Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We all got inspired looking at art books today. Okay, I started it, with one of my own that I brought and wanted to consult. Lots of palette knife, impressionistic paintings. Then we headed up Three Tree Hill, where there is a vista featuring our emblematic geological feature, Mt. St. Helena (pronounced Hell-eee-nah). You cannot miss its distinctive profile in our county's landscape. I started with brushes, then did a little palette knife, with a little bitty palette knife, and then I was off and running. Three hours just evaporated. Forgot to drink any water, smear any sunscreen (luckily it was cooler and I kept on my long sleeves from the morning's cool), or sit down (since I forgot my chair, that was good). Not unhappy, loving the yellow sky (we talked about that before setting out, but I was ahead of the curve with my earlier watercolor of Rollercoaster Hill a couple of semester's ago). The yellow against the blue is stunning, I think. In the beginning, the mountain was too dark, and too bright. Last thing I did was lighten and cool it down, to force it back. It really is like being God, manipulating the scene on the canvas. Then, in case I was not humble enough, the wind blew the whole thing over paint side down in the dirt. Sigh. I think I will leave a few little gobs there, just for authenticity.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Today's vision. We hiked all over the place, down little paths into shady spots with huge rocks and venerable old trees. Bunch of cows today, but none would stand still long enough to paint. And I forgot the camera, again. I learned a lot today, about make making, colors, simplifying. Again, nobody did anything close to what I did, but some did some things I did last week, so maybe I am all right here. Oh, hell, I am just fine. I like this, lots of color, some surprises, much delight in the doing. Evolution, it's a wonder.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
One fine day, I made this painting, with big brushes on little canvas, very impasto, very joyous in the doing of it. Then I decided it was too loose and tightened it up. The plate became white, the pears brighter, the background smooth and flat. Oh, I sold it, at the Art for Life auction last year. It was there because I didn't like it any more. I like this one. Well, it would have had a better chance if I had done it with my new pigments, which are artist quality and very prismatic. That is why I am so excited about my current process. I am on the verge of finding that way that is all mine. Some hues had to be ordered online. When they arrive, watch out!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
No, this is not my painting. It is Wolf Kahn, a hero of mine. You see, there really are rules in painting. Warm colors in foreground, cool behind comes to mind. Now, Wolf does sometimes use a realistic palette, blue skies, brown earth, green grass. Most of the time, he just goes with his heart. Lots of heart in his work. I want my work to be like that. And looking at the paintings I deemed worthy that now march around the walls of the little yellow house, mostly tiered on the studio walls, I can see that there is charm there, yes. But something was off. Not exciting, for one thing. Well, not anymore. I am always excited when I finish one of my paintings, wow, I did that? Later, I wonder what it was that got me so fired up. And I think I have found the missing link. After Pepperwood, I am signed up to do a workshop with Dana Hooper, a local artist whose work I very much admire. Her work is so dynamic, it fairly leaps off the wall at you. She was the one that did the 6"x8" cupcakes that sold for $1,050 at the Art for Life auction two years ago. The material list arrived yesterday, and I was not surprised to find 1) a limited palette of brilliant pigments, some I had not heard of, some I already had; 2) small canvases, at least 5 per day; 3) BIG brushes, the smallest 1/2 inch, all flats. That is a dynamic combination, and one that kind of bends all the rules. Well, that's what made Monet and Van Gogh and Cezanne and Matisse and Picasso and Modigliani what they are. All trained academically and were capable of rendering a perfectly photographic realism. And all veered off into their STYLE, the one that stamps their vision firmly into their work, so you can point at one you have never seen and know it is a Monet. It took some time, didn't happen overnight. Well, me too. But it is coming. Yes.
Friday, June 25, 2010
This is actually the third painting I tried, a pastel palette. Hey, Wolf Kahn did it! I am not unhappy about it, though it wasn't quite what I wanted. But it was the second painting on the second day, and I had futzed around with the first (the hose reel ditty) for most of our morning, so I had to do this really, really fast. Looking at it now, I would not be ashamed to hang it on my wall at all. And that is high praise for me. Oh, I forgot. I am not supposed to slamdunk my work. That's artist abuse. Mea culpa.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Looking back on the hill behind me, I did this quick sketch. This was a vigorous process, lots of jabbing at the canvas, making it rattle against my easel paintbox. After all, one doesn't need to see every leaf to know one is looking at a tree. And the colors, well, most of them were really there. Okay, I threw in some ringers, but I like the effect, and feel like I am on to something here. This is the most satisfied I have felt about my efforts so far. And in case you wondered, landscapes are hard to paint without being too picky or too amorphous or winding up with green balloons floating above a tan sea. Sometimes things just get kind of magical. Wild, isn't it?
Today at Pepperwood, the sky was amazing. So I just moved it down to the soft rolling hills, eliminating those annoying pine-forested mountains behind them. Everything was very far away, and very small. It felt like a Grandma Moses viewpoint, all those tiny little details so lovingly crafted. Except that I was, as always, in a hurry, so nothing is particularly spelled out. I like that, the diffuse, amorphous blurred aspect. There were cows grazing here, but, from my vantage point, they were just flyspecks. I left them out. And, once again, my painting was totally different from anyone else's. Most folks were using tan and green and blue and black, which is what the landscape can look like, if you don't get in there and observe it. I see a lot of colors there, and I exaggerate them, skip some, add some, just make it my picture and not necessarily the one everyone else is seeing. And yes, those puffy little mushroom clouds really were there. They are the most realistic part of the whole painting.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I got fascinated by this hose all neatly coiled on the barn fence, and kind of lazy about toting all the stuff out into the chaparral and long grasses where the rattlesnakes live, so I sat by the side of the barn and painted this little ditty. Different kind of palette, different kind of composition, oh, hell, it is what it is. Again, one of a kind. Not one even near it. That could be good. And it could be awful. It was fun. Some shade would have been nice, though.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Ah, the great outdoors. There we were, 26 of us, on top of the mountain at Pepperwood Preserve. We had a dandy lecture, then set up our equipment (note the nifty hand cart, it's new) and began to do the en plein air thing. Now, we had seen a video of Wolf Kahn yesterday. He is a special hero of mine, and I have to admit, I decided color was totally arbitrary, and I could do any old thing I wanted with it. Just a matter of how wild and crazy I wanted to get. And here is the end result, kind of conservative, actually, and too fussy, I futzed around way too much in the end. And it was totally different from what anyone else did. Not that there weren't a couple of others who played with color. I just did it in my own little way. Now, I am not unhappy with the result, as I learned a lot from this one little painting. Some things worked, others flopped. Ready to start again tomorrow. I did get the atmospheric layering thing out of the way right out of the box. This is a good thing in itself. And I got my war wound, slipped on my way up into the van and tore a hole in my shin. Ruined a pair of socks. Ah, well, small price to pay for the privilege of clomping around up there where the air is rare.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
It seems the less I have to do, the less I get done. No blogging lately, for sure. Backyard retains jungle status, thinking of hiring someone to do it. Soon. And tomorrow, the summer class starts, a landscape painting class at Pepperwood, local nature preserve on top of a mountain halfway to nowhere. Since it will begin at 8 AM four days a week for three weeks, I will be rousting my ass out of bed at crack of dawn, throwing trailmix and water bottle in the bag and heading out. Now, this sounded really fun. Then the syllabus arrived. Groan. Tomorrow is four hour lecture session, with slides. We will go over every syllable of the syllabus, even though most of us can probably read it ourselves. And some of us already have. I thought college was ever so much more esoteric than this. And even though we will not dip a single brush into pigment, we are expected to bring all our stuff to class, most likely for inspection. It boggles the mind, folks. Okay, never mind. It will all be loads of fun, once I get my easel paintbox opened, laid out my palette, and begin to work. That's what it's all about, brush to canvas, sweet breezes, hawks wheeling overhead. Not to mention rattlesnakes, ticks and poison oak. Oh, my!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
This weekend was Art at the Source, a mini Art Trails, situated mostly in the wilds of West County. But there were a few studios, about a dozen of them, all in the same barn of a building just a stone's throw from the little yellow house, so off we went, three little ladies, out for a day of appreciating art and artists. And there was much to savor. One gal was doing the mbuti cloth thingies we did in Ms. Cohen's color theory class. I did one of those. Never thought to make it my main art thrust, but guess I could. Another had my idea of ink drawn nudes with water color, except she had the idea to do the painting first, then put in the lines. Gee, that makes a lot of sense, and I will be working on some of those soon. My favorite artist was an abstrationist, making wonky and incredibly colorful paintings of landscapes and COWS. I signed her guest book, and added that if she does a workshop, I'm there. Ready to try something in the Chagall mode, flying animals and bubble-boobed women with sad, sweet faces. I can do that!
Monday, June 07, 2010
Here, on the eve of my birthday, I am waxing thoughtful. There were years when piling another year on my sturdy frame was not a big deal. There is not a lot of difference between 35 and 36. Or 45 and 46. But between 65 and 66, there seems to be a huge chasm. All of a sudden, 70 looms much nearer. So some reflection is necessary. For instance, what to wear. Now this has always been a topic of great concern for me. I wore all the fashions when I was younger; circle skirts, knee socks with plaid skirts held together with huge brass safety pins, sack dresses, bell bottoms, the Tom Jones shirts. Anything the retailers dreamed up, I wore. In my netheryears, I have tended to be preppy. Lots of blazers, pleated slacks, white shirts, vests, little heels. I now want more than anything to be comfortable. I am not attracted to matchy-matchy Coldwater Creek kind of clothes, that are admittedly cut generously for meatier gals like me, and have a certain elan. Yet they also scream OLD. Every item has some little unnecessary geegaw attached or built in. Or the color is too prissy. If I had the $$$, I would buy all Eileen Fisher fashions. Her clothes are simple, cut to perfection to drape on the figure, in wonderful hues. I actually found one of her sweaters at the consignment store recently. It is hanging in my closet even as we speak. A treasure. Then I had this thought. I have a sewing machine! The clothes I want are only a bobbin away! And I have all this TIME! And the studio is all cleaned up, and there is a table and room for the ironing board! Ah, this sounds like a project about to explode all over the place.