Sunday, January 31, 2010

Field Painting

Field painting used to refer to Kenneth Noland and other artists who put color on large canvases. This is an 8x10 pastel of a field, which is next to a small model airplane field, off of the back trail of the park. It was a good day to walk back there since all the muddy trails are frozen.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Canal in Early Morning Sun

I don't have any remarks today. Need to move on to some household chores. This pastel in 11x14 on colourfix paper.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Just Starting

Today I only had time to make the preparatory drawing for a larger painting that I will complete tomorrow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stay on the Path

This view is a little further back from last evening's view. Did I tell you that the canal path is a wonderful place ? I wander up and down before cutting into the woods, but I don't wander very far when it comes to making pictures.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different

The sun was extraordinary this morning. Okay. Maybe I am exaggerating. But art is about exaggeration anyway. I mean it's colored stuff on a flat surface. I am trying not to overreact.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On the Back Trail

I have been taking the back trail again. It goes through an area that used to be a farmer's field many years ago. All the trees are small and the same height, more or less. Lots of tall grass on the sides. I sometimes come across a herd of deer, or a fox. Often wet. The mud freezes over at night. This pastel is 8x10 on uart paper.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trees Next to the Continental Lane

I love the early morning sun in winter. The Continental Lane is where Washington's army hiked after crossing the Delaware on its way to Trenton. It's too narrow to "march" it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Experimenting and exploring with black and white on Canson paper. These two are 8x10. The top image shows some farm machine abandoned in the woods, which used to be a field, many, many years ago.

Another artist who links landscape and the body is John Singer Sargent. He did many plein air paintings with people lounging or sleeping on the ground. See the book Sargent Abroad: Figures and Landscapes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Woods in Winter II

This is a 12x12 pastel version of the previous drawing. A while back when I was looking at the landscapes of Gustav Klimt, it seems that about every landscape painting he did was square. They were large, but square.

On a related topic, recently I encountered the idea that landscape derives from the body, as in painting landscapes is a subconscious way of painting the body. A writer on Richard Diebenkorn suggested this about his paintings where you can actually see the transition. Klimt, if you are familiar with his non-landscape work, is another great example, though in his case he moves directly from the body to landscape. I found the idea again in another book, Painting as an Art by Richard Wollheim, in the section where he talks about the great Thomas Jones. I will have more to write about this in the future (I have to read the book!). Thomas Jones, by the way, was a genius for about a year or so, 1782-83, when he painted the most beautiful, small cityscapes of Rome, from his rooftop. He was one of the first plein air painters.

Don't ask me what painting winter landscapes has to do with the body.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Woods in Winter

I only have had enough time to make this preparatory drawing. Doing so does clear the mind as well as the path. It's 8x8 on Canson paper with black and white pastel, and charcoal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stream Bed in Winter

Up Luce Road past the farm you will find this stream bed, and there's still plenty of snow on the ground. It's the same view as the earlier black and white pastel but in a 12x12 format. I tried to be simple, or simpler, like the black and white.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Black and White

I didn't have a colorful weekend. Have you ever wondered what you are going to do with all those black pastel sticks? They offer the opportunity to think in color without color. Even so, I don't see things in black and white.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tree in the Back Field

After you go through the long back trail, you end up in a large field. The snow doesn't last long there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Another conjecture on the back trail in the park. These sketches are on Canson paper.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sketchy Conjectures

I didn't have much time, so I am just uploading a couple sketches. The square format seems to work best here. Probably would have worked better on the previous painting too. This is still on the back trail of the park.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Back Trail

This morning I walked this trail which travels along the western back edge of the park. I did spook a fox, or maybe a feral cat. Beautiful, but cold. 8x10 on uart paper.

Merton has some challenging words to painters from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (that's what I think I should call my paintings). He starts off innocently enough: "Looking out of the novitiate, when the winter sun is rising on the snowy pastures and on the pine woods of the Lake Knob, I am absorbed in the lovely blue and mauve shadows on the snow and the indescribably delicate color of the sunlit patches under the trees. All the life and color of the landscape is in the snow and sky...there is a great deal of pastel softness in the blue and purple shadows. There is no art that has anything to say about this and art should not attempt it. The Chinese came closest to it with their Tao of painting and what they painted was not landscapes but Tao. The nineteenth-century European and American realists were so realistic that their pictures were totally unlike what they were supposed to represent. And the first thing wrong with them was, of course, precisely that they were pictures. In any case, nothing resembles reality less than the photograph. Nothing resembles substance less than its shadow. To convey the meaning of something substantial you have to use not a shadow but a sign, not the imitation but the image. The image is a new and different reality, and of course it does not convey an impression of some object, but the mind of the subject: and that is something else again." I agree with him, but I would conjecture that any picture reflects the mind of the subject. After enough time has elapsed, even photographs look like images.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Field Edge

This is the northeast end of a large, mainly Tamarack tree stand in Washington Crossing Park. I was out early this morning and the sunlight was streaking across the rough grass creating blue shadows in the snow. There's a fox den in this stand, and deer love to hide in it as well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Winter Nothing

5x7 view into a cold corn field. I continue to read Merton. He said, "Here is an unspeakable secret: paradise is all around us and we do not understand. It is wide open." I am happy he said it. The artistic perception has a chance to understand, at least sometimes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cold Piece From the Edge of the Road

This small 5x7 study is meant to be slight, quickly done, and sketchy. I briefly heard some piano music today by Erik Satie. The music was called Cold Pieces.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Cold Field

This is a 5x7 study of nothing. Rilke said that all art springs from necessity. I have a need to make these little paintings. Who knows, it might lead to something.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Prospect

This 8x10 is done on much rougher colourfix paper, but it works for snow. I like looking through trees. Not much to see. More fields of nothing much.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Prospect Looking Through Trees

This view looks through branches into a corn field with Mt. Prospect in the background. The picture doesn't do justice to the presence of the mountain. I am trying to be less deliberate than my two previous efforts. 8x10 on the new Pastelmat paper. Amazing paper. Hardly creates dust.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Two more fields of nothing

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and productive new year!

It hasn't stopped snowing since we have been up here. I keep peering into snowy fields. They look like nothing much, but deceptively a lot is happening (no pun intended). These are 8x10 on uart paper.

I am reading a book called Cezanne's Composition by Erle Loran. He says some intriguing things, such as that what Cezanne said, in his famous comments to Emile Bernard, and how he painted, do not agree. I have always wondered about Cezanne the theorist vs. Cezanne the painter. I will follow Loran's lead that one should only use the paintings as guides.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Little Pictures of Nothing

I have spent the last couple days doing small pastels of nothing much. Very difficult.