Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Echo

 The Ruins of Wide Ruin
24" X 18"
Acrylic on Canvas

Have you ever been to a place that feels like a vague memory? Maybe that's why I painted the ruins of Wide Ruin twice. I feel as though I stood in the dust of that yard…waiting for something…and finally taking refuge from the blistering sun under this Spider Woman tree casting a shadow of protection with outstretched arms.

This pattern of repeating images in my paintings is fairly recent. I never used to paint things more than once. I would become bored with a subject by the end of the painting and would never consider repeating it.

It's not due to a lack of images to work from. Sometimes I’m curious see what would happen if I used another medium or different approach. In this case, the echo of Wide Ruins is painted on a much larger canvas than the first version.

When I started this painting I was on fire—bringing it near to completion over a weekend. But then, I lost my momentum. The piece sat languishing in the "viewing area" for weeks. I ignored it and started three more paintings.

And that took some serious ignoring. Not finishing a painting bugs the hell out of me. There are very few pieces I'll give up on. I hate to admit defeat (this extends to my non-art life, too).

An example? The painting of the wonderful horse we saw running across the desert near Toadlena (toe-AHD-lenah) was one of those aggravations. It's buried in a stack of canvases in my studio so I don't have to look at it and come to terms with my unsolved problem. It's likely I'll paint over that canvas, since the horse has declared I shall not capture him.

Eventually I heeded the lament of “the unfinished one” and returned to complete The Ruins of Wide Ruin. It only took a few minutes of concentrated brushwork to repair the nagging boo-boos. It wasn’t as large a task as it had grown to be in my head.

Speaking of unsolved problems, after looking and looking and looking at it, I think I've figured out what to do with the other unfinished painting I mentioned a post or two ago. Now I just have to buckle down and fix it.

Though I might start something new first.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fire & Rain

Fire & Rain
10" X 8"

It was a long-anticipated trip to Lone Pine. We hadn’t been camping in what seemed like decades and we needed to sooth our souls with some Sierra time.

Fire season had reared over the world like a beast from hell and we’d had two fires in two weeks that were too damn close. Everything in the house smelled like the smoke that had hung over us like a dirty coat for days and days.

The morning we set off, the desert was still blanketed by smoke from recent fires. As we headed north, it thinned; and by the time we saw the first white shoulder of granite, the skies were blue again.
We set up camp and goofed the afternoon away inhaling the cool moisture of the falls up at Whitney Portal. Once back in camp, we squeezed our chairs into a dinky patch of shade and watched the afternoon unfold. It was hot, but a stiff breeze kept the heat down. And by stiff, I mean that anything you weren’t holding on to (beers, chairs, maps, and hats) would blow over—or away, ending up somewhere near Bridgeport.

I sketched (a death grip on my pad and pencil) and watched a growing cloud of smoke blow over the ridge from the west, tinting the landscape yellow-orange. To the southeast, the clouds mushroomed over the Inyo mountains, gathering for a dump over the desert.

I really wanted to paint, but it was just too darn windy. I exchanged one pad for another and worked on another sketch. As the light faded, the wind lessened. By dark, it was calm, the smoke had lifted and we enjoyed watching our favorite show: Stars and Campfire.
Two weeks later, I dug the sketches out and painted from memory.

Although I’ve not shared much art with you lately, I have two more paintings to show you, plus another that is still being fine-tuned. That third and larger painting has been giving me trouble.

I’m tempering my activity on that one so as not to destroy it (yes, it happens), especially after all the time I’ve put in on it. I know what needs to be fixed, but I haven’t figured out how to fix it. One morning I will wake up with the solution. I find those last moments in and out of sleep often yield answers to nagging painting problems. Stay tuned...