Posts Tagged ‘Schiller’

Lost Among the Layers

January 3, 2020

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Reference Photo for my New Watercolor

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The Foundation: Three Layers of Masquing Removed

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Building the Composition

Mysterious in the light of day,

Nature, in veils, will not let us perceive her,

And what she is unwilling to betray,

You cannot wrest from her with thumbscrews,

wheel, or lever.

Goethe, Faust

After working well into last night on this watercolor, I awoke this morning with the feeling that I would lay it aside and just spend time reading for awhile. All that changed when I received a phone call from an artist friend with whom I hadn’t visited in ten months. Our chat lasted nearly half an hour, and my creative energy level has been buzzing ever since.

Today, after burrowing through several layers of wash and masquing, I have reached a point where I am unsure of my next step. The Goethe quote came to mind, because I have always been convinced that there is no algorithm, no template for painting a landscape, at least not for me. That is why I sometimes struggle when conducting a watercolor workshop on landscape painting because I seldom find myself repeating the same sequence of techniques each time. One of Edward Hopper’s contemporaries criticized his oils because of the many preparatory steps he took in drawing and watercolor sketching before approaching the final canvas. Every compositional detail had been worked out in advance. The critic regarded the oils as too preplanned and stale, but thought that Hopper’s watercolors, on the contrary, showed discovery happening all the time. I take solace in that.

Today, I have been alternating my painting with my reading. I have no choice. The decision made to engage in an Andrew Wyeth-style technique of dry brushing winter grasses means, for me, layer upon layer of masqued weed lines followed by progressively darker washes, along with toothbrush-spattering of masquing fluid and pigments. I also combine the sprinkling of salt and stale breadcrumbs. While doing these activities, I make intermittent swipes of weed patterns, using graphite pencils and X-acto knife and pocket knife. This is an all-day affair because of the length of time required for drying between layers of experiments. With temperatures outside in the thirties, the watercolor paper is not drying very quickly, and I have never been fond of standing with a hair dryer to speed the process.

So, I pause for long drying periods to read, and Friedrich Schiller has been a most favorable intellectual companion. I’ve been reading his letters about aesthetic education, and frequently return to Kant’s The Critique of Judgement to get a better handle on some of the categories Schiller mentions in passing. I am finding this reading very engaging as well as challenging. And I feel like the charicature of the mad scientist as I explore these layers of color and texture and look continually at enlargements of this reference photo to figure out how to capture these nuances of nature. These sentiments led me to return to the pages of Goethe’s Faust and now I enjoy them as I sit beside the fireplace, absorbing its warmth during this winter season.

I have burrowed deeply into this landscape and am enjoying the study and exploration. My three areas of focus are the horizon structures, the network of dead tree branches and the endless woven patterns among the grasses.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll check out my blog www.davidtrippart.com

Shultz reducedI make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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