along the imaginary circular line which is the Tropic of Capricorn . As I write it is 86% humidity in Campinas, Brazil. In Phoenix, AZ, where I was a week ago humidity is just 27%. Why should I notice or care about the difference?
I notice and care because the paper I paint on, that being Fluid 300 140# hot press, behaves much differently between locations. Here in Campinas it retains water longer and seems to diffuse into smaller, finer capillaries. Also, the pigment stays workable longer because it dries slower. The paper feels a bit moist to the touch even when ‘dry’ and this makes the colors appear brighter than in, say, Arizona, USA. Perhaps the paint will dry and lighten when back in the US but for now I’m thrilled with the look of higher humidity.
As for the more visible capillary diffusion, that effect will remain in drier climates, I think. I like the delicacy of it. Here are two examples of the difference in pigment diffusion as well as yesterday’s painting, a study of a conifer branch and cone of a variety I’ve never seen before.
Most folks probably know this already but the Tropic of Capricorn (TofC) moves about 15 meters north every blessed year, just when I’d started to think some things are constant. This fact has something to do with earth’s tilt as it orbits the sun…it’s really far beyond my reckoning.
These seeds and pods were on the ground close to the yet unknown (by me) tree from which they fell. I want to identify the tree and paint more info w/re to it. I like the wavey visual movement of the pods and the seeds are too tidy to be true.
Seeds and Pods, 12×9″, watercolor on 140# HP watercolor paper