Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Little Something for Corot Lovers

I've had a thing for Corot since college. Back then, I wasn't supposed to like him, but I did anyway, Now, he's like an old friend to whom I return for solace and inspiration. At first, I liked those wonderful plein air Italian landscapes from his youth before he was "Corot". I still do, but gradually, I came to love his tremulous, fragile, lusciously atmospheric later work.

Christopher Volpe has a great post up on his blog about Corot's palette and also a good link to a detail view of one of his paintings. Click on over and take a look.

Corot, by all accounts, was a happy camper- enjoying life when he was unknown as much as he did after he became famous. He was generous and kind (he bought a house for the penniless Daumier in his later years) and prolific to a ripe old age. And he is the author of one of my favorite quotes about painting:

"I hope with all my heart there will be painting in heaven."

So do I.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Big doings in Clarksville this coming weekend- the annual art festival on the historic Clarksville Square. The organizer of the festival and owner of Square Corner Gallery asked me to do a little show on Friday night at the gallery to kick things off, so I've done about a dozen small oils. There will also be a few larger oils and some drypoints. If you are wandering around East Texas on Friday night, come see us!

It's hard to believe that just a few months ago it was snowy and cold. This is a little stream down the road that froze over in January.

Frozen Stream
7 x 5

Highway 37 is one of the main roads in and out of Clarksville and one of my favorite drives. Both of these are painted from memory.

Dusk on 37
7 1/4 x 6

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Stream

Spring Stream
18 x 24

This is the completed painting (I think) which includes the details I posted last time. I was after that soft, ephemeral quality of spring. There is a fragility and hopefulness which is all the more poignant because it is so fleeting. This particular scene is about 5 miles from my studio and it is is somewhat more literal than most of my work. One of those few times when Nature seemed to compose things perfectly without much help or interference. I did paint it from memory and a small 5 x 7 oil completed a year or two ago which was also done from memory.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My New Best Friends

Every once in awhile, it's good to ask yourself why you do what you do. Here is an example. The other day I started thinking about why I use brights. When I first started painting again about 20 (!) years ago I used filberts because the artist I was studying with did. Eventually I switched to brights- tried flats briefly but they were too floppy for me, and I liked the square touch I got with a bright. Of course, I was painting in a direct, alla prima way at that time.

Fast forward to five or six years ago when I began exploring indirect techniques. My brush obsessions became about finding out what worked best for glazing (sable watercolor wash brushes) and for the drybrush transparent underpaintings I do (beat up versions of the aforementioned brushes).

Bristle brushes, at least the brights I was using, did not work well for the translucent and opaque passages that I layered on top of glaze layers and the scumbles I used in my skies and for forms in the distance. So, I used the sables and more recently some mongoose brushes made by Rosemary. But still, they were brights.

One of the challenges of the technique I use is to "marry" the transparent passages with those other ones- translucent, opaque, scumbles, drybush, etc. A heavy handed application will look out of place- like it should be on someone else's painting. And, worst, of all, it will destroy the atmosphere and mystery I work so hard to achieve. So I tended to keep those passages thin, which also tended to level the paint quite a bit. I use Liquin as a medium and it is a wonder for glazing- increases transparency and flow and in doing so-levels the paint. Even used sparingly, it still tends to bulldoze a brushstroke.

So, for no particular reason except I have been rattling these issues around in my head now for years, the other day I pulled out a couple of well worn rounds which belong to my husband and a tube of Galkyd Gel which I experimented with in direct painting about 10 years ago. And this is what happened. (click for a closer look).

And this.

And this.

The Galkyd Gel tube says it increases transparency and creates impasto. I thought upon reading that- "yea, right". Well, it does! Somehow, it combines high viscosity (no flow) with transparency to create a glaze impasto! Which means those particles of opaque-ish paint are suspended in a glaze like stroke- so it looks like it belongs with the rest of my painting. And the rounds were stiff enough to create a brushstroke, but gave me a freer, less angular paint application that suits my work perfectly.

I tell my students that it is important to make time for R&D (research and development) to explore new ideas and techniques. I guess I need to take my own advice.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Field Trip to Ft Worth

Last week when my workshop group was here, we took a field trip to Ft. Worth to see the Hudson River School show at the Amon Carter Museum. There were some wonderful paintings in the show, but a lovely Sanford Gifford and a William Hazeltine were my favorites. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs in the show but we were able to take them in the museum's permanent collection, which is excellent. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Martin Johnson Heade

George Inness

Afterwards, we visited Kornye West, the gallery that represents my work in Ft. Worth. Paula Kornye Tillman, the owner, graciously hosted a luncheon for us, and gave everyone a chance to ask questions about the gallery business.

It was a long but fun day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where to begin....

My workshop group left Saturday. It was eight days of wild weather, art, food, study, and camaraderie.

Here is the group. Left to right, Phoebe Chidester (Florida), Lisa McShane (Washington), Sara Lubinski (Minnisota), Bea Lancton (Texas) and Rae Ecklund (California). Five students is all my studio will comfortably hold and it makes for a focused, intimate learning experience. We read poetry each morning, painted like crazy, dodged thunderstorms and tornado warnings, ate great food and took a field trip to Ft Worth.

Rae, Lisa and Phoebe painting in the studio

Sara painting

Rae and Bea painting

Me-working on a demo with Bea looking on.

My husband Steve provided lunch each day for the group and several dinners as well. He is a fantastic cook and we ate well! Because the workshop included Easter Sunday we had a brunch that day too.

Steve about to serve brunch

Easter Sunday table

Sara with lettuce from Steve's garden

Steve serving his "Slap Yo Momma" Gumbo (and homemade bread!)

The Gumbo

Next time, more workshop pics and our trip to Ft Worth to see the Hudson River School show at the Amon Carter Museum and visit to Galerie Kornye West.