a square

square tree and river reflection

Nothing like a square for getting you centered ….

This abstract image depicts a tree and its reflection in water.  It’s the first swipe at the motif and measures a compact 12 by 12 inches.


around the pond again

Going through my drawing stash I found

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another pond. It was among a group of drawings that I started and didn’t finish.  I’m taking it up again and here it is in medias res — not as much at the beginning, but not complete either.

Something about the loopy shapes of distant trees and foliage fascinates me.  They are subjects I go after again and again. I want to have the sense of their shapes being very clear, very distinct, as though you could reach out to them and grasp them, which of course you cannot do in either a drawing or with distant trees — but it’s an imaginative gesture.

I also like the scribble as a way of indicating the randomness of nature. The scribble of thought and hand parallels Nature’s scribble of plants growing willy nilly here and there. Things are in front of other things, leaves of grass, fonds of plant, wave and meet your eye as an infinitude of layers. I like to think of the piling up of layers of pigment as a simulacrum of these things.  Chemicals imitating molecules.

Or something.

A year of small moments

Glancing back over 2011 and asking myself what were its best gains for me in terms of my art, I think it came toward the year’s end when I decided that I would do pochades.  For many years I set my sights on big things, partly because I wanted to find out if I could do them.  That journey led into some wonderful places that I plan to continue visiting, as for instance the koi ponds.  But when I turned my attention to making pochades, it was with a realization that I had perhaps forgotten how to make small paintings.  And I needed to come back to this once familiar ground and relearn its lessons.

And that’s the lesson I’m eager to carry forward into 2012, this year full of wonderfully round numbers!  Indeed, I want to combine the old habit of visiting the koi pond of thought to see what new ideas it brings and to do its opposite also in the making of small quick pictures.  I want big expansive pools of big healthy frisky koi.  And I want little sketches of colored land and sky small enough to hold in your hand, something that I can do in a couple brief sittings.

I love the beginning of the year because it provides a natural moment for reviewing the past and for making new plans.  And I love to plan!  I love the empty page full of possibility and light!

May the blank pages of possibility on your 2012 calendar fill with good things and happy spirit’s adventure!

A Lunch Break

Diligently painting a small still life today — a quick, Anything Goes picture, I was rehearsing in my mind all the typical things that one says to oneself when beginning a new picture — having the whole of my art education, as it were, “flash before my eyes,”  which is to say that a modicum of hand wringing is sometimes awkwardly requisite.  Soon high noon rolled around.  I stopped for lunch and took a seat to the side of the still life set up, and in that diliatory way of observing things that comes over you when you eat, I realized that I had found the better view.  It was right there in front of me as I chewed my sandwich.  The tall giardiniera jar was reflected in a facet of the eight sided bottle next to it, and the line of the jar’s lower rim continuing into this reflection was just so amazing, and that’s just part of it …

While I drank my tea, I made this pen sketch to remind myself of the feature I had found most striking in the alternate view.  I suppose it would have been wise to have looked at the still life objects from more than one angle before I had begun painting.  But then I don’t think I’d have noticed as keenly the qualities of this other angle if I hadn’t already been painting for an hour.

Sometimes that is the purpose the pochade serves: to help you notice the alternatives.

After lunch I returned to painting the scene I started, and perhaps I’ll work on it some more tomorrow or the next day.  The “better” view will have to wait.  Indeed there might even be a “better view” in what I’ve already started if I just keep looking.