Variation on a theme. This stand of trees next to this dirt road resonated with me. As I painted this, from out of nowhere, a lone bicyclist came meandering up behind me. He stopped and looked over my shoulder momentarily and meandered on, his tracks snaking away behind him.
Less than a mile from where we stay in Rhode Island every year, there is a curious piece of property that has a maze of crisscrossing paths, seemingly leading nowhere. Just through a small break in the bramble of ragosa rose that line the shore opens up into this network of trails. Every year I return to discretely explore. This year I did this painting of what I like to call the magic garden.
This painting was done on January 30, 2011 in a newly-harvested cotton field. In South Carolina there are scrub trees often found on the edge of fields (I wish I knew the name of the tree). When all else is in various winter shades, these evergreen trees stand out with their green leathery leaves in low, golden winter light.
From the point of the graphite stick to it's side, this drawing utilizes a nice variety of marks. Here, the model was going through a battery of thirty-second poses. She leaned forward with her left arm over her head. Even though you don't see the arm, the gesture suggests it. The other marks, I believe, are from the previous pose that I drew on top of. Sometimes I don't bother changing the page. In rapidly changing drawing situations, I occasionally feel it takes too much time to finish my thought on one pose, rip the paper off the pad and set for the next pose when I am essentially racing with the model. I really like newsprint paper to draw on. It has a tooth that takes graphite and especially conte nicely and is a pleasant off-white. Unfortunately, it is unstable and deteriorates quickly as seen here by the yellowing around the edges.
The gesture drawing is a quick study completed in a very short period of time. This drawing was executed in under 30 seconds. Often, artists use such rapid-fire drawings as a way to warm up at the beginning of a session. The technique is also helpful in situations where one needs to capture the essence of a scene in a short period of time or where there is movement or a constantly changing scene. Gesture drawings lack the detail that is in more finished drawings. Drawing in this manner also cultivates hand-eye co-ordination, which is important when working from life. Those are the nuts-and-bolts explanations. The beauty of these drawings is the energy they posses, the purity and diversity of mark, and the ability to convey a great deal of information very efficiently. It is the life and energy in the mark that I find most beautiful and magical. To me that is what drawing is about.
This drawing was done using monochromatic pastel on grey Bogus Paper. It was done from a painting. The three trees are a compelling group, drawing me back to this location repeatedly. They are emphasized here in a distilled fashion, largely from being drawn from a painting.
I painted this in May while standing near my driveway, looking west, down my street. I have always enjoyed this vantage and have studied it frequently. I completed this in one day. However, I was not totally satisfied and after stewing on it for a few days, I was able to articulate just what it needed. It didn't take much to complete. Returning to a location on a different day can reveal new things. Deliberating on a piece can have its rewards.
Just when you think you can't paint anymore, you are reminded that all is not lost. Early this Spring I was trying to work through some challenges that presented themselves in my work. These challenges were troublesome and disheartening. It was a rainy afternoon. I was sitting under the open rear door of my station wagon to keep dry. This scene is on a curve of a road I walk the dog on. It is very nondescript but I find it interesting. I would often stop and take a moment to look, not knowing what it was that attracted me. On this day I thought I would respond to what held my interest. I came away with a fun and successful study. Personal creative dynamics are interesting to ponder. What drives growth? Perhaps it is successfully suspending one's expectations, allowing for truly honest mark making. Or maybe the spirits that be guide one's heart and hand. I prefer the latter explanation.
This is another small canvas. It was painted in March of 2010 on a grey blustery day. Spring was in its initial stages of emerging. Trees that grow along pasture fence lines are very interesting. I have noticed that I gravitate to them in my paintings. Is it that they are cut periodically by the farmer only to grow back deformed? Or are they not cut by virtue of being along a fence row only to be nibbled on by cows? On this day an angry bull didn't like me being nearby. I tried ignoring him while he snorted and huffed at me as I walked by. A flimsy little fence supported by these little fence posts was the only thing between him and me -- rather unsettling. He eventually moved on with his herd and I returned to paint this tree.
This is a recent painting from April, 2010. It is small, 6 inches by 8 inches. It is about the smallest size I am comfortable painting on. I originally planned to knock out some quick studies using the smaller panels. Oddly, I spent about the same amount of time on this smaller panel as I did on the size I typically work in. However, what it did was to effectively increase the size of my brushes, forcing me to simplify. I am beginning to use a palette knife more frequently, which is a lot of fun.
This was painted in January, 2010. It was a warm day, not unusual for January in South Carolina. This time of year it is all about the sky -- candy blue through the lacework of bare trees. This was looking up a path not far from the Savannah River. It had rained the night before. I made a pile leaves to carpet where I was standing in order to stay out of the mud.
This is another summer-time painting of Hitchcock Woods at Aiken, SC. This depicts one of many trails that run throughout the woods. I paint there more frequently in the summer to avoid the intense sun and heat of the season. I have resisted posting this painting because I have a love-hate relationship with it. There are aspects to it that I really like. The light works. The pinky, purplish Carolina Longleaf Pine trees read well. The quality of the marks is appealing. What I don't like is the saturated color, though I was experimenting with that at the time, and the very tame composition. But then that is what I think. Others may feel differently and that is O.K. That is, after all, the magic of art.
This painting was executed last June on what I recall to be the hottest day of the summer. I was on Cathedral Aisle in Hitchcock Woods at Aiken, SC. It was late morning and it seemed that I had the entire woods to myself. No horses or hikers were traversing this long straight trail through the woods. I found a spot in the shade and painted.
A quick ten-minute sketch. The model, Anna, has some very pronounced features, a long body with a long neck and a very angular, long nose. She is regal in stature. This drawing is a fun, quick study. It is good to throw caution to the wind at times. Occasionally it is good for what ails you.
This is a view from four stories above 8 West Eighth Street, in New York City, looking directly down. It is abstract in nature and is inspired by a panoramic photograph taken with my cellular telephone. I find it interesting how the 3 dimensional perspective becomes distorted because the 3 separate angles this image is comprised of (up the street, straight down and down the street) are combined on one flat plane. The media used, soft pencil and oil stick, is fun to work with.
This drawing was done the same day as "Judson Memorial Church," below. It is an abstraction of trees. I was standing near the corner of Washington Square North and MacDougal Street, at the entrance to Washington Square, facing south (at the virtual center of the Beat universe some fifty-plus years earlier, Ferlinghetti and Ginsburg hung out a block away at 8th and MacDougal, Bob Dylan stayed at what was then the Hotel Earle on Waverly Place in 1961, just over my shoulder. Funny thing is I didn't know that when I was there). These trees were lined up along MacDougal Street. It was a nice September day in New York City.
This drawing is of Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square South in New York City. My vantage was just inside Washington Square at Thompson Street. I was looking over trees and power lines at the tower and the facade of the church across the street.
"Power lines," those words evoke a pleasing concept.