Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

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2017 Late Spring News and Upcoming Events

This spring my mind has been on many of the seasonal imperatives, like creating new work for my galleries on the Cape and Islands and sorting through and shipping or delivering their selections. It has also, after a huge jump-start on my Atlas Project during my residency at the Nantucket Arts Association, been very much on advancing that exploration; and the spring has been spiced up by a few other new projects.

Mountain Sky/Blues, 24″x48″, newest piece, of the Catskills from the river.

I have scheduled a talk to discuss my Atlas Project for July 15 during the Shandaken Artists Studio Tour, 4:30-6pm. I am currently developing the third sequence, Atlas/Hudson Valley segment. This means that, in addition to other work in my studio,  I will hang a grouping of each of the sections that I have been working on this year: Atlas/Forms of Water/Snow; Atlas/Island (Nantucket); and the most extensive sequence to date, the Hudson River and Catskills work and mapping thereof.

 

Red River Shore, 20″x30″.

In my studio work progresses on my third prototype map for this grouping, which will include mini-monotypes of the paintings involved; maps of various sorts of the area; and a number of other elements, both descriptive and visual. I am hoping that this map will be the working template that clicks for me so that I can use it for new groupings/exhibitions going forward. This involves lots of trial and error, applied problem-solving and then experimenting with the materials (maps, acrylics, printmaking, rice paper, collage, river mud, etc.).

I have found that when I pose myself a complex creative problem to be solved, following a simple process works quite well. I start by seeing how far I can think my way into it, often using moments when I am driving or walking, and when I hit an aspect or aspects that stump me, I plant those as a seed, and then let go of the conscious effort. Some time later—usually weeks—the answer will pop into my head, my subconscious having been at work on it all the while, sometimes aided by new information that comes my way in the interval.

Here is where I am so far with the latest Site Map and associated prints:

 

Work table with HV map in progress; site map for the Atlas/Island (Nantucket) grouping in the background.

 

Trees with Mists, 18″x48″.

 

Above and below are a few of the Hudson River & Valley/Catskills paintings that are part of the new sequence:

 

2 Shores, 12″x12″.

 

My new series is bringing me ever closer to the many aspects of the natural world that I have in the past observed, researched and delighted in. Which of these things and how they can manifest in the work is the adventure. As is true of most meaningful new endeavors, the space this holds for me is both stimulating and disquieting.

 

My first gallery show of Atlas/Hudson Valley is scheduled for 2018 at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY.

To view more oil paintings that are currently in my studio, click here:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/available-workstudio/

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During spring I am always preparing to deliver or ship new work to my galleries in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and/or Cape Cod. Below are some new pieces at the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard. She always has a beautifully installed grouping of my work on display throughout the year, so please stop by if you are on the island.

 

Summer Inlet, 48″x24″, 2017.

 

Sengekontacket Greens, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

Katama Field, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

Summer Wave, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

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My residency at the Arts Association of Nantucket in February resulted in many advancements in my problem-solving curve for the Atlas Project; a number of small paintings; and some monotypes (see my blog post on the residency):

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/artists-residency-on-nantucketnew-atlas-project/

The five monotypes hanging below are a the results of printing sessions in both Woodstock and Nantucket.

 

 

And a few others:

 

Monotype/Green Marsh, 8″x10″.

 

Monotype/White Field #2, monotype and pastel, 8″x10″.

 

Monotype/Wave#5, 8″x10″.

See more of my prints and pastels here:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/available-workstudioworks-on-paper/

 

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In April I flew to South Florida to do a large painting for friends with a new house there. I managed to pack in one big suitcase everything I needed, including the 16″x20″ version of the wave image that I had painted ahead of time. The one thing that did not fit in my suitcase was the 48″x60″ stretched linen canvas, which we had shipped from my wonderful stretcher-makers in Vermont, Brickyard Enterprises.

I had exactly one week to do this large piece and so, concerned about the possibility of things going wrong, I put in long days for the first several, working under an overhang in the pool enclosure.

 

 

Happily, nothing did go wrong, so we had a finished piece on the wall ahead of deadline and then I got to play, spending time at the Morikami Gardens and the beach (more wave paintings to come!).

 

 

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My winter-spring show with Albert Shahinian Fine Art wrapped up in early April. We had a nice run of of two receptions—one at the gallery and one at my studio; a number of sales of pieces small and large, old and new; and an interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal containing questions that I quite enjoyed:

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/entertainment/2017/03/22/landscapes-art-artists/99454762/

 

March reception in my studio.

Several of the pieces that went to new homes from our show “Gallery/Studio: A Symbiosis”:

 

Glistening Greys, 10″X10″, oil on linen.

 

“White Trail”, 40″x30″.

 

Affinity/Duo/Palms, diptych of 2 paintings of 16″x8″/ea.

 

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I am teaching four more workshops in 2017, several of them new. In my workshops I emphasize composition as well as color, and share not only my techniques, but also an eclectic delight in many styles and aspects of contemporary and historical art.

The Woodstock School of Art:

June 17-19, Sat.-Mon, 9-4pm, Form and Content: A Landscape Painting Intensive
Oct.28-30, Sat.-Mon. 9-4pm, Color Mixing for Landscape Painters.
The Nantucket Arts Association July 18-20,Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape;  and Mentoring for Artists, July 21.
Provincetown Artist Association and Museum, Sept. 11-14, Mon.-Thurs. 9:30-1:30, Abstraction and Narrative in the Landscape.

 

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I have plans for some new pastels in the near future—its a good time of year to approach these, with the studio windows wide open (ah, and I must mention sounds of birds and the creek behind my studio), mitigating any effects of flying dust. Below is a fairly recent one, in which I was pushing the color somewhat.

 

Turquoise Sky/White Cloud, 20″x20″.

 

Over the years I have at times felt pressure from some of my galleries to work brighter. I am very often a moody painter, though I don’t ever want to limit myself to any palette, locale, format, or mood. I do love a bright sunny day, but painting dramatic clouds and subtle, tonal color often draws me, and many of my collectors will follow me into that terrain.

With the pastel above, I set myself the intention of not going as dark along the horizon as I often do in a seascape, and in general keeping the colors more saturated or desaturated with white instead of grey. I wanted to see if I could make myself happy with a lower contrast, brighter image. And I did.

This is turning a request, essentially, into a creative problem. When people ask me how and whether being a full time, self-supporting artist affects my decision-making in the studio, that is part of the answer—that if I feel that I am being nudged in a particular direction, can I turn that into an interesting problem? And after I work that one out, what else can I do that is generated exclusively by, to use Kandinsky’s term, inner necessity?

 

Cotue of the Scalloped Edges, 6″x10.5″.


Artist’s Residency on Nantucket/New Atlas Project

As soon as my  residency at the Nantucket Artists Association was scheduled early last fall I launched into planning. I decided to work with exclusively Nantucket imagery while there, and this dovetailed with a larger plan to spread out into a fresh creative endeavor starting in 2017.
And so, I began developing a new rubric for my work that frames groupings of it thematically, calling it my Atlas Project.
Knowing that I would have access to the print studio at the AAN, and after having been reintroduced to printmaking by program coordinator and printmaker Mary Emery while on Nantucket teaching the summer before, I also began exploring printmaking in earnest, studying with Kate McGloughlin at the Woodstock School of Art.
 My new Atlas Project, just several months in, engages in a process of revealing the web of meaning around and between the individual pieces that I create. The matrix that connects all of my landscape imagery is saturated with memory, both personal and collective. To show these connections, I am working with individual but overlapping thematic groupings. The biggest challenge is to then create a legend, or site map, to the bodies of work.

The first sequence that I approached, before going to Nantucket, was Atlas/Forms of Water/Snow. Using drawing, printmaking, pasteling, writing, and mixed-media along with oil paintings, I am exploring with these sequences the interrelationships of process, history, and memory, as revealed not only by air, land, and water but also by my materials and personal history as an artist, family and community member, and frequent inhabitant of the outdoor world.

In late February, all set up in my studio on Nantucket,  I began work on Atlas/Island with painting in oil so that, in my process of layering wet over dry, I would have time to finish and safely bring home the pieces accomplished.


“Coatue of the Scalloped Edges”, oil on board in vintage drawer, 6″x10.5″ overall.

For some of these locales, I wrote a bit about them and later included these observations in the Site Map. Coatue is a stunning landform, and the perfect image for my box with the circular pull. These unusual scalloped edges of sand have been held in place for centuries. In perfect equalibrium, prevailing winds create waves that push sand out to the points, while currents move it in the opposite direction, depositing it on the bends.

“Moors with Mists”, oil on board in vintage tray, 5.5″x24″ overall.

The pieces on board in vintage boxes were not framed that way but rather painted to go inside of those particular boxes, adjusting color and feel of imagery to meld with the tray. I liked the lovely old boxes for this project as a nod to Nantucket’s intricate and unique history.

“Night Harbor”, oil on board in vintage tray, 5.5″x24″ overall.

With Night Harbor my observations turn to a personal memory of the sweet evening last summer when I experienced the view depicted. During the day, while I was teaching, my husband was catching fish. We cooked the fish at our friend’s modest house that looks out on the harbor from the outskirts of town,  the Creeks to our right. The three of us sat watching the fog roll in and out of the harbor for hours, barely speaking, until well after nightfall. Night Harbor is an image of the view off to the left of the lights on the wharves and Brandt Point.

 

“Dunes with Snow”, (Steps Beach), oil on board in vintage tray, 5.5″x24″, overall.

Steps Beach appears a few times in this body of work. I researched and wrote a bit about interdune ecology, described below after the second dune painting, a summer image in greens.

I did one piece using my Affinity format, since this image called for it both in color and in the strong horizontal and diagonal compositional elements.

Affinity/Madaket Dusk, oil on linen with frayed edges on primed board overlaid with graphite gridding, 11″x14″.

This pastel is a view from the ferry of Tuckenuck, the island just visible on the right, the sky a late-day winter sunset:

“Gleam over Tuckernuck”, 7″x11″, pastel on paper.

 

After several days at work on imagery with grey/blues or warmer color, I had a yen for some greens, so I did these three pieces, using reference collected last summer while I was there teaching.

 

“House on Madaket Marsh”, oil on linen, 11″x14″.

Madaket also appears a few times, as I am endlessly drawn to its varied topography.  I include the famous story of the formation of Esther Island during hurricane Esther in 1961, and it’s reattachment and detachment in relation to Smith’s Point over the years since then.

SummerDune

“Summer Dunes”, (Steps Beach entrance) oil on linen, 8″x20″.

The steep dunes on the north side of the island can be safely traipsed through and enjoyed going into Steps Beach. The scene above, a view off to the left between the two large dunes above the beach, is a thriving interdune habitat with just about every shade of green within. The mists tamp the colors down just enough to appeal to my subtle color sensibility.

I knew that dune grasses hold dunes and that marsh grasses both hold ground from eroding seas and clean water passing through; but I didn’t really understood how. Thanks mostly to several articles that I read from Yesterday’s Island by Dr. Sarah Oktay, formerly of the Nantucket Field Station, I now get it and am suitably impressed.

Dune grasses not only anchor sand that is there, they also trap windborn sand and hold it, building dune height. Then, due to their extensive system of underground stems, they are able to grow right up on top of themselves to trap more sand, and so on. Further, as the grasses below decay, soil begins to be built and other plants and small deciduous shrubs can colonize the dune. As these seasonally drop leaves that compost, more soil is built and plants with larger roots can attain purchase and now you have a healthy, diverse, interdune system that protects the shore from erosion during winter storms.

 

“Quaise Marsh”, oil on linen, 11″x14″.

Now, for marsh grasses, perhaps my most frequently painted subject in the past several decades. These grasses trap sediment and organic matter with every tide—cleansing the water—creating a kind of peat at their roots. They, too, can then grow up on top of themselves and this peat and gain height to keep pace with sea level rise,  protecting the shoreline from erosion. That is, they have been able to so far. It is unlikely that they will continue to succeed with the potential six foot rise predicted, at this juncture, by 2100.

Back to the residency. Finally in the print studio, I dialed in on which sorts of my landscape imagery work well in a medium that has a very lively feel. I had previously noted that the soft-focus of my pantings does not translate as well as my emphasis on very strong, minimalist compositions with bold shapes intersecting the picture plane, so I headed straight into this terrain. As before, the first two or three prints that I pull of a given subject matter are not wholly successful, so each print is very much a process of trial and error. This is quite different from my painting process, where I can and do always persist and tweak anything I am not completely happy with.

The imagery for the first two monotypes below came out of walks I did on Nantucket during my first week of the residency, at the Creeks, a lovely marshy area on the harbor near town; and the Moors. The third is an image of Madaket from last summer that I both painted and explored in monotype.

MWinter Creek, 10″x8″, monotype.

 

MMoors, 8″x10″, monotype.

 

MMarsh with House, 8″x10″, monotype.

I also worked on small monotype thumbnails, as well as a linocut map of Nantucket, to incorporate into my Site Map, printing one thumbnail each for the oil paintings that I did for this grouping of Atlas/Island. The map is the new element for me, still very much a work-in-progress, that knits each thematic sequence of paintings, drawings, and prints together, and gives info about the work and the locales. The below is the second prototype–the first was for Atlas/Forms of Water/Snow—and most definitely not the final template. The idea is to map both the subject matter I am working from and the body of work that results.

Site Map with linoprint map and map fragments of Nantucket; monotype thumbnails; tracings; writing and letterpress. The blue areas on the map show parts of the island that will be underwater                                                                 when sea levels rise 3 meters.

 

I am now, at home, hard at work on a third prototype of the site map, trying to integrate the thumbnails, maps, and writing in a more visually lush way. I’ll add it to the post when I am finished.

 To mount a cohesive show of the Nantucket sequence, or any other, of Atlas Project I will want to include some medium-sized and large oil paintings, something I couldn’t do in a short period of time and when all of my supplies and then finished work had to be carried back and forth by foot on the ferry.
I have been fairly obsessive about my work for many years. This very intense two weeks, however, brought my focus to a new high, working morning, noon and night. I broke it up with walks to see the island and my yoga practice…and that was it. I came up with solutions to things I was pondering about the Site Map in the middle of the night—and otherwise slept quite well— and arranged my waking work hours to feel a focused fullness; a kind of (mostly) calm momentum.

In my work I have always seesawed back and forth between the universal and the particular. With a new framework for the work I can continue to do this with individual pieces, while exploring an expanded conversation. Land and and water use has been political since the beginning of our time on earth. As these issues continue to become increasingly critical, I have been catapulted —and also eased, nestled— into creating the Atlas Project, a love-letter to our planet.

 I am grateful to the staff at the AAN, especially Mary Emery, for providing this opportunity and for all of their help. And deepest thanks to my husband Jack, who facilitated it all.

“Gallery:Studio – A Symbiosis” Solo Show with Albert Shahinian Fine Art

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A quiet chat during a lull...

Having a quiet chat during a lull in the reception…

 

 “GALLERY:STUDIO – A SYMBIOSIS” is a retrospective and a culmination, presenting over 60 works drawn from a broad range of Scheele’s recent output – including paintings, pastels, monoprints and mixed-media.  In designing this show, artist and gallery were keen on making more accessible to visitors and collectors the opportunity to acquire a painting (hence the special sale).  As a culmination, the exhibit and sale end a significant period of Scheele’s aesthetic explorations, making time and space available for her focus on, and movement toward, a complex new project.  Finally, important to both parties, this exhibit celebrates a friendship born, but not limited by, their respective callings as artist and art venue.
Light that Glows, 32"x60".

Light that Glows, 32″x60″. $7,500.

 

Soft Greys from Peaked Hill, 10"x60".

Soft Greys from Peaked Hill, 10″x60″, $4,200.

 

Green Waves, 13"x76" overall, oil on linen.

Green Waves, 12″x75″, $8,000. (Sold)

 

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/the-evolution-of-a-new-concept/

 

Rare Summer Silence, 20"x30".

Rare Summer Silence, 20″x30″, $3,200.

 

Cranberry Bog in Reds, 48"x24", 2013.

Cranberry Bog in Reds, 48″x24″, $5,000.

 

Affinity/WinterSunset, 36"x48", $6,500.

Affinity/WinterSunset, 36″x48″, $6,500.

 

"Extravagant Sky", 36"X60".

“Extravagant Sky”, 36″X60″. $8,000.

 

TriptychinReds

Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 24″x24″/ea., $7,500.

 

White Field, 20"x40".

White Field, 20″x40″, $3,600. (Sold)

 

Angle of Repose, 40"x30",

Angle of Repose, 40″x30″, $5,000.

 

Drifting CLouds, 20"x20".

Drifting Clouds, 20″x20″, $2,200.

 

"Affinity/Dusk Road", 30"x30".

“Affinity/Dusk Road”, 30″x30″, $4,000.

 

SunsetonTremont

Sunset with Taillights, 40″x20″, $3,600.

 

SunsetContours

Sunset Contours, 20″X20″, $2,200.

 

dawnharbor

Sunset Harbor, 20″X16″.

 

 

Height of Summer, 36"x48".

Height of Summer, 36″x48″, $6,500.

 

summerfields

                         Summer Fields, 30″x30″, $4,000.

Moving Sky, 30"x36".

Moving Sky, 30″x36″, $4,500.

 

Juncture, 18"x60".

Juncture, 18″x52″, $4,200.

 

 

affinityinmotion

Affinity/In Motion, 48″x12″, $4,000.

 

Sundrenched Field, 20"x24".

Sundrenched Field, 20″x24″. $2,500.

 

 

Skyblues/Seablues, 10"x8".

Skyblues/Seablues, 10″x8″, $800.

 

Winter in Blue/White, 12"x12", oil on linen (at Albert Shahinian Fine Art).

Winter in Blue/White, 12″x12″, $1,300. (Sold)

 

Angular Tidal Flats, oil on paper on 12″x12″ board. (Sold.)

 

Mauve Sky, 6"x12", oil on board, $650.

Mauve Sky, 6″x12″, oil on board, $650. (Sold)

 

Affinity/Duo/Palms, 2 paintings of 16"x8"/ea.

Affinity/Duo/Palms, 2 paintings of 16″x8″/ea, $2,000. (Sold)

 

Glistening Greys, 10"X10", oil on linen.

Glistening Greys, 10″X10″, oil on linen. (Sold.)

 

Gold Bush, 10"x10". oil on board, $700.

Gold Bush, 10″x10″. oil on board, $700.

 

2 Suns, 10"x10", oil on board, $700.

2 Suns, 10″x10″, oil on board, $700. (Sold.)

 

"Study/Sunset Sea", 5"x5", oil on primed paper.

“Study/Sunset Sea”, 5″x5″, oil on primed paper, $550.

 

Study/Skyline, oil on paper, 5"x5", $550.

Study/Skyline, oil on paper, 7″x7″, $700.

 

"Factory at Work", 7>5"x3.5" (courtesy Julie Heller Gallery).

“Factory at Work”, 7.5″x3.5″, $600.

 

Affinity/Boatyard, 10"x10", 2014, oil on linen with frayed edges on board overlaid with graphite lines.

Affinity/Boatyard, 10″x10″, 2014, oil on linen with frayed edges on board overlaid with graphite lines, $900. (Sold)

 

"Hilltop Contour", oil on a vintage child's slate. (Courtesy JHG)

“Hilltop Contour”, oil on a vintage child’s slate, $750.

 

Additional works at the gallery:

 

Gleaming Bridge, 20"x40", $3,600.

Gleaming Bridge, 20″x40″, $3,600.

 

 

Summer Sky over Divided Fields, 20"x24".

Summer Sky over Divided Fields, 20″x24″, $2,500 (sold).

 

Black Treeline, 36"x48", $6,500

Black Treeline, 36″x48″, $6,500

 

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

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

 

Mists from Palmer Hill, 12"X36", 2014.

Mists from Palmer Hill, 12″X36″, $2,800.

 

Dawn Headlights, 12"X36".

Dawn Headlights, 12″X36″, $2,800.

 

RefractedGolds, 20"x40", $3,600.

RefractedGolds, 20″x40″, $3,600.

 

Favorite Field/Soft Greens, 3 panels of 12"X12"/ea., $3,200. (CRG)

Favorite Field/Soft Greens, 3 panels of 12″X12″/ea., $3,200.

 

"Intervening Space", 20"X20".

“Intervening Space”, 20″X20″, $2,200 (sold).

 

Stormy Sea, 12"X12".

Stormy Sea, 12″X12″, $1,300.

 

Evening Shoreline, 12"X12", $1,300. (ASFA)

Evening Shoreline, 12″X12″, $1,300.

 

Study/Mountain Contours, oil on paper

Study/Mountain Contours, oil on primed paper, 4″x14″, $800.

 

Affinity/Bridge at Sunset, 12"x24".

Affinity/Bridge at Sunset, 12″x24″, $2,000.

 

Green Waves, oil on paper,

Green Waves, oil on paper, $1,600.

 

 

 

"Conviction of Beauty", 12"x

“Conviction of Beauty”, 12″x42″.

 

Red Sky with Gleam, 5"x12", $800.

Red Sky with Gleam, pastel on paper, 5″x12″, $800.

 

River Sunset, 9.5"x19".

River Sunset, pastel on paper, 11.5″x19″, $1,600.

 

Mountain Fields, pastel on paper, 20"X24", $2,500.

Mountain Fields, pastel on paper, 20″X24″, $2,500.

 

White Trail, 40"x30", $5,000.

White Trail, 40″x30″, $5,000. (Sold)

 


As 2016 Rolls into 2017…

 This is a time when we celebrate the start of a fresh new year, looking outward at loved ones and community for warmth, stimulation, and support. It is likewise a time of introspection, as we examine the  creative and life-of-the-mind pursuits, often solitary, that give the deepest meaning to our lives. 
 
Looking back at my art-related projects of 2016, a recent one was my blog post “Paintings of Infinite Worth”, in which I discuss four beloved paintings from last century.  Analyzing artwork is always stimulating and fun for me, and if I love the work, deeply felt. I feel lucky that I get to practice this skill while teaching; looking at artists’ work in mentoring meetings; in public talks —such as I did at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum in September—and here on my blog.
It has been quite some time since I have done this with one of my own pieces, so I have selected “Calm Crossing”, painted last spring for my Martha’s Vineyard gallery, to deconstruct.
calmcrossing

Calm Crossing, 32″x68″, oil on linen (at Louisa Gould Gallery, Vineyard Haven, MA).

 I wanted this piece to convey the feeling of openness and welcome that the view of Martha’s Vineyard and the Sound have from the deck of the ferry, making it a more specific narrative than many of my paintings. I actually started with the cloud and color, testing as I went along—how turquoise and bright can I make this while still retaining the feel of the north Atlantic? Going quite literal and descriptive for a moment, the flatter the water the more it reflects the sky. So, how flat can the Sound between Cape Cod and MV actually be?
I have seen it pretty calm (the occasions when Jack always says, “See, our little boat would be fine to do this crossing on a day like today!”), so ultimately I felt free to just follow my own nose in regard to color and reflection.
Considering the relationship of the shapes, bits of the cloud come off the bottom center, angling towards the island, itself a low wedge shape. To the right, another wisp sits over the break in the land shape, but not so low as to feel that it is pressing down. As that cloud moves off to the right, below it a reflection of almost the same color moves diagonally left and down, so that the two shapes create a sideways V of surface tension that opens toward the center of the painting.
This kind of play in a scene that is otherwise a banded horizontal composition is what holds the surface together and keeps the eye happily circulating. Likewise, all of the subtle variations along the edge of the cloudbank, softer at the top,  invite the viewer to linger.
The context of the formal part of this discussion is that, with minimalism, there are few of the distractions that busy details create, so everything that is there must hold up to intense scrutiny. This also, then, connects to my analysis of the Rothko and the Frankenthaler in the Paintings of Infinite Worth post.
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In late summer and early autumn I spent some time simplifying, rearranging, and painting my studio. Since I started out by getting rid of two large pieces of furniture that stored multiple things, I was spurred to action by the resulting piles of stuff. Sifting through old files—show postcards; letters; consignment sheets from galleries long gone; grant applications—I found myself in an unexpectedly intense emotional state.
I am still trying to put my finger on this stew of emotion. It did not include nostalgia, interestingly, or even pride, but did produce a sense of…wonder? The files were evidence of the accretion created by so very much effort over many years, including a good number of things that I had forgotten about or forgotten the details of.
That such a number of seemingly random tidbits added up to something quite substantial —my life’s work—made me feel as if I am sitting atop this huge pile of career events; relationships; and hard work, and that all of that is now supporting me. It also strikes me now how this would be true of so many people of a certain age, especially those working in arenas where both work and success are largely self-generated. Further, as an avid reader of literary fiction, I can see that this is the stuff that novelists work with—details that end up coalescing into life narrative.
The most moving piece of paper that I found was a letter from my old friend Joan D’Arcy, a gifted arts writer who passed away some years ago. This letter was written shortly after her husband died, at which time I had given her a small painting.
Interestingly, in a  twist to this story, a few years later Joan told me how much her husband had loved this piece, her memory apparently having been reshaped by a conflation of events on the timeline. I never corrected her.
letterfromjoan
“…shames the obvious.” Such a gorgeous turn of phrase.
Sorting through my studio, I also took a good look at the few that are left of these pastel-on-primed-paper pieces from 1992, done during a period when the serene feel was not working for me. I remember vividly doing these, our small twins (finally!!!) asleep in the late evening.
Jagged Peaks, 20"x24".

Jagged Peaks, 10″x24″.

 

Brown Shoreline, 24"x20".

Brown Shoreline, 24″x20″.

 

Birdseye Shoreline,

Birdseye Shoreline, 10″x24″.

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Last summer I did, on a very hot July day, a demo at the Woodstock School of Art. It is hard to complete a sentence while working on a painting to start with—so much focus is on the progress of the piece—and on top of that the editing of a short video tends to break things up. Nonetheless, I am pleased with the result and hope that you enjoy watching.
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A new exploration for me this past fall has been working with monotype, a printmaking process wherein you work directly on a plate to create one-of-a-kind images. An experienced painter can often move fairly quickly along the learning curve with monotypes, so I have had great pleasure in the process and am happy with many of my results.
M/Dark Road, monotype and pastel.

Dark Road,  monotype and pastel, 10″x8″.

 

Monotype, Wave #3, 8"x10".

Monotype, Wave #3, 8″x10″.

 

Monotype, Fall Marsh, 8"x10".

Monotype, Fall Marsh, 8″x10″.

Additional images can be viewed at:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/available-workstudioworks-on-paper/

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 The development of the actual paintings always (naturally!) comes first on my list of what I love to do most. These pieces are among my own top picks from 2016, often because I remember certain challenges in the process of creation that led to a satisfying result.
Layers of Meaning, 30"x24", oil on linen.

Layers of Meaning, 30″x24″, oil on linen.

 

Glistening Greys, 10"X10", oil on linen.

Glistening Greys, 10″X10″, oil on linen.

 

"Lingering", 10"x10".

“Lingering”, 10″x10″, oil on linen (sold by Julie Heller Gallery).

 

Winter in Blue/White, 12"x12", oil on linen (at Albert Shahinian Fine Art).

Winter in Blue/White, 12″x12″, oil on linen (at Albert Shahinian Fine Art).

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I am very pleased to have new representation at Gallery 901 in Santa Fe, NM. Please check out the gallery if you are in town:

http://www.gallery901.org/christie-scheele/

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A number of my pieces have been gifted from one spouse to the other for the holidays. In the case of Trove/Atmospherics,  the story leading up to the surprise gift from a dear friend to her wife has twists and turns that have gone on for years (even though the piece dates only to winter of 2015):
Trove:Atmospherics, 35 panels of 3"x5"/ea., 30"x48" overall.

Trove:Atmospherics, 35 panels of 3″x5″/ea., 30″x48″ overall.

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I have just added some newly returned work to my data-base, and taken off the aforementioned holiday gifts. If you are looking for a large painting, this is a rare moment to peruse the many choices:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/available-workstudio/

Since I sold the piece in October that was on my large living room wall, I have had the pleasure of replacing it, temporarily at least, with this favorite that I recently had returned to me:

 

"Rolling Cloud", 44"x68".

“Rolling Cloud”, 44″x68″.

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Looking ahead, my thoughts are on the project I am developing for my residency in Nantucket in Feb.-March. This will involve an expanded and more experiential exploration of place, using drawing, printmaking, painting, writing…and who knows what else? Memory will be a theme.

Also coming up this winter, a special show/sale starting in early February at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY. More on this in a few weeks.

Finally, for those of you who do the drive from Kingston, NY up Route #28 to your home or weekend place, or if you just want to listen to a very well-produced culture/history/arts audio tour of the Catskills, check  out this piece by neighbor and friend Brett Barry of Silver Hollow Audio (who Catskills/HV/Berkshires folks will know from the segments that he does on WAMC). My bit is about half-way into it, but with Brett’s interview prompts that created the individual discussions followed by skillful editing, the whole piece is beautifully interwoven and well worth listening to.

http://drive28.com/

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I am wishing us,  individually and collectively, a year of truth-seeking and compassion; of finding community; and exploring our deepest joys.


Paintings of Infinite Worth

In the postscript to Umberto Eco’s dense and philosophical historical novel, The Name of the Rose, he observes: “…I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed.”

Such interesting language, and of course relevant to all art forms. I have often mused on the first part of this observation, knowing that the art that moves me the most and that I am intent upon creating invites interpretation and projection on the part of the viewer. But the second part is so delicious—“without ever being completely consumed.”

So which pieces from my formative years, my “comfort” art, can I point to that continue to nourish with new information, new sensation, never being finished?

The four paintings below send me into an almost conditioned swoon. So, pulling myself out of my art-induced trance, I will take a close, fresh look at them.

rothkountitled-1969

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1969.

Rothko said, “If you are only moved by color relationships, then you miss the point. I’m interested in expressing the big emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom.”

I enter into a Rothko like looking at the ocean. This phase can last for quite some time. Eventually, as the eye wanders toward the edges, my consciousness is popped back out again and onto the surface of the painting, the blues anchoring me to the here-and-now. The gorgeous uneven edges of the main shapes going into the brighter blue…they make me feel stirred up and moored at the same time, as does the color. On the whole, I would say, deeper than tragedy, ecstasy, or doom… way down deep, sub-verbal.

 

frankenthalermauvedistrict1966

Helen Frankenthaler, Mauve District, 1966.

“I have always been concerned with painting that simultaneously insists on a flat surface and then denies it,” Frankenthaler has said. The flat surface at work here is quite evident—and beautifully so. The mauve shape has the illusion of sheen that brings silk to mind. The most complex shape in the piece is without paint at all, bringing the eye firmly to the surface of the raw canvas. The small dark shape in the upper left looks like a piece of tape or paper placed on top, emphasizing flatness.

What is denying the flat in this piece? I see a subtle vibration in the mauve field that is full of movement, as if rippling in the wind, inviting the viewer to float into it.

What delights my eye the most is the interaction of shapes.  The edges are softly stained and jagged with lovely variation. Each shape is a statement in its own right, but all are nudging the eye toward the unpainted angular form as it moves across the canvas. The dark corner at the top left presses the eye down and into that shape. The spot on the lower right where it almost but not quite goes off the canvas also leads the eye back into the piece, and both of these elements create a needed tautness to the otherwise open surface.

It is nowhere clearer than in minimalist non-geometric abstraction how much a play of edge and composition can directly reach  the viewer’s heart. Without the descriptive content of a representational image, it is much easier to see how these shapes interact. There are good (dynamic, interesting, disconcerting, playful, assertive, and/or pensive) shapes and not-so-good (boring, overly regular, static, needlessly complex, and/or repetitive) shapes. Even more importantly, their interaction and directionality define the feel of the painting.

 

Matisse, The Red Studio, 1911.

Matisse, The Red Studio, 1911.

“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft. “

Clearly, I love color-field painting. This iconic Matisse painting was already there back in 1911. It does as beautifully as any painting I’ve ever seen what a non-realist representational painting should do: both describe the space and flatten to the front of the picture plane. This is much like Frankenthaler’s observation above, made more complex by the descriptive aspect of the subject matter.

I have always delighted in the way that the white lines, created from negative space underneath the red, are the drawing element. (The grandfather clock is brilliant!) I am now noticing for the first time that it is the perspective, I think quite accurate, that really describes the room for us.

Whites and pinks punctuating the space and a handful of curved shapes keep the eye circulating and create clusters of compositional interest.

All of this is embedded in one, flat plane of red; a red so rich you can almost breathe it in.

 

schieleself-portraitwithchineselanternplant1912

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant, 1912.

“Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.”

Shapes,  stunning shapes. This painting has a complex composition that still leaves the piece feeling open, mostly due to the reduced palette. The whites and almost whites along with the Chinese Lantern snaking up behind create the most startlingly interesting element of the piece, to my eye—the small white shape sitting on top of the shoulder of the figure.

There is narrative here both in the painterly treatment of the figure and in its placement and expression. Schiele depicts himself with his signature angular shapes and dramatic cropping. The harsh texture on the face projects a view of self while the subtler texture of the black shirt brings movement to the largest single shape in the painting.  One is pretty and the other is not.

The head is cocked and the gaze quizzical but challenging.

Knowing that Schiele died at the age 28 of the flu, and viewing this piece from my current age and perspective, I can’t help but feel that along with its pictoral brilliance, the painting projects a young man’s working-it-out doubts and hubris, all very raw.

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 Some of these emotions I remember feeling at 17 or 25, and other observations are fresh. Looking at these pieces today, I find the sensations that they provoke, familiar or new, more exciting and moving than ever.

So it is a conversation that never ends.


Available Work/Studio/Works on Paper

These are works on paper, many of them unframed, currently in my studio. Often works on paper are an option that is more affordable than oil paintings. Several of my galleries and consultants also have a selection of framed or unframed pastels, most notably Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY; JSO ART Associates in Westport CT, and Megan Peter Fine Art in Redbank, NJ.

Pastels:

 

Harbor with Soft Light, 13″x20″.

 

SeptDawn

September Dawn, 10″x28″, framed.

 

Turquoise Sky/White Cloud, 20"x20".

Turquoise Sky/White Cloud, 20″x20″.

 

Gleam on Turquoise Sky,

Gleam on Turquoise Sky, 6.5″x30″ overall.

 

Saltmarsh in Greens, 10"X20"

Saltmarsh in Greens, 10″X16″.

 

reachingcloud

Reaching Cloud, 5″x18″.

 

Summer Farm Fields,

Summer Farm Fields, 6″x12″.

 

Hillside in Oranges,

Hillside in Oranges, 6.5″x16″.

 

gleamongreysea

Gleam over Grey Sea, 14″x14″.

 

Shore with Greens,

Shore with Greens, 11″x18″.

 

Soft Greens,

Soft Greens, 5″x14″.

 

Triptych in Red/Black, 3 panels of

Triptych in Red/Black, 3 panels of 7″x13″.

 

redsandbar

Red Sandbar, 19″x26″.

 

 

Rusty Crane,

Rusty Crane, 15″x21″.

 

River Lighthouse,

River Lighthouse, 15″x21″.

 

Haybales, 8"x24".

Haybales, 8″x24″.

 

Red Sun, 12"X18", $1,400 (uf).

Red Sun, 11″X18″.

 

“Gleam over Tuckernuck”,  7″x11″.

 

MOuntain Fall

M0untain Fall, 6″x16″.

 

Mountain Trio, 6.5x13.5.

Mountain Trio, 6.5×13.5.

 

 

Bright Fields, 22"x30".

Bright Fields, 22″x30″.

 

Moody Mountain Sky, 12"X13", $1,200 (uf).

Moody Mountain Sky, 12″X13″.

 

 

Warm Light, 9"X20", $1,200 (uf).

Warm Light, 9″X20″.

 

Mists over Fields, 5"x8.5".

Mists over Fields, 5″x8.5″.

 

 

Green Hills, 15"X18".

Green Hills, 15″X18″.

 

Oil on paper:

Green Waves, 5"x28.5".

Green Waves, 5″x28.5″. (See the post below for a description of the genesis of this piece and the larger version in oil.)

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/the-evolution-of-a-new-concept/

 

 

Lavender Mists, oil on paper on board.

Lavender Mists, oil on paper on board, 8.5’x40″.

 

To see the blog post on my smallest oil-on-paper pieces showing currently available works along with a discussion of their genesis, click on the link below:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/small-studies-in-oil-on-primed-paper/

 

Mixed Media/Collage (Of paper and other things, on board):

 

AtlasHVCollage

Atlas/Hudson River Collage, 18″x14″.

 

Cloud, 6"x6".

Cloud, 6″x6″.

 

Wetlands, 6"x6".

Wetlands, 6″x6″.

 

mmcity

City, 6″x6″.

 

mmpath

Path, 6″x6″.

 

mmtree

Trees, 6″x6″.

 

Mixed Media/Collage/Toolbox, 4 panels of 5"x5"/ea.

Mixed Media/Collage/Toolbox, 4 panels of 5″x5″/ea.

 

Waterways, 6"x4".

Waterways, 6″x4″.

 

Waterways/Arial, 5"x5".

Waterways/Arial, 5″x5″.

 

Mixed Media/Vintage Box, 4 panels of 3.5"x2.5".

Mixed Media/Vintage Box, 4 panels of 3.5″x2.5″.

 

Monotypes (these are all 8″x10″ or 10″x8″):

Five prints

 

MWinter Creek, 10″x8″.

 

MCreeks#2

 

MCreeks#3

 

M/Dark Road, monotype and pastel.

M/Dark Road, monotype and pastel.

 

M/Mountain Travel.

M/Mountain Travel.

 

M/Dawn Road.                                                       M/Dawn Road, monotype with touch of pastel.

 

MMoors #2, 8″x10″, monotype.

 

MMoors, monotype.

 

 

M/Waterspouts with Walking Rain.

M/Waterspouts with Walking Rain.

 

M/Mountain Stream.

M/Mountain Stream.

 

MMarsh with House

 

MGreen Marsh

 

Inlet

M/Inlet

 

M/Wave1

M/Wave1

 

 

mwave3

MWave 3

 

mwave5

MWave 5

 

 

MWhite Field #2, monotype and pastel.

 

mfallmarsh1

MFallMarsh1

 

mfallmarsh2

MFallMarsh2

 

mfallmarsh3

MFallMarsh3

 

 

MFallField#1

MFallHillside#1

 

MFallHillside#2

MFallHillside#2

 

 

 


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.