Thursday, January 29, 2009

From Bank to Barn

This is a quick view of the barn I was looking at when I almost fell into the snow bank that I posted a couple days ago.  I plan on doing another version this weekend, assuming I don't find something else.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Bank

When I was looking at an old barn on Sloan Road in Williamstown, MA, I turned around and saw this snow bank.  The sun was bright and the air was cold.  

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grapefruit, Art and Christianity

I ate this grapefruit today before painting it.  It's not the same one seen previously.  On a heavier note,  I discovered a profound writer on art and Christianity.  The poet Christian Wiman, in an essay entitled "Notes on Poetry and Religion" from Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet, says the following just in the first paragraph:

Art is like Christianity in this way: at its greatest, it can give you access to the deepest suffering you imagine--not necessarily dramatic suffering, not necessarily physical suffering, but the suffering that is in your nature, the suffering of which you must be conscious to fulfill your nature--and at the same time provide a peace that is equal to that suffering.  The peace is not in place of the sorrow; the sorrow does not go away.  But there is a moment of counterbalance between them that is both absolute tension and absolute stillness.  The tension is time.  The stillness is eternity.  With art, this peace is passing and always inadequate.  But there are times when the very splendid insufficiency of art--its "sumptuous Destitution --/ Without a Name," in Dickinson's phrase--can point a person toward the peace that passeth understanding...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still Life without Cold Waters

It's been a while since I did a still life, which one is supposed to do during the winter when it's cold outside. On one of my walks a while back, before the snow and ice, I picked up an oak leaf, which will stand in for Nature. Tomorrow morning I will eat the grapefruit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stream Bank

To paint this small pastel, I first roughed in some areas that I washed with alcohol, which dries very fast.  It's on Canson Mi-Teintes paper, the smooth side.   There is a stream present, but hidden away at the bottom of the bank.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cold Water

This pastel painting depicts a small stream in the woods at Washington Crossing Park in New Jersey. I love the idea of looking down and seeing the sky. It's like looking at a flat piece of paper covered with markings and seeing another world.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cold Day Again

This pastel was done this morning on Saint-Armand sabretooth paper. I like the paper very much. The canal is almost completely frozen over except for one area where some domestic ducks are keeping it open. People feed them so they survive as long as the fox doesn't get them.

The death of Andrew Wyeth has led to a renewed discussion of the so-called realist/abstraction conflict. In the book with the long title Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life Prof. Sam Wang writes of a person who regained sight after a life of blindness. He says that the person had to learn to see. The person couldn't judge distances, didn't understand space, and was fooled by "reality" leading to the conclusion that we learn what we see. In other words, there is no right way or wrong way to see, unless you are driving a car, or trying to use the crosswalk. In terms of making art, there is no right or wrong way to respond to the world by making marks on a surface, if that's your medium. Marks on a surface are inherently abstract, with varying degrees of resemblance to familiar things that we have learned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cold Beauty

This pastel is a combination winter and canal reflection with ice forming and flowing on the water surface.  Unlike Marc Hanson, who loves to work in freezing temperatures,  I don't.  But early this morning I went out to take pictures for something to paint.  My camera was sluggish, and my hands shaky, and my fingers stinging with oncoming numbness.  Most of the pictures I discarded.  This image captures what I wanted to say.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter Landscape

Adam Weinberg, in an essay in the catalog Unknown Terrain: The Landscapes of Andrew Wyeth, wrote"...realism is no more real than abstraction. Keeping in mind that both realism and abstraction are culturally determined, we can avoid irreconcilable either/or positions."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winter Picturesque

So far in the last few days I have done five winter landscapes, including the shed above. These winter landscapes remind me of something Andrew Wyeth said. He has been accused of being "provincial" because he has confined himself to Chadds Ford, PA and Cushing, Maine. When he finally did travel to Europe, he said it was too picturesque. It's difficult to avoid being "picturesque" when doing winter scenes (or European landscapes).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Last Reflection

This maybe my last visit to the land of upside down for a while. Looking into a body of water, seeing a reflection, reminds me of the passages in Thoreau's Walden. He looks into the pond and sees the sandy bottom, ancient pine trunks, himself, the sky, and eternity. "I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars." But I must stop reflecting and move on.

My pictures have been getting more wintery. I will be visiting the land of cold beauty next. A cold beauty is born, to borrow from Yeats.