Saturday, August 30, 2008

august virtual sketch date


This month's Virtual Sketch Date painting. The subject was daunting, so I tried to keep Charles Hawthorne's advice in mind: "Painting is just getting one spot of color in relation to another spot of color."

After I was done, I saw another Hawthorne quote that I wish I'd seen first: "Always remember that the thing which to you looks difficult may be very easy"!
I wouldn't say this was "easy," but it was a subject I would never even have attempted--for that reason alone, I'm glad I tried.

Please visit the Virtual Sketch Date blog for links to other participating bloggers--it's very interesting to see how different artists approach the same subject!--and sign on for next month!
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Friday, August 29, 2008

low tide

An experiment in glazing ... The paper's getting fatiqued, so I'll stop for now.
I used a photo from my trip to Lewes, Del., earlier in the summer for a Jan Hart workshop, and I followed the directions in Jan's demo on her website.
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yes we can

Watching the last two nights of the Democratic Convention brought this poem to mind:

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself ...

from Derek Walcott, "Love After Love"


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

new colors!

One thing I don't need, but can't resist--like gold sandals or blue cheese--is new colors. I just got these four: royal blue, rose violet and peacock blue (Holbein) and perylene green (W&N).


Playing with my new colors: I like the neutral made with the rose and the green, and the dark green made with the royal blue and green.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

larger studies

(4 5.5x7.5)

The page of a bit larger studies, with two closeups, below.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

little dune studies

(4 4x6s)
The little studies. I propped the board with the photos up about 6 feet away from where I was painting, but my hand still insisted on adding little dabs.
I'm not including closeups because these really do better from farther away--up close they're labored-looking: and I did spend too much time on them, pecking away.
I think I may have been able to move on sooner--in time!--if I had been happy with the dark green--I just wasn't able to get a color that I liked! And, even from far away (didn't take into account that I'm farsighted!) I obssessed a bit over the details, or rather over trying to get that sense of small grass-topped drifts staggering away.
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

the setup

This is a half sheet (15x22) divided into four 7.5x11 sections, on which I've lightly drawn shapes from my Cape Henlopen dune photos.


The long sheet, 6x16, divided into four 4x16 sections, on the side was an afterthought. Looking at Porter and Turner I thought I'd try to concentrate on shapes, not details. The plan is to paint these smaller ones first--across the room from the photos! So (below, two sections) I've drawn in the general shapes, especially the dark shapes.
Once I've painted these smaller ones, I'll go back and work on the larger ones.

... Probably not today though! For some reason--maybe because everyone's out of the house--I'm devoting the day to cooking: mixed pickles, hummus and baba ganouj, chicken, and carrot cake, and pitchers of Mojitos!

Reminder: The photo reference for this month's Virtual Sketch Date has been posted today. I really enjoyed participating in this last month; take a look and join in!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

turner watercolors

Yesterday, out of the blue, a small catalog from a Feb. 2008 Tate exhibit arrived in the mail from my friend Sue: Hockney on Turner Watercolors! Hockney was invited to select the watercolors for the Tate's exhibition, and in the catalog, he is interviewed about Turner. On the first page, Hockney says: "[Turner] was an artist who loved the surface of the earth.... Turner understood [the] process of looking. Every day was different for him."
Hockney chose the paintings for their energy and brushwork--"They're fresh because you can see how he made them. ... I've come to see that painting has to be about this sense of gesture and movement."
I've just chosen here the first three that made my heart leap with awe and envy.

Studies of Skies, circa 1820-30, 35.7x34.8cm

Marly-Sur Seine: Colour Beginning, 1829-30, 36.2x51.2cm

Castle on a Rocky Coast, circa 1830, 35.5x49cm

As far as my own painting goes ... When I started painting, I had no subjects, no ideas or ambitions; now I have so many subjects and so many ideas of how to try to approach them, that I'm strangely paralyzed.
Perhaps Sue's gift is a well-timed message: get back to the gesture, to the quick impression.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

the facts: copies of fairfield porter

Watercolor crayon (Neocolor).
I just liked the colors in this one, the triangle of blue, and how Porter didn't make the trees naturalistic, something I always strive for and never achieve. Maybe I should stop striving (for naturalism anyway).

I love this one for all the unpainted areas. Blank paper is beautiful, and expressive.

I left out the yawl!
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

fairfield porter

Two Fairfield Porter watercolors from the catalog to a Sept. 1985 Hirschl & Adler Modern gallery show. I guess I must've picked it up sometime in a used bookstore: $1! These are the only two watercolors in the catalog. I love them both: the high-key almost monochromatic color. And the subjects! Scenes I don't think I would see the possibilities in--the shapes, painted and un-, give both scenes a pleasing rhythmic quality.

Had to add a couple of details from Easthampton Parking Lot. I never would even try to paint a car, but that car's beautifully painted: the bare minumum. The details may also show some of Porter's process when painting--putting in darks, negative painting ... but I can't claim to know.

From the catalog:

Whenever I make a somewhat different painting someone is
likely to ask, "Is that a new direction?" They want to know what you are
planning next. But I think this question arises from the misconception that what
is interesting in painting are the ideas it expresses. Painters are
concerned with things. The most prominent things in the painter's experience are
right in front of him, like the paint on the canvas. It is better if he does not
achieve a plan, and that the painting eludes him, with a life of its own. The
painting unfolds, gradually and with difficulty, and he doesn't quite know what
it is even for quite a while after he stops painting it. Then it falls into
place for him, or it doesn't, but for another person who looks at it it may have
a peculiar character right away. So far as it has merit, a painting is a fact,
arbitrary and individual.

--Fairfield Porter 1974
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the passing moment


I've had the page of watercolor studies propped up in my room and was about to file them away as is, then thought, since I haven't been painting, I'd just go at them with Japanese watercolor pens and watercolor pencils--for practice and since there was nothing to lose.
Came upon one of my favorite poetry anthologies today, What Book!? Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop, and it opened, of course, to the poem I always turn to when I open it, a poem by Gary Snyder--who I heard read at Stockton State College in South Jersey (can it be?) thirty years ago, when I was a senior in high school--called "Earth Verse."
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

"do studies, not pictures"

Three little 5.5.x7.5 starts made on my obligatory one-hour afternoon break from work!

What's almost as good as painting? Reading about painting. When I first began to paint again I had a copy of Charles Hawthorne's Hawthorne on Painting; it recently resurfaced. Funny, after not noticing it for years, there it was.
The quotation in this post's title is from the introduction.
There's great advice on every page, especially, in my biased opinion, in the chapter on watercolor.
There is too much to quote here, but here're a couple of recommendations that seem to speak to me where I am now: "Let a watercolor get away from you. If you can't get it back, try another" and "Don't have any particular system about water colors, no special hours to do them in. Go at it when you feel like it."
(See the Hawthorne quote in my banner too!)
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

some darks

The darks do help make the light on the building brighter; some changes to the composition would help too--that bottom branch is a little clunky! And I think I'd like to see more of the fromt of the building and less of the shadow side.
Ah well. I think I'll flip through some Fairfield Porter books before trying this subject again.
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

east point light, delaware bay

This is the East Point Light in the Delaware Bay at the Maurice River. Peter and I went out fishing for weakfish yesterday afternoon; caught only throwbacks and some sand sharks, a croaker, and an oyster cracker.
We gave up on the fishing and head past the lighthouse up the Maurice River and found a little dockside bar, Al's Hideaway--a fine Old Jersey-style place: a little rundown, a little rough around the edges. That might describe the clientele as well, and we fit right in.
We paid for our diversion when the wind and tide changed while we were in the bar, and took a pounding all the way back to the dock trying to get in before dark.
Below's a watercolor sketch of the lighthouse that I made from the boat two summers ago. I doubt if I could improve on it.
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Friday, August 08, 2008

cape may house


Took a one-hour break from working this afternoon to try to get back into the painting habit!
I chose this little bit of a house in Cape May and planned to paint it simply, leaving parts undefined and mainly highlighting the light on the turret ... Right now, I won't judge its progress, because it needs to be pulled together, and I should put in the tree trunk and darken some of the foliage before making any judgments.
But, I am regretting that it's so small (I was intending to send it to someone); I think to get what I have pictured in my mind, I need larger spaces.
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