Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sticks and Woods

I had to try these, just to see if it is possible to do. The bottom is a stix sketch, and the top a pastel, both 8x10, of nearly the same place in the woods.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stix and Canals

Recently I was introduced to Prismacolor Art Stix by artist Sharon Carson. The Art Stix are woodless colored pencils. Sharon does beautiful landscape paintings, and starts with outdoor sketches done with Art Stix. (I guess you don't need to put an 's' at the end if the word ends in 'x'.) So I have started using the sticks. They don't quite match pastels, but on some occasions might beat hauling a lot of other stuff around. I will get back to the woods again, but I needed to think about what I am going to do there a bit more. Sharon's husband Ed Carson is also a fascinating artist.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Field Farm Woods

This one was started a couple days ago, went through one wipedown, et voila.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back in the Woods

This is a view from a path in the woods of Field Farm.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Corn, and More Corn

It rained on Friday. Thus, the self-portrait. Al Gury writes in his book Alla Prima, "An old joke among painters is that most self-portraits show the painter looking angry, depressed, or outright crazy. This actually results from the long periods of staring into the mirror..." That's the excuse I will use.

I did get out on Sunday. There are cows in those fields. One decided to eat in front of me. Later I had to shoo it away when it became very interested in what I was doing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On the Path

When I walk the trail in the woods, or on the park road running between the tall trees, or the way at the edge of the canal bounded on the other side by brush and more trees, I look to the right, and then to the left, and on and on. I used to do that walking when I wasn't painting, and I wasn't looking either. Now there's space at my feet, and then further in where I could walk if I left the path, and then much further back, where the light is brighter because that's where the sun is rising. These last several images are all early morning views. For this series, before I start painting, I try to determine what color scheme I want to use, as a starting point.

I have been reading a book on William Merritt Chase by Barbara Gallati. He had an exotic studio, with all kinds of bric-a-brac, but when it came to landscapes, he painted the landscape he happened to find himself in, near wherever he was living at the time, the parks in Brooklyn, or the Shinnecock, Long Island coast, or the surroundings of an Italian villa. If I lived in an Italian villa, I too would paint the landscape around my villa. I try to focus on the landscape around where I happen to be and live.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Look Again

I am trying to do several things at the same time. Simplify. Select colors that may have a less arbitrary relationship. Evoke a sense of mystery. Develop a running theme out of something I look at almost every day, which contains much more than casual observation would signify. Push what I do to something I haven't done yet. My interest in Fairfield Porter's landscapes has led me to look at the photographs of Eliot Porter, his brother. Interesting how he simplified his images in a kind of mid-range between foreground and background. They suggest another approach that might be fruitful.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Still Looking

This may seem like a nutty exercise, but the woods from a safe vantage point hold a lot of mystery, and wonder. The light coming from the other side suggests that there is more to be imagined. I am also playing with a color wheel, though that may not be so obvious either.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Looking into the Woods

Look into the woods, and keep on walking.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Radical Origins of Looking into the Woods

The bottom painting shows the connecting gully/dirt "road" between two corn fields that I did last week. The top painting is today's looking into the woods. Both are small oils.

I have been reading Gustave Courbet by Sarah Faunce, and didn't realize the radical origins of pure landscape painting. In her explanation of why Courbet selected to show himself painting a landscape in his large allegorical painting, The Painter's Studio, she discusses how the emerging landscape artists, such as Corot, Valenciennes, and others were suspect because "landscape as an independent genre"...went "against the conventional belief that only figure painting mattered." She writes, "Conservative critics...lost no time in linking the spontaniety and personal freedom implied in the painting of landscape to social and political subversion. The notion that meaning could be found in any corner of nature made nonsense of the prevailing belief in a hierarchy of subject matter. Against these received ideas the painters of pure landscape had to find their way to construct a new kind of meaning out of their own direct experience of nature."

Landscape painting has come a long way in a short amount of time, and then maybe not so far after all.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Looking into the Woods

Looking into the woods from a field or a road has always fascinated me, or rather trying to make a painting of what one sees when looking into the woods. Maybe that's why I am always attracted to the paintings of Neil Welliver. It's not easy coming up with something as interesting visually as what one sees. Welliver came up with his solution, a beautiful patterning that is landscape and flat abstraction at the same time.

This is only a sketch, with more to come, of looking into the woods. Sooner of later I will get what I think I am after. 8x10 pastel over acrylic on watercolor paper.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Field and Mountain, No Stream

The corn fields on the upper hill alternate with fields of grass. The mountains are the Taconics in New York, so this is a view looking west. Other than that, it's a picture of nothing much. It's a place in which you want to be still, and just listen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rutted Path

This is the rutted path leading down from the upper fields. Only tractors, trucks, ATVs, motorcycles, and painters on foot go this way.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another High Corn Field

On Friday, it rained. I spent part of day looking in a mirror. I am too old to be like the young Rembrandt though I seem to have imitated one of his head poses. And the corn fields keep my fascination.

I just finished reading Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art by Justin Spring. He recognizes on the last page that his book doesn't do justice to the complexity of Porter in terms of his writings and paintings. The book does establish that Anne Porter, wife to Fairfield Porter, was a saint for all that she had to put up with. My google search indicates that she was 95 in 2006 when she published her book Living Things: Collected Poems. Fairfield Porter died in 1975.

A couple of amusing quotes from the book:

"...Porter quoted his favorite story about Mallarme, related by Paul Valery to Stravinsky, who had included it in his autobiography:"Degas, who, as is well known, liked to dabble in poetry, one day said to Mallarme: 'I cannot manage the end of my sonnet, and it is not that I am wanting in ideas.' Mallarme, softly: 'It is not with ideas that one makes sonnets, but with words.'"

Porter spent his last summer painting with watercolors. He wrote that watercolor "is roughly to oil what the harpsichord is to the piano. Except I like the harpsichord better than watercolor, and oil better than the piano."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Upper Hill

This past weekend I discovered another place to paint. Not that far away actually, just hidden behind a gate, and up a hill beyond what can be seen from below. Magnificent views, and corn fields, and cows. I read somewhere recently that the plots in cemeteries with the best views cost more. This painting represents just a corn field past its summer prime. This is 9x12 on pastelmat paper.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Midnight Oil

The bottom image I did last week in the park. I haven't forgotten doing my oils, though I cannot do them each day, as I had hoped. I need a 28 hour day, or some other way to find more time. The middle image is my easel in Shangri-la, and the top image is the painting on the easel.