Sunrise on the Levee Nature's Time Cathedral Elizabeth Reed capturing the spirit of people and places Elizabeth Reed painting people and places

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Sunrise on the Levee

May 2021
Oil on Linen Panel
10 x 20″

Sunrise on the Levee is a special treat. It’s summer. I must arrive by at least 5:50 am. Sometimes I am the only person on the levee. I almost feel like an intruder in the peaceful quiet before the traffic noise starts. 

Painting the sunrise is exercise. The light comes up so fast you have to decide what to say with your color choices. The tips of the sawgrass light up with warmth when the sun rises. Cloud formations make complex patterns of light, shadow, and complementary color splits. The light constantly changes while painting the sunrise.

The Sawgrass Expressway runs next to the Atlantic Avenue Trailhead. The levees provide a wonderful place to ride mountain bikes.  All the fancy cycling gear is on display while bikers ride the loop from Markham Park and out to SR27. Most bikers are not out at 6 am, but their company is sometimes comforting. An alligator could get hungry, and no one would know I am gone! Kind of like a Carl Hiassen novel. 

Sunrise on the Levee is part of a new series of paintings that celebrate the parenthesis of the day. I painted Sunset on the Everglades and Sunrise, Sunset – Swiftly flow the Days as studies for larger paintings. I hope to introduce the figure into the incredible light show soon. 

I developed the discipline of painting from observation through my years of artistic development. I draw and paint from life regularly. I have found figure drawing groups when traveling the world. These people seem to think like me. I love the challenge of catching likeness with a timer running. 

There is magic to painting the sunrise. I know enough about color theory to know that you cannot get the morning light from one tube of paint. Gentle, nuanced neutrals are only possible when you carefully manipulate your brushes and palette knife to create the patterns in the sky. 

Practicing for Nyeopi in Bali

"Art hurts,

art urges voyages,

and it is easier to stay home."

Gwendolyn Brooks



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