Friday, December 13, 2013

Trying to find an Answer

A Fresh Start

This is a quick post about what happened in the studio today.

I pulled out of the cupboard a 20x25" canvas that I began at the Vermont Workshop in June 2012. Since that time it's been languishing around the studio, but it was brought into service this autumn for a session of the Dead Paintings Society. I re-worked it some, changing it several times in the process, for whatever educational benefit it might have.

Today, casting about for a surface on which to paint, and not wanting to stretch a canvas, I decided that the Vermont painting needed to give its life for ART. 

Although I failed to take a photo before I started, there's enough here to bring back painful memories for any of my students who were there.

I flipped it into a vertical.

And added the yellow ochre, baryte yellow, and secret yellow sky and its reflection.

What I was most after was a mood. Most of you know I like to keep the painting entirely in play until my imagination is fired by something within the rectangle.

Above, you will see that I continued the reflection, and added a temporary "shoreline" so I would have a reference point.

At this stage, I've put in a bit more color, and made some streaks in the sky. I've wiped out the area in the lower left, thinking about putting in a near shoreline or bank.

Now there is some more activity in the sky and a reflection in the water. The distant hill is more filled in, as is its reflection.

Finally, I filled in the hillside and its reflection, and built a rocky foreground. 

This is where I stopped. I'm not sure what will ultimately be the "subject" of the picture in a conventional sense.   For me, the subject will be the mood.

Try this at home.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Today's Effort

Thinking of N.C.

Thinking of N. C. Wyeth led me to paint a whole 25x20" canvas today. I pulled the canvas out of the never-will-be-finished pile. It was a start from one of last summer's Battis Farm workshops.

I turned it vertically, and set about painting a view that would have some of the strong, dramatic contrasts that are such a feature of the elder Wyeth's work.
My original intention was to create a landscape into which I could put the figures for "Chapter Two: The Ambush"
As it turned out, the painting is smaller in scale than I wanted, and the painting had a mind of its own. 

It still has some little bits to be dealt with, but I'm very pleased with this five hours' work. I'll sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

After an absence

Trying to Catch up

Well, if you follow the blog with any regularity, you'll know I've been AWOL. Seems it started with the beginning of the three-part demonstration. We had 22 students, both painters and lay people. It was quite an adventure, and it's my intention to post about it one day. 

Further to that subject, I've been asked when the next one will be. I've scheduled it for the 10th, 17th & 24th of January (9 a.m.-1 p.m. each day). You may sign up for fewer than three sessions, but I think you'd benefit the most from all three. Because Sarajean is recuperating this month, you should register with me, instead: We will have even more interested non-artists this time, so feel free to spread the word to those who might enjoy it. 

We'll need  the 3-part as an antidote to the cruel blasts of winter (if you're like me, the creativity slows. Let's jump start it!) 

My thanks to all who wrote about the difference the demos made to their own ideas and to their work. It's very heartening to me to hear of these epiphanies, and it certainly made my time recovering in the sanatorium easier.

I also have been essaying some other paintings. First, I painted, almost straight out, a 30x24 anticipating February. I wanted to capture the complete hush that falls across the landscape when it begins to snow. Here's the result (a rather poor phone shot, overlit at the top----oh, well).

I also played around with a 12x14" piece of canvas, taped to a board. It turned out to be a squall.

I have become a devotee of Instagram. It's an easy way to post some photos quickly, and to just as quickly get some feedback from artists I know all across the country and even beyond. It's easy to sign up. For me it's fun because I'm in touch with a number of my confederates at Arcadia Contemporary.

Here's a photo which the director of Arcadia's satellite space at The Four Seasons Hotel in New York posted on Instagram. Seems the cleaner was momentarily beguiled.

I posted a photo of a drawing I own. I bought the drawing at a vide-grenier (tag sale) when we lived in France. It was in the midst of a pile of miscellaneous, printed papers. The sign said 2 euros. So I casually paid the vendor and made off with my treasure.

Anyway, as I was saying, I posted a phone shot of the drawing on instagram, trying to get a sense of the date of the the uniform and the rifle. Several people managed to place the soldier and his rifle at the time of the Crimean war. 

One of the new painters I've met on Instagram is Jon Hayes. I suggested to Jon that we try to make paintings of him, utilizing the drawing of our long-dead fellow artist. For most of a week we've been posting our progress back and forth, and receiving comments from other artists. All in all, it's been great fun (though somewhat harrowing because of my lack of figure skills). Here's the drawing (about 20" x 12"):

Jon did a very credible job of his study. Perhaps because I'm a landscape painter, I felt impelled to put him in a setting. I imagined his location (somewhere in the Crimea!) and set about making a painting that tried to borrow from my first hero, N. C. Wyeth). It has much wrong with it, but it does have an 'atmosphere'. This is its current state (25"x20"):

The inclusion of another figure, some landscape (a distant estuary? Can he see the Russian Fleet?) and the moon, begin to give it a certain feeling that I like. I can see curling up with my book, anxious to find out what's next.
In fact, Jon and I have agreed to try a painting illustrating another event. We've called it "Chapter Two: The Ambush". This time we don't have a drawing to help us from our 19th c. artist friend. We each will interpret the where and what for ourselves. Wish us luck.

Penultimately, two students have been badgering me (yes, that's the correct word) to do some sessions which are just critiques. I've said that I'd consider it. If you should want to be involved in these, and can withstand my withering comments(!), let me know. I'll pass your interest on to Gloria and Pat who are organizing it.

Finally, there are those who'd like to have a weekly painting class, in which you paint(!), to get us through the winter. If you're someone who'd like to do that, please write to me at