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The Inspiration of “A Bend in the Road”

"A Bend in the Road", pastel, 14" x 22", 2014 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″, 2014 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

June 1, 2014, on a lovely sunny day just about noon, I was leaving a morning event and on errands traveling the back roads just for fun, knowing this narrow back road had some wonderful spots. Here is one of them, “A Bend in the Road”. We never know what’s around that bend in the road, but the anticipation is what makes the journey exciting.

I saw this spot and hit the brakes, gasping with awe at the complicated beauty of nature, the shapes and colors, the sun and shadow, the straight-up height of the trees along the road, arching far overhead, the road bending ahead as if you were to enter a magical place. The trees had finally reached full cover in the woods and all along the trails and I simply could not get enough. I knew I should have carried my art materials! There was no one but me on this road so I took a few photos through my windshield, then put the car in park, shut off the engine with flashers flashing and stood in the middle of the road to take photos, barefoot and listening, smelling, feeling, taking in as much of the spot as I could to remember. The light would change significantly if I were to run home and come back, the moment gone. I also knew I’d see a few other special places today, and vowed if the time came I would return and paint en plein air, but if I could not I would remember it all when I used the photos for a painting.

Often I wait years to do a painting, but in front of everything I had worked on for a month was this spot and the painting I had visualized, and something a little larger than what I’d been doing. Weekends were rainy, so I decided to start from a photo, then finish from memory and referencing the trees outside my windows for the closer details.

This painting is 14″ x 22″ and painted in pastel, mostly Sennelier but also a few Rembrandts and a few others I have on hand for special greens, on 2-ply acid-free natural illustration board. The illustration board with no added finish was an experiment—I am accustomed to working on Wallis sanded pastel, but that’s been difficult to find, and I want to be able to do sketches and paintings on other surfaces. I’m a little disappointed as I couldn’t layer and blend as usual, but really, no one knows that but me to look at it.

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