Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

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Shape and Mood: 2 Paintings so Alike and so Different

In representational art, the formal aspects of a painting can contribute to a narrative or mood just as readily as the descriptive. This is a theme that I discuss often in workshops, talks, and here on my blog. I recently finished two paintings of the same locale and time of year—same day, in fact—using a very similar palette that illustrate this point well.

In fact, the difference between them really boils down to the mood that the shapes create.

In “Lingering”, below, the overall feel of the piece is warm and welcoming, despite the weather depicted being overcast. Putting ourselves in the scene, the misty/drizzly day creates a sheen and depth to colors in the marshes and a sense of intimacy—privacy, almost— within the landscape. On these sorts of days there are fewer people about; the air is thick and embracing; vistas tend to be limited. There is a boundary of trees at the horizon, enclosing the space.

"Lingering", 10"x10".

“Lingering”, 10″x10″.

On the formal side, the eye is led into the piece by the wide open shape of the tidal pool at the bottom left, and then is invited to move around by the directionality of soft edges and dispersed accumulations of detail. Variations of color within the areas of orange marsh grasses encourage the eye to linger. Sky and water are a mauve, relating to the coolest of the reds in the marsh.

I would describe “Lingering” as warm; friendly; intimate. And descriptive, for sure.

In the second piece, the color is the same but the feel is much bolder. Now we have a highly structured piece with assertive directionality. The eye is swept into the image by the strong zig-zag created by the edges of the marsh and moves back to a open area with minimal detail along the horizon. The detail that does exist is necessary to balance the composition, keeping the eye moving within the painting rather than being swept off to the right by the strong edges of the tidal creek.

"Edge of Discovery", 18"x24".

“Edge of Discovery”, 18″x24″.

The description of  “Edge of Discovery” could include abstract; expansive; dynamic. Movement within structure.

As I was working on these pieces–about a month apart—I decided independently with each that the image needed some interest in the marsh as it went back in space. I decided to add the back tidal pools to create this in both cases, and then the evolving paintings clicked into place.

Even here, with a similar solution to a common problem, the feel of these pools is quite different. In “Lingering” there is quite a bit of detail to the two glimpses of white, while in “Edge of Discovery”  the bit of water is minimal, austere (and right in the middle!), jibing with the overall reductive composition.

So, when we talk about mood in a landscape painting, we are discussing two things. One is the mood of the moment captured—how would it feel like to be there? The other is the feeling that the lines, shapes, and surface of the painting create for the viewer.

Color relates to both. It reflects the seasons; light; locale; and time of day of the views that we see around us. It also is inherently linked to mood and personal preference.

Kandinsky in his 1910 “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” posits that abstract elements have emotive power in their own right. In comparing these two paintings, it becomes clear how the shapes with their edges and directionality and the overall composition that they create impact the mood projected.

Unlike with color, many people are not consciously aware that these particular formal aspects are actively contributing to their experience of a representational painting. It is up to the artist to be adept at exploring the endless possibilities of these pictoral tools as the painting is being shaped, narrowing the gap between a good painting and an excellent one and finding variation in feel from piece to piece.

Paintings at Terrapin Restaurant/ Albert Shahinian Fine Art

I recently had an invitation to place my work in the newly renovated space of Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck, NY. The designer, also a collector of mine, thought that my work work be perfect to bring views of the Hudson Valley into the restaurant, long known for its locally sourced food.

Immediately looping my gallery—Albert Shahinian Fine Art, located just a few blocks away—  into the process, we came up with solutions to some of my concerns. Lighting, in restaurants, is always a big one, as well as how to make clear to diners the names of the artist and gallery; that the work is available for purchase; and that a price list is available, without overly obtrusive wall cards and signage.

At chef Josh’s suggestion, we settled on using mostly farm field and meadow imagery.

Sweeping Greens/Jostling Trees, 28"x68", $7,500.

Sweeping Greens/Jostling Trees, the largest piece at 28″x68″.

Fast forward several weeks and the designer, JT, and Albert and I arrived for the installation. Dodging the still working painters; metal fabricators; and workers with a lift to do the lights in this vaulted space, we commenced hanging on the walls that we could, and Albert finished the job through the course of that week.

The fellows with the lift installing new lighting.

The fellows with the lift installing new lighting. First two paintings up in background!

 

Albert, genius curator and installer, hanging the third to go up.

Albert, genius curator and installer, hanging the third piece to go up.

 

After all was said and done, the space looks like this:

 

A view toward the entry.

A view toward the entry.

 

This view captures a little bit of the sense of space and light, with "Similar Figures".

This view captures a little bit of the sense of space and light, with “Similar Figures”.

Before the launch party, Abbe Aronson, PR person for the event, asked for comments from us and composed this:

 

 

ESTEEMED HUDSON VALLEY RESTAURANT TO UNVEIL NEW DINING ROOM 
IN COLLAB WITH LOCAL DESIGNER, ARTISANS
“FIRST LOOK, FIRST TASTE” PARTY SET FOR MAY 5TH

MODERN UPDATE OF “FARM TO TABLE MEETS BARN TO TABLE”

RHINEBECK, NY – After drawing gasps of appreciation for food, décor and setting for 15 years in its current location in the historic circa 1825 “First Baptist Church,” award-winning Terrapin restaurant is undergoing a stunning renovation in its main dining room, to be unveiled on Thursday, May 5th at a “First Look, First Taste” cocktail party.

“First Look, First Taste” celebrates not only the redesigned space but also the new spring menus in both the dining room and adjacent Bistro. The party takes place from 6-8 p.m. by invitation only, after which the dining room opens for reservations. As always, emphasis on organic, local cuisine shines at Terrapin, but now will be presented in a chic new setting that, while refreshed, still evokes key sensibilities of the Hudson Valley.

“It was time for a change,” said Chef Josh Kroner  who said long-time restaurant patrons as well as new guests were defaulting more and more to Bistro, not because they necessarily preferred the casual menu there but because the dining room had become known as ‘formal’ – “and that’s not the way I intend for people to eat at Terrapin.”

Enter JT McKay of bluecashew Design, an offshoot of neighboring bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy and longtime friend of Kroner’s. “Josh was ‘farm to table’ before farm to table became a marketing term. That sort of food wasn’t a gimmick for him. So when we began to discuss the dining room redesign, we decided to give a proverbial ‘nod’ to this world.”

McKay continued, “There’s a real sense of bringing the outside inside with the new look here. We’re focusing on modern earth tones in the palette and using furnishings and design elements that evoke history and substance, so the two-inch thick red and white oak tables, which are old barn wood with contemporary finishes, are more than just reclaimed materials – they have real presence. Their age and history inform the energy of the entire room.”

Sweeping Greens", the largest piece at

Kroner added with a laugh, “I’ve wanted to collaborate with JT for years. The first time he came to my house, he rearranged all of the furniture and the lighting, so I know he was dying to get his hands on this place!”

Nearly all the key elements in the redesigned Terrapin dining room are new, including the lighting scheme, carpeting, place settings, metal railings and chairs, much of which are sourced locally and some of which are available for purchase through bluecashew  Wabi Sabi Wood (WSW), based here in Rhinebeck, was tapped to create the dining tables, the true anchor of the room now that the restaurant is abandoning tablecloths in lieu of a more updated look. Company co-owner Patrick Neri explained that in this project, Terrapin and WSW “have focused on bringing the highest quality ingredients into the hands of skilled craftsmen. WSW uses wood reclaimed from the hand-hewn beams of 18th century barns.  These beams once stood as trees in the Hudson Valley’s long forgotten old growth forests. The material represents some of the finest wood that ever grew from American soil. With these ingredients we built tables to be the foundation on which the craftsmanship of Terrapin will be displayed. Beneath every dinner plate lays a stunning display of hundreds of years etched in wood grain and patina. This truly will be ‘farm to table meets barn to table.’”

Paintings from Hudson Valley artist Christie Scheele will grace the new walls, curated and installed by Albert Shahinian  he of the eponymously named fine art gallery also located in the village of Rhinebeck. Says Scheele, “The single most distinctive aspect to what I do as a landscape painter lies in my ability to reduce a scene to its essentials.  This gives the viewer what is important, without the distraction, or visual clutter, of too much detail. Both by providing this overview and by using soft ‘scumbled’ edges, my paintings can quiet a viewer’s mind and evoke a direct response.”

She continued, “My work is, above all, about creating space—within the image of the painting, most often a wide-open vista—but also emotional and mental space for the viewer. The large, open space of the restaurant and the new color scheme in soft cream and a deep, slightly grayed green are perfect for my work. The elegance of the off-black metalwork that accents the room, with its strong, clean lines, also meshes beautifully with my strong, albeit soft-edged, shapes and sweeping contours.”

Moving Sky, 30"x36".

Moving Sky, 30″x36″.

Shahinian said working with Kroner and Terrapin was a very natural and important collaboration for the neighboring businesses. “Many of our gallery visitors ask us about dining in the village. For years we’ve suggested Terrapin as one of the top places to dine. It seems logical that part of a Terrapin ‘experience’ could suggest a visit to the gallery! There is synergy between such diverse businesses:  we both present high standards of quality, presentation, respect for our product and clientele, and offer high value for our visitors. One could say, ‘It takes a village to support a village!’”

With friends at the launch party.

With friends at the launch party.

Rhinebeck is a great town for a day trip, which could include a glorious stroll to the Hudson at Poet’s Walk; a visit to Albert Shahinian Fine Art; and dinner at Terrapin, where my work will be up for at least the next six months. Hope you make it!

 

Approaches to Abstracting a Landscape Painting

The specifics of how to create a less literal landscape painting seem to be a constant topic of discussion with my students, especially those who don’t come from an art-school background where the artist spends formative years in the mix, constantly exploring or discussing different ways of making art.

I have previously written about the toggle between formal concerns and storytelling in representational work in the following post:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/narrative-and-abstraction-in-representational-painting/

And about pure abstraction in this post discussing the shows of Ellsworth Kelly, Jenny Nelson, and Melinda Stickney-Gibson:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/three-abstract-artists-ellsworth-kelly-jenny-nelson-and-melinda-stickney-gibson/

Stepping further into how to break down this discussion, I see that most non-realist landscape painters are combining several ways of achieving this, and that the methods fall broadly into the two categories of what you choose to paint (and leave out) and how you choose to paint it.

In the image selection arena, the artist can either choose a view that had reduced detail for an open, minimalist landscape, or a macro view that has a prominent pattern —-for example, a rock cliff , sundappled water, or a glen of tree trunks.

The tools that the artist then employs in the painting process to emphasize abstraction can include simplifying, flattening, or distorting the shapes: reducing the amount of elements included; changing naturalistic color to non-literal choices; and/or unifying the surface with brushstroke or other technique to create overall  texture or pattern.

I have selected pieces from a number of contemporary artists who explore this terrain, many of whom I know or am friends with. In most cases artists are combining several of the approaches mentioned above, using pictoral tools that we, in this generation, have been fortunate enough to inherit and absorb from centuries of painting. The contemporary landscape painter then draws from the smorgasbord that art history provides and, putting it all in a sort of personal artistic blender, comes forth (usually over time) with their own version of the abstracted landscape.

Because the combinations are personal and often subtle, I have chosen to discuss each painting on its own merits rather than sift them into the categories introduced above.

I should add that I love gestural and color field abstract painting and generally am not so interested in realist landscape work. But having long ago chosen for myself a stylistic swath that lands somewhere in the middle, I find these explorations to be endlessly exciting, both in my own studio and in the work of other artists.

 

Stuart Shils, Fields near Ballycastle I,

Stuart Shils, Fields near Ballycastle I, 6.5″x7″.

I couldn’t resist selecting this piece of Stuart Shils, as I have also painted this dramatic locale in Western Ireland. It is just clear enough that in foreground we have farm fields, but the second shape is so peculiar that the mind could read it as abstract. So, by choosing to paint this bit of cliff that wends its way out into the Atlantic in a long curve, the artist has chosen subject matter that lends itself to abstraction and has also painted it in a broad, loose, and painterly way, emphasizing the color field aspect of the shapes within.

 

Deborah Munson, "Sparkle Square", pastel on paper.

Deborah Quinn-Munson, “Sparkle Square”, 12″x12″, pastel on paper.

Deborah has selected as her subject matter in this painting broad areas —and only two–that lend themselves to a patterned surface. It is key to the painterly beauty of “Sparkle Square” that the flecks of reflected light are varied in placement and shape, as are the shallow waves and subtly shifting color. Mystery is created by the dark shape of the shore. This is an example of the artist both selecting an image that is abstract in its simplicity and rhythm, and enhancing those aspects in the surface treatment.

 

Hannah Bureau, "Windham", 30"x30".

Hannah Bureau, “Windham”, 30″x30″.

Hannah, who also paints pure abstraction, selects material for her landscapes that has a feel that suits her sense of shape—squared off rhythmic forms that repeat within simple divisions of sky and land. In “Windham” I love the way the sky is so different from the ground—the sky like a Rothko and the ground a de Stael. At the same time, the mind reads them perfectly as an ethereal sky and cultivated sweep of land.

 

Eric Aho, "Ice Field",

Eric Aho, “Ice Field”, 80″x100″.

In Eric Aho’s ice series, the view is more pulled in than expansive, creating opportunity for very strong compositions that play with the formal elements of shape and line within a reduced color composition. The black shapes have depth when the eye reads them as descriptive—cracks in the ice leading to water below—but also emphasize the directionality of the fractured shapes as they point toward each other and the center of the piece. My eye delights in the play of shapes with this piece every bit as much as it does with a completely abstract painting.

 

"Blue Tidal Pool", 20"x24".

Christie Scheele, “Blue Tidal Pool”, 20″x24″.

As I have long influenced by the mid-century generation of American color field painters, this piece of mine reads as near abstraction, sitting on top of the picture plane almost before it reads as landscape. My selection of tidal flats as subject matter—already so stark and minimalist—is the starting point, enhanced by flattened shapes with subtle variations in color but no descriptive textural detail. The strong horizon evokes a vista, but turn this piece on its side and you have an abstract painting.

 

 

Wolf Kahn, "Orange Radiance",

Wolf Kahn, “Orange Radiance”,

Brighter-than-literal color is not of itself abstract, but combined with the simple fields of color that Wolf Kahn is known for creates a painting that sits right up on the surface plane. In addition to his famous barns, Wolf has also worked extensively with the repeated motif of tree trunks moving across the canvas, creating the patterned effect discussed above. In some paintings this is a more regular and more pronounced repetition, but I particularly liked the color in this piece and the way that the folliage is treated as diffuse scrubs of color. Look carefully, though, and you can see that as soft-edged as these shapes are, they are very particular, varied, and elegant.

 

 

 

Arnold Levine,

Arnold Levine, “Waves at Jenner”, 16″x20″.

“Waves at Jenner” uses brush stroke to create both an energetic expressive field and at the same time capture the feel of big surf crashing on rock, all of this using low-key, tonalist color. To my eye, the mind reads the scene perfectly for what/where it is, but the white strokes are actually more abstract than descriptive, sitting up on the surface of the picture plane. Arnold works in both abstraction and landscape painting, and this piece falls beautifully somewhere close to the middle of that spectrum…but rather closer to abstraction.

 

Heather Bruce, Sea #3, 14"x16".

Heather Bruce, Sea #3, 14″x16″.

Heather very much starts with the first strategy, reducing the content not only by choosing the simplest sea and sky imagery but also by eliminating detail within that. The subject is just recognizable, mostly because of the horizon and the gleams of light in the sky. The color is dense and murky–and also gorgeous—evoking one of those heavy weather days, but even more so a color field painting that sits on top of the scumbled and blended surface.

 

Jeorg Dressler, "Outlook

Jeorg Dressler, “Outlook XVI”, 18″x36″.

In “Outlook XVI”, as in other work by this artist, the soft blend is a wet-into-wet technique starting with a little more detail than many of the pieces discussed here. The surface is so heavily blended, however, that the subject matter takes a back seat and the viewer’s attention is brought to the movement that Jeorg made to achieve this effect. The result, in a descriptive sense, feels both like moving weather and as if we are witnessing the scene from a moving vehicle. As a whole, the technique crates both dreamy narrative and energetic abstraction.

 

Steve Dininno, "Boardwalk,

Steve Dininno, “Boardwalk, 7″x9”.

This monoprint of Steve Dininno’s is a study in monochromatic color and and reduced detail. To abstract an urban view—a scene that is inherently busy—certain light/weather phenomena are generally employed. In this case the image is being swallowed in fog, allowing the graphic elements to swim out of its implied depth even as the lines of perspective lead the eye forward into the scene. That there is so much interest in “Boardwalk” while at the same time so much empty space is a clear demonstration of the power of the less-is-more phenomenon, when skillfully done.

 

Donald Elder, "Untitled Landscape #0154, 12"x16".

Donald Elder, “Untitled Landscape #0154, 12″x16”.

These trees and, I presume, a light pole, are about as un-fussy as they could be. They, and the blended and scumbled surface relate to the Wolf Kahn piece. However, the eye here is funneled back in space, much like in the Steve Dininno above, and the analogous color composition is quietly moody. The foreground blacks help anchor the piece, creating contrast within the otherwise low-light scene. This piece balances beautifully between capturing the mood of a moment and place and pure, delicious painting.

 

Kate McGoughlin,

Kate McGoughlin, “Winter Sky Ashokan”, 8″x8″.

In this piece Kate uses surface texture to work the sky into a color field that is only just recognizable as a cloud bank. The shape of the shore is simplified, color exaggerated, though she did create a juicy reflection–so much a part of the land-into-water visual experience. The water is quieter than the sky, as is often the case. The white line that was scratched into the pigment on the left is a lovely graphic element that is entirely non-literal. Examining the elements, there is clear back and forth between those that are more descriptive of the scene and those that are more abstract.

 

Thomas Sarrantonio, "Transition",

Thomas Sarrantonio, “Transition”, 50″x60″.

Thomas is doing several painterly things in this piece that move it away from realism. There is clear patterning and brush stroke both in the field and the sky above that break up the surface into rhythmic abstraction. Combined with the soft band of fog in the middle distance,  this creates a duo perception of paint sitting on top of the picture plane and a recognizable field/sky with atmospheric perspective. The relative symmetry of this image also illustrates the point that when a painter reduces the number of elements, those that remain hold an enhanced interest.

 

Staats Fasoldt,

Staats Fasoldt, “Fair Street”, 11″x14″.

Staats is a master at relating shapes and creating light. Similar to my aesthetic, the number of shapes tend to be reduced and surface of them flattened, but the outlines of the shapes themselves have a good deal of subtle variation. In this piece, the paint handling within the shapes is also beautifully varied, the strip of light in a way that describes light itself and the shapes within the buildings in a more abstract manner. The blur on the left encroaching on the foreground building also seems to be more about the movement of the watercolor than about any recognizable visual phenomenon.

On the whole, what makes these all good paintings is that they are successful in capturing both the feel of the scene depicted and the surface, compositional, and color interest of pure painting, allowing the viewer to delight in both aspects. As for all painting, drawing ability is essential, since the artist needs the hand to do what the eye requires; creating dynamic compositions made of compelling—and usually highly edited— shapes, palettes, and surface.

Occasionally, there is an element that is barely or not quite recognizable…but interesting or gorgeous. My comment to my students when this emerges in their work is “I don’t know what that is…but I really like it so I don’t care”.  This observation would apply to the irregular light shape on the right in the Fasoldt piece and the field in the Sarrantonio. In many of the other pieces, there is an element or shape that we think is probably this or that…but we are not sure: the cliff in the Shils; the dark shore in the Munson; the orange band in the Kahn—field or hill?; the tidal pool in my piece; the light pole in the Elder, and so on. These mysteries serve to create complex interest as the mind works to accept the mixed metaphor that they provide.

 


 

I would like to mention the galleries that I share with many of these artists: Julie Haller Gallery in Provincetown, MA; Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY; Gold Gallery in Boston’s South End; and Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury VT–check them out to see additional work!

 

 

My Amazing Students

This post is to feature the work of some of my many talented students. I asked them for a few jpegs to choose from and a short statement about how long they have been painting and if they have been exhibiting work as well, since I have students altogether new to painting and others who are already pros…and everything in between. I thought it best to ask them to describe themselves.

Unsolicited, there have been some lovely comments about my contribution as their teacher, so I am including them.

My own commentary is about the compositional, color, and narrative aspects to the pieces presented, much as it would be in one of my classes. Look closely at these paintings and you will see dynamic compositions with subtly varied and interlocking shapes; movement that keeps the eye circulating inside of the picture plane; narrative that is implied and open,  and carefully mixed layered color.

Enjoy!


 

Monica Rozak

Monica Rozak

“I had been only beginning to paint when I took your class at PAAM…less than a year at that point. (Previously I was a fiber artist creating one of a kind art dolls/figurative sculpture, and had done a lot of etching back in college). I found you to be an open and generous teacher and still hope to study with you more.”


 

Hillary Host

Hillary Hostetler

“I painted “Little House” a few months after taking Christie’s great workshop at Woodstock School of Art. The painting is part of a series of oil and cold wax paintings with implied narratives about the “Suburban Landscape”. The series was part of my MFA graduate school work. After Completing my Masters of Fine Art in Painting, I am now teaching kids, college students, and senior citizens how to paint and draw. I hope my students enjoy my classes as much as I enjoyed Christie’s.”

 


 

"Winter Sunset"

Linda Puiatti

“I came to a couple of Christie’s workshops after painting (primarily) landscapes in oil for more than ten years years and looking to step it up a notch. I now work exclusively with oil and cold wax and in a recent class with Christie, I enjoyed painting in a limited palette, something I hadn’t done for years. The classroom critiques are constructive and illuminating. I particularly treasure having Christie as a mentor whenever I’ve had questions regarding sales and gallery etiquette.”

 


 

Cathy Mettitichia

Cathy Mettitichia

“Although I have been painting for as far back as I can remember, it was only after taking several of Christie’s workshops that I gained the confidence to show my work.  Through her mentoring I have been able to fine tune my work and can understand how to see things through more discerning eyes.”


 

RAP

Rachel Avenia Prol

“I really admire the way Christie can reduce a landscape to its essential essence through shape and color. Taking Christie’s workshop helped me edit and refine my shapes. I have painted this scene before and I like this version (painted in Christie’s workshop) the most–some small tweaks to the shape of the waterline and overall simplification made a big difference.”

 


 

ES

Eleanor Stein

“I have been painting landscapes in oil and in pastel for about 15 years and I studied with many fine artists. I have had several local one -woman shows and sold many works .  Christie’s workshops are unique and freeing me from the tyranny of detail and bringing out my inner tonalist!”

 


SC

Susan Coyne

“Everything you taught was new to me: your palette, colors, mediums, primers, suppliers, brushes.  Everything.  You gave us a ton of information, much of which I continue to use. Your demos and your talk at the lab and follow up email were really helpful.”

 


 

SW

Sylvia Weinberg

“I’ve been painting for many years, in watercolor and in oil but Christie’s workshop was truly an inspiration to me and I’ve been working a great deal on  landscape in oil ever since. Christie is a gifted teacher who helps students to find their own voice by encouraging the best of what they do , making them aware of their strengths.”

 


 

SN

Sara Nascent

“I was a total beginner when I started  painting with Christie. I still am but now , thanks to Christie, I can see many colors whereas before I saw only a few. I can feel when shapes are displeasing and compositions awkward.  As a result, I have become a bit of a hazard when driving as my eyes now are devouring passing landscapes and skyscapes.  Before I saw green hills, now I see contours, ridge lines, shadows, reflections and shades of so many colors. My life is richer for this adventure.”

 


 

Anne Stout

Anne Stout

“I”m 66 and have been doing art in one form or another for my whole life. Have taken alot of classes over the years. The mix of people isn’t always great . This was a good class with a gooood teacher!!”

 


 

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Linda Lynton

“I’ve been seriously persuing art, with an eye to going pro, for three years. My first workshop with Christie, she suggested using a different format so I went with 30×15. Her entire workshop was an adventure, trying out materials and methods I’d not used before. She pushes me to achieve more than I expect to do.”

 


 

Molly Jenks

Molly Jenks

“Having no prior painting experience before Christie’s class in September, 2015 at PAAM in Provincetown, I was surprised to listen to her words (my professional background) and then be able to translate those words into color, mood, and images.  It was enormously fun and an experience I keep trying on my own.  A new adventure and interest……I wouldn’t call myself a painter yet…..that seems a bit disrespectful to those who are.  I am just a student.”

 


 

 

Wendy Lines

Wendy Lines

“Here is a painting that I did in 2009 after working with you for a year. And I just reworked it.

I studied with you weekly  for at least 6 years, returning recently.”

 


 

JJ

Jennifer Jefferson

“I painted this shortly after the September 2015 workshop with Christie in Provincetown, my second workshop with her. The thing about Christie is she really teaches–my work improved immensely after both workshops. She is thoughtful, intelligent and generous with her time and knowledge. I was an art major in college, decades ago, and painted only occasionally after that, until two years ago when I started painting tree or four times a week.”

 


 

Agnes Collis

Agnes Collis

“A small painting completed after your class.

The small works are becoming my niche for now. I enjoy creating the small works and they sell quite well.”

Lue Svenson

Lue Svenson

“I have been painting in oils since 2003. I have always done some type of art. I participate in Art Walk {in Lafayette, LA) on a monthly basis and am represented in 2 galleries other than my own. Your classes open my eyes to details and different ways of doing things. I enjoy learning more about color combinations and composition. Your classes also expose me to  other artists learning about their styles and how they live in their art world.”

Available Work/Studio

This post, designed primarily for the galleries and consultants that I work with,  serves as a data-base for oil paintings that are currently in my studio. As work sells or is consigned I will remove it, and new or returned work will be added.

 My website– created by Stephanie Blackman Design—was beautifully designed as a calling card. Since I create/sell/move work around frequently, it was never my plan to keep it current at all times. With this data-base I will have a comprehensive selection for you all to peruse and can reduce the number of emails that I send showing dealers my currently available work, as those become outdated quickly also.

Often I am expecting some work back imminently or have a painting on the easel that is almost finished, so please feel free to inquire about that or very small works and pastels, which are not included here—scheeleart@gmail.com. Retail price range for my oil-on-linen work is roughly $1,400-$12,000.

All, of course, are welcome to browse!

Contrasting Sunset, 18"x52".

Contrasting Sunset, 18″x52″.

 

 

Cloud over Mountain, 40"x50", $7,000.

Cloud over Mountain, 40″x50″.

 

Moving Storm/Turquoise Sea, 22"x62".

Moving Storm/Turquoise Sea, 22″x62″.

 

 

Harbor with Blues, 12"X36".

Harbor with Blues, 12″X36″.

 

Shapes of Summer, 12"x36".

Shapes of Summer, 12″x36″.

 

Open Road/Big Sky, 20"x60".

Open Road/Big Sky, 20″x60″.

 

Boundless Sky, 20"X30".

Boundless Sky, 20″X30″.

 

 

 

Summer Marsh with Lighthouse, 22"x50".

Summer Marsh with Lighthouse, 22″x50″.

 

 

Summer Sunset/Tidal Creek, 36"x12".

Summer Sunset/Tidal Creek, 36″x12″.

 

Winter Light, 24"x30".

Winter Light, 24″x30″.

 

Red Line, 24"48", $5,000. (CVB, Solera)

Red Line, 24″x48″.

 

 

 

RiverBig Sky

River with Big Sky, 24″x30″.

 

Sunset Reflected, 12"x36".

Sunset Reflected, 12″x36″.

 

Gleaming

Gleaming, 12″x24″.

 

White Wave, 12"x24".

White Wave, 12″x24″.

 

Seablues with Sun, five panels of 8"x8"/ea.; 40"x8 overall.

Seablues with Sun, five panels of 8″x8″/ea.; 40″x8 overall.

 

Plains River, 24"x48".

Plains River, 24″x48″.

 

Sunset Roofline, 24"x23".

Sunset Roofline, 24″x23″.

 

 

Affinity/Drive at Dusk, oil on linen with frayed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding, 12"x48", $3,600.

Affinity/Drive at Dusk, oil on linen with frayed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding, 12″x48″.

 

 

Red Twister, 36"x12", $2,800.

Red Twister, 36″x12″.

 

 

Affinity/Flatland's Drive, 18"x18", $2,000.

Affinity/Flatland’s Drive, 18″x18″.

 

 

Affinity/Return at Dusk, 12"x24".

Affinity/Return at Dusk, 12″x24″.

 

 

Skyline@Sunset

“Skyline at Sunset”, 14″x22″.

 

 

 

Peaks, 11"X14".

Peaks, 11″X14″.

 

Oil on primed paper mounted on board:

 

Traveling Fog, 12"x12" mounted on 14"x14" board.

Traveling Fog, 12″x12″ mounted on 14″x14″ board.

 

Angular Tidal Pools, 12"x12" mounted on 14"x14" board.

Angular Tidal Pools, 12″x12″ mounted on 14″x14″ board.

 

Affinity Triptych:SoftGreys

Affinity/Triptych in Soft Greys, 3 panels of 5″x5″/ea: 5″x15″ overall

 

Small Studies in Oil on Primed Paper

I began using small oil-on-primed-paper studies as a teaching tool in my September 2013 workshop at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum.

At work on one of the studies for

At work on one of the studies for “Blue Above”. (Photo courtesy of Carol Duke.)

As you can see above and below, I did several versions of the same image, moving elements around, encouraging my students to do the same.

Version

Simple version, tidal pool coming off the bottom and corner of the picture plane.

It is not just a question of what is included and what is left out–though that is always a major consideration in my work (see https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/contoursdistillations-a-solo-show/   for more on that conversation). Even in this very reductive composition, there are many variables. What, exactly, is the shape of the tidal pool cutting toward us, and where does it leave the picture plane, both on the left and on the right? How high or low is the horizon line? Cool greens, warm greens, or both? Back shore more compressed and lighter, making it seem further away, or larger and darker, bringing it forward?

Version with suggestion of houses in back land form.

Version #2 with suggestion of houses in back land form, and Long Point lighthouse on the right.  Tidal pool moves off the right side.

I decided to go very white with the sky in the large piece, since I love the shore phenomenon of bright blue sky overhead and white at the horizon, which is due to the many miles of atmosphere, denser close to earth, that we are looking through.

Blue Above, 12

Blue Above, 12″x36″ , currently at the Julie Heller Gallery, Provincetown, MA.

None of these versions is any better or worse than the other—they are just different. The choices that I made for the larger oil were largely mood-driven. For example, I opted to emphasize the simplicity of the major shapes by omitting the lighthouse and bits of detail on the back shore. Including them would have made it a more descriptive piece, which I do from time to time. But at heart I am a minimalist, enjoying the open feel that these compositions bring.

First set of small

First set of small studies. (Mostly sold; two are currently at Edgewater Gallery, Middlebury VT.)

I soon saw that the studies function nicely as small paintings in their own right if I finish them the same way I do a larger piece. They look great framed with a mat and under glass, though I have also exhibited and sold a number of them mounted on board, sealed to be airtight, and presented without glass, such as the below. This grouping I did for a small works show without any intention to do them larger—some of them are images I already had done as pastels or larger oils. Switching it up!

Tidal Flats at Dusk, 6

Tidal Flats at Dusk, 6″x6″, sold by Thompson Giroux Gallery.

Study/Triptych in Reds

Study/Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 5″x5″/ea., private collection.

I decided to leave out the soft water-shape in the larger version, mostly because I knew that I was going to frame each panel separately and I felt that the simpler field dividers would work best, carrying the horizontal sweep of the composition through the strong verticals of the frames and the wall space between.

Triptych in Reds

Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 24″x24″, currently at Gold Gallery, Boston.

 When I do these studies, I don’t do them to copy them later in a big piece, but rather to familiarize myself with some of the elements. I have my students do several of the same image, and until they do they really don’t get the concept. It isn’t to come up with the perfect study to be copied, but to move things around and look at the results to see what sections work best, comparing all of the studies. Then, even when things need to evolve the way that they will with a larger piece–and just the size difference can really influence these decisions— you have posed key questions to yourself.
Study/Intervening Bay

Study/Intervening Bay, 7″x7″, private collection.

In this recent piece I moved the front tidal pool a bit over toward center in the larger piece and had more room to play with the blues. It became clear that in the 24″x24″ version I needed to clearly differentiate between the three groupings of marsh grasses to indicate far, middle, and close proximity, using color to establish distance. Why? It just didn’t look right to have them all on the same plane in this particular image. This, though, is something that in another painting I might love—allowing all of the shapes to sit right on top of the picture plane, functioning as a color field painting.

Intervening Bay, 24″x24″, private collection.

Each piece ended up where it needed to, and different from each other in subtle ways.
Study/Open Road #1, 4.5

Study/Open Road #1, 4.5″x14″.​

These two are quite similar, the main difference being the enhanced distance in the road that I created with the larger piece.

Open Road, 20

Open Road, 20″x60″.

​Sometimes after both—or all of—the pieces are finished there are things that I prefer about the study. In the following two, it is the size and materials difference themselves that create a somewhat divergent feel.

​Study/Sunset Sea, 5″x5″
One element to be considered is that the texture of the paper is more assertive in a small piece, and often a bit more matte, even though my linen also has tooth and the paint is applied to the same dark, absorbent ground. Here I feel that the study is more painterly and the oil-on-linen more photographic.

​Yellow Band, 36″x36″.
With the following pair, the study is simpler and more illustrative than the larger piece that came after.
Study/Skyline

Study/Skyline, 7″x7″, currently at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY.

In the larger size I needed to add more buildings, and I opted to make it more atmospheric. It turned out to be very useful to have established the front detail in the small piece, since I wasn’t at all sure how it was going to work out or even if I wanted to include it. I liked it well enough in the study to follow my own lead in the larger oil.

Skyline with Lifting Rain

Skyline with Lifting Rain, 20″x20″ (Private collection).

Here are some pieces from my current collection of studies that I haven’t yet done large. I will do this with some, and others will remain in small format only.
What I choose to paint next is driven by a complex set of considerations, partly mood-driven and partly tending to the needs of my galleries. Yet sometimes I love to not over-think it, changing direction at the spur of the moment. Any of these could be explored in large cnavas at any time, and/or my next large piece might be of an image that I did not approach first in small format.
Study/Mountain Contours

Study/Mountain Contours, 4.5″x14″, currently at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY.

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6″x8″, currently at Edgewater Gallery, Middlebury VT.

Study/Lake Mists, 5

Study/Lake Mists, 5″x5″, currently at Edgewater Gallery, Middlebury, VT.

 

Study?Gleam over Tidal Flats,

Study/Gleam over Tidal Flats, 6″X10″.

 

Study/Green Valley

Study/Green Valley, 6″x10″.

 

Study/Late Summer Light, 5"x7.5".

Study/Late Summer Light, 5″x7.5″.

Study/Meadowlands with Mists.

Study/Meadowlands with Mists, 3.5″x10.5″.

I was so enjoying the color on the above that I decided to do a version without the industrial detail in the back landform.

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4″X8″. (Sold)

And then I wanted to simplify even more and use the soft lavender with greens instead.

Soft Summer Light, 4"x8".

Soft Summer Light, 4″x8″.

Additional pieces (updated since the publication of this post):

 

Study?Yellow Bush, 4"x14.5", Edgewater Gallery.

Study/Yellow Bush, 4″x14.5″, Edgewater Gallery.

 

Study/Waterspouts, 6"x9".

Study/Waterspouts, 6″x9″.

 

Study/It Looks Like Rain, 6"x9".

Study/It Looks Like Rain, 6″x9″.

 

Study/Summer Marsh, 5"x12".

Study/Summer Marsh, 5″x12″.

 

Study/ClusteredCLouds, 5"x12".

Study/ClusteredClouds, 5″x12″.

 

Study/White Fields, 5"x11".

Study/White Fields, 5″x11″.

 

Study/Grey Dawn, 5"x7".

Study/Grey Dawn, 5″x7″.

 

Study/Winter Warmth, 7"x7".

Study/Winter Warmth, 7″x7″.

 

Study/Se.rene Winter, 5"x11"

Study/Serene Winter, 5″x11″.

 

Study?Reservoir from Little Mountain, 4"x12".

Study/Reservoir from Little Mountain, 4″x12″.

 

Study/Green Fields, 5"x13".

Study/Green Fields, 5″x13″.

 

Study/Glowing Sky over Fall Marsh, 6"x8".

Study/Glowing Sky over Fall Marsh, 6″x8″.

You may have noticed that some of the pieces have a deckled edge and some have a clean edge. This does not translate with the large oil-on-linen work, but instead is something that I’ve been playing with in my pastels for a number of years. Some images have shapes within that relate to the uneven edge, and others have a more linear sweep to the composition. Those that have the deckled edge are framed showing it, and the others have the mat coming right up to the edge of the image.

I never like to over-plan. But even though I got along just fine without these studies for years and years, I have to say that for myself and for my students, they can have a liberating effect. Once you have internalized some aspects of what you are doing, it is much easier to proceed with confidence and an exploratory attitude.

“Contours/Distillations”: a Solo Show

“Contour/Distillations” has been extended to October 11th.

contours:distillations

We are tremendously drawn by stuff. The content of our lives—acquiring possessions; taking care of or replacing said possessions; packed schedules; busy brains—loudly demands attention. What we need the most for balance is intervals of the absence of our stuff, and yet it is hard to reset and choose openness over content.

“Blue Tidal Pool”, 20″x24″.

Creating space in my life is an ongoing project, and has long drawn me both to spend a great deal of time outdoors and to paint my landscapes in an open and minimalist manner. This approach quiets the mind, evoking a direct response. Abstract elements can elicit deep, complex feelings, (a theme beautifully explored in Vassily Kandinsky’s 1910 “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”) and larger, flatter shapes with soft edges awaken the wide-open feeling of being outdoors in our atmospheric world.

Tree/Mist, 18

Tree/Mist, 18″X48″.

Delving further into the less-is-more discussion, I think that less is different. If there are many details to look at in a painting they tend to compete for attention, creating an experience that remains purely visual or intellectual without going deeper. With fewer elements and more open space, both the emotional and formal content have enormous impact, often visceral. At the same time, what is there has to hold up under analysis, as there is no hiding.

Layered Clouds, 20

Layered Clouds, 20″X16″.

My process in the studio is comprised of long swaths of time in which I am intensely focused and living within the emerging painting, punctuated by intervals of scrutiny and analysis during which I observe the elements with as much distance as possible. This rigor is, ultimately, what allows the viewer to sink into the piece—-many small just-so decisions to create a seamless whole.

Diagonal Flux, 36

Diagonal Flux, 36″X36″.

The landscape inevitably holds powerful associations, so painting it becomes a back-and-forth between exploring the narrative and focusing on the formal elements of shape, composition, surface, color, and edge. In this body of work, drawn from the past several years, I am presenting the most open, color-field aspect of my work. Viewers can bring their own memories to these paintings, as mine are only suggested, or simply experience them as a conduit for feeling.

“Affinity/Dusk Road”, 30″x30″.

Both the above and below are from my Affinity Series. These pieces start with fraying the edges of raw linen; gluing it down to the board; priming with dark primer, and gridding the whole thing with graphite. Then I do the actual painting, and when it dries some selective regridding. The series evolved from the desire to manipulate my support in a way that moves my other choices in a more abstract direction, and brings attention to the surface.

“Affinity/Black Trees”, 30″x30″. (Sold)

Sometimes, as in the new postcard piece, “Tender Reds”, there are more shapes included. I see this as being a rhythmic approach—repetition of similar shapes moving across the surface of the painting.

“Tender Reds”, 32″x70″.

This piece is less minimalist, but just as abstract. The reduced palette with a white sky allows it to hover between a dreamy in-the-moment being there and an on-the-surface color-field painting.

If one were to consider this as a totally abstract piece, the exercise would be to turn it sideways, or upside down. Compositionally, upside down would work very well, but not sideways—too strong of a horizon line, now going vertical. This would be true of every painting I do—abstracted, but not abstract, and usually with a clear horizon line as an anchor.

“White Trail” has a number of horizons, but the strong line in this piece moves on a skipping, slightly diagonal vertical, emphasizing the format. This piece, too, has a sense of rhythmic repetition of forms.

“White Trail”, 40″x30″.

I have been exploring for this show how a large composition can be successful in small format with these oil-on-paper pieces.

“Study/Gleam over Tidal Flats”, 6″x10″.

“Study/Mountain
Contours”, 4″x14″.

“Study/Sunset Sea”, 5″x5″, oil on primed paper.

Quiet, tonal color is most often my choice, as it tends to sit back, creating emotional space and allowing for introspection.

“Autumn Bay Mists”, 18″x52″.

But every so often I like to move to stronger color to intensify the timbre of the experience. Whites work well—like a thirst-quenching drink of water— when paired with strong, saturated color.

“Sunset Reflected”, 12″x36″.

Most of my pieces have quite a bit of contrast, moving from an atmospheric white or off-white (often tinged with a bit of Mars Violet) to a true black. I find, though, that low-contrast pieces can be intensely riveting in a different way, kind of like a full-throated, low hum. “Evening Shoreline”, below, is an example of this.

Evening Shoreline, 12

Evening Shoreline, 12″X12″.

“Continuing Progression” is really a study in monochromes. The detail of the row of trees on the right, seemingly very subtle, actually pops more because of the reduced palette.

Continuing Progression, 24

Continuing Progression, 24″x48″. (sold)

The body of work presented represents the core of my thinking, my base of operations. Albert Shahinian Fine Art, my gallery of longest standing, is the perfect venue for this theme-based exhibition, having shown, over the years, every possible exploration that I have launched from this base.

I hope you can join us for the reception on July 25th and my talk on August 2nd to see all 40 pieces and hear more about landscape, form and mood.

Link to a short but sweet article on the show by Paul Smart in the Almanac:

http://www.hudsonvalleyalmanacweekly.com/2015/07/24/new-paintings-by-christie-scheele-on-view-in-rhinebeck/

The installation and reception, below:

Installation shot, wall with Affinities.

Installation shot, wall with Affinities.

With and old friend at the reception.

With my old friend Deb at the reception.

Installation shot, wall with postcard piece.

Installation shot, wall with postcard piece.

Additional work in the show:

Drifting CLouds, 20

Drifting Clouds, 20″x20″.

Approach in November, 6

Approach in November, 6″x24″.

“Lush Mists”, 12″X36″.

Hill Beyond Hill, 3 panels of

Hill Beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24″x20″.

Winter Field, 10

Winter Field, 10″x30″. (Sold)

Dawn Headlights, 12

Dawn Headlights, 12″X36″.

Cranberry Bog, 48

Cranberry Bog, 48″x24″.

Stormy Sea, 12

Stormy Sea, 12″X12″.

Glowing Mountain Mists, 20

Glowing Mountain Mists, 20″X30″. (Sold)

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