As you can see, there is much to paint! Shapes, reflections, textures, shadows, lines . . . more experience to rack up (brush mileage). This was a wonderful day!
Nature has a way of sprinkling lots of different yellow among the violet, too! What a place!
Standing in the same spot, there were paintings all around!
oil on canvas panel, 12 x 16 inches
Beginning early in the morning (7 AM) I scramble to capture the light and the shadows. On this day (and every other day, so far) I have made two paintings. These two were completely different. The first, “Near Roaring Camp,” was a speedy study looking directly into the sun as the dew was glistening and the sun was coming over the edge of the trees. The light was changing fast so it was a race to capture the feeling.
By the time the second painting (“Cowell’s Meadow) was ready to start, it had become overcast. The light went from yellow orange to a cool gray with no shadows. Colors intensified and I was in painting heaven. I had moved to another location where there were greens to off set the violets and the slightly orange red grasses (an almost perfect secondary triad of color!). I took my time in the overcast, standing up to my hips in violet flowers with little bright yellow poppies at my feet.
I couldn’t wait to come back to paint. Watch this blog for more paintings from that site.
This was another test for me . . . . A test to remain spontaneous and loose. My tendency is to get tight with my work, but I adore the looseness of both oil and watercolor as it enlists the viewer to employ the imagination.
The textures of the trees, the warm to cool transition, as the viewer goes down the ‘tunnel’ and all the color and edge variations in the shadows are the three things I had really concentrate on the entire time I was painting. It may seem silly, but I needed to take an athletic stance in front of the canvas and hold that long brush all the way at the end of the wooden handle. This painting was painted from my ankles up . . . .moving my entire body to lay in the strokes, sometimes. By the end of a six hour session, I was exhausted physically . . . . .but pleased with the outcome.
A few days later, what needed work was quite apparent. I attacked those areas with the same mental attitude of *suggesting* and *Implying* rather than explicit explanation.
After this painting was finished, I began to think I might be catching on to oil painting.
This sketch has been in my sketch book for many months . . .probably a year. And every time I go near it, it calls to me. I could feel the emotion of it, but could not put my finger on the sort of color scheme I needed. Then, on a rare quiet moment, alone in my studio while in North Carolina last month, I could stand it no longer. Out came my largest flat brush and lots of reds. I painted furiously and put in the directions, big movements and large shapes. . . . .and I made some serious errors . . . .Edges for one. And there was one edge on a shadow which rode the edge of the path that simply came from bad judgment.
I kept the painting around for weeks. Looked and looked and looked at it without resolution. Then, today, I decided something had to be done . . . .that urge to complete it was nagging. There is no model or place to seek for correction. It is all an abstract notion that came into a sketch.
It sure isn’t much when it comes to being a fancy, recognizable place, but it sure does speak to me at a level I have yet to put my finger on. And in a mat, it just slays me!!
Do you suppose it’s the reds?
I sure don’t have the answers to that question . . .or the one before that. I find that the more experienced I become (read as ‘older’) I can see many more ‘needs’ that an unfinished painting has. Perhaps it all has to do with the spirit of what you are trying to communicate. In this piece, it was the ‘jazz’ of the shapes and the location of Park Guell in Barcelona. I painted much of this painting with my great friend Montserrat at my side. . . .both of us talking, visitors coming by and making comments . . .great friendship in a great place busy at work with making art. Mind you, I said making art . . . .not copying what we saw. We were finding ways to make shapes fit together in interesting ways and to subdue and emphasize different things. Add patterns and textures where they weren’t in order to create interesting and compelling relationships among the parts of the painting.
I really did just finish this painting but a few weeks ago. And it really was in my flat file for nearly 8 years. It had been waiting for me to grow enough to see what needed to be done in order to make a successful painting. Because of the time spent with Montserrat (Muntsi) and the location, I could hardly scrap it 8 years ago. This painting says so much more to me than ‘a place I have been.’
Isn’t that really the reason we paint? . . .to capture a spirit? A feeling? A mood? I suppose the painting is finished when we look at the painting and can feel that spirit.
If you are interested, click on this link to see images of Park Guell . . .designed and built by Antonio Gaudi.
Understand that I am always up for a challenge, but there are also times when it feels good to just whistle a melody and sling paint. I have done enough landscapes and sea paintings in my experience to feel very comfy in their execution. Some good music in the background, a rainy day, a cozy studio and away I go!!
Truth known, I have been trying to finish a painting begun and painted 80% of the way last spring. It is still not done, but I am hard at work making adjustments. There are value revisions, temperature adjustments, edge modifications and all sorts of niggling things which need to be sorted out in this piece. As complex as it is, I may be flirting with the dreaded “overworked” look.
Having been again on the easel for a week, it is nagging my consciousness and am considering looking closely at it to see what I can learn from it and considering starting all over again.
Yes, you might well be correct. I might be nuts to do that. Something just isn’t singing out to me in this one,though. But I thought you’d like to see the progress and the struggles (and blood) of a suffering, frustrated painter attempting something far over his head.
I’ll let you in on another secret: It has been leaning against my studio wall since May (almost 6 months) 80% finished. I have been (yes, I am really saying this) reluctant to finish it for fear of ruining it. (There! I said it! The confession is out. Guilty !)
Finally, I had to face the truth: It can’t lean against the wall forever. It can’t go on unfinished; it would be worthless and end up in the trash. So, if that is where it is headed anyway, why not jump in knowing you might ruin it. It is already worthless!
So, here it is . . . .not quite resolved completely . . . .can you see my sweat and blood on it?