the conceptual stuff

I’m not really big on all the conceptual stuff of painting, not that it’s not there in my work and probably more apparent to others, it’s just not what I like to consciously focus on. However, since I have been painting and drawing intensely and in earnest for the past few years, I have come to this one idea I want to explore more.

Since my paintings are developed from photographs or from on-site sketches using a photograph for reference I spend a lot of time comparing drawing and painting to photographs. Mostly I just think about how a photograph, mine specifically, tends to flatten the view terribly. I have also been exploring this other line of thinking about how to capture a what I see in full, something more than just a panorama. Then add in my most successful forays into collage along with a technique of “stitching” together a picture with a combination of on-site sketches and photographs I have employed once or twice before and viola! Here I am!

What I like about this is combining multiple perspectives but from one stationary location. Changing the view multiple times so that the horizon, the foreground and points in between are simultaneously in focus. Then figuring out how to blur the parts that don’t need to be in so much focus but are still defined enough that they work peripherally. This is how I tend to take in a scene anyway – constantly scanning, focusing, re-scanning, and re-focusing.

It seems to work, at least I have gotten many favorable comments. I’ll keep at it and see where it takes me.

is it time to paint yet?

While I have managed to complete two paintings and start a another since the first of the year, so much of my work over the past month has been getting ready to paint. I finally finished building some stretchers, got the canvas stretched, gessoed them, and have bought more canvas to use in order to re-purpose an older stretcher. I also spent some time last week laying out some compositions for three new paintings based on site sketches and photographs from the past three months or so.

This time of year always gets very tough and it is always helpful to find some time to break away and re-energize myself. Rebecca and I headed up to Corolla, NC on the Outer Banks for a weekend get-away. I think it’s kind of hilarious and ironic that we leave a beach town to go spend time at the beach. Nowadays there just isn’t an off-season here. However, I digress… It was indeed a very refreshing weekend and I made several new sketches. While it may take quite a long time to get around to all of them, I have no shortage of ideas and notes for paintings.

We also made a stop on the way back home in a little town called Plymouth, NC. Rebecca wanted to see the replica Civil War ironclad on display there. It was a bit underwhelming but it afforded me some time to make a couple of relatively quick sketches of the Roanoke River one of which includes the paper mill there.

back in the studio today

Thankful and happy that I had time to work in the studio today. Decided I would knock this out and get it off my plate. I would say it’s done since I reached that point where I believe if I work on it anymore I’ll just fuck it up. However, I started studying it just a bit too much…

Applied the underpainting for this one earlier in the week and took some time today to start working it up. It did not take long to decide that this one needs to be completed plein air. I think it would be almost criminal to do otherwise.

oil painting, at last!

After a variety of distractions I had time in the studio today to get back to some oil painting. I have been missing it and it’s always such a pleasure. Got back to work on this little landscape of some ghost cypress, river marsh and highway overpass. This particular painting is all from a photographic reference.

The other painting there just laid out is from a sketch I made on site and will be completed from a photographic reference. Then who knows, it’s an easily accessible site and once started perhaps I’ll grab my field box and go out to finish it up. Crazy talk!

drawing versus painting

Drawing is undoubtedly one of my most favorite activities and always has been. It’s difficult to say if painting is a close second or is tied for first. Drawing is definitely convenient and highly portable. Drawing is just an essential activity for me.

These are sketches from this weekend and last from little trips around the area. There’s Airlie Gardens, Moore’s Creek National Battlefield, and Oakdale Cemetery.

Not sure if I’m avoiding my paintbrushes or not, procrastination perhaps but then there’s a lot of other chores, art-wise and more, that keep me busy. As much as anything it’s having the block of time my mind likes to have in order to get wrapped up in painting.

For the moment I figure all the sketching is just researching and reconnaissance.

back on site and is it finished?

Made some time this past Sunday to get back on site to work up one of my watercolors. Before I knew it I was making new sketches to expand the view and now I’m feeling a new oil painting coming on.

“Is it finished?” One of the more annoying questions and one asked of oneself as much or more than anyone else. In this case, yes, it is finished.

Most of the time I just get to a point where I’m satisfied to leave the painting alone. This time I was quickly reaching a point where I was telling myself “Stop! Stop! You’re going to fuck it up!” So I stopped. It’s finished.

Working in the studio tonight

Went in the studio this afternoon and back again this evening to add some watercolor washes to the remaining sketches I made over Christmas break. There’s always some nostalgia I enjoy when making these paintings since for several years this is what I did as a kid taking art lessons.

Not particularly thrilled with these two so I think a field trip is in the making this Saturday. I’ll go all multimedia on these with some colored pencils plein air style for starters. After that, who knows?