Saturday, June 30, 2012

Landscape 911

Last Meeting of the DPS...

The Dead Paintings Society is going on vacation until the autumn. We had our seventh, and final meeting of the spring/summer this past Friday, 29 June 2012.

The painting that was submitted for triage was 20x24. It suffered from a bit of a split personality. The sky seemed a bit sleety, yet it was clearly summer. The light on the trees suggested the sun lighting the picture from the right side. The far distantce, however, was yellow along the horizon. Go figure.

Both the darks and the lights suffered from a certain chalkiness. In the case of the darks, some opaque color has found its way into the mixtures, robbing them of their transparency and luminosity. In the the light areas, such as the meadow, there was a lack of vitality and richness.

Mostly I wanted to add some oomph to the colors, and to find away to invite the viewer into the painting. I didn't have quite enough time to do all I might have wanted. As it was, the class ran rather past its normal time. Today I changed it a bit. It's far from finished, but I think I've spent all the time I can on it. The photo doesn't show that there's a sliver of beach that arcs out into the water.

Below are two pairs of paintings from the 22 June 2012 DPS meeting, ones I failed to get posted at the time.

In this painting, I mostly wanted to get the water, and the peninsula, to lie down flat. I also wanted to increase the color range a bit. Not being happy with the house, nor with the chairs, they somehow disappeared.

Here's one where the artist wanted to stress the purple haze on a silvery day. But then she decided that a blue sky might be better. In fact, the blue sky robs the purple of most of its power. I decided to go with a high horizon, and to put the purple or a slope, running down to a pond.

Keep at it, and resuscitate some of your dead paintings. Be bold when you do it. There's nothing to lose, and a great deal to possibly gain.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Workshops, Classes, Museums, Critiques

Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Ilya Repin, At The Academy Dacha, 1898

When I first began, there were few opportunities to study landscape painting. As a consequence, I feel strongly about sharing what I've learned so far. 

On the workshop blog,, there are some class possibilities that may work out for you. 

If you have yet another suggestion, perhaps a three-day fresco painting workshop on the moon(?), send it along. You never know. 

Paint well!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Plein Air in the Studio

The First-ever Sighting of Johanssen!

What to my wondering eyes should appear---this morning---but Johanssen himself, together with his wee Scottie (who is presumably named Jock).

In all the years that I've had sightings of Johanssen's buildings, and faithfully recorded them in my paintings, I'd never actually seen him before.

But, despite this morning's sighting, I still can't say I've met him. Before I was able to walk around the pond to get to where I'd seen him standing, Jock gave a bark and they were off! 

Consequently, I haven't been able to ask him what those things in the center of the canvas are. Or were, more appropriately, as this morning there was only one left. It certainly seemed it could be a small, stone, watering trough for cattle. Not much mystery there. A number of people wrote to me about their guesses. Among them were several hay wagons, a jack-knifed semi, and the Y from the HOLLYWOOD sign in Los Angeles.

Today was about strengthening the values, introducing some color, and about endeavoring to effectively conjure a definite place. Johanssen himself needs real work...he was present for such a short time that it was difficult to capture him. He certainly appears to be younger than I would have thought.

Here are the three stages so far:

If he shows up again, tomorrow, I've got a lot of questions for him.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Plein Air in the Studio

Nous cherchons toujours Johanssen

Yesterday saw the initial lay-in, below, of this 24x30" canvas. When I stopped, I was hoping for a sighting of Mr. Johanssen, who might explain the unexplained objects in the landscape.

Thus far, no one's seen him.

Today, even without the input from Monsieur J, I've gone ahead and begun to strengthen the drawing my adding transparent color. At this stage, I only want transparency, and so I only use color that is either transparent or which acts transparently in thin applications.

In this particular case, the colors employed were Rembrandt Brownish-Madder, Winsor & Newton Prussian Green, Rembrandt Burnt Umber, Old Holland Ultramarine Blue, and Rembrandt Sap Green.

By using many transparent veils, I can begin to build up masses that are made of many nuanced passages. I find this to be a way of both drawing, and massing, simultaneously. Although the color choices which I make have some relationship to the ultimate color of the various areas, I'm really more interested, at this stage, in refining the values that determine the composition.

At the moment it seems like a very moist, early morning in summer. Tomorrow some real color will come and, one hopes, Johanssen will come, too-----to explain what those shapes in the center of the painting are. They're certainly too big to be hay bales. 

Can't wait to find out.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Plein Air in the Studio

Looking for Mr. Johanssen

Today found me in the studio, looking for Mr. Johanssen. He always
seems to be around, building a house here, a house there.

I'd started a grisaille (24x30") this morning, concocting it out of thin air, and several unexplained forms appeared on the canvas. One was something that looked a bit like a dock.

The other two were dead in the center of the canvas. I have no idea what they are. But I like them. So I need to find Johanssen. He's lived around here for years, and surely he'll be able to tell me what they are.

Happy Painting, and if you see Johanssen...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Landscape 911

The Fourth Meeting of The Dead Paintings Society, 1 June 2012

The last session before the Vermont Workshop was spent with a large-ish painting, 22 x 28", which had been declared DOA by its creator.

Discussing the painting, I was perplexed by the bridge (here faintly seen along the horizon). Mis-reading the scale of the scene, I took the bridge to be a quite large structure, seen from a considerable distance. In fact, I was told, it is a much smaller bridge, and not so far away. What I had supposed were treed banks on either side of the bridge are, actually, just an embankment.

I was also a bit troubled by the high hill on the right, and by the trees? bushes? growing thereon. The fact that I didn't know if they were small trees or large bushes was another issue. The water seemed to be going uphill, not just receding from the viewer.

I was reminded of a painting of mine, probably from the late '90s. In mine there was a hill on the right, and water running away, too. I thought I remembered that the brook stayed flat as it receded. So I looked for an image, and came up with one.

For some reason, the recession stays flatter---to my eye.

Anyway, I set to work. I removed the cold, cold blue from the sky, and lowered the hill. Then, not satisfied with the horizon line, I lowered that too. Now I was really in for it, and I changed the palette to a more silvery, greenish color scheme. Thoughts of Holland popped up, and I made a small structure straddling the waterway.
What is it?

Who knows? For me it's just a design element.

I worked out some verticals by planting some trees, and built a house for the Scandanavian (Mr. Johanssen) on the right. Johanssen seems to prefer white houses, and he's always building away in my paintings.
Then the problem arose: whether I wanted the viewer to have easy access to the site, or whether I wished to keep the viewer at a distance. I opted for admittance, and made a purpose-built ricketty bridge.

By now, of course, I was far, far fr0m the original scene. But the new painting seemed pretty cohesive, and it seemed to be happening all on the same day. I darkened some cloud masses, to hint at a possibly occluded sun, and thereby gained some interest for the now larger sky.

Because I'm behind on posting, due to last week's workshop, when we met again today I was able to get the reaction of the original artist. I'm happy to report that the new version passed muster.

Oh---about that pollarded willow, near the center of the painting. Last year Johanssen was a bit over-zealous about cutting it back, and this year it hasn't leafed out. I'll let you know if it recovers, and sprouts again.