Posts Tagged ‘watercolor on panels’

New Work; From Plein Air Sketch to Finished Pieces

August 5, 2014

I love mixing and matching … aligning and contrasting. I do it with media. I do it with imagery and content. I’ll even use that way of working with design and stylistic approaches. Mash-up isn’t quite the right word; it is the right concept though. Maybe I am overly invested in both classicism and the early modern.

one of the studies, a reference photo, and an early stage of “Trees In Pacific Afternoon Light”

This week, as I prepare the last pieces for a two-person exhibit at a college in North Carolina, I have had several pieces that have been a hard to bring to fruition. One of them seems to have hit upon a happy ending … the other two, I am still struggling with.

Seashore-Trees,-process-3,-WEB

watercolor study, 5 x 11, from a sketch made looking across a wall from the Getty Villa

The first, an image that started as a sketch out in S. California, became a small series of watercolor studies. Soon, using the rough sketch, studies, and a dozen or more reference photos … I began the painting on an aqueous media panel.

the central image, 3rd stage ... watercolor on a 12 x 12 panel.

the central image, 3rd stage … watercolor on a 12 x 12 panel


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

None of my photos captured the almost golden light I sensed that afternoon as I prepared to enter the Getty Villa. But working from my sketch and color notes … I played about until I got an image that did portray the felt color of that afternoon.

A few days ago, as the painted section with the trees neared completion, I added a few passages of gouache, hoping  to increase the solidity of  the bare tree branches located in the blue violet shadow on the lower left.

the panel, taped for laying in color across the top register. The representational content is 85% to 95% complete

the panel, taped for laying in color across the top register. The representational content is 90% to 95% complete … ?

Yesterday I decided to stop working on the trees; not permanently … but to begin deciding what to do with the upper third of the image. I flirted with at least six or seven possibilities. Maybe a very thin red horizontal band and a muted blue grey above it? Two blue bands with several small vertical shapes in rich yellow and dark muted green clustered in the upper right corner? or perhaps in the upper left? In the end, I decided to keep this one more simple. Two tonally related but different blue bands, the darker and more intense one across the top.

Here it is with the color bands completed. I  still think that a combination of small staggered vertical bands, interrupting the major horizontals. might be interesting. But, for now, I’ll leave it as it is, tidy-up up the “loose-ends” and move on.

 

Almost completed panel!

An almost completed panel!

I do like it. Maybe I can be happy with this one as it is.

 

IMG_2329As I said above, the other two are proving to be much harder to bring to a satisfactory conclusion.

Like the painting above, I have reference sketches and photos from last fall, as well as compositional studies for this painting. The finished maple tree in autumn was to have a strip (possibly broken into a few vertical blocks) on the right side … and maybe a “free floating” block of color somewhere inside the composition in the lower left. I was pretty sure of what I wanted it to look like; now I have almost no clear vision of how it should end up!

 

The next one, a smaller horizontal piece, was started in the summer of 2012 … and I never really quite loved it.

On the Edge, Late Summer (as "completed" in 2012)

On the Edge, Late Summer  (as originally “completed in 2012)

Here it is to the right. What I liked was the general rhythm of the stalks across the field. But despite the passible late summer humidity-laden coloration, it doesn’t feel like the design is dynamic enough.

Below is the new revision so far. Originally the red-violet band was wider … the width of what is now both the dark olive green and the red-violet color panels. The newly white area is going to get a drawing of the same heather (maybe two drawings?) at earlier stage(s) in the plant’s growth/maturation process. I have left the white a bit translucent so that a “ghost” of the original color and drawing do show through.

summer 2014 revisions, so far

the summer of 2014 revisions, so far

 

Maybe I am being indecisive. I do know that I am being pretty picky (or is it just being fickle?).

As I said Mash-up isn’t quite the right word for my combination of classicism and the early modern. I am not sure what is the right description … but I will post progress on these two a bit later.

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Back to “bigger” paper …

September 4, 2013

I make images.

Duh, I make images. Sometimes though I make images that you could almost call objects; like my shaped panel painting. Most of the panel paintings are just that, paintings on panels. But the ones I bolt together into non-rectangular shapes might qualify even more as “object” than image. Other works that might be considered as “objects” are the larger of my mylar drawings. the ones that cascade off the wall or ceiling and onto the floor.

But for many years, I worked on paper. Sometimes pretty big paper.

I regularly worked on paper that was 40×60 or 30×90 or larger. Starting in the 1990s, I usually worked on paper sheets that were a bit smaller … measuring around 30×40.

Abundance,-26x40,-watercolor-and-pencil-on-paper,-2012-13,-WEB

Abundance
Watercolor and pencil on paper, 26×40
(as of September 1st, 2013)

Well every now and then I return to that 30×40 way of working. I am not sure if I do it for comfort? … as a self-diversion? … or if there is a deeper reason?  I just KNOW that sometimes I want to work on a single large uninterrupted sheet of paper. The expanse of the surface excites me; the response of wet color or dry mark to the paper entices me. More easily than any other medium, working on a beautiful sheet of paper with materials I enjoy, I become entranced. Reverie!

This piece, Abundance, had it’s genesis a while back, late in 2011 if I remember. It began on a crisp, cool clear day in a narrow glen of western-central Virginia, below a mountain ridge known for it’s ski resort … Wintergreen. I was with my wife and “mi mum” and we had stopped for lunch when I spotted the wild looking group of bushes and a gnarled tree. The grey, nearly leafless bush was full of red berries. There were so many good vantage points with this subject. But … I was with family … so I made a quick sketch and several photographs. The little finished sketch was exhibited in a show during the fall of  2012.

Group-of-Sketches-on-the-wall,-WEB   Below-the-Ridge,-Nellysford,-WEB

This larger painting I began while that show was still up. I even showed it, in a less finished state, in December and into January of this year.  But, when it came back to the studio, I just wasn’t sure that it was done.

I set it on a drawing board in my studio and I looked at it. I looked at it from January to June.

Let me explain my quandary. I am frankly always leery of overworking a piece but I want to create a visual feast as well.  I do subscribe to an esthetic common in traditional oriental painting … leaving white space in a work, going for an understatement. It is also at the core of early western classicist’s and early modernist’s desire to seek and to express what they view as the essential in an image/object. Probably that is why I am so very drawn to the works of Charles Demuth and Paul Cezanne. They made lots of marks and layers (visual feast) … but always seemed to leave room for the work to breathe, for the viewers eye to roam, and the viewers minds to complete the image (essence). To me, it seems rude and silly to beat the audience into submission by rendering every single detail.

Even when I was young, the end results of demonstration artworks in “how-to” art books felt disappointingly over-done. (I usually liked the work at step #3 or #4 better than #6+) Well, with this one, I feel like if I take it much farther … it will be overworked. Can’t have that!

For now, I have moved it to a less active corner of the studio. I will look at it for a while again; just like I did from January to June. Hopefully I will decide more quickly than that if I want to return and do something else with this piece.

Yes, I do think it MIGHT be finished.  What I am asking is … is it essential? … is it a feast for the eyes?

New Paintings, Watercolor on Panels

September 13, 2012

I am happily exhausted. And the studio is a raging mess. I delivered a solo show Monday and yesterday … a show with 44 pieces.

Lately I have posted images of the quick sketches … wash and brush drawings and quite a few of the watercolor and pencil pieces too.

Creekside Ferns
Watercolor on Panel, 12×12

But I have been working on some paintings as well. Each of these pieces are aqueous media on (Ampersand) panels. As with the two images below, most of the pieces for this show are done in traditional transparent watercolor. I will admit though that a few also have a touch or two of gouache; what the English waterclourists referred to as “body color.”

(Actually, using body color IS the older traditional method, but it had fallen out of favor for many painters during the last 100 years or so. For me, if it was good enough for Richard Parks Bonnington and Winslow Homer … I can use it too.)

Misty Mountains, Crozet
Watercolor on Panel, 12×12

Asian Dogwood Pods
Watercolor on Panel, 12×12

As is usual for me of late, there is also a little bit of a twist. In some of the paintings I have employed the strategy of including blocks of color; color passage that both obscure parts of the subject matter in the painting … and which actually set up some type of color harmony within the composition. Those pieces are single panel images (like the Creekside Fern one at the start of this blog) and also multi-panel works. These paintings are actually mixed aqueous media; making use of watercolor, gouache, acrylic and even a latex based paint.

The show is open today and  I have just seen the installation. Quite pleased is an understatement; I think it is really well done. The front gallery, where all the paintings on panel are displayed, is a large, open, and airy space. Most of the smaller watercolor studies and sketches are displayed is an intimate little gallery, a space flooded with soft light. In this smaller space about 20 works are arranged and clustered rather pleasingly. And in the transition space between the two galleries there hangs two very large watercolors on paper and a grouping several of my small works too.

The exhibition runs through November 9th at the Staunton Augusta Art Center. For those of you who are local, the opening reception is Friday, September 14th, from 5-7.

Now, about that messy studio …

Color, like water, comes sprinkling down

August 15, 2012

Summer’s end; it may be fast approaching but the heat hasn’t broken yet. To refresh yourself when you were a kid, did you like running through a sprinkler to cool off ?

I loved it.

I loved it so, so much … it was the perfect antidote to growing up in the intense sunshine, heat, and humidity of Florida’s seemingly endless summers.

Now, sometimes as a grown up, I get a kick out of racing past a sprinkler trying NOT to get wet. And, admittedly, as a grown-up kid … I sometimes like to race past a sprinkler secretly hoping to get soaked!

Well, in that vein … the vein of secret and maybe silly passions … I have an artist I would like you to get to know. (Ok, it is NO secret that I have passions for: 1) Color, 2) Water based paint/aqueous media art, 3) Performance, Kinetic, or Installation art. [#3 might surprise some of you actually.]

Edwin Deen is a Belgian artist with a wonderfully simple idea: combine watercolor, a common yard sprinkler device, some water, a paintable space and a little time. It lacks the utter seriousness of the early sixties works of Jean Tinguely. (Remember his automatic kinetic sculpture/drawing machines?) For one, this work is much to colorful. It is more like the work of Tinguely’s wife and artistic partner Niki de Saint Phalle. (Perhaps you might remember her riotously colorful “shooting” based performance/kinetic art-paintings?)

And this idea may not appear to be highly significant or profound in the traditional, historic, conservative, or the neo-academic art sense. (But they don’t like much art after William-Adolphe Bouguereau … well, OK. maybe Edgar Degas and Andrew Wyeth. PS: I like those guys too.) So they wouldn’t be interested that this work has an echo of the Fallen Painting series of Linda Bengalis.

 But Deen’s idea, and the work he creates with it, is so physically playful, so visually refreshing. It makes some beautiful and joyful spaces. It might even remind you of delightful moments in your childhood … colors puddling, dripping, and running during elementary school art classes … or running through sprinklers in the summer.

Wait a moment. Feeling our joy … through water and through color. That IS profound.

You can access more information about Deen’s work via: http://en.paperblog.com/edwin-deen-rainbow-sprinkler-275827/ http://www.dezeen.com/2012/08/06/liquid-rainbow-by-edwin-deen/

Un-timely changes, delicious delays

August 6, 2012

There times when I am in the studio almost a day, almost all evening. And of course, there are times when I can barely break away from other concerns and get into the studio. We all know how hard it can be to balance all of life’s “stuff” in a way we feel comfortable. But every once in a while it all feels quite natural … that it flows so smoothly. That is a most glorious feeling.

Right now isn’t one of those times. Hold on … and please don’t get me wrong … I absolutely am not kvetching. Actually, I am in the studio pretty continuously. The work is going … and going well, just not smoothly in the normal sense.

Instead, it feels a bit like what I imagine a decathlon athlete experiences. They have to think about strategies and performance for SO many events, so many competitions. It seems to me though that their hardest work must be to focus on each completely while  never loosing sight of the overall picture. Me too. I am trying to focus on so many strands of activity right now … as the next exhibition is getting closer and closer. There are so many lovely details: making sure all the matting, framing, plexiglass and all the other display supplies are lined up in the studio … not to mention prepping tags, insurance info, and P.R. stuff too. That is a major job and each detail deserves my attention to quality AND timeliness.

But I am also continuing to make art, and that is keeping my head jumping from task to task. True, I have done all this before. And I made a good list this time around too. So all the practical parts are running according to good schedule.

The image creation process is not running along on anything like a smooth, predictable timetable. I have already completed the sketching, planning, and even much of the painting on many works for the upcoming show. Other pieces though are lagging behind. You see, the work keeps shifting, changing, coming to completion in quite unexpected ways.

If I was running a restaurant and the food was inconsistent, that would be bad. (The chef’s creativity would be happy, the chef’s customers and the bottom line might be put off though.) And many artists I know would recoil from that situation too. But Oh how I do love the tentative, shifting qualities I am seeing. It tells me something is really going on up there in my head! That isn’t a bad thing … but it might be better if it would just wait until I have a few more pieces completed and ready to exhibit.

            

Above are some snippets from the first three phases of an image that I am working on right now. It is based on a budding flower, known as Queen Anne’s Lace. As I work with the lines and the layers of color, I am seeing a need for a few touches of opaque watercolor or gouache to help me finish the piece … to make the opening bud seem to have just a bit more solidity … for it’s stems to have some more substance.

I am also sensing that this image, or one very similar to it, might be destined for a really large format … one of my mylar drawings. Perhaps one about “me mum.” See what I mean, I am already thinking about and planning work for next year! Frankly, if I weren’t an old hand at this I might be really scared, even frantic.

Instead, I am intrigued … deliciously so. And that is why I do this … to be intrigued and challenged; even when it is inconvenient.

It has been a bit SKETCHY, so far.

July 25, 2012

It is a tad more than half over and it has already been a busy, busy summer in the studio! Yes, I taught a small drawing class, I took a break and judged art out in Utah, and there was that wonderful working vacation to look at galleries in Atlanta (see my previous posts about the Atlanta galleries and especially about Kevin Cole’s work). But making and prepping art work for two shows this fall is really keeping me hopping … and happy.

View S.W. from Old White Bridge Road, 2012

The first show is in Virginia, at the gallery of the Staunton-Augusta Art Center. Since I am hanging work in both their larger gallery and their more intimate small gallery, I decided to divide my show into two separate but similar bodies of work. For that smaller gallery, I figure on hanging about 25 sketches. My thought was that the small size of the works would fit the space and feel of the gallery nicely. These sketches will probably be quieter, simpler and perhaps a little bit more playful than their larger cousins in the main gallery.

For the sketches; I have been using pencil, ink, and wash drawings. A few of the sketches are done in full color. For those, I have worked in watercolor or water-soluble drawing media. When I am feeling visually playful though, I am apt to combine many of those materials in one sketch! There maybe another kind of surprise in this quieter show. I am including some sketches that definitely look like they are E. 20th Century Modern; others feel like they are just out of the 18th or 19th century (think: École des Beaux-Arts or Royal Art Academy). A few have elements of both; makes me a little bit giddy.

To get a nice group of sketches together, this year I have followed my own advice and kept sketchbooks at hand all the time. And I have been scouring the roads on both sides of the mountains … every trip, every errand.  I have been more likely to stop beside the road, wander down a creek bed, or scramble up a ravine than to get home on time. I hope I haven’t been to late to often, but the sketching has been wonderful. Relaxing and challenging all at once. Again, hopping … and completely happy.

I will have to write about the larger works … the paintings that will be in the larger front gallery in Staunton and the drawings in the Calhoun, Georgia show … a little later.  For now, it is time to get back into the studio.  And get another image started …

Repair, Repurpose, and Repast

September 26, 2011

Today I was concentrating on some very practical things in the studio. I previously mentioned needing to fix/repair some minor blips on a few pieces. Well today I pulled out the sandpaper and varnishes, the masking tape and the adhesives … even some ink and paint to work on them. I also decided to spend time getting some finished paintings on panels ready for exhibition … I need to varnish their frame edges!

                
         (a recent small aqueous media piece … only 5 inches tall!)

It is such mundane work really. Yet, sometimes, I find it to be SO very fulfilling getting things ready to go out/go back out the door again. For me it is sort of a ritual …putting things right again. Regaining a balance before getting down to the work at hand.  And soon I will be getting some small pieces back from a show.  I will probably need to clean and touch them up too.

So, despite my tendency to let things hang at the edge of my to do list, I liked getting them done.  Sure, I will have to do a few more in a couple of weeks, but now I am ready to throw myself back into the fray.  Those new BIG mylar drawing and series of watermedia panel pieces are just waiting to be worked on. Delicious work indeed.

Balanced, Checking, Taking account!

September 15, 2011

No, not the checkbook, the household income, or even taxes. Not money at all. Just trying to stay balanced while moving forward on multiple tracks. The four main tasks in the studio right now are:  1) starting new watermedia works … mostly on panels but a few on large paper too;  2) making some repairs (to pieces that were a bit marred/scarred during their recent travels or shows;  3) getting started on two new large scale Mylar drawings, and  4) the semi-annual general studio clean up.  (Maybe I will talk a bit more about some of those last three in a later post!)

During the last few weeks it has been much less hot … and frequently less humid too.  With a little less water in the air, the clarity of the light has been intoxicating. A foretaste of Autumn is in the air!  Other times, the humidity returns and cooler nighttime temps create morning fog which rises from the rivers and streams that abound in our hills and mountains.  To be sure the greens still hold sway over the landscape, but subtle changes are becoming more and more visible. The vistas of Fall are not really here yet but the landscape is slowly opening up … summer’s ebb means that some trees and plants are becoming a bit less dense of late. This gives me new glimpses, new possibilities!

So I have been jumping at the chance to plan new works … and to get outside for sketching. The back of the car has frequently had all the “stuff” needed for sketching, drawing, and  even photographing in preparation of new works. Even my briefcase is bristling with sketchbooks and supplies. Balance is hard when I am feeling so visually alive!  My excitement may not be contagious but it has some marvelous consequences. It can mean that the whole painting gets done on site.  Like this one I just did the other day.

I admit that I might take the image to new places or re-use it in a much larger work.  But it is SO enjoyable to work en-plein-air again!

Studio Trauma!

June 5, 2010

Well, there you go!  The winter of 2015/2016 was a a mess.

Water, water, water, and finally more water. Four plumbing based floods atop some poor construction decisions (years before we ever bought the space) added up to disaster! Our walk out basement household storage area, the utility room, my studio storage and both the small work studio and the large studio (the converted garage) were effectively un-usable!

It might not really qualify as a disaster, but it was certainly a serious dose of family and professional disruption, a messy state of affairs! That has been the story around here; for close to five months now!

IMG_2081

The large painting space where I work on the mylar drawings and larger works on paper, and the early drawing phases of the multi panel pieces. Isn’t that a lovely hole where water damaged the baseboard and lower portion of the wall!

Slowly and expensively, we are getting things in order. These photos will give you some indication of the level of tear down we had to endure to get at all the problems. With this much work, it shouldn’t surprise any of my readers that we found more problems as we went along. Joys were heaped upon joys.

IMG_2089

Here is a view from the family storage area, past the mechanical and electrical utilities room … behind the heating and ac units is the hole in the wall we saw in the last picture. You can see where we have already begun to rip down the interior wall as well.

IMG_2085

View from the small painting space and the foot of the stairs, past the studio storage area and into the main portion of the basement storage area. It is a big empty space now. All the wall materials have been removed and we have only just begun to reframe the space.

While I have hated being distracted from

IMG_2113

Looking past the steps and utility room to both of the studio spaces

so many professional and studio plans the past few months … we have found a few silver linings. During the process we had things all apart, so we made some required and needed upgrades. (Psst … having the heater off-line for a week in the really coldest part of late winter is NO fun. Thank goodness for the fireplace and plenty of sweaters and blankets.)

 

IMG_2092

This is the small painting area where I work on individual panels and studies. It was the least damaged space, we only lost a door jam and some wall. But it was where books and the sketchbooks got wet and musty

 

 

We’ve also had some wonderfully skilled technicians here; I interviewed a number of new contractors for some highly technical work. It was really good fortune to meet a couple of helpful structural engineers and to work with my favorite local contractor again. (It is just to bad it wasn’t something on our list of “desired” projects!)  I have also gotten to know the ins and outs of our space SO much better too.

Now, slowly things will begin to get back to normal. I’m on the verge of being able to work a bit in the big studio. I will have to patch that wall between it and the utility room first; I’ll need to repaint the walls, doors, and floor.

Then I will have to tape, mud, and paint the new drywall in the small studio. With that done I can begin to move some of my painting supplies of the dining table! Mary has been SO patient and accommodating.

IMG_2083

This is the opposite view of the small studio space. Above the door is one of the pipes that ruptured and flooded the space. That leak damaged the door sill, frame and drywall.

I will also need to finish the newly repaired wall between utility and main basement space.

While I lost a few pieces of studio equipment, none of it was crucial “stuff.”  I did lose some really nice paper and supplies … a number of art books, and four or five 20-30 year old sketchbooks too. The destruction of the sketchbooks is more than a little disheartening; it really  hurts. I had hoped to pass those down to my illustrator daughter.

There will be joy though. I will have to get some new supplies of paper and such. New toys! The studio budget will be tight … but that is just how it is. It is another chance to be flexible and creative!

IMG_2114

a small 6×12 panel, part of a diptych I am working on … more on that a little later!

Crozet Pine, web

Crozet Pine, a recent 4×5 watercolor and pencil sketch on paper

I have to wait to ramp up production of multi-panel pieces for my fall solo show just a bit longer. I have been working on a few while teach my various classes. but that is a bit sporadic. Luckily … Spring is now here. I can more easily work on watercolor sketches and individual small watermedia panel pieces outside.  But it is time to get the bigger pieces off the ground; there are only 4 1/2 months to go!

Well, a bit of kvetching, some pride in the new and shiny parts we have gained, and a bit of hope that we never have to walk this crooked path ever again!

 

IMG_1353

The main studio … in happier days.  Looking forward to a return to normal!

 

 

IT IS DONE! Well, mostly.

June 5, 2010

I spent six years making art in a wonderfully well lit studio in a very accessible location. The high ceilings and tall windows looked out over the townscape and the surrounding hills and mountains too.

And while I was done in that space by the end of december, the vagaries of winter weather were slowing down the renovations and construction projects in the new space quite a bit. Nothing like close to 50 inches of snow that won’t melt to keep excavations from taking place. Everything was stuffed in all the nooks and crannies or piled in the middle of the floor!

Well, construction is done … and the spaces have been outfitted and arranged pretty well. I am even making large scale works again.

To be sure, the studio will need some electrical and lighting upgrades as time goes along. But for now, I am really excited. Next time I will post some new photos and some art works too.


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