Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Corner Market

A 9x12 oil on mdf panel.  This market with the huge sign in North Adams has been painted many times and much better by Thor Wickstrom, a great painter who has done many North Adams and New England views.   But I thought I would try it because of the sign and the complexity of such a simple theme.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Underpass to MOCA

A 12x24 oil painting of the underpass leading to MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art; see the "CA") in North Adams, MA.   The pass goes under Route 2 and the street is Marshall Street.  I don't know the characters painted on the concrete piers.  Maybe somebody does?  Presumably from some classic children's book.  I tried to keep it simple except for the area located between the shadows.  But even there I kept it sketchy.  There are a number of repeated motifs, which I like.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Happening Still Life and Elstir

The above is a 9x12 oil on paper of the studio table, a view similar to the last pastel drawing.  I say 'similar' because when I start I work from one side and continue to the other side and let be what will be.  It's a happening.

I continue to progress to the end of Proust's The Guermantes Way, and encountered the famous passage, when our hero Marcel loses track of time in the Guermantes home while examining the Elstir paintings: "Among these pictures, some of those that seemed most absurd to people in fashionable society interested me more than the rest because they re-created those optical illusions which prove to us that we should never succeed in identifying objets if we did not bring some process of reasoning to bear on them.  How often, when driving, do we not come upon a bright street beginning a few feet away from us, when what we have actually before our eyes is merely a patch of wall glaringly lit which has given us the mirage of depth. This being the case, it is surely logical,  not from any artifice of symbolism but from a sincere desire to return to the very root of the impression, to represent that one thing by the other for which, in a flash of a first illusion, we mistook it.  Surfaces and volumes are in reality independent of the names of objects which our memory imposes on them after we have recognized them. Elstir sought to wrest from what he had just felt what he already knew; he had often been at pains to break up that medley of impressions which we call vision."  Looking at the world as patches of light and shade and color offers a different entryway to reality than seeing the world as a bunch of objects.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coupla Drawings

One can do almost anything with drawing, and the results can look quite different.  The top is a more abstract but a recognizable studio table still life.  I wanted to emphasize the scatteredness of the items.  I didn't change anything, but the things were changed nevertheless (by the other artist who actually uses the table).  Such is life, or such is still life.

The second drawing, also abstract but in a different mode, is this afternoon's walk-'n'-draw, the bird house tree on Stratton Road that I have done before.  Both are 9x12.  After quickly making this afternoon's drawing, I clamped the drawing pad to lessen smudging, and walked home with a very dirty set of fingers on my right hand trying to remember not to touch my face.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Water Street View

A 9x12 oil on panel of a view down Water Street facing north.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Corn Field and Love

The only things you will find in a spring corn field are mud, manure, and dead stalks.  They are a common sight around here now.  You might see the above as a picture of nothing.  To me they are like old battlefields awaiting redemption and new life.  Apropos of nothing, here's a quote by Adam Kirsch from a poem by Philip Larkin, words that one wouldn't normally associate with Larkin:

                   In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.

The above is a 9x12 pastel.  The advantage of a pastel is that one doesn't have to wait for it to dry to take a photograph.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blackinton and Responsibility

One can't help but notice these houses when driving through Blackinton, an historic part of North Adams, MA.  I think I will be tackling them again.  The above is a 9x12 oil on mdf panel.

Lately, I have been reading The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry by Adam Kirsch.  In one essay, Kirsch describes "artistic talent" as "not a privilege but a responsibility".  I don't know why, but this hit me because I don't think artists often think of what they do as a responsibility.  As in don't waste our time, or make junk, or think about you are doing.  Only adds to the challenge.

I did update the previous post: a view of Spring Street, since I 'revised' the painting.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Street

In the last few days Spring has finally arrived.  An 11x14 oil of Spring Street in Williamstown, MA.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Studio Still Life

A 12x9 oil on mdf panel, which I hope you recognize from a drawing of a few days ago.  However, the drawing only revealed what was possible.  The paining was done en plein air d'atelier.  If you go to my facebook page,  you will see a photo of the actual still life and the painting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stratton Sky

An 11x14 oil the view walking up Stratton Road in early spring.  Evidence that the mountains in the background have been scoured by the ancient glaciers is clearly visible in the soft contours.  Stratton Road on this stretch is a road on the brink of becoming a victim to 'mud season'.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Table Landscape

A 9x12 pastel drawing of the studio table from today.  You may wonder how or why I do these drawings?  The table is like a miniature landscape, and the drawings of this landscape are a way of thinking visually out loud.  Some are better than others, but it's hard to know which ones yet, and why. Over time it will become clearer.  That's what's hard about painting.  One doesn't do a masterpiece each day, and it takes time to get somewhere.  But I am amazed how much is available in so small a space.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Seeing Things

Another 12x24 oil,  of the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street.

I'm trying to get through The Guermantes Way by Proust (it's getting easier now that I am 3/4s finished).  He writes how an artist changes the way we view the world until another comes along to redefine how we see things.  Unfortunately, he uses the example of Renoir, an artist who is now not popular, to describe this process.  But one could substitute easily another artist. Except that today, I don't think it's true any longer, since we are exposed to so many artists, and ways to view the world, that multiplicity seems to be the rule: there's no one way to see things, or no way to see things.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ambiguous Reading

Another studio table view, from a little higher up, a 12x9 pastel drawing.  I've been trying to convey without thinking about it too much, except afterwards, the messiness of creativity, which may seem like an excuse for not cleaning up.  I often have this idea of sitting down with a sketchpad and drawing everything at my feet, except that most times it would be just a mess of lines.  So drawing everything that sits on this table is like that, and I don't mind that something appears ambiguous or unreadable.   How often do you understand everything you are looking at?  But that too sounds like an excuse for not cleaning up.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Vanderbilt and Dean

A couple days ago I wrote that I was working on a 'large landscape,' a 12x24 oil of the corner of Vanderbilt and Dean in Brooklyn.  The long format leads to some interesting compositional details, such as balancing the yellow sign on the left with the building opening on the right, the three cars and the the three buildings, the repetition of the arch, etc. , stuff that's always there, but not visible.

Which leads me to:  I was reading Seamus Heaney again.  In the second of the 'Squarings' poems, he wrote, "Make your study the unregarded floor."  I wondered when I read that, Can I interpret that to mean, paint what we depend upon but do not see.  The ground.  Painters paint foregrounds, backgrounds, middlegrounds, and directly upon 'grounds,' like canvases, and we walk upon the ground, the roadway, and seldom see it.  Tillich called God the 'ground of being'.  I could go on, but I will stop.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Turning the Corner

This is the fifth drawing in a series on the art stuff found on a table in the studio: a 9x12 pastel drawing. I tried to be simpler and not overdo it in this drawing of a corner of the table that I had not visited yet.  And this one is horizontal, a landscape of the table, with an underground, or undertable, and a background.