Sunday, October 28, 2007

Old Aspen Grove

When I lived in Colorado, I often drove along the spine of the Rockies on back roads, camping along the way. On one of those trips, off on a trail that led nowhere, I stumbled across a stand of the largest aspens I've ever seen. Some were huge: over 3 feet in diameter, a good size for any tree at that altitude. Entranced, I stayed there for several days, hiking, drawing, taking photos, and feeling suspended in time. Not even planes flew over. Recently, I found the photos I had taken (the sketchbook, of mostly botanical drawings, is long lost). One of them became the reference for this small painting of sunlight filtering through onto the massive trunks just feet from my tent.

Soft pastel on indigo Tiziano, pumice ground
14x18.5 cm (5.5x7.25 in.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

More pears? Are you kidding?

Dancing 'til Dawn

Soft pastels on UART400, 24x16 cm (9.5x6.25 in)

I have no idea what the style I am developing might be called, so I am calling it "abstract realism". I think this is a stylistic trend that has been part of my art in all the media I've used. This is not impressionism, which is realism at its most literal: a rendering of what the artist's senses actually percieve in the most literal way, uninterpreted by the mind. In a sense, though, every painting, any art object is an abstraction, because the artist is selecting the information that conveys what he or she is perceiving.

A scene, a set of objects, a face, all are composed of many levels of information: color, shape, light and shadow, relationships between elements. The more the result resembles the expectations of the viewer, the more realistic we say the painting is. When it seems to resemble nothing objective at all, it is usually referred to as abstract-- though as long as I'm talking terminology here, I'd say that a painting (or other art object) that is not based on something objective isn't abstract at all, but expressionistic. It is not abstracted from the sensory perception of the artist, but expresses some interior process. There is likely some of both in abstract realism as I am using it. There is a real scene, a real object, a real person, but my tendency as an artist is to pare away as much as possible to some essence of my perception and experience of my subject.

I am experimenting with different surfaces for my paintings, and was given some good-sized samples of a sanded paper called UART. I dislike most sanded papers I've tried, because they eat pastels and are difficult to blend. But this one (which comes in several grit sizes) may have promise. This painting is done on the 400, which I swore would not work for my way of working. I'm still up in the air on that, but was pleasantly surprised at its responsiveness. Nice for this kind of loose, informal approach.

By the way, the middle pear was breakfast yesterday, not long after I laid out the composition. The pear on the right is next.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Three Pears again

In the light this morning, I decided to add some highlights to the pastel version of the pears. Interesting to compare how this looks compared to the one I posted yesterday. I am really liking this technique, and want to try it on some other paintings. The pears are ripening and changing color, but are not yet soft, so they may get another chance yet at sitting for me before I eat them.

Lunch, then back to the framing room...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Three Pears, version 1,772,394

At least. Hasn't every artist who has ever lived done pears at least once? But hey, pears are fun to paint. No two are shaped alike, they have wonderful shapes, and each variety has its own personality. Plus you get to eat them when you're done.

I promised someone a while back that when pears came in, I'd paint some. I got three lovely Bosc pears, so last evening, I used them for my quick watercolor sketch:

Canson watercolor on heavyweight sketch paper, 15x9 cm (6x3.6in)

Then this evening, I used them as subject of a quick little pastel painting, using a much looser style than I usually do.

Soft pastel on Tiziano, brown background under pumice ground, 11x11cm (4.25x4.25 in)

In a bit of a slump for a while, but getting going again. Only doing sketches until I finish getting some paintings framed and ready to hang for a gallery jurying. There are only two 2D slots open and stiff competition, but I'm still excited and pleased to have been invited. The small ones were easy to frame, but I am re-doing a larger one. Today I took it all apart and redid it, and like the way it looks much better. Tomorrow I will finish it up. I hope. The glass feels a bit long, and the only way to remove a small amount of glass safely is by grinding. And I only have hand tools...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Old Stage Road, 1965

For Rod. There is a little creek back in the trees where we used to take the kids to picnic. It is dusk now, time to go home. Farewell.