Monday, October 28, 2013

"Light Filled Forest" Exhibition began.

The wall is small but the space is lovely and the new work looks great.

Link to the exhibition space, Grand Art Supply here. Greg has a great supply of art supplies, and best prices too. Knows a lot, so you can ask intelligent questions and get intelligent answers rather than marketing in reply.

"Water Cycle" 23 x 9 inches.

During the reception an unexpected number of people, many established artists, were most interested in the piece I thought was most challenging; nonstandard composition – all were non standard format, and very unusual color and tone use. All the way around it was a painting done for me, that appears, again, to be connecting well to the patrons.

This is an interesting phenomenon, pushing edges and sometimes it works. And it often depends on how confined our thinking is; at a workshop a while back one student described a display piece as wrong because it was centering the focus in the center. She also said it was a great painting but that it was still wrong. Interesting, yes?

So "rules make bad paintings" came about from that point on and was talked about afterwards too since we had an optional afternoon session of plein air and there's no better place to work on our edges than plein air. It is a crush of opportunity, too much to work with, energy all around and decisiveness a must.

The student who couldn't compose fluidly also did not join the plein air portion of the workshop, interesting, yes? There is no safety or control out on site, at least not for ages and ages, until one is beating up all preconceptions and simply forced to try new ways through it all.

Here's the first day of working on "Water Cycle"

This is a lovely time of year to paint, spring, before things are sprouting and blooming and unfurling much. The mud colors and neutrals are excellent and one gets to use a new palette now not useful during the rest of the year. Browns and gray, touches of color and always the soft greens of lichen and moss running vertically up trees.

Things had begun their march to blossom. The spring beauties made a carpet and I learned to use them for their weather casting potential: they protect their pollen by turning down if it really is likely to rain and close. Today they were mostly turned down and mostly closed when I arrive on site, so no surprise to feel a mistiness begin that you can see here is tented, sheltered, sealed against. 

No avail, after twenty minutes it was clearly going to mist a long time and I packed up and left. 

This is the hazard of outdoor work—you sometimes need to contemplate things instead of rush to them. 

I want to comment on one of the grand inspirations in art, Robert Genn, who recently was given a deadline, read about it here: a marvelous spirit and worth an hour at his artist newsletter website (the link) and you may wish to also google him and see expanded info there.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Golf Course Gone Wild

A fine artistic benefit of the city closing a golf course has been the return to a lovely savanna like park of rolling land and scattered trees. The grasses grow tall and sway gold in the late fall ... and then they mow it! It's unattractive for a while but I like that they are selling the virtually pesticide free hay.

Here are a couple of the tiny paintings from there, and it'd be lovely to do more soon, before it does get sold for condo development (can you say, there's a housing glut?)

Working title is 'tiny skinny I'

'Tiny skinny II' below:

Some of what's fun to paint there:
• Juniper and pine, arborvitae and other evergreens with the orange and green problems
• Opportunity to look deeply at light as it falls between trees at differing depths from the painter, this is excellent to see how much a few degrees can matter in whether something is contra lit or flat front lit, sometimes both in the same tree
• A small pond that can be used for relief from the pattern of similar size forms against the grass
• The chance to paint dead weeds! So fun for pastel handling and mark making, great rusty colors of dock and dried umbels of Queen Ann's Lace
• Shadows in tall grass and trees that shade one another
• ...and at this time of year its a chance to get away from the "wall of green" that is happening most other places in the mid west.

Working titles will change after I have a few more in the group.

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's been a long haul getting back to writing this blog, a few highlights from the interim:

Began a new format on site, what I call my *big* paintings. Compared to the tiny "Jewels" at 6x6 inches the more recent format of 24x9 inches seems large. These two are not completed, left 'em just how I ended the session in the wet spring a while back. 

The titles are working titles so ya know...

The river beyond the tree was flooded, muddy brown wonderful, and the April coolness kept the trees in that lovely pink, cloudy mauve period when they just begin to sprout out their blossoms and leaf sheaths. 

Beech trees have very thin bark and in our neck of the woods the temps can freeze them so they split, this looks to be the case, but it's hard to know for sure. She's repaired the wound and climbs on up higher. 

Also interesting is the development of very rough bark on the base, under that zippy green moss. 

This is an old tree with many stories observing the life spans of swimmers and gliders down the river. 

By the way, if you don't already own Forest Forensics, go get a copy.

Nice comparison of Beech and Plane trees with shade over a vernal pond, fun challenge that blue/rust/green reflecting thing. 

This wetness was great fun to paint, and kept the people traffic low but lead a few weeks later to the mosquito hatch of the century! 

The spring melt and warm sitting water was consistently followed by torrents of rain so that the river didn't drop down to it's usual level until late in summer and the vernal ponds remained — an extension of surface area for biting reproduction.

It kept me outta the woods most of the next three months after trying, trying, trying all manner of protection; with the right bug dope my skin was safe but the little nasties flew into my nose! 

Couldn't deal with that. 

And, the mosquitos were heavily supplemented by black flies. 

That's all past and I have another stack of work from the experience. 

Show scheduled for September, probably small things, no idea what yet, several tiny projects in the works. 

Last August I was featured in the pastel magazine for the largest French language how to art magazine in France. (I know, that was a long one!) And on the cover too. The magazine is quite lovely, sometimes, somewheres available in North America but the pastel supplement, sadly, is only available in France.

Praqtique des Arts, available link here.

Anybody else out there painting, what are you working on? Does this too-much-green phase in the midwest have a comparable challenge elsewhere?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thoughts from previous drafts not posted...

Painting larger pieces and working with the composition of larger fields/grounds/surfaces and substrates is like all other areas of growth. That old Quantum Mechanics saw of "unintended consequences" comes into play. Especially with a less than perfectly solid easel. The pieces are 24x18 and I find that the entire approach has changed in order to prevent me from mistreating the composition.

Here's a list of thoughts about painting:

Rules make lousy paintings. Eg, 'never put the subject in the center'.
The only thing that works is working.
Observation is better than instruction.
Fear can help unpeel the dangerous entre into good painting, risk all.
Let go of the previous look and dive into a subject that resists your style.
Get control of values, there is no sense in color until this is reached.
Don't color in!
No crayoning-in with the materials, the scrub must be also one stroke perfect.
Eliminate the need for recognition for mediocre work, this will kill all good things.
Burn your "children" – the paintings that have become too precious but still are stuck in mediocre or even poorer quality.
Find out why you paint.
Learn who you paint for.
Determine what ratio of your drive is from inside, and from outside you.
It's okay to screw up, do it as often as possible. But recognize it for what it is, see it clearly for good screw ups or foul screw ups.
Work even when you're away from the easel, paint in your mind and look, look, look.
Set a light source over the whole scene, skip the details and fussiness.
A good painting is not an inventory of detail.
Play with design exercises regularly, bad paintings usually happen at the start.
Let art and self-esteem be in separate buildings!


Pastel Society of America

After Lorenz Chavez suggested that I go for the best, I looked again at Pastel Society of America. It is the pinnacle organization and I'm now a member.

There are a few other items that should be shared including the success of the Mackerel Sky Gallery show. It's really lovely and somehow the invitational artists were all on the same wavelength in submitting gorgeous greens and vibrant summer energy. Usually. Of course I sent in a painting with a subtle light falling on river quality that is a long pano format.

Mackerel Sky Gallery

Interestingly, I just saw that Henry Issacs is showing a number of these long skinnies too at a gallery we both display at in Virginia, Warm Springs Gallery. Always interesting how the landscape is seen, his are lovely and quite abstract with interesting mark making and perky color.

Warm Springs Gallery Charlottesville

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Critiques: Work well spent.

In January I requested a critique from the local art museum director, second time in a couple of years. It always takes a bit of prep to get the work organized and limited to a reasonable body which can be seen in the half hour/hour we have. This time I took in old work and new work. Six large-ish pieces that I call my swamp trees and about that many new pieces also large-ish.

The earlier work was on black and the new work done in my usual technique of gouache underpainting on sandpaper. "Spooky" and "alive" were the first comments to come out of the curator and the director's mouths seeing the first, black background, early work.

The second body of work was all about the magic of a particular place, discovered last fall while we sipped up an extended Indian Summer.

Neither body of work has yet made the gallery rounds, so this was a test balloon sort of critique.

I had so much fun with this one, except that the hauling of 20x24 inches work needs to be refined, every new expansion requires a refinement in my technique, schedule, hardware or supplies. The critique was a great way to move this all forward into new territory.

More soon.
Featured in Pastel Journal Magazine, May/June 2010. The issue is on the stands and includes the new feature with my representing Michigan and a little info on painting and art in the state. Here's a link to the publisher Pastel Journal Magazine May/June 2010