Sunday, September 19, 2010

Painting Outside! Gustafson’s Farm, Sept 18, ‘10

Storage Barn, 091810

Storage Barn, de-saturated

The weather report promised a beautiful day, so I took it on faith and arrived at the farm around 8:30 where, except for a tiny sliver of blue sky in the distance, things didn’t appear quite as promising as the weather report.   It was gray and chilly and I wasn’t adequately dressed....

The exciting part about the somewhat gray and dismal weather that greeted me there was watching it change (for the better) moment by moment.  So much sky can be seen from the spot where I was parked.  Watching the dark and banked clouds slowly disperse and blue sky gradually emerging was almost as much a wonder as gazing out on the constant changes in Ocean.

For some reason, the peach trees against the storage barn have long reminded me of a painting by van Gogh that he did in Arles of an orchard of blossoming fruit trees.  I can’t remember if it was peaches, think perhaps the trees he painted may have been Flowering Almond, but whatever, the shapes of the trunks and the dressing of leaves have always reminded me of that painting and it’s another thing I’ve ‘always wanted to do.’  And when faced with actual doing, didn’t exactly understand how to go about it as I’d never imagined doing a painting of these trees in such weather conditions.  After my thumbnail sketch and a few minutes staring at the paper, decided to keep it simple and paint in a way I love to paint.  Which was to sketch in the simple shapes using thinned down paint (neutral gray because of the mood of the day) and then the sky with the gray on very wet paper.

I had a good time with the sky; tried to keep it simple and fast, as per Tony Couch, from memories of a class I took with him a few years ago.  I used up all the gray I’d mixed.  As the paper dried, I applied thicker layers of gray and before the gray was used-up, I mixed in a little yellow and/or red as I worked toward the top.

I wasn’t thrilled with the decisions I’d made as to composition as I feel that the focal point is too low.  I’d have liked less sky, more foreground....  I was able to change a bit of the composition by rubbing out (with a clean, wet brush) my original roof and making it a little higher.  I was able to make the foreground tree a little higher by heightening with darker paint the branch and leaves that stood out over the top of the building.

The little bit of blue sky I added at the horizon wasn’t actually there, as we were looking to the west and the little patch of blue was in the east.  But it works and is a good memory of the experience of that incredible sky and the clouds lifting and those few hours of painting.

Last week at the farm and this, I’ve had the sense that my paintings and style are regressing – that they seem to me to be more of my child self and technique than who I am now.  I think that’s a good thing and I’m not using the word ‘regress’ in a derogatory manner.  I’ll be interested to see what transpires in further paintings from this sense.

Next week, I’ll be in Bennington, Vermont where I’m taking a weekend outdoor painting class, so won’t be back at the farm until Oct 2.  I’m looking forward to this weekend class and the trip to Vermont.  Hoping to bring back a lot of good tips and experiences.

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