Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Green Leaves of Summer

16x20 oil on canvas

I've had a good run the past few days, with plenty of time for painting, few distractions, and the turn into autumn to spur me on to capture what I can of this fading light.  I've decided to name this painting "The Green Leaves of Summer" because when I shared it with a friend in Carmel Valley, he said it made him think of this:  Now I can't get it out of my head!

In analyzing this one, I find that there is something about it that appeals to me, and I think it might be that cobalt in the sky in conjunction with the soft greens of the field.  The photo distorts the values somewhat, and the copse of trees on the right is not quite that dark, but the composition does seem to be off balance, though that may be part of what gives the rest of the painting the sense of space.  There is nothing unique about the thing; in fact it feels like I am turning back to old habits of painting what I think a landscape should look like.  But it is honest, too, and came from a quick snapshot I took while driving through the Oregon countryside on my way somewhere in the Willamette Valley.

I spent a little time in the garage yesterday cutting up some scrap 1/4" plywood to make painting panels, and now I have about forty of them in various smaller sizes up to 11x14.  I feel like I am storing up for a continued onslaught, a siege on the World of Art, banging my head against the wall, trying to get in.  Sometimes it feels like trying to do the impossible, like teaching a dog how to use a toilet, but then when I look back at what my work used to be like a couple of years ago, I can definitely see that I have made progress.  Here is a quick study of a Rembrandt from yesterday.  (I need to do some correcting around his eyes, etc. but it was just an attempt to squeak out another sketch for the day):

8x10 oil on panel

And here is something from two years back:

I think this last one is a pastel, but it is obvious I was focused on trying to get some sort of likeness and not concerned about the overall look of the painting.  Why does it seem to take so long to pound these things into my head?  Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks, but it takes a boatload of patience.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ackerman Island

Ackerman Island, 12x24 oil on canvas

I've been playing with different methods of laying down the paint lately, more smearing around and wiping out, more tonalist in color range, and the finished work above (it's so hard to get good photos with my meager set-up) is moody in much the same way the Columbia River seems to me to be at certain times of the year.  The water is wide and slow and powerful.  The light is clean and soul-piercing, the setting is timeless, and one feels somewhat insignificant in the presence of relentless Nature.  Or at least that is what I was trying to paint here.  I'd settle for moderately interesting.

I was drawn to the light coming through the trees and being reflected in the near branch of the river, and the slender sandy island, dependent on the water levels of the river, and the narrow band of trees strung out down the length of the island.  I drive past this place a dozen times a year, and I am always interested to see its changing moods.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Young Woman in Green

12x16 oil on canvas

Having been working in a style very different from what I am accustomed to, and having wiped a number of canvases in a row, I felt it was time to use one of those canvases for a portrait, going back to the familiar, just throwing it down to get past discouragement, which is invading from other areas in my life, as well.  This young woman is from an old black and white photo; she is likely long since dead.  But she once was young and beautiful and full of hope.

I guess I'm ready for some rain, for a change.  Bring on the grey.