the greening of my studio

studio on feb 19 (2)

I’ve assembled some of the landscapes in the studio to see how they look together and to decide what work remains.  As a consequence there’s a definite “greening” to the decor.  It’s still wintry enough outside this mid-February to find the green quite comforting — very comforting indeed.

My winter pond painting has a frame now.  It’s there on the lower right.

Seeing Wolf Kahn again

wolf kahn at addison ripley
Wolf Kahn

We got to Addison Ripley Gallery a second time to see the Wolf Kahn exhibit  before its last day Saturday, January 13.  Kahn is 90 years old.

His beautiful, intense, evocative color so deftly handled is a joy to behold.  It’s wonderful inspiration for me particularly now when I’m painting landscapes. The small but powerful painting above is one of our favorites.

I saw the exhibit the first time just after Christmas.  The link is here:

Meeting my hero, Monet


Monet’s humongous painting of the women in the garden is visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  I finally get to see this painting.  When I was a teenager, Monet’s painting made me want to be an artist.

I knew it was large, but seeing it in real life is quite thrilling.  It’s part of an exhibit dedicated to Frederick Bazille.

My whole feeling for landscape grew from the Impressionist paintings I saw at the National Gallery of Art in my youth.  They’ve influenced everything I paint.

You can’t see my crown yet …

You can’t see my crown yet, but I’m gonna be the Pochade Queen.  I am on a mission.  Been doing as many small landscape paintings as I can each day.  Paint faster than I can think, do it, put it aside, begin another, later go back to the earlier ones, paint some more, and on and on.  It is like swimming laps.  Or like playing scales and seeking a mellow tone.  Or like walking and thinking — thinking hard about stuff while staring at the ground, the grass and the little rocks passing by your feet in a miniature world at ant level.  It is so automatic and dreamlike.  Why isn’t work always like this forever?

Our weather is different.  But I will paint autumn in winter perhaps as now I paint summer in the fall.  I paint from drawings.  There are there to guide and yet also there to evoke memories.

The light falls upon these rocks and makes them glad.  The air is still yet buzzing with insects.  The quiet is overwhelming the senses.  The solitude is vast.  Such great and spacious days!

You can’t see my crown yet, but it’ll be there.  When I’m the “pochade queen” and have painted me a hundred little corners of the earth.

Moments of Recognition

The koi swim in the pond of imagination, but otherwise have been pretty neglected by me.  I love my koi, but other projects have interjected themselves into my life, and I’ve had to put the koi temporarily aside.  Still, I see the pictures each day — most of them — and my thoughts wander off into wonderings about when and how I’ll resume work on them.  When you put something like this aside, a part of your soul is still invested there, and parts of your mind still work the problem, still linger around the edges of a wish.

I got a book from the library on the American impressionists, American artists of the 19th century who had visited France and were inspired and influenced by the modern French painting of that time.  Got the book to help me think about landscape.  Actually I even own a copy of the same book, but I got this copy because I saw it and remembered that it was interesting and realized that I would most likely never locate my own copy.  (Regular readers will recall that house-keeping is not my forte.)  Anyway, I opened one of the pages and landed on a reproduction of this painting by John Singer Sargent, Stream in the Val d’Aosta.

Then I had one of those lovely “ah ha!” moments.  All of what one sees in the amazing way that Sargent scatters light and color across the canvas — his rendering of and evocation of the higgly-piggly spilled out arrangement of rocks and colors, reflections and patterns, among the wet and the really wet, expresses exactly what I’m longing for in my koi.  That spilled-across-ness of light and water.

I don’t know whether the koi should be catagorized as “landscape” or not.  Certainly the meaning of landscape applies to them as well.  The koi as I understand them characterize a separate world that parallels human imagination.  The koi transport one just as fully as a landscape communicates a mood or narrates a meaning.  And John Singer Sargent in this amazing painting has certainly mapped out the territory I’m seeking to discover.

Sometimes you happen upon a correspondence like this, and it’s such a lovely delight — this finding of a kindred spirit, the discovery of a teacher-fellow traveler.

I started the koi painting above last October.   My painting is so flat compared to his.  Granted mine’s “in progress” and also the angle of recession in space is different.  But I look at the Sargent and realize the qualities I’m missing, the things I need to be seeking.  Well, all that from an innocent trip to the public library ….