Snapshot of “Drought, 115 Degrees”
June 2021. Acrylic and graphite on paper, 8 x 11 in.
Yes. It’s been hot here. Dangerously so. Five days straight of 115-plus, sealed up in the house, blinds closed, cooler running around the clock. Outside, plants and wildlife scorching, wilting, hanging on for dear life or…not making it. I’ve kept irrigation running at a low level to provide damp ground for cooling bodies and small puddles for drinking. The bird feeder has hardly emptied; the finches can only manage an hour or two at it in the morning before self-preservation sends them to find what shelter they can. It is very, very quiet in the yard.
The studio cooling has essentially failed. This latest swamp cooler has never cooled well, and in this heat it’s barely this side of useless. I can get in a few hours of work first thing in the morning, if I rise very early. That’s it. Very frustrating. But at least I can go in the house and be reasonably comfortable; many creatures are not so lucky.
The conditions in the studio are why the image of this painting is just a snapshot taken with my phone instead of a properly lit and staged photograph. I have a backlog of work needing to be photographed, but that will just have to wait until climatic sanity returns.
“Drought, 115 Degrees” is on paper. I’ve mostly avoided using paper with the acrylic paints prior to this; getting away from all the problems of paper was one of the reasons I turned from pastels to acrylics in the first place. But it’s time to give it a decent trial, if I can find a satisfactory product. I’ve started experimenting with Strathmore acrylic paper, and so far it’s pleasing me with the several small studies I’ve attempted. It’s 246 lb, so fairly sturdy and not prone to buckle with the light treatment I’ve been using so far. It has a subtle linen texture on the “right” side; this particular painting is done on the smooth reverse. I like the smooth textures I’ve been able to easily achieve; common canvas is so rough the texture can dominate at this small scale, which can be frustrating.
I’m happy to say it’s cooling off, very noticeable today at a high of 107. The creatures who’ve made it this far have reason to hope. The plants, though, have gone the last year-plus with almost no rain, and even the hardy desert natives can take only so much. Let’s just hope the winds don’t come up.