Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Indian Summer

Indian Summer
12 x 16
Please contact me if interested in this piece

We have had some incredibly beautiful fall days over the last week or so. Yesterday it was almost 80 degrees, which made me start thinking about the term "indian summer". It turns out to be a uniquely American term, in use for over 200 years, although this phenomena is recognized and called by other names in Europe and other parts of the world. Of course, it refers to a warm period of weather, occurring during a time of the year (fall) when cooler weather prevails. I prefer a less meteorological definition - a metaphor for something that happens at an unexpected time like a late bloom or flowering- something perhaps brief, but cherished for its untimely appearance.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Imagination & Execution

This past week I reread the book Art & Fear. I was first introduced to this wise little tome over ten years ago. Its one of those books that you can reread again and again, finding new and deeper insights each time. This time was no exception. The passages that seemed particularly apt had to do with what the authors call the "correspondence between imagination and execution"- that is, the place where your work actually gets made. The idea is that at the beginning the work can be whatever you can imagine but as it progresses- as you actually begin to make it- the possibilities narrow with each successive brushstroke, until at the end only a very narrow range of choices remain to complete the work. It is then its own thing, separate and apart from the world and what inspired it. In other words, as Annie Dillard (paraphrasing Paul Klee) wrote:

The painter...does not fit the paints to the world. He most certainly does not fit the world to himself. He fits himself to the paint. The self is the servant who bears the paintbox and its inherited contents.
I have read those words a dozen times over many years and have only just begun to understand what they mean. I had this ridiculous notion that I was in control!

This past week I've been working on the large painting-the underpainting is posted here. This first image is one glaze over the foreground and trees and the sky laid in with opaque paint.

Once the sky was laid in, I began to adjust the values and color temperature. It gets tricky here because you have to remember that each successive glaze will darken that portion of the panting. In this next image, I've put several more glaze layers on the foreground and the distant trees, repainted a portion of the sky, and adjusted the distant tree shapes and color harmony throughout.

So far, I've done very little to the large trees in the foreground and nothing to the small piece of water in the very front. And the sky will need repainting again. There are zillions of little adjustments to edges and shapes and color needed everywhere now-each needing to be fitted to what came before-to the paint.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Walking the Country

We live about 4 miles outside a small town (pop. 3800 on an optimistic day) in North Texas. Founded in 1833, back in the day, it was a prosperous town with numerous cotton gins and four drugstores and a movie theater on the town square. Now, not so much. Our road and the adjacent land in our area has had its own identity as a distinct community for many years also. Its called Mabry. My husband hates that- he thinks it sounds like "Mayberry". I say, so what? Mabry is, of course, a family name of the people who settled here and several of their descendants are our neighbors. When you turn on to our road, an old, white church and a graveyard mark the entrance to Mabry. The school house for the community (two rooms) originally stood on our property. A small piece of the foundation and a leaning flag pole (which we still use) are all that is left today.

Over the last 16 months I have painted mostly what I can see from our property, on our road or the drive into town. I cannot say, as Constable did, that these are "my places" given our short residency here, but nevertheless, they do feel like they are mine-at least aesthetically. Over these months, we have met our neighbors and most already knew I was an artist (that's the way it is in small towns). Many have graciously consented to let me roam their woods, pastures and fields in search of inspiration. I never have to go far. That little wooden ladder leaning against the fence behind my studio seems a perfect symbol of my place here- and I am content with that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Finishing the Start

Evening 48 x 60-under painting

Its amazing the amount of things you can get done while you are trying to avoid tackling a big canvas-things like laundry, cleaning up the garage and even your taxes (yes, we procrastinate around here). But eventually you have to face the music, or in this case- the linen. The one thing I have learned is that no matter what I intend the work to be, no matter how many studies I do, the canvas will, at some point very early on, become its own very different thing. When I painted in a more direct manner I would sometimes try to force it back into its cage, so to speak. But now, I cannot so easily cover my tracks. The under painting tells all and whatever happens by the time I have finished the start will be part of the finished work.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October Afternoon

October Afternoon
7 1/2 x 12 oil
Please contact me if interested in this piece

This past weekend I drove to New Mexico for the opening of the Albuquerque Museum Miniatures & More show. It was a quick trip- 24 hours of driving squeezed into about a 54 hour trip. But, I'm glad I went. I saw many friends at the show and I always enjoy the drive, especially at this time of year. I was more than a bit worried about how the show would go, given the recent economic news. I haven't heard whether overall things were slower, but Summer Moon sold, for which I am very grateful.

About a year ago, I was making the drive back from a show in California, and wrote about not being sure where home was. But Sunday, as the high desert of New Mexico gave way to the rolling hills of north Texas, I knew I was heading in the right direction.