Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On the Pamet River




Wanted to show you what I've been working on this week. Above is a new 9 x 12" oil on panel I did of the Pamet River up in Truro, MA on Cape Cod, about a half mile from Edward Hopper's old painting studio. I had done the vine charcoal below set up on the banks of the Pamet with my portable easel in 2010 on one of my 14 residencies in the Hopper studio. And as I often do I continued working on the drawing back in my studio as recently as last week.





One of the reasons I paint from my drawings I've done out on location is it gives me one extra opportunity to distill down the dizzying complexity of the actual landscape. To stand outside with one's easel and look through experienced eyes at the landscape is to see too many possibilities. Even in the course of a few minutes the appearance of your source can change dramatically. And the longer you peer at the landscape you discover more and more contradictory statements you could make. If an experienced painter really painted everything they saw it would produce an absolute jumble.

In many ways the most critical decision is what to leave out. If you're good, you leave out a heck of a lot.

Drawing in black and white with a medium like charcoal nudges my eye toward noticing bigger relationships and radical editing. And it lets me be much more playful with inventing unexpected chords of colors once I begin an oil painting version of a drawing's design. 

Just to give a little historical context, here below is a Hopper watercolor of the mouth of the Pamet where it flows out onto Cape Cod Bay. The same house stands on this spot today, but now surrounded by a dense growth of trees. Still, the feel of the Pamet slowly flowing out to sea is still there and exerts its subtle magic on you.




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