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Saturday, December 27, 2008

California Impressionists

The above painting is by William Wendt, one of many wonderful California Impressionists.

As I have not had the time nor the motivation to pick up my brush the past few days, I have been catching up on my reading. I have a book checked out of the library that is fast coming due, and I have reached my limit of renewals. With that in mind, I have been perusing the book and reading chapters as they interest me. This morning I read a quote written by an art essayist, Michael Willliams. His essay was included in the volume produced in conjunction with the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition of 1915 in San Fransisco on the art and artists included in the art exhibition halls. He identified the spirtual roots of California art in his essay titled "The Pageant of California Art." Here is the quote that touched me enough to want to share it:

"Unless art, like, man, believes in and is obedient to the spirit of God, it is doomed to madness, decay, and death... (California) is a a state of natural health. It is the land of the great out of doors, a region where art may touch the life-giving bosom of Mother Earth once more, and be fructified anew; where it may put aside its dreary, tortuous intellectualism and the blighting madness of self-deificiation, and turn its eyes once again to the stars, to the great mountains, and to the sea, not merely for their own sakes, but because, real and actual as they are, they are but symbols of divine realities."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nothing New

This past weekend I just pulled some of the paintings I have done this fall that I wanted to touch up; some just a tad, others more than a tad. I think the general rule of thumb on a painting being called a plein-air piece is 80% done on site and 20% can be done in the studio. A plein air painting done 100% on location is called "alla prima." So with that in mind, I think all of these still qualify for plein aire.

Friday I worked on this piece from the Bobolink Trailhead in Boulder, done in October. I had wanted to even out the grass field so that the plane gave a better feeling of being flat. I do tend to get carried away on the textures and patterns. So I tried to keep the color the same but lighter in value on the foreground and to darken the tree itself. I left some of the grasses as is as I weaved the lighter values in. I do actually think of it being a "weaving" of color when I am painting on top of an existing piece. I know there are many artists who use their field sketch to do a bigger painting from, but I actually like to work on the painting itself. It helps me to think about what I want to capture in the field that I am not getting done.

Saturday I revisited the painting I drove to Boulder twice to work on in the field. The Teller Farm buildings. I was still not satisfied with it and so onto the easel it went. I wanted to simplify the shapes and add contrast between the light and the dark shapes. I also flattened out the foreground.

Sunday I pulled a painting out from September painted in Fraser. I have been looking at this painting for months now and wasn't sure if I should mess with it or not. I finally decided that yes, it was something I wanted to do. I toned down some of the colors and unifed the values. I am much happier with all three of these paintings.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

still struggling

Leslie talking to Deb as Deb paints the Cameron Church.
The Third Attempt - Fri. 12-19-08: Last Saturday I met PAAC at the corner of Iowa and Pearl to paint Pearl Street. You may recall that I had started a painting there a month or so ago now. That painting is still unfinished, although I did take it to work on. The whole point of the painting was to capture the bare naked trumpet vine that curls around the fence and tops out like a big parasol over the gate to the backyard of an old apartment building. I did lay it in on Saturday and my fellow artist friend, Leslie, said I had done a great job blocking it in. BUT I wiped the vine out when I got home. She said she has tried similar subject matter with equally frustrating results, and I have talked to other artists whom have tried tackling this very same trumpet vine with no end result worth keeping. So what is it about this particular scene? Leslie also suggested that the painting was fine without the trumpet vine so just leave it out and move on. I did push the light/dark values this last trip out. My daughter thinks it looks like a great cover to a novel as it stands. Oy vey. I will ponder it as I work on something else today.
I finally got something productive done yesterday towards Christmas preparations so I feel less stressed about being so far behind. It was a gorgeous day and I so wanted to be outside painting, as a front is supposed to be moving in again today. BUT reason prevailed and I do feel a weight off my shoulders. For now. And Christmas shopping of any kind the weekend before the holiday was not really an option I wanted to face.

Ernest L Blumenschein Exhibit

Last Friday I met four artist friends at the Denver Art Museum to view the Blumenschein exhibit currently on display. I had heard mixed reviews from those friends who had already seen the exhibit. And I could see their point. The comment I heard more than once was that they liked the early paintings and the later paintings but that the middle of his career were so-so. I totally liked his early paintings; there were two he painted in Paris and one in NYC that were wonderful little paintings. I had no idea he had lived and painted in Paris since he is so well known as being one of the Taos 6 painters. There were some stunning pieces throughout the show, and right now, being a week later, I cannot remember the names of the pieces I particularly enjoyed. His use of color was what impressed me the most. Blumenschein was not the artist I most liked of the Taos 6 but after seeing this exhibit, my view has changed. Amazing how more knowledge and information will do that! If you have not seen the exhibit, it is up through February 8th.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

getting around to touch ups

Last weekend I also put some finishing touches on the paintings I did at Teller Farms a few weeks ago. The one above needed one of the grass planes flattened out in the foreground. Sometimes you just don't see those things when you are on sensory overload in the field painting. this is a better photo than the original posting. I have realized that when I take photos of wet paintings I get too much glare and reflected light, so I may not be so hasty to post right away in the future. I need to work on that dilemma

The painting below, done the week previous to the one above, also needed some touching up. I was not happy with the flat plane (again) of the foreground. I also wanted to create more movement in the grasses and cattails. I did not touch the tree color or the background at all so you can see the difference in the color saturation when the paint is so wet. That is why artists tend to like to varnish their work - it brings back the wonderful colors.

This weekend I am painting walls, as in a room. Since my daughter has moved out, I am turning her room into a guest room. The walls are almost finished but the trim is still to be down, and in this old Victorian, there is LOTS of trim to be done (3 doors and 4 windows!). We are also thinking of installing wall to wall carpet (oh my!) in the bedrooms and hallway. So this is creative as well, just not a canvas, although a canvas of sorts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend 2008

Thanksgiving weekend found me busy with cooking, baking and being with friends and family. We were fortunate to have been invited for two turkey dinners; one on Thanksgiving with friends in Denver and one on Friday with extended family in Colorado Springs. We had a great time with everyone.

It did not leave me much time to catch up on the computer or to be at my easel. So be it. BUT I did decide to finally take up a painting that I had done early last spring. This was done from a photo reference. I had never been happy with the outcome but felt it held potential and I wasn’t ready to ditch it quite yet. I totally reworked it. Viewing the photo of the reworked painting I see that the dark brushstroke in the lower left hand side is too distracting. It is showing up a bit darker in the photograph than it really is but still I will touch that up. It still isn’t where I wanted to go with it originally. I just realized that as I was looking at the photos of the paintings.
The photo reference was taken in Gurgy, France along the Yonne River. I was on a boat excursion with my sister and 5 other adults for 5 nights visiting Auxerre and Joigny and other ports along the way. Gurgy was not quite a port, but we did find a place to tie up along the bank. We had to stop here as we didn't have enough time to make it through the next lock before it closed for the evening. It actually was one of my favorite stops.