Thursday, August 11, 2005

life is an art

I "nailed" the light coming down 30 Mile Canyon. Light coming in the window woke me up at 5 a.m. At first I was grateful to see clouds as it has been up in the 90's. Clouds are a mixed blessing as they usually bring lightning and threaten forest fires in the dry days of August.
This little 9 x 12 painting took about 2 hours. I limited my pallet to titanium white, virmillion red, cadmium orange, cerulean blue in the sky and French Ultra-marine blue for the dark shadows mixed with alizarin crimson.
I've been painting Plein Air, alla prima,impasto, trying to choose my colors on the pallet and refraining from overworking and blending on the canvass. The paint gets rather thick, almost like clay. I'm having fun watching the effect of pure colors that stand by themselves on the canvas. I believe this makes the canvas more of an artifact and stands alone as an object not merely an image.

I remember being impressed by the brush work virtuosity of Rembrandt's protraits of the Apostles in the National Gallery last winter. I would walk through the Museum on my way up Capital hill to lobby congressional reps on energy and telecommunication issues. I took lots of notes that I have reviewed and remind me of painting dark to light, light over dark, and thick over thin. Rembrandt painted over an underpainting, letting it show through. It was interesting to see the detail in the dark values of the paintings. If I looked closely I could see the vague impression of a hand just a slight value above the darkest value, allmost invisible.

I am getting better at translating color and maintainingg value. I am working on brushwork and hope to develop a distinctive method of work illicited by my technique.

One of the benefits of color choices rendered deliberately is that the economy of movement physically saves my arm that suffers from artritis developed from driving horses for hours and hours. I have been painting as much as 12 hours a day on a studio painting of a herd of Paint horses I saw over on the Owhi range. It is far more challenging. I am inclined to be far more conservative and often refrain from correcting errors out of laziness and fear that the improvement will not work as well as the existing effort. Overworking is an issue. It helps to have other paintings to work on to refresh my mind and return to the effort with a fresh eye.


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