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Showing posts from July, 2017

Painting's Problems Are Just Like Life's Problems: What to Do

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Edward Hopper, The Camel's Hump, oil on canvas, 1930 Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY. This painting was made the first summer Hopper spent on Cape Cod. He worked from the spot where four years later he would build the painting studio he would live  in for the next 30 years. It's my favorite Hopper  landscape
Yesterday I was finishing a painting of a tree in a large painting I began last week. The session started out well. In my mind's eye I could see the tree looming magnificently above me in a brilliant morning light. Incredibly rich yet somehow elementally simple.

As I pushed further, layering the brushstrokes to evoke the wonderful volume and intricate surface thousands of glistening leaves make. But it began to go wrong. The commanding personality of the tree melted away into an undistinguished mass of oily dots.

An inner voice told me to put down my brush and get out of the studio before I made things worse. I've learned to listen for that voice.

Af…

Big New John Sloan Show at Delaware Art Museum

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Delaware Art Museum (DAM) in Wilmington, DE is organizing the first large scale exhibition in some years of the paintings of the famous Ashcan School artist John Sloan (Am. 1871-1951). The DAM has the larges collection of the artist's work and a significant Sloan archive. 
Here's a large detail of one of the paintings the exhibition's Curator, Heather Campbell Coyle, is planning to include in the  show- Blonde Nude with Orange, Blue Couch painted around 1917. I think it's one of Sloan's best examples of what he could do with color. He knew how to use it to enliven one of the most difficult subjects to paint- skin. Look at the shadows in the detail below.



Determined to avoid monotony of color, Sloan carefully painted the shadows on the buttock and on the bottom knee with relatively cooler colors. Contrasting them, the woman's upper knee slides toward a warmer orange as our eye moves into that shadow. It works beautifully.
Here's another detail-

I'm grateful …

Painting the Alley by Charles Burchfield's House

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Charles Burchfield, Yellow Afterglow, July 31 1916, watercolor, Burchfield Penney Art Center Buffalo, NY Every morning Burchfield Penney Art Center (BPAC) does a great job of posting a different painting by Charles Burchfield on their Facebook page. They pair it with a selection from the many journals the artist kept throughout his life. This morning's post of the above painting particularly caught my eye. Done in 1916 when Burchfield was living in his family home, it is almost undoubtedly a view of the alley just west of his house at 867 E. 4th Street in Salem, OH. 

A big part of Burchfield's talent was he knew to zero in on the subjects that most stimulated his creativity- the immediate surroundings of his boyhood home. It, and similar subjects, were to occupy him for the rest of his life.

Two summer's ago at the urging of BPAC's Curators my wife and I drove from Baltimore to spend two days exploring Salem. Below is a major oil I made in my studio based on two successiv…

A Two Sentence Lesson About How to Enjoy Art

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Here it is:

At least once a day interrupt the usual mulling over of the details of your life and ask yourself "Of what is in front of me now, what is the thing my eyes most enjoy seeing." Then spend a focused moment enjoying it.

That's it. Here below is something I stopped to enjoy-



Philip Koch, White Thicket II, oil on canvas, 28 x 42 inches, currently in Courthouse Gallery Fine Art's show of my work running through July 21, 2017 in Ellsworth, Maine.
So much of what is said or written about art (including by me) tends toward long-windedness. We can trip over all the words. It's good to boil it all down to just what's essential.