I already blogged about Matisse, after my trip to the Met Museum a few months ago. I’ve been pinning his work over and over again.
I really like how he is able to abstract his work and ‘flatten’ form into shapes that are reminiscent of pattern. In this book I got from Le Souk Le Souk, it describes how inspired he was from his trip to Morocco– and it shows!
He flattens space but it still makes sense as a cohesive space because the color and the line weight guide you from foreground to background. It’s very skillfully done. It reminds me of when Web 2.0 came out and everything had a drop shadow on it. There is dimensionality while still being flat….it’s 2.5 D.
He said, “It is the beginning of my expression with color, with blacks and their contrasts.” The painting’s black ground separates the three parts, but black unites them, too, by working its way into various areas of each part. The black, though it serves to depict deep shadow, also refers to light. Matisse wrote of a contemporaneous painting, “I began to use black as a color of light and not as a color of darkness.”
I’m inspired by his skill and am going to explore color, line, and pattern in my work in an abstracted but flattened space…particularly in watercolor.
I realized that my favorite thing that I saw during my trip to NYC (other than my friends) was the Highline, a public garden built upon an abandoned railroad.
The fact that the gardens were the most inspiring thing made me realize that I do in fact belong in Portland!
Alison told me that the Highline was designed by garden designer, Piet Oudulf.
His work is amazing. He uses lots of native plants, perennials, and grasses and he creates these beautiful landscapes that have amazing color in all seasons.
He uses grasses for color and even the dying seedheads provide textural and color interest in the dead of winter.
Someday I would like to visit the Netherlands and view his private garden. There are so many more beautiful, inspiring garden examples in this pdf I found on the Harvard School of Design course he taught about designing for Mood in the garden:
“Mysticism totally depends on circumstances that are out of your control. Fog, dusk. It makes you feel on your self in a different world.”
“Emotion and mood are vital to the success of a garden…They are qualities, however, that are very difficult to define in hard-and-fast terms. It is always difficult to describe why certain gardens are attractive and not others. It is even more difficult to write prescriptions for creating different moods, for mood is only something that can be planned into a garden to a limited extent.”
The new Whitney Museum looks like Boston’s ICA and is similarly situated near the water on Manhattan’s west side near the High Line. I was kind of disappointed by the lack of exhibits for the amount that I paid, but their permanent collection was quite good. It rained when I went but they also have a very nice observation deck and cafe on the top floor.
I really liked this information provided by the Whitney curators:
Willem de Kooning never believed that abstraction and representation were mutually exclusive. As he stated: “I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it–drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea.”
This de Kooning painting was large at 76 1/2 × 49 1/8 in. Some questions that I ask myself are: how do I know when I’m done, and is this piece professional, museum quality. It’s interesting to see the bare linen exposed at the edges with the staples showing and no frame or glass.
A lot of paintings now will have a solid color painted on the edges to provide a more polished look. I usually think of linen as suitable for fine glazing techniques but de Kooning had no problem with applying his oil paint thick in many locations.
Close snapshots of various parts of the painting look like they could be their own abstract painting.
He also used vivid, saturated pastel colors but the painting is balanced by the black and the grey of the raw linen. I wonder how he treated his linen. It doesn’t look like used any white gesso, which is normally used to protect the supporting material of canvas or linen from the oil paint. I too like the color of raw linen better than the very white gesso.
Here is a oil painting sketch of Moolack beach where I’m trying to capture the wind blowing across the sands while reflecting the sky during low tide. I’m using Arches oil paper which in theory should be awesome. As someone with a full time job outside of art, time for art is always limited. I have been looking and trying various supports that will simplify the task of art production (prepping canvases or boards until I win the lottery and can pay for my own studio assistant) and give me more time to paint. Unfortunately the Arches oil paper is as unappealing to me as their watercolor paper. It has the texture of a bounty paper towel and it is WAY too absorbent—it somehow doesn’t let me to remove any paint off the paper which for me is one of the defining characteristics of the oil paint medium—it’s malleability and wiping-off ease. So anyways for this study, I’m not even trying to do much glazing or thin layers. I’m aiming for bold, thick layers which I would never do on a canvas or linen but I almost have to do on this oil paper. I also did an under layer of acrylic. Actually I think this paper should be marketed as acrylic paper because it is thick and it is pretty decent for acrylics. But the paper is way too expensive to use for just that purpose.
So far this painting is too aggressive and chaotic to me. On this paper it’s hard to make the subtle blends that the location really calls for. This painting just goes to show you how hard it is to paint simply. I’ve been admiring Katherine Bradford‘s oil painting work for a long time. Her work uses the icons and imagery of children’s art….superheroes, boats, and simplified human forms..but the work is decidedly not childish…it’s beautiful and masterfully done. All the haters that look at this type of work and say I could do that…trust me it’s not as easy as it looks.
I also did another oil painting study of Bandon beach. We went down to the southern Oregon coast earlier this month. I haven’t posted about that trip but stay tuned. It was AWESOME!!!
It’s at a stage where I like the looseness and softness (and the maroon color glazes) and I debate if I should continue and risk losing what I’ve already done by potentially overworking it. I’ll probably just keep going.
Emily Henderson, writer of the design blog I read everyday, says that in the early stage of a creative career, it’s quantity over quality that matters. So in that spirit no point in being a perfectionist and being scared to ruin this painting….right now it’s about learning and exploring.
Back when I had a flip phone, I used a fuji finepix digital point and shoot to capture snapshots. It was definitely a much clunkier process than the brilliant iphone. Buried on my desktop were pictures from maybe eight years ago. It’s interesting to see what random things I took pictures of, and what I found inspiring and still do: flowers, textures, patterns, shadows.
A pigeon in Italy. One of my few travels abroad. I dearly wish I could do more traveling.
The patina on this diner/storefront somewhere in DC. I don’t even remember where this is or if I have even been inside.
Brick pattern in Italy:
Wall texture and water stains in Italy:
Martin Puryear’s spackle? and nail holes texture on plywood:
from one of the best arts exhibits I’ve ever seen. His sculptures at the National Gallery of Art. I wish Portland had a museum of the same caliber.
I’m sure I thought I was being so surreptitious in taking this picture from some exhibit, possibly the National Gallery of Art. Does anyone know who did this watercolor?
Ink stains. Maybe a Rauschenberg? I really have no idea.
Bright colors in what to me looks like part of Matisse?
I used to use my point and shoot to take visual notes even from books and magazines. This was before Pinterest. Look at this divine Giacometti drawing.
Pavement crack patterns near Van Ness in DC:
The most bizarre marbled pattern on this fabric chair. And what is that plant in the sea of green it’s sitting in?
I love watercolor washes. Probably since I used to make my ballpoint pen ink bleed.
The gist: art and creativity is very important but don’t kill yourself over it. Forgive yourself, even if your art isn’t what you expect. As Elizabeth Gilbert says in the book, take art seriously, but not seriously.
Some paintings go through their teenage stage, an awkward, unfinished stage where you’re working stuff out, and you’re too embarrassed to show them in public and all pictures from that time must be deleted.
But if you get too down on yourself or give up too quickly, by taking yourself too seriously or art too seriously, you’ll miss out on some that have real potential to be great . Now that I look back on some of my rejection piles, I see some that could have been improved if I kept going.
I actually found Randall, a Portland area artist, through his blog, Painter’s Process. I seriously consider him one of the top contemporary landscape painters, I mean why isn’t this dude in MoMA?
He graciously has shared some of his tips and wisdom with me. My favorite piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ruin it (artwork). It reminds me of what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, to take art seriously but not seriously. He also inspired me to start writing this blog!
I absolutely adore the colors in this one: the cold, dark maroons and greys. He so wonderfully captures the quality of light in winter. It’s muted without being muddy, and somehow glowing. Incredible!
It’s all a matter of pushing the paint, scrapping, pouring, tilting, blotting, and wiping as I try to build my idea. The studies are where I can try something out in a manageable space, but I take them seriously as paintings. My goals are the same for any size. I want a rich, painterly image which represents my view, my regard, my understanding of paint and nature. For myself. I`m trying to paint the paintings I want to see.
Interview with Randall David Tipton The second to last sentence is so good- maybe the best artist statement I’ve read in a long while. Don’t get me started about artist statements…
It’s crazy that he paints largely from memory. Look how keenly he observes the subtleties of nature. He so convincingly captures the reflection of clouds and the movement of grassy wetlands.
Look at that cloud reflection! And this one is a watercolor. People it’s incredibly difficult to have both that freedom and control in watercolor. He is a master!
He has elevated Yupo, a plastic watercolor paper, as an artist medium. If you google or go on Pinterest, most of the stuff you’ll see painted on Yupo is amateurish and features extremely garish, saturated colors. It’s not surprising- Yupo is slick and even more difficult to control than normal watercolor paper. You can see how he takes the unique pooling and puddling texture that paint forms on Yupo and makes it work wonderfully to depict water and sky. I love the transition from the blue sky into the ambiguous forms of the tree. Lovely.
More free flowing textures on Yupo. This is all very, very difficult to do well.
He is wonderfully irreverent of “proper” art techniques- no underpainting or drawing, he’ll use black straight from the tube, he’ll use white watercolor, he won’t clean his brushes after use, he’ll use cheap brushes, he’ll use non-brushes as brushes. He’ll paint right over an older painting without second thought. I asked if he sands it first before painting over it. He said he supposes he should. He asked me, “What’s gouache?” He normally purchases canvases that have been pre primed with gesso, explaining that he doesn’t have the time for it. I like it! That is a very good lesson (I mean I’m already lazy and messy enough so I guess I am extremely biased here) but I think it is true that we all have so limited time, if we can afford to take shortcuts, why not outsource the awful, boring parts?
He credits his tenacity for pulling many pieces together. Hopefully I can be just as tenacious and keep working through paintings that are a struggle and that I’m down on.
Art, Photography, Flowers- all images are my own unless specified