Monday, December 30, 2013

Snowy Reeds

12 x 12 inches, oil on board, 2013. Extremely cold! But sunny, with lots of light on the ice and shooting through the cattails. The ice was a fantastic grey-green-blue, and the snow looked like nests of down in the reeds.

$325 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bright Reeds and Blue

12 x 12 inches, oil on board, 2013. Brilliant colors streaming through the reeds. I can't get enough of watching the water and its reflections of the sky.

$325 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Friday, December 20, 2013

Work with Confidence

I made a mess (rather than a painting) yesterday, I think. But it did help to keep telling myself, during the process, that things were going fine, that I just needed to keep going with aplomb and something good might happen. It's the aplomb that's the trick—that's the "not-thinking, just responding" part that can do a lot of good.

The hard part is that you do have to arise out of that mode sometimes to take a look at what you've done, assess/appraise, and then dive back in...and that in-and-out can be hard to manage. Sometimes you can't get out far enough to see, from an objective perspective, what you've done; other times you can't get back into not-thinking mode. Sometimes you don't know when to stop and get out, or whether to go back in.

Plus that really loose, all-in mode can be tiring, and only sustainable for a certain amount of time.

But, as Corot said, working with confidence is powerful. He said to make confidence your motto—that and integrity. So right, and so wise. Integrity keeps you on your own track, in touch with the subjects/moments/compositions that are meaningful and interesting to you. It keeps you buoyed up by opening the door to what you uniquely have to offer—a crucial thing to keep you motivated and happy and for your work to have force and meaning. And confidence gives you power: it lets loose your energy and enthusiasm and openness to risk.

Things will not work out sometimes, but working with confidence is the best way to work. And it's the most fun.

Trying to "fix" a painting when you get back home has this problem embedded in it: that you're no longer in the same state of mind that you were in outside. Over and over I see the results of this. I do continue to make changes when I'm back home (only small ones; I may as well give up if I need to make big ones), and it's amazing how hard it is to make a mark that will "fit" into the painting. The marks that fit came from a certain moment, a certain state of mind, that is over, done, gone. I try to will myself to grasp the painting in a glance and know what's needed (in whatever area is bothering me), but even when I can feel what that is, it's very hard to work with the same force and freedom that I had available to me outside, on site.

So there's a downside to having your work arise out of the specialness of one time and one place.  But the upside is that when you're there, it's there—that feel for the moment. And you can ride it like a wave.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Golden Reeds

16 x 12 inches, oil on board, 2013. I wanted to try a bigger painting of the cattails. I'm excited to be back painting this winter motif with all its changefulness and light!

$450 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Monday, December 16, 2013

Loose Milkweed

 17 x 17 inches, oil on board, 2013. Something about the bright silk escaping from the milkweed pods is really beautiful -- it's like tufts of light or sky.

$975 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Water's Edge, Tangerine

15 x 15 inches, oil on board, 2013. I found some lingering fall colors at the water's edge. The color complements and the gestures of the tree and reeds created a graceful balance.

$825 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Milkweed and Cool Field

11 x 17 inches, oil on board, 2013. This painting seemed to fall into place. It was fun to try to capture the soft greybrown of a dried milkweed pod under a cool grey sky.

$450 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).


Monday, November 11, 2013

Milkweed and Quiet Field

11 x 17 inches, oil on board, 2013. Beautiful milkweed plants on a misty fall day.

$450 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Late Blooms

16 x 12 inches, oil on board, 2013. Late blooming cosmos at play among a hilltop garden's fading colors.

$450 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reaching Tree and Gold Pond

9 x 14 inches, oil on hardboard, 2013. Lots of nice motifs at the pond as the leaves fall and the bare branches of trees create patterns against the water.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Click here for purchase information

Monday, October 28, 2013

Be Light on Your Feet

I like a sort of disjointed feel in a painting, where some things are explained and others are not. That effect feels poetic to me, lyrical, rhythmic. There's an ebb and a flow to it, like a pulse, like life, like the way we see—noticing details here and there, but registering the rest as a wash.

I was happy with a recent painting that felt disjointed but whole—held together by an overall feeling of disjointedness and by a balance of tones and colors. The process of making it was, I think, helped along in several ways.

The first was—as I've written before but probably could never emphasize enough—I kept moving. When I give the same (small, with each pass) amount of time and attention to each area as I go, my work is more fresh and my results are more unified.

Second, I tried not to rely on memory but to look back and forth quickly and often between my painting and the scene—not thinking, just observing, particularly how different elements relate in terms of tone. At one point, I found myself looking at the milkweed plants in the foreground and coming up with an idea of what color they were, but before proceeding, I forced myself to FEEL how high their tone really was: only then did I get it right. Later, when I was working on the background and filling in around the plants, I kept my eyes on the two juxtaposed tones (one near and one far) and kept correcting until I matched the right degree of tonal difference. That approach requires a lot of focus, but I am more in the scene, so in a way it's a relief—to be out of my head, out of myself.

A third thing that seemed to work: when I found myself starting to cover some general ground with a medium tone and then realized that I would need the stems of the milkweed to be darker, I stopped and backtracked, wiping off paint to put the dark stems down on the acrylic ground before going on. I had thought the stems were skinny enough to be well-expressed with a semi-dark tone creating by pulling dark paint through medium-tone paint, but the minute I started that approach and to gauge it against what I was seeing, I realized I was wrong. Fortunately, I managed to assess the effect before laying in too much medium-tone paint—something I haven't always been able to do.

There is so much in just being able to shift direction: to change your mind quickly, turn on a dime, stay light on your feet. Sometimes I think it's the ultimate skill, and not just in painting.

One last thing about that particular painting. Late in the process, I realized I had painted over a lot of the first light tones of the milkweed pods and leaves. I went back to replace some of those light tones and suddenly realized that the painting had developed a feel, a rhythm and balance, that I liked—not too busy or full. And I stopped. If I hadn't kept my mind open at that point and had just diligently continued to fill those leaves back in, I might've ended up with something overworked. There is no telling, of course—it might've turned out even better! But there is something in recognizing a good moment in the progression of a painting and stopping there. It can be miserably hard to recognize when those moments occur, but again, openness and flexibility is the key. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


15 x 15 inches, oil on board, 2013. Beautiful milkweed -- such a neat plant in all its stages. Brilliant yellow leaves and pale seed pods against near-purple dry thistle made this a study in complements.

$825 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Pool

12 x 10 inches, oil on board, 2013. Stream on a hot July day. So many pools and colors, and such a pretty contrast between the bright water and shady banks.
$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Click
here for purchase information

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Late Summer Flowers

14 x 14 inches, oil on board, 2013. Beautiful clusters of cosmos and chicory up by our nearby community gardens—a riot of color!

$450 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Woods

11 x 11 inches, oil on board, 2013. Went out to a park looking for a river view, but saw this instead right by my car, looking down a hill into the woods.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Click
here for purchase information

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stream Colors

11 x 11 inches, oil on board, 2013. Beautiful spot by the Gunpowder River--quiet, breezy, water clear and colorful. Had a hard time starting; just wanted to sit and soak up the peace.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Click
here for purchase information

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hot Vines

12 x 10 inches, oil on board, 2013. Warm colors and shaded vines by the pond. This painting went many ways before finally coming clear. At one point I left to pick up my son, then came back and persisted in the afternoon heat, grumbling in frustration. He kept saying he liked it, and eventually I did too.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jump Out of Your Own Box

It's probably best to approach every painting day anew, with a renewed spirit and without attachment to what you did the day before.

In the morning, I try to avoid glancing at my painting from the day before.  Too great a chance of seeing something that now bothers me, or of thinking, "How will I do better today?" Instead I go forward with a blank mind that is open just to now—to how a place or a motif makes me feel now.  I keep in mind a refrain of Maya Angelou's:  "You must invent yourself, each day."  Each day, each moment, is new, and you can help yourself serve the opportunities it presents by opening yourself to its uniqueness. 

With art, it's vitally important to stay open, particularly if you've set yourself the task of learning from doing rather than from studying others' work.  In the field, you need to keep your eyes and other senses open because the light and other conditions are always distinct: you can't fall back on memory, history, past assumptions, even past interpretations. You're a different artist each day. Since yesterday, you may have gotten less sleep, changed your mood, learned new information, etc. You will see differently today, and so you need to paint differently.  Let yourself.  Push into the future.

A trap is to find yourself thinking: I can't do THAT (paint that way, use paint that way, take on that subject): I haven't done that before, it might not work, my style won't adapt to that, my (imagined) audience wants to see consistency, etc. Don't fall in that trap. Jump out of your own box every day.  It's the best way to grow, to discover new things and new capabilities. Also: it's a great way to conquer fear, which will always be your worst enemy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tree by Pond, Quiet Light

Quiet, simple pose of tree and reflections. Beautiful greens and greys. Hot again!

11 x 11 inches (28 x 28 cm), oil on hardboard, white wood frame, $175 plus shipping ($20 domestic and $40 international). For Maryland residents: 6% added to cover sales tax.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).


Monday, June 10, 2013

View Across Pond, Windy Trees

12 x 10 inches, oil on board, 2013. Wind in gusts whipping up these trees by the pond. Bright white and violet clouds driving across a stormy sky.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Click here for purchase information

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Give It Life

When I paint, I still have that feeling of "I don't know what I'm doing." But as my friend, the watercolorist Eva Bender, pointed out to me recently, if I had it all figured out, I probably wouldn't want to do it anymore.  Since it's endlessly mysterious, it's endlessly alluring. 

I did one with wind in the trees where I feel like the the wind is there in the movement, and the cool feeling of the grey/violet day is there in the colors...

View Across Pond, Windy Trees

Maybe that's all I'm ever looking for?  I don't know.  I keep wondering:  Too realistic?  That is, boringly representational?  But I need to give that up:  my aesthetic, and my emotional connection to painting, is tied to representation (-alism).  But I'm always questioning how far to spool out.  Maybe the answer, or the organizing principle anyway, could be:  As far as possible, without making mishmash.  Though I like Joan Mitchell's mishmash.  But her work has less to do with moment/atmosphere/place than I want.  And as Robert Henri said, the idea is to do something no one else has done.

When I look at really wild and suggestive stuff, sometimes I want to go there.  Again, toward things that look like marks on a page, with an empty background.  But more, I want to get close to what Monet was doing—responding wildly, but with a passionate involvement in something, not in himself.  I keep thinking:  I want to "give life to" something, rather than impose myself on it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trees by Pond, Violet

10 x 12 inches, oil on board, 2013. Another view of the shoreline—beautiful tangle of branches and cascading leaves.

Click here for purchase information

Monday, June 3, 2013

Trees by Pond, Blue

10 x 12 inches, oil on board, 2013. HOT—happy to find a spot in the shade. Looking for images with a range of color these days (in what feels like a sea of summer green). Beautiful views through trees at the shoreline of the pond. The light kept changing—finished with sunshine and bright colors.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Click here for purchase information

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Painting is Not a Linear Progression

A painting is not a linear progression—it doesn't progress in one direction.  I go forward and back, forward and back, many times.  I try not to expect to keep moving along pleasantly toward completion, and to know that I'll inevitably do things I'll later need to change or remove entirely. 

Accepting that I'll be travelling backwards sometimes can ease my mind and make me more open to risk, mistake, and accident—all good things.  As Wolf Kahn put it, "You should always go further than you should." 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dwell in the Subject, Not in the Painting

When I'm painting, it helps me to keep my eyes on the subject, rather than my painting, as much as possible.  I glance at the painting to match colors/tones/placement, but I try not to dwell there, or let my eyes rest there for too long, and instead dwell in/with/on the subject as much as possible.

My memory is only so good—it's hard to carry the memory of a particular color or effect for long. If I'm looking mostly at my subject, I have a better chance of capturing the colors and effects in the way I'm seeing them.

Also, if my eyes are dwelling on my subject, I can't get caught up in the details of the painting itself, or in any kind of exactitude.  Which furthers my cause—immediacy and freshness.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Don't Look Back

I try not to look at my painting after I'm finished.  Before that moment—as I'm running out of time or light or patience or energy, or when I've reached the point where each new brushstroke makes things worse rather than better—I take one last quick look around the painting, check to see if my eyes can flow around and across it without getting stuck on an inconsistency or something that bothers me, and then STOP.  I force my eyes away.  Then gather my materials, get back to my car, load up, and drive home—still not looking. 

If I stop to look after I'm finished, I can get caught in an endless cycle of wanting to fix every last little disorderly thing, and that can be deadly, both for the painting's look of spontaneity and for my spirits, which need to be treated kindly at this point.  I've given it all I have, for the moment.*  My best practice is to let myself detach and go in peace to whatever I need to do next.  I tell myself:  Your painting belongs to that moment under the tree—or in the field or by the stream—and that moment is done.

*I should add:  After a break of an hour or two, I MIGHT make a small change or two later that day, at home; but if the painting requires any more substantial re-evaluations, I try to go back to the original site the following day.  Sometimes it's worth trying. But usually, with small on-site pieces, if it doesn't work in one session, it won't work in two.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's All Good

It's always a struggle for me to feel OK about myself when I'm getting behind, but I would feel worse if I didn't make my family a priority over my work.  I guess it's just a function of trying to do multiple jobs—mom, artist, housekeeper.  As one of my female UMD professors, who had two young kids at the time, told me:  "You're always failing at something."  I think you have to try to get good at failing—you have to learn to feel OK in spite of it.  Otherwise you'll get too down.

I've been thinking about this with regard to painting more generally.  When I was walking around at Oregon Ridge park the other day, looking for a place to paint, I was frustrated and stressed until I told myself:  "Maybe today will just be a scouting day.  I've been meaning to get up here just to look, without time pressure, to see if there are any motifs that could keep me busy for a while—so I'll view today as my chance to do that.  No pressure to produce."  Once I chose that perspective, it was like loosening the stuck gears in my head, and the world around me opened with possibilities—all kinds, offbeat and otherwise.  No more "Well, maybe I could make that work"; no more trying to talk myself into things I really wasn't interested in.  Just the chance to wander and to observe my feelings as I wandered.  Even more bizarrely, I found something very soon afterward—a view of the stream that just felt wonderful.

(To digress:  For me, scouting by feel is key.  That day, I often noticed motifs that were pretty enough, or colorful enough, etc., but nothing that "captured my heart."  It's hard to find words for what that experience is like.  I told a friend afterwards that it was like looking in a mirror, like seeing my heart somehow, some manifestation in the landscape of what I adore.  In this case:  Color, nature, movement, darkness, light...deep nature:  a fallen log, mud, flowing water, dry grasses from winter catching light while new green plants grew around and over them, etc.  Change, decay, growth; plus all the artistic elements of contrasts, complements, movement, etc., as well.  A beautiful place to be.  To me.  I guess that's why it felt "right" to paint there.)

To return to being able to fail:  That experience reminded me of an Alex Lowe quote I have on my wall.  Writing about mountaineering, he says: "There are people who can't bear to fail.  Those people are on the short track, as far as their careers go.  You have to push hard, do hard things.  But you also have to be able to say, 'OK, today's not the day.'" 

That is key in itself, of course, if not THE key:  You can't allow yourself to get so discouraged that you stop.  Continuing to try is All.  But in this case, giving myself permission to fail that day, at that moment, gave me a kind of peace that unlocked latent potential.  It's the same as when I remind myself to play:  the "play" mode is conducive to possibility.  To hope, maybe.  To a feeling that "It's all good," or "Anything can be done, or at least tried, and failure is already forgiven."  A great approach to life!  A very helpful approach to painting, and maybe to creative work of any kind.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


My painting experience the other day was a good example of how painting—creating a decent painting—is sometimes just insane. 

I worked very hard at the first round—trying to see "globally"; trying to respond; trying not to think; etc., and ended up with glop.  Too many notes, too much information. (Afterwards, I reminded myself:  Unity is much more important than capturing color.  Which is not to say it's not great to capture a multitude of colors IF you can preserve unity.)  I was played out by then, and almost out of time, but I knew I couldn't go backwards with that much paint on the board—so I scraped it all down with my palette knife, then wiped it down.  And, just for experiment's sake, started over.

I had a palimpsest of sorts, with a bare shadow of what had been there.  I laid in some middle tones, not making the effort to reach the intense colors that I'd been seeing in the sunlight—settling for the wan notes of the shady periods.  Then, with the paint in many areas still thin, I laid in some high/light notes, then some dark, and finished with some thick highlights, plus a few marks to show more movement/direction.  And damn if it didn't work.  Painting is crazy.

Can I take this lesson and learn from it? I'm inclined to doubt it.  I always seem to have to push beyond in order to go back to simplicity.  I'll try to learn from it, though.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Copper Reeds and Green Reflections

Brilliant day with shifting clouds, sun in and out. Had to wait for the sun to catch the warm oranges and greens.

10 x 12 inches (25 x 30 cm), oil on hardboard, white wood frame, $175 plus shipping ($20 domestic and $40 international). For Maryland residents: 6% added to cover sales tax.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Logs and Blue Stream

Paler sky, softer colors than the last stream painting. Looked downstream this time, and wanted to try a vertical composition. Still caught by the strong movement and shadows of these logs, plus the blues and purples of the stream in sun and shadow.

10 x 12 inches (25 x 30 cm), oil on board, 2013.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Click here
 for purchase information.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Logs Across Stream, Spring

Wintry woods, still very little color. I found myself looking for water with reflections after all those cattail paintings. Ended up at a stream with deep blues and purples, new green, and warm orange. Peaceful and quiet but for the wind and the spring birds.

10 x 12 inches (25 x 30 cm), oil on board, 2013.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Click here for purchase information.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Merry Cattails

Reminding myself to "Play, don't produce" today. (Seems like I remember this on Friday best...maybe it feels like time to play :-)) Scraped the whole thing down at one point and started over, trying to capture the feel of what I was seeing, and the colors on the fly. Sunny and windy, alternately cold and warm; had to wait while the clouds passed for the warm colors to come back. Cool green reflections of trees.

12 x 10 inches (30 x 25 cm), oil on hardboard.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Resting Cattails

Windy, colors shifting. Intimate scene with just a few reeds. I chose the spot for one set of colors and then the light changed, but it was all still pretty so I just kept going, picking up the new colors along the way.

10 x 12 inches (25 x 30 cm), oil on board.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

here  for purchase information.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Play, Don't Produce

Time will tell about yesterday's painting.  I went out with the same attitude as the day before (or tried to):  Just capture color, attend to tone, stay loose.  I liked it at the end, but who knows how I'll feel today. 

I liked the feeling of just responding, taking stabs, being open to unusual things happening.  Letting them happen.  I liked that the painting seems to have a balance of thick and thin paint—I gobbed it on at the end.  (Not intentionally; just in a responding mode.)  Again, I may end up feeling that it failed, but it was done in a spirit of experimentation, and that has to be good enough on any given day.

It's pretty crucial, when I'm painting at this rate, to remind myself to "play, don't produce."  Ironically, it's a tall order, because you want to do a good job—creating something ugly is painful.  But if you don't play, you don't open yourself up to interesting things: you don't grow, you don't experiment, and there's no surprise in your work. 

What a strange discipline.  It's not enough to stay focused on the rules.  Rather, you need to keep the many rules in mind (for example, keep a balance among the infinity of things that need to stay in balance, etc.), but primarily you need NOT to adhere to any preconception of how things should go.  Stay open; don't rely on formula; play.

Balance and Belligerence

I enjoyed making an offbeat (for me) painting of the reeds and water on Friday.  I was feeling belligerent and decided I was just going to see and record COLOR -- I felt a longing for color, as if I needed to drink it and re-color my insides. 

I had trouble with the composition at first, and then, belligerently, wiped down most of what I'd done and painted instead the FEEL of the composition, very loosely, and put in the colors of the water and reflections as they occurred.  My feeling was:  I'm just going to get them as I go, and not worry about it making sense.  At the end, I had to adjust the tones—I needed deeper darks in the grasses below to balance the dark of the cattail heads.  And I almost didn't put in the highlights on the heads, because the painting as it stood felt UNrealistic, and I hesitated to put in a realistic touch that could throw it all off.  But the highlights made it all work much better (as usual:  the more contrast, the better). 

I'm not sure if what I'm doing at times like this really "works"—this balance of abstraction and realism—but the very fact that there IS a balance feels right to me.  I'd like to try to push myself in that direction, that is, collecting color, making sure I have high-enough and low-enough tones, and working from the scene but not obsessing over details (sure death).  Just enjoying what happens IF I manage to capture color and tone adequately.  It's bizarrely fun—the freedom from representation, I guess.  And best of all, at the end, the results can surprise me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Winter Pond with Dark Trees

Stormy sky, cold wind. The trees seemed to be reaching forward in the green reflections. Loved the drama of the dark trees against the bright breaks in the clouds.

12 x 10 inches (30 x 25 cm), oil on hardboard, white wood frame, $175 plus shipping ($20 domestic and $40 international). For Maryland residents: 6% added to cover sales tax.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Quiet Reeds

Beautiful arrangement of reeds against bright water. Rippling breeze.

12 x 10 inches (30 x 25 cm), oil on hardboard, 2013.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Click here for purchase information.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Subtle Reeds

Beautiful spot -- quiet light today, subtle colors.  Wind shifting the reflections second by second.  Wonderful sweetness to this scene.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Windy Corner

Cold but with a soft breeze that kept whipping up the surface -- like a tropical breeze, but for the temperature -- stirring up all the colors and tones in the water.

12 x 10 inches (30 x 25 cm), oil on hardboard.

Click here to purchase.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cattails in Rain

Rainy, cold, and wet. Huddled under my umbrella.  Everything soaked through—reeds, grass—making all the colors deep and saturated.  Beautiful.

12 x 10 inches (30 x 25 cm), oil on hardboard, white wood frame, $175 plus shipping ($20 domestic and $40 international). For Maryland residents: 6% added to cover sales tax.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cool Reeds

The ice was gone, and raindrops were falling on the pond's surface, obscuring the trees' reflections. I liked the pattern of reeds and shadows, and the cool colors under a moody sky.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cerulean Rain

12 x 10", oil on board, 2013. Moody, rainy day with quiet color. I painted down on the lower bank among the reeds. The cerulean in the water set off their almost white tone, and the dark reflections of trees loomed.

Click here to purchase.   


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bright Reeds

The ice softened overnight, making the background more powdery and smooth -- many versions of turquoise setting up the coppery reeds.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Warm Reeds and Bright Ice

At the last minute, the sun came out, and blue sky reflected at the shoreline where the ice had melted.  Had to quickly add in the warm colors that fill the reeds in the sunshine.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Warm Reeds and Ice

Icy again.  The reeds, shot through with light, made wonderful colors against the bright ice.  They seemed happy to be basking in the sun. 

Click here to purchase.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tangerine Reeds

The arrangement of these reeds in the sun felt like a party.  Ice again, with streaks of light across the reflections.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reeds and Blue Sky

This is from the day after New Year's.  Resolved to get outside more, even on cold days! Bright blue sky -- cold, but no ice yet. I liked the balance between the downward force of the reflections and the upward push of the reeds.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Keeping Your Head in the Game

Got out with very little time yesterday and it seemed to work for me, to some extent, as it sometimes does.  Made me work quickly, and take risks.  When you have to get something down fast, you see in shorthand:  You see; you put the paint down; you correct immediately if your color or tone is off; then you move on.  Those twin pressures to get it right right away, and then shift your attention elsewhere, are very helpful in painting.  No "I'll come back and fix it" flexibility to loosen your grip on the moment; you know you will come back and adjust, but you intensify your focus so that you come close the first time.  It's more exhausting than taking your time, than not focusing as hard.  Focusing is draining.  But it tends to be a lot of fun -- fun like a high-wire act (to some people, that might not sound like fun).  You are more within the excitement of color -- you're closer to the bone of the process.

As I try to "do better" each day, I feel like I'm pushing myself in the direction of "wilder" -- more free, less concerned with having it look like "things" -- letting it be color and tone and gesture.  For now, that feels like a good direction.  But I maintain my fidelity to sensitivity; and when I veer from that, I'm less happy with the results.   I love to see freedom, but I love to see sensitivity just as much.  

Here I mean sensitivity to color, and tone, and to feeling -- to what I see/feel.  Seeing and feeling are too close in this context for me to consider them separate concepts.  Color, tone, gesture/composition have emotion, and you need to get that emotion right to communicate it.  I guess maybe what I "feel" when I see, for example, the color and tone of the water, becomes a shorthand for me:  I mix the color and assess how it looks when I put it down according to whether it "feels" right.  So feeling is a method or approach -- a way to assess and paint fast, and to respond fully.  For me it seems to be a "zone" I get in (or not), and it requires a lot of focus to stay in it.  Breaks are needed.  And focus runs out, which is why smaller pieces often work better.

Yesterday I noticed the Sound Phenomenon at work more explicitly and precisely than usual -- the phenomenon where, when I'm working full tilt, it's somehow "loud" in my mind and almost seems loud around me.  Maybe it's the din of my thoughts when I'm making many choices quickly.  As I near the end of the painting, it gets quieter; and when it's time to stop -- when there are still a lot of unanswered questions, but the board is covered with paint, and there is connection between all the parts and a sense of harmonious movement throughout and my eye can travel around it happily -- it gets completely quiet.  And if I try to "go back in" (make changes) at that point, it's jarring, painful.  I wish that this phenomenon always worked so neatly -- it doesn't -- but it's usually present to some extent.  Maybe I'm more in tune with it, or listening better, on some days than others.

More and more, I'm trying to get the colors I want down in the first layer of paint, to prevent muddying.  Colors are purest when they are put down on the (in my case, white) ground.  Or on a dry paint layer -- but in one-session plein-air painting, there are no dry layers; all layers are wet on wet.  And while you can layer a color over a close version of itself and retain something close to its purity (light rose layered over medium light rose), most wet on wet layering is going to dim its true tint.  So I try to keep a lot of that first layer -- and if I need to, I wipe down to the board and start over to get a pure, clean hue.