Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Pond at Night

The Pond at Night

Journal excerpt 12/26/11

Image: Pond Study 18, pastel on paper, 7″ x 11″


The holidays have come and gone, but yet we wait for a significant snowfall. What dusting was received last week is now long gone. The pond has become bare and boring. I find myself waiting for something to happen- anything. The browns, grays, and dirty blues of this quiet winter are now mundane to me. A brilliant white snowfall would surely make the scene come alive again. So I have resorted to seeking out new visions.

 

The most obvious solution was to paint the park at night. I will confess upfront that I used a bit of photo trickery for this one. I took a nighttime picture, which as you would expect was pretty colorless. I took this picture a few weeks ago, and have already written about the quiet cold and silence of the evening. Now I will reflect on the art making process I undertook. Using Photoshop, I exaggerated the saturation and contrast a bit until the underlying blues and yellows of darkness revealed themselves. The streetlights made the sky glow softly yellow, and the silhouettes of trees become deep pthalos of blue and green. Sticking with this somewhat limited palette, I rendered the image twice. First in pastel and then in oil. I allowed myself a bit more color diversity in the pastel, pulling purples and reds out of the blackness. With the oil painting, as with most of them, the colors simplify. This is in part due to the size of the mark (a large painting knife edge) and to the process of mixing. I am aware of the ways in which medium contribute to the result and I find it informative to use both mediums in approaching an image. I have been exercising this processes for most of my works lately. The pastel drawings become a preliminary color study, though stand alone as works themselves. I wonder what if anything would change if I did the oil painting first and the pastel second? In any case, as I wait for snow I think I will attempt to capture more of the dramatic moments. I feel a little dirty about using Photoshop, but do not think I am sacrificing the intention. I want to make interesting paintings, and sometimes the truth of an image is boring. The artist’s job is to walk the line between adding interest while maintaining a connection to actual experience that is real enough for people to still care. I suppose novelists walk this same line in many ways.

Continuing the Pond Project

Continuing the Pond Project

This most resent piece is based on a photo of the Humboldt Park lily pond taken about a month ago.  This was actually the second time I painted from this photo.  This piece began as a demonstration piece for my intro to oil painting class.  The painting is larger (11″ x 14″).  Also, you will notice that the technique is slightly different.  I used a brush!  I have been using only painting knives in my other pieces, but since this was a painting demonstration I incorporated brushwork,  Going forward I would like to incorporate brushwork a little more into my Chromascape pieces.  While I would like to remain primarily a knife painter, I see no reason not to use a brush for contrast of mark, detail, or finishing touches.  I had a lot of fun with this painting and am happy with the way it turned out!

The Yellow Line

The Yellow Line

This is a drawing, a chalk pastel, and an oil painting done over the last two weeks.  All reference the same photo    The original photo was taken a few months ago, obviously before fall was in full swing.    The image is titled The Yellow Line after the thick band of sunlight that breaks free of the treeline and runs at an angle across the picture plane.  To me the sunlight is the focal point of this image.  I have drawn and painted this image several times, here are just three examples.  As with the pond series, there is a benefit to focusing on one image or scene for an extended period of time.  This allows the painting process to become more sophisticated and refined with each attempt.  This is also of course why artist do studies to be more familiar with the subject.  However, I have never been comfortable with the word study and consider each of these to be individual works of art.