Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Joy of Man's Desiring

Out Highway 20 at Arbor Ridge road is an unnamed garden center housed in an old barn faced with galvanized sheet metal. On the morning that it caught my eye, the nearly noon sun was barely peeking over the edge of the 'cowboy town' facade where it happened to strike a few purple muhly grass in full bloom and the variegated yucca beside them. Ever since then I've been determined to capture that muhly grass and the lovely rusting wall.
In the actual painting that deep watermelon halo on the muhly grass is hardly noticeable behind the creamy salmon froth of light. I just haven't figured out how to quiet rambunctious reds in Photoshop without losing the jewel-tones in the other colors.
Joy of Man's Desiring
9x9" Wallis Professional Sanded Paper

I've been trying a new approach this week. I didn't use an under-painting, but used the brown Wallis paper, and did a very loose color study on a scrap piece to work out most of the values and color choices. I just wanted to see how throwing down color fast and loose would work out. I knew I'd make color mistakes and was happy to scrub over them until I got closer to what I wanted. In that process I discovered the joy and necessity of that delicious grass apron, which I extended for the painting. In that discovery the final painting became all about the three color fields, with the elements themselves as mere excuses for placing and layering those colors.

As I considered the title for the finished piece, this indulgence in the joy of color brought to mind Bach’s famous treatment of the old hymn, and suddenly the fact that the subject was a garden center became essential. What better place to see the joy of man's desiring than in the plants he grows to recreate the Garden?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rufus Morgan Falls and Life in the Shadow

Today’s pastel painting began with a photo from a lovely hike in the forests of the Rufus Morgan Falls area of North Carolina. I wanted to do something different with the picture, something that is focused on color, something that keeps the mystery of the dark wood alive while celebrating the sparkling fall sunlight. So I dove in, and when I was done I had landed here.

And if you didn't see it yesterday, too bad. I decided to crop it today and that crop is now posted. I'll probably catch some flack from the Mathemagical Cowboy who made me promise not to ever throw any painting away no matter how bad I thought it was. Guess I'll save the scraps for him. Now I have to change the title, as the focus is a little different.

4 o'Clock Shadow
10.5 x 10.5" Soft Pastels on Wallis Museum Grade Sanded Paper

This week I also ‘discovered’ Wolf Kahn. I had viewed his work a few years ago, and didn’t really get it. This time I watched a couple video interviews and I heard him articulate precisely what has been bedeviling me. I Love color. I Love working from the inside out. I have little interest in ‘representing’ a scene realistically, yet it seems that’s the only approach I know. Kind of maddening.

Here are my Wolf Kahn Take-aways:
• He always wanted to get away from ‘description.’
• ‘Get away from the brushstroke, just let things happen.’
• ‘Get away from deliberateness.’
• ‘To Paint is to live in the moment, trust our intuition and freedom of expression.’

At least my natural impulses are in good company. There is some comfort in that.

Hoping to go see his exhibit at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta GA this month.