Friday, October 26, 2007

at jay's suggestion ...

Jan Hart, the artist who hosted/taught the New Mexico workshop, was assisted by her son, Jonathan (or Jay), who is also an artist (her other son's a musician). At critique one day Jay suggested I try a tertiary color scheme; this unfinished painting is the result. Looking at it now, I see that fussing with the little shapes is hindering reading the space ... especially in the parallelogram(?)-shaped formation in the top-middle section; maybe a neutralizing glaze over the area to the right of it will set that area back in space and make this less troublesome. May have to glaze over the saved whites here too though; it's too jumpy. Well, I do like the colors and the cascading pale shapes in the foreground. Those pinons just fascinate me ... leaving some circles intact and pulling a wet brush across others to let them run and bleed: they're fun to paint--you muck them up, but they still look like something!

Oh JMJ! I just noticed that one pinon dead center at the top ... Just when I say how I love them ... Well, it's easy to fix. One lesson I mean to take to heart from the NM workshop: when something bothers you, add more of it! It's counterintuitive, but it works. Dilution.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 25, 2007


No time at the moment--wading into a large job, which is also occupying most of my work space--for a larger painting, so I did these four small (about 4x6) studies over the last 24 hours.
Feels important to me to keep the New Mexico momentum going. These small paintings, though not tremendously satisfying--they don't represent any kind of a breakthrough ... more of what I feel safe doing--at least have me keeping the paints wet.
The first two were done from sketches made here in Jersey; the second two from photos from NM.
If anyone is interested in viewing my New Mexico photos, email me, and I'll send you a link.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Land of Enchantment

"If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come."
--Native American proverb

Here're the paintings I completed in New Mexico (there are two more--one incomplete, and one a small one done on location at the Santuario de Chimayo; I'll post it tomorrow; I'll also try to post better photos of these first two). I'm surprised I don't have more--I do have some nice little sketches--especially since the workshop was full of hardworking and talented painters (there were twelve us, from all over the country: CA, AZ, FL, MD, TN and yours truly, NJ).
These paintings are all on quarter sheets (11 x 15).

Our teacher, Jan Hart--a lovely person and a terrific teacher; we got not only encouragement and great critiques, but also some very useful information about the properties of organic v. inorganic pigments --was also very good about getting us around to see the sights: her itinerary for us was ambitious, exhausting ... but I'm glad she went to the trouble; I feel like I saw everything I should on a first trip--Taos, Santa Fe, Chimayo, Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu. (I ate everything too: all manner of tamales and chiles rellenos, killer breakfast burritos, stuffed sopaipillas--amazing!!--and fabulous Frito pie.)
Jan's son, Jonathan, a pastel artist, was visiting from Seattle, and was wonderful--he was just always there to help with anything you needed, and offered very valuable comments at critique time. One morning he gave a demonstration of his pastel technique: it was amazing, like magic!
Visit Jan's website,, to see her artwork and link to Jonathan's.

We met in the studio for breakfast around 8:30 and critiques and/or painting. Jan would answer questions and often gave a demonstration. The demos were highly instructive--and inspiring: you wanted to try it right away! At lunchtime we headed out for photo ops, sightseeing (the O'Keeffe house was a revelation; if I lived there, I'd live to be 99 1/2 too), and, on at least two occasions, painting on-site (though there often wound up not being enough time for this before dinner; and no one wanted to be late for dinner). We were welcome to return to the studio after dinner to paint, and many did. One night I painted until around 10:30 before retiring to the Days Inn for a Tecate.

One very useful thing Jan shared with us was her sketchbook.
When she works from a photo, Jan tapes the photo to the left page and does a value study on the right-hand page. Along with the value study, she also thinks about a title (I had always discounted the importance of a title, thinking of it as no more than and possibly a great deal worse than a label; but it also makes you think of what the painting's about--something else I am not in the habit of doing!), and notes the direction of the light and any other things she wants to keep in mind while painting. It seems a great way to prepare to paint, to gather your thoughts. Like in Chinese painting, when we would grind the ink before beginning.

This flat-topped mountain is the Pedernal, the one O'Keeffe said god told her she could have if she painted it enough. And I guess she did, since her ashes are up there.
Posted by Picasa