Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Trees - Robert Henri - expressive purpose

Summer Trees
  oil on panel  8" x 10"  

"The more simply you see, the more convincingly you will render." Robert Henri

  Perhaps the best advice to help one to see simply is to decide what the poetry or the visual trigger is in the work. Often for me, it can just be the gesture of a copse of trees, emerging from an overgrown meadow. Then as I locate the darkest values and the lightest, warmest values, I begin to build the space with slabs of paint. As the painting progresses it is no longer simply a rendering but a search for or a battle to maintain a connection with that visual poetry. Color choices, composition, paint handling, contrast are all decisions made much easier when guided by that initial visual/poetic choice. 
Form therefore follows, in the matter of painting, expressive intent. The humble subject is often the best path to truth and beauty - and a reminder of the joy of just being completely in the moment and at that place for a little while.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bear's Den, July. Edgar Degas; Antonio Lopez Garcia

Bear's Den, July
  oil on linen  8" x 10"  

"It isn't how to paint, it is what to paint that matters."
Edgar Degas
"...painting is always a fiction... it reconstructs and interprets the world. Simply put, objectivity and subjectivity are not mutually exclusive."
Antonio Lopez Garcia

Both these painters are saying the same thing, each in his own way. The reasons for painting dictate the method and process - and the reasons for making a painting are triggered by the subject, the visual incident. Once embarked on the process the painting becomes an imaginative construct aimed at the painter's angle on the poetry embedded in that subject. While struggling to adhere to the elements necessary to capture the poetry, the painter interprets the subject. 
This little study of rock formations near where I live has in it a sense of abstraction built on how I saw the shadow and light and the massive forms of the rocks - yet clings (maybe desperately) to as much of the place and space as I could. The balance between the two (abstraction and actuality) set up a visual tension that gives painting life. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Field, 2013 - quote by Paul Cezanne

July Field
  oil on panel  7" x 10"  

"A minute in the world's life passes! To paint it in it's reality and forget everything for that! To become that minute..."  Paul Cezanne  

The summer is ripening fast now - with 95 + degree days and high humidity it seems no one (including me) can keep up with the mowing, the vines and weeds especially seem to be in their glory. The trees throw black shadows and the fields provide some color other than the intense green that dominates earlier in the summer. From here on, things get better and better visually, if one can take the heat.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Road To Lincoln - near our home

Road To Lincoln
  oil on panel  8" x 10"  

This ground has been shaped by lives lived hard in this place, 
marked by patterns of fence lines devoured by vines
and openings filled with scrub second growth and brambles,
jade and red settings for the elder oaks to spread hope
to an indifferent sky, cold-blue and infinite. Gnarled, twisted 
as they reach to the sun, stoic and handsome as survivors, 
worn as time's witness.

It is here that I must take measure of my heart
and this place, with deliberate speed
and unmeasured memory, to bring home
my offerings without words, without explanation.
Unspoken messages marked out on cloth,
like some lost wanderer, leaving for any who might see,
a part of what he's found, unsure of any reply.

from the poem, "Witness", by Dean Taylor Drewyer

This is an excerpt from a poem of mine about making paintings on the land around my home in still somewhat rural northern Virginia. There was a large deserted farm not far from here out of which the builders had not yet started in carving home sites. I would drive my truck out into the farm to paint. This is where the poem came from -  this particular painting I just finished  is from a spot along the dirt road we live on - just a couple of hundred yards from my studio.  Someone once asked me why I spent so much time painting trees and overgrown fields at the edges of farms and towns - forgotten or neglected places. I suppose one reason is, people seldom bother me in those spots as I work.  Carefully considered, I think it is more because the gesture, the posture, the confusing structure of these trees and vines and saplings and weeds and grasses fascinate me. I suppose when I tire of them I will find something else, in the mean time I'll keep going. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pathway Back - The 6 am Walking Club

Pathway Back
  oil on panel  7" x 10"  

Let me seize the air

pulsing down these hills,

kissed by a moment's cold frolic,

without thought of the strangling calendar.

Let my feet step freely into the swirl
the yellow tall tangle grasses,
my head up among intemperate clouds,
at one with my precious delirium.

There are no dances so
sweet as these hours of mine,
poured out on the land,
standing at the edge of mystery,
boldly greeting my imperfection,
held out as an offering.

I am never far from these fields,
buried as they are in my deep,
their wind sounds find me
encased in my dreams, lost
in the deepest nights' shadows,
slant light running loose in my sleeping eyes.

A poem about making paintings from a collection of my writing, from several years back.
Each day as I go to paint, these lines sometimes come to mind - as they did when we were at la Madelene, as I went out in the mornings. True, the 6 am walking club never quite came together but being out at that hour allowed me some magical times, completely alone and able to capture a small bit of that time, that place, and that feeling.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Into The Orchard, Sally's Panel

Into The Orchard
  oil on panel  12" x 16"  

"Painting is an art in which one suddenly recognizes 
what one has never seen before."
Richard Diebenkorn

What the artist is referring to is the nature of the process of painting - how it requires planning and an understanding of composition, technique, and materials beforehand - and then thrives in an attitude of exploration and discovery during execution. 
This work was painted in the cherry orchard behind la Madelene - on a panel brought to me by Sally Balick on the third day, a true and welcome kindness. Sally is a terrific painter who was helping Ruth and Julian with the week full of painters at la Madelene and out of the blue she asked if I would like a larger surface to work with - voila! An example of the wondrous people and experience at that place - everyone together and supportive.