Posts Tagged ‘vignette’

Sketching Into the Weekend

October 16, 2015

imageI prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.

Andrew Wyeth

Since my high school years, I have preferred winter trees a a subject for drawing. With the ragweed season out of control, I cannot go outdoors to draw trees from direct observation, so I continue to sketch them from my imagination, a practice that I always fear leaves caricature or cartoony effects. Soon the wretched ragweed will die, the fall colors will change, leaves will disappear and once again I will be able to look directly at my subjects and attempt to draw them as they really are.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Lingering in the Shadow

April 13, 2015
Raw Photo of a Watercolor Sketch Attempted Months Ago

Raw Photo of a Watercolor Sketch Attempted Many Months Ago

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

WIth an art festival approaching this coming weekend, I came home from school today in a burst of energy and began cranking out reproductions of my recent watercolors, in images 5 x 7″, 8 x 10″ and custom greeting cards. This task ate up a number of hours of the late afternoon and early evening. Finally, I slumped in a rocking chair with coffee, deciding it was time to stop for awhile. An image suddenly flashed into my mind’s eye, and before I thought better, I was out of the chair and back at the computer, photoshopping, cropping, and playing around with one watercolor that I had forgotten completely over the past several months. Below are two cropped, photoshopped compositions of this painting:

Back in the rocking chair, I sipped my coffee and stared at these two images alongside my original, and like Andy Warhol, found myself fascinated in the abstract possibilities of the shadows and negative areas, not just the subject matter. I don’t know how much time elided as I sat, sipping and thinking, pondering these possibilies, But I was truly “drawn in” by these compositions. Since adolescence, I have looked at Andrew Wyeth watercolors, popularly called “vignettes”, and loved the way he allowed his colors to bleed off into a white wasteland beyond the focused subject matter. As for myself, I have often been too timid to leave my work this way, fearing that it would be judged “unfinished.” But I am changing my mind tonight. I’ve determined that I will eventually have this piece custom framed, leaving the unfinished boundary. After all, I’m not entering it into a competition. I’m not subjecting it to another judge’s opinion. And I really have no interest in selling the piece. I have not been “attached” to any single painting of mine for over a decade, but this one is definitely clinging to me tonight. And I am beginning to feel stirred by the idea of creative authenticity. After all these decades of practicing my craft, I feel that I could be drawing nearer to finding my own voice.

Another Partial Watercolor Sketch from Months Ago, and Forgotten

Another Partial Watercolor Sketch from Months Ago, and Forgotten

I decided I needed to get out of the house and do at least a two-mile exercise walk in the park. This habit of the past couple of weeks will hopefully provide a boost of energy that I’ve felt sagging in recent months. The longer I walked, the more my mind spun with ideas gleaned over the years from Paul Tillich, Robert Motherwell, Richard Diebenkorn, Andrew Wyeth and one of my high school art teachers, notably that compositional strength is frequently discovered in the boundaries, rather than the heart of the subject. No doubt, I have plenty of matters to ponder as I venture closer to the art festival, but these things definitely have my attention.

The borderline is the truly propitious place for acquiring knowledge.

Paul Tillich, Religiöse Verwirklichung (Religious Realization)

I did manage to return to a watercolor I began over the weekend, experimenting with some foreground texturing and figuring a way to transition from the painting itself to the surrounding white ground. My studio lacks decent photography lighting at night, so this is the best I can muster:

I close with this note from Irwin Edman that has lodged into my consciousness throughout this fertile evening:

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative . . . to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Homage to Andrew Wyeth, June 17, 2010

June 17, 2010

Wyeth pine cones

It isn’t an easy maneuver, trying to explain the depths of my feelings over this 5 x 7″ drybrush watercolor sketch.  In one sense, it took 45 minutes to create; in another, it took 56 years to create.

I still grieve over the passing of Andrew Wyeth.  His drybrush studies captured the imagination of a bored ninth-grader in 1968.  To this day, I can think of few significant Proustian moments from my own public schooling, but that day in 1968, when my Art I teacher Robie Scucchi placed his brand new coffee-table book of Andrew Wyeth on the table before me, and invited me to peruse its contents–I could never be the same since.

Wyeth’s deep-seated fascination with Kuerner’s farm in Pennsylvania seemed a mirror reflection of my own obsession with my grandparents’ farm in Southeast Missouri.  Every object strewn about the expansive property seemed to contain the “stuff” of revelation–that Proustian magic capable of transporting one back in time to early childhood memories filled with warmth and meaning.  From 1968 until now, I have spent countless hours poring over my own collection of Wyeth books, catalogues, prints and magazine articles, soaking like a thirsty sponge the visual details of his sensitive drybrush renderings of everyday objects.

Several years ago, in a Hillsboro antique shop connected to the gallery representing me, I purchased this blue pail with the white interior, and immediately filled it with pine cones.  I was determined to create some Wyeth-style drybrush studies from it.  Years passed, and the moment just did not present itself.  I’m too busy, it seems–too distracted with daily details.  But today marked the pleroma kairou–the fulness of time.   I took my wife Sandi to Lyndon Acres to ride her horse.  The temperature was nearing triple digits.  I had only 45 minutes.  So I set this pail of cones in the shade of a tree, and leaped right into the task, without taking time to think about it or change my mind.  Before I knew it, the 45 minutes had expired, I had a watercolor sketch to serve as a record of the moment, and my communion with Andrew Wyeth was too profound for words or tears.

This is the second watercolor still life I’ve attempted since 10th grade.  The prior attempts are not worth recording.  This one is.  Tomorrow I’m going back out to do “something” en plein air. Maybe Wyeth will visit me again.  But if not, today was enough for awhile.  I’m still trembling.

Thanks for reading.