Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “atmospheric landscapes

Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus, May 12.

May 9: I  had thought to leave off posting until I complete my 6’x8′ commission and finish the blog description of the process, but find that I miss the diary.

Snow last night and today, actually quite dark and blizzardy at intervals this afternoon, alternating with sun flurries. It seems almost cruel that our spring is so delayed, when we crave the comfort of warm sunshine and a softer outdoor experience. For me, key to that is our screened-in back porch, my warm-season living room. A day in which I can have my siding door open to the porch and take my meals and do my online work out there is a good day .

But, while cringing on behalf of my snowy flowers and leafed-out plantings today, it popped into my mind that this weather might have its uses in slowing the spread of the virus. Warm days have brought with them prematurely reckless behavior. So maybe this prolonged chill will allow the curve to turn from its current level to downward, and save a few lives.

The news is not good at all and makes me despair about human idiocy, American and otherwise. So I unashamedly grasp at straws.

May 10th:

On this Mother’s Day, the first without our mom, I am fortunate to be doing the things that I have always chosen on this spring day in which I feel free to pamper myself. Sometimes the weather has been 45 and rainy and put a damper on my busy-in-the-yard plans, and yesterday’s snow would have been the kicker…but today we have partly sunny and in the 5os.

Ordinarily, I would have gone to Oneonta with my sister Carla yesterday, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, to have lunch and a nursery visit for hanging pots and annuals with our mom. I always brought flowers from my yard on every visit from April through October.

 

Mother’s Day bouquet from 2019, in the front seat of my car.

 

And later in the season, another.

When we finally scatter her ashes in multiple places, I hope it is during the growing season so that I can include some flowers.

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The crumbling world around us cries out for help…socorro, socorro! I can only think in small, manageable bits about it, or it threatens hopelessness that sabotages action. So, to begin somewhere, I created a fundraiser last week in collaboration with Albert Shahinian Fine Art. I  offered to give a small collage from the eleven left at the gallery after an environmental fundraiser last fall to anyone who sent me a receipt for a donation of at least $40 to a food bank of their choosing. They all were spoken for very quickly and we raised about $500. Albert sent them all out a few days ago from the gallery.

Just a start. I’ll be thinking of more, and ASFA is on board for more collaborating. I do like to use my art to raise money because it is my ready resource that folks value. These little pieces went mostly to prior collectors and a few to a student or mentee not in a position to buy a market-priced piece. I used only social media so for the next thing could readily access my best outreach resource, which is my mailing list.

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I am also involved in a fundraiser for the Island Food Bank on Martha’s Vineyard through my gallery there, the Louisa Gould Gallery. Her shows this spring and summer are an opt-in for gallery artists to join her in donating 10% of sales for food security, with every dollar raised going for $7 worth of food.

We just made a nice sale of these two pieces, accomplished through shipping, as the gallery has not yet reopened.

 

Chillmark View, 40″x40″, 2019.

 

Summer Inlet, 48″x24″, 2019.

Here is a link to the current online show of new work at the gallery:

https://www.louisagould.com/exhibitions/2241/1/BENEFIT_Art_Show_for_Food_Pantry.html

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My big studio project continues to be the 6’x8′ commissioned version of this 30″x40″. I am creating an in-depth description of the process for an upcoming blog post.

 

Largest “study” I have ever done—and in fact, a fully realized smaller version of the large piece.

 

Stay healthy, y’all, and let’s keep each other safe!

 

 

 


Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus, April 17.

April 12: Today is our Dad’s birthday. We had a sweet Zoom party with family, just missing Tessa among the grandkids. Tony is not in this screen shot, but he hung out for the latter half.

 

 

Then Tessa texted a few hours later that she is out of the woods and at Zac’s house. We should get some more detail tomorrow about her plans.

 

I am creating a zoom painting workshop for a few students who are, of course, stuck at home. Like so many others, they thought that there would be so much lovely down time, but the experience may instead present itself as a big void, punctuated only by anxiety-producing details. (Like, for one student, that she is self-quarantined in a small nyc apartment and her immediate neighbors have the virus, with at least one of them being taken to hospital. So this would make her fearful of her own hallway.)

I am looking forward to the challenge of connecting within the technology, which in this case will be much more intricate than with my hour-long yoga classes. But I’m aware that it doesn’t matter how much we have to muddle through. While I am always conscious the of the information I want to share with my students in any workshop that I teach, I think that just now, being together will be the best thing about it.

April 14: Talk is all about how we will come out of this confinement. It is clear that is will be tentative, messy, little-by little, and still involve infections and death. This virus is so very intricate in all of its details. This was clear from my early reading about Wuhan as they were fumbling about trying to get the first handle on it.

It seems that it can spray way beyond 6 or even 10 feet just through conversation. It appears possible that the incubation period is, on outside, more than 14 days. They worry that a vaccine will not be useful due to mutations, so a treatment is vital. They know that infected folks can be contagious while symptom-free or pre-symptomatic, and that tests often are false negative (not that we are doing nearly enough testing).

So, it seems that we cannot open back up again, or even maybe live in the next several years, with any assurance that the virus is gone. Maybe it is now a part of life on earth, going forward?

 

In studio, so busy! This is the edition of my first three color reduction linocut, though they are all inked differently and so technically not an edition.

 

I planned this print for my Atlas/Watershed site map, in progress. It shows the streams’ normal flow, along with flood zones areas and the extreme breach cause by Hurricane Irene in Phoenicia. Shown are the Esopus; north of it the  Stonyclove: Oxclove (which runs through our back yard) and Warner creeks.

I am thinking of one of these for the map, mostly as a color choice:

Still working on the oil-on-board pieces. What makes me happy? How I tweaked the line of the swash multiple times to create that subtle lift and almost vanishing to the right. Just that one thing, the last that I did, took me from liking to loving.

 

“Carrying On”, 6″x12″, oil on board.

 

Diagonal Shoreline, 4″x12″, $650.

It looks like Tessa will stay in Minnesota for the time being. Reentry into her VT community would include her roommate, who works with (essential businesses) farming and food security, self-isolating, and she could not see friends nor work (like all of the rest of us!). So she is better off in Minnesota with Zac and the 5 others with whom she has been in the woods maple sugaring for the past few months.

April 16th:

Trump is becoming more and more unhinged. I am amazed that it is even possible. He does love conflict, and has reverted—after a short spell of acting almost presidential a little bit of the time, due to national outrage at his irresponsibility over the Covid-19 suffering—to fomenting fights among our states and backing demonstrators against stay-at-home restrictions.

He is severely mentally ill and cannot sustain even the appearance of normalcy for more than a few hours. It makes those of us who are rational scared to death for the future of us all.

 

I did some color-mixing and related painting conversation via Zoom today with a few students with whom I am friendly. We worked out some bugs and they were happy to take steps forward in their painting practice, as they shelter in place.

This is a spiffed-up version of our chart for mixing blues, using just three colors and black and white:

 

 

April 17th:

I did a few last tweaks on the new Path painting this morning:

 

“Path over the Headlands”, 48″x40″, available through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

 

I’ll be starting a blog post that will document the process of creating a very large commissioned piece, 6’x8′. This is a multi-step process even for a smaller piece and in normal times, and is involving even more logistics due to the size and the constrictions that we are living with. I’ll  publish the post once the final piece is completed, some time in June.

 


Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus, March 27-29.

Sunday, March 29:

My twins birthday today!

Tessa called last night from a remote, safe house in Wisconsin. The group of eight came out of the woods and started reading the news, and now they really understand what is going on. They will stay together and not have contact with others, then go back in today and finish maple sugaring in the next few weeks. She is thinking that she might just stay with those who live in the house for the duration. She was very happy to hear about the federal $1,200, since her season to work is April-October, and that work is in VT and probably does not exist right now.

Early spring in the Catskills, my (forced) forsythia catching some golden light.

 

 

This is the first finished painting on board, 6″x12″. This version is on a deep board that can sit on a shelve or table, as requested by Jupiter Gallery.

 

 

 

One of my big frustrations in the past few days, besides of course dangerous mixed messages from Potus, is this wishful-thinking theme of “oh, I had it, I am sure that I did, and the whole neighborhood, as well.” In some cases, in December, even November…yeah, uhum. The sad sorry thing is…you think it went through your community like a gentle flu, with no deaths or hospitalizations? You are so blessed that of all communities worldwide, mind you (because there is no record of this happening, anywhere globally), that now your community is safe, done?

Many but not all of those indulging in this dangerous narrative are followers of Trump’s continued undermining of the measures needed for containment. But at least yesterday Fauci and Birx managed to convince him that easing stay-at-home restrictions by Easter — dear god —  would cost us thousands of lives and the guidelines were extended through April.

I’ll be zoom teaching my first online yoga class on Wednesday. It’s got its limitations, the modality, but it’s what we’ve got for now. After teaching the Zen Mountain Monastery classes with just a mat and a block per student and wrapping up in about 50 minutes, I am confident that I can safely adapt my classes.

This will be a gentle, basics 1-hour class, appropriate for beginners and those who have not practiced for a spell. Here is the link to the Catskills Yoga House website with instructions on how to sign up:

http://www.catskillsyoga.com/schedule


Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus, March 26, 2020

Tuesday-Thursday, March 24-26:

In the past few days we have seen the news become worse and worse, with the NYC metro area suffering huge numbers of infected and new infections mounting exponentially. The issue of New Yorkers fanning across the country to flee—or just wait out— the problem is finally much in the news, with some states requiring quarantine.

This has been on my mind here in the Catskills, where every second or third home is a weekend place and many others are AirBnB investment properties, currently rented. I would do the same if I lived in nyc and had a place up here, but I would have come up weeks ago and then stayed, like my sister and brother-in-law did. It’s the recent arrivals that pose a risk to us all.

However, we are all supposed to be behaving as if we and every other person has it. I would say that, for those coming from the global epicenter, this should extend to face masks while shopping. And, since recently trailhead parking lots in the Skills are full when the weather is nice, remembering to keep your six feet from other hikers—it’s easy to forget while out in the fresh air. Gloves and speed at the post office, as many of us in this rural area have to pick up our mail.

On the whole, it seems that folks are good and buttoned up in their homes, as they should be, wherever they come from. Since we have a lovely series of hiking trails just up my dead-end road, our road is always the choice for neighborhood dog walkers and hikers, and it is so nice to stop for chats, as in the past, but with more distance between us. I haven’t seen many of the new arrivals in this mix, but we are all good as long as we maintain our six feet.

Cases are mounting in Ulster County, though we have had only one in Shandaken for quite a while now (maybe a week, in our new telescoped time). Otsego County, where my Dad lives in Oneonta, went from zero to five in the past few days. My dear friend Di (known locally as “Dr. Di” and also my Dad and his partner’s yoga teacher) is now City Health Officer for preparedness for Covid-19. When we chatted the other night she described their local efforts, but there had yet to be a known case in the county. I am sure that they are now on higher alert to avoid community spread.

In other Covid-19 news, the NY Times published an article yesterday by a woman in NYC whose husband has a pretty bad case—just teetering on hospitalization—and how she and her 16-year-old daughter are coping with nursing him and trying not to get it themselves. It is clear that at his level of misery, there is no way he could take even the most basic care of himself.

This brought it home in a very concrete way, since with this illness all previous protocols are out the window. Family is not supposed to step in, no one is supposed to get near—the only help can come from folks dropping off needed supplies, whether medical or food. Each household, no matter how small, is on it’s own, with a bit of doctor’s advice and the worst case solution of being hospitalized.

I am glad that we have worked so hard within our household to stay safe, though we could still, of course, be unlucky.

Daughter Tessa called yesterday, just a check in before she goes back into the Minnesota woods to continue maple sugaring until her original target date of April 13 or 14th. It was so great to hear her voice.

I had left her a voicemail with a little bit of info on what’s going on in this country, and she seemed unable to let go of the idea that Jack and I are reacting with outsized anxiety. It is such an unprecedented situation that if you are not living it, of course it would seem like that…

She is now with only six others of the original crew, all having ben there for over a month, safe and happily out of contact with the world. How she will get back here to pick up her car, and then onto her Vermont home has yet to be determined. I am dead set against using her plane ticket to Newark.

In the studio I finished the sand flats painting, Soft Glow over Tidal Flats, 30″x60″:

 

 

I wonder when I will see the sea again? Almost surely not the first of May, as originally planned, for my seasonal drop-off at Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard.

Work is also progressing on the watershed Site Map; here, a detail of the most developed sections:

 

 

I have started painting the planned small oil-on-board pieces.

 

 

I am so focused on these projects that the studio constantly calls to me…I would happily spend even more time there every day, but there are both necessary and lovely other things to do—yoga, hike, cook, yard work, read, paperwork and phone calls (Jack’s job is shut down for the duration and mine—who knows?—so we are applying for all of the things), and all of the email and phone connecting with friends and family.


Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus #3

Excerpts from my blog diary from March 16-18.

Monday March 16th:

We made the trip to a parking lot in Newburgh to hand off this painting to Janet Schwarz, JSO Art Associates.

It is impossible to know if the two interested parties are really going to follow through with a viewing, mostly because of the stock market and fears of a long recession. But at least she has it and that bit of business is taken care of. Also, a large painting leaving the studio feels safer for all of the rest. (No, this is not social distancing, just the moving-things-around risks!)

On our way back we had planned a “last” shop at Hannaford in West Hurley not so much because we need anything for ourselves but because Tony is coming back tonight from college and to shop for my MiL, who has not yet focused on stocking up.

Hannaford was brutal. There was one parking space left in the lot when we rolled in at about 2pm, and the place was mobbed, a number of shelves bare. They had just restocked, but the cashier—who was whipping the items through, knowing that everyone wanted to get the hell out of there—said that the parking lot was almost full when they all arrived before 6am. Some folks were wearing masks.

Everyone was polite, though. So far, still Woodstock.

Back in the car, I observed to Jack, what would it be like if this were a really deadly plague, like Ebola? He came back with the opinion that armed folks, gun nuts,  like someone we know from the old Marvel days, would have their machine guns at the ready in the toilet paper isle.

We are still good for a laugh.

Niece has been self-quarantining in the the Berkley area since a colleague in her Phd program tested positive a few days ago. Her boyfriend had been visiting during his spring break from Duke, so he was also in the net, and today has a fever. She has three housemates..also caught. She is trying to figure out how to get him tested. (There is so much wrong with that sentence.)

A few hours later we heard that the Bay Area is under a new “shelter in place” order.

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Tuesday March 17th:

No test for my neice’s boyfriend. Bad sign. Now all five of them are just going to have to wait it out, and will it ever be known if they have it? It does not bode well, this continued lack of testing, since we have no idea of the scope of the epidemic without.

Numbers are ratcheting up day by day, and known cases getting closer. Saugerties has one now, and there are more in Kingston and Rhinebeck. Westchester declared a state of emergency. They declared a 8pm curfew in NYS for all restaurants, which can now only offer take-out.

Sara, who owns the yoga studio where I practice and teach, wants me to zoom a basics class a week, and I will start to think about that in a few days. She also proposed having me and/or the other teacher at CTH be her student in the studio while she zooms her classes. I love that idea, but  realized that if I stayed away from the studio last weekend to avoid students and she taught, I should probably stay away from her for another few weeks. Otherwise, what was the point of that?

But, we could stay far apart, so I am tempted.

Sigh.

Note: Sara is a lovely teacher and is zooming her classes with online sign-up. You can check it out at:

http://www.catskillsyoga.com/

Some nice painting studio time today, getting a layer in on on the sand flats piece. I got a late start because Tony got in and stayed up late and I found myself sleepless at about 5am.

We are setting up a small studio for him for silverpoint, cutting lino, and his remote classes in Tessa’s room, adjoining his own, and he can use my studio for messier work, like painting.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2pm: I am thinking this morning, and last night while falling asleep, about what other studio endeavors I might want to begin just now. I am working on the grouping for Louisa Gould Gallry on MV and will be for a bit, to be ready with new work whenever the time is right. Also, a few more paintings for my online show with Butters Gallery, scheduled for mid-May. I also promised Judi at Gallery Jupiter that I would do some oil-on-board 8″x8″s or her (for whenever, no hurry!) that have the depth to stand on a table or shelf, like the 6″x6″s that she has; but for these the images goes all of the way out to the edge. Here are an examples of each version.

 

 

Below are five of these 6″x6″s from my end-of-residency show at the Artists Association of Nantucket in November of 2018, sitting below three hand-colored linocut maps of the island.

 

 

This is the new version, 4″x12″, on the shallower board meant for hanging.

 

 

 

My students and other artists and a number of collectors have loved the top version, with dark float, but several galleries are reporting that it makes the image even smaller—for the price point—and so I am experimenting with the second version, which also involves adjusting the color of the gesso on the sides to fit the image. So far, I like it.

It’a an instance of how innovation can happen based on market considerations, if taken as a creative challenge. If you are flexible and can get excited about the idea, this can work—if you are resentful of the suggestion, it’s unlikely that any good will come of it.

Here are some other ideas.

Ongoing or occasional pursuits:

~Dye more rice and mulberry paper for collaging.

~Circle back to printmaking, maybe joining Tony with a 3-color (hand) printing of a lino.

New projects:

~Figure out how to make collages with failed monotypes, probably using my dyed rice papers along with. Looking at them today, I realized that some would be appropriate to use as the basis for a pastel, since the print papers are the same as what I have for years used for pasteling.  I have found that trying to tweak a print with pastel doesn’t work well, since the paper really needs to have a density of pastel applied to be able to move it around, and this means pastel over the whole thing.

~Maps using walnut ink, mixed media, some found/vintage objects, using more natural materials.

~Other in-studio printmaking projects, maybe finding new ways to use maps.

~Work on watershed Site Map.

The watershed Site Map has been confusing me because I am thinking about either this Atlas theme or a Cape Cod (or Cape and Islands) version for next, and these environmentally themed projects are an enormous amount of work.

That’s what indecision does—stalls the brain, and stalls progress. I got a nice start on prepping the Watershed map on its 48″x36″ board last year, but got side-tracked with various painting projects, from my November show at Jupiter Gallery in NJ to the commissions this past winter, and more.

I have just talked myself through the dilemma (decision fatigue making even the low-pressure ones stressful), hooray. It makes sense to carry forward with the one that I have started. When the studio gets crowded I spend too much time moving things around.

This is the Site Map for Atlas/Forms of Water, finished last summer and the guide to the show I had of that name at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck. The new one will have a similar format. For more about this show see my blog post:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/atlas-forms-of-water-2019/

 

Site Map/Forms of Water, Mixed Media/Collage/Printmaking, 48″x36″.

Studio today:

 

 

First painting of the year to get to dry in the yard! With this accelerated drying time, I can work on the second layer tomorrow and likely finish it.

 

 

And now, for a walk in that sunshine.

8pm: Terrible news all around, numbers and economics. I have gone from reading every little thing back in early January to tolerating just measured doses of news. Despite the dread that I felt when I was first reading the reports from Wuhan, putting it all together required an attention to detail and cross-referencing with other material that engaged the grey matter . This is now onslaught after onslaught of of news that is worse by the hour, punches in the gut. It will only get worse, so let’s gear up the intestinal fortitude…


Winter Studio

Snow Fields, 24″x30″.

 

This time of the year always brings of thoughts of change and transition, loss and renewal. As 2019 has rolled over into 2020, these reflections are much more intense, intricate, and prolonged for me, as I recently lost my mother…a major life event; a huge transition.

My father-in-law, not a religious man nor particularly self-reflective, used to have a timely  observation in times of trouble. It went something like this: “The chapters of the good book begin with ‘And it came to pass…’ They don’t begin with ‘And it came to stay…”

The things/people/practices that we love don’t always come to stay, any more than the difficult or painful situations. It is one of the things that is interesting about mindfulness practice, that as we focus on the moment, the moment is gone. And then the next, and the next, and the next…

My understanding of mindfulness is more like riding a wave, the mind following each moment along the way with focused attention. I discussed this form of happiness as it applies to a creative practice in an earlier blog post, “Creativity and Happiness”.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/creativity-and-happiness/

And this brings us to the winter studio. As life is quieter and the colors less vivid outside of it than  during the warmer months, the potency of the creative life inside intensifies.

Snow cover bounces light into the studio and makes a perfect neutral foil for open color exploration within. Instead of open windows and doors inviting in the sound of the stream and birds, I often play the radio or listen to podcasts or music. The summer feel of expansiveness is replaced by a distillation of energy as focus narrows and intensifies.

 

Embracing Pink, oil on board, 3 panels of 8″x8″/8″x10″/8″x8″.

My winter work often feels sunlit. Without the canopy of leaves covering our hamlet in the central Catskills, the sun streams at a dramatic slant into my house, my studio, and the yoga studio where I practice and teach…and then is gone, as day moves quickly into evening. We count the minutes of returning daylight…

 

Angle of Light, 48″x48″, recently finished.

In December I ordered an enticing assortment of custom-stretched linen for my winter work, and now have, at the ready, this stack of canvases in an array of sizes and formats:

 

 

I started work immediately on the largest one, a 44″x66″, almost finished:

 

 

I am also generating ideas for my next Atlas Project installation, this one focusing on rivers and streams, exploring the ecology of my local watershed. In my Atlas/Forms of Water show I solved several problems that I saw carry over from the previous Atlas Project installation. At issue now are verbal/written components more than visual ones: how to get my “Mapping Memory” stories in a more accessible form; and how to bring more natural history and climate change discussion into the installation.

 

Riverbed Map #3, linocut/monotype on paper, 6″x12″; a map image of the Esopus, Stonyclove, and Warner Creeks; and the Oxclove that runs behind my studio.

I am seeing stream-like formations wherever I go…including places I have been many (for this  image, thousands!) of times. Can you tell what we are looking at?

 

 

And the other day I saw this gorgeous Motherwell painting in a catalogue that I have in my studio. Viewed vertically rather than as the horizontal that it is…another stream…

 

 

A few paint-mixing sessions with my good friend Jenny Nelson in her winter studio have yielded new teaching tools. My color-mixing workshop (next held at the WSA, June 22-23) brings the student back to primaries and how all color evolves from there, which is a very complex undertaking.

Our intention with this collaboration was to pretty much do the opposite of that detailed breaking down of color, instead creating simple, limited palette exercises—using mixtures or primaries from the tube— for new students or those who feel color-blocked.

 

First up: mixing neutrals from just a few tubes of mixtures.

 

I will use some of these prompts in my next workshop at the WSA. Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape (April 17-19) focuses on compositional strength, so a few structured color shortcuts to augment this emphasis are a welcome tool.

 

Blues, keeping it simple.

 

Mixing a warm palette, just two colors and black and white.

These were the palettes that evolved as we brainstormed and mixed, discarding some earlier versions. Now we will each re-do these on paper in our studios with better placement and clear labeling for sharing with our students.

 

Greens. This more for my students!

 

Our ongoing conversations about our classes and workshops always include the abstract/landscape discussion, since Jenny teaches abstraction. Mixing color is one thing when you are using a reference of any sort, including working from life, even if you will likely want to tweak and adjust. It is quite another when you have not even a  suggestion of a road map and mixing your palette is the first step in figuring out your abstract painting on the easel.

Longtime friends, some cross-mixing, some laughter.

 

The collage exploration continues to fascinate me. I went from earlier just-barely-landscape versions (about 8-10 years ago) with altered papers, book bits, pattern paper, a bit of paint:

 

Wetlands, 6″x6″.

 

To the collaged maps, made with many bits of hand-dyed rice papers and other things (wasp wing, samara, dried leaves, pattern paper, old books, a bit of paint):

 

Hudson Canyon, collage on board, 12″x12″, 2018.

 

To a simplified version of the above, where I am working more with effects created while dying the papers, and then using larger swaths of them. Here are some of my latest:

 

Dancing Trees, 4″x12″.

 

Wrapped up in a Bow, 4″x4″.

 

Lost and Found, 4″x4″.

 

Conga Line, 4″x4″.

 

I am very pleased with this beautifully produced recording of my December interview with audience Q&A at Albert Shahinian Fine Art, by Brett Barry of Silver Hollow Audio.  The discussion ranges from my decades  of contemporary landscape painting to the environmental themes of my Atlas/Forms of Water show to the gallery-artist  relationship.  You can listen here:

 

 

I am doing final updates on the blog post about this Atlas Project show, which was the highlight of my exhibition season for 2019. Here is the link:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/atlas-forms-of-water-2019/

On this day of pouring snow, everything else I had planned has been canceled. And so, I get to be in here:

 

And soon enough, it will look like this:

 


Atlas/Forms of Water 2019

As the finale of this show and thus this post, I offer a beautifully produced recording of my interview with audience Q&A by Brett Barry of Silver Hollow Audio.  This discussion ranges from my decades  of contemporary landscape painting to the environmental themes of this show to the gallery-artist  relationship.  You can listen here:

 

 

 

 

Water is ease, water is in our dreams, water kills. Water is 60% of our bodies and covers 71% of the planet. We float, swim, sink, ride on, drink, cook and grow with, own, fight over, drown in, boil, crave, gaze at, and are mesmerized by water. It bears repeating: Water is life.

 

Welcoming Sea, 24″x72″, oil on linen, one of the two largest pieces in the show, 2019.

 

Water use has also been political since the beginning of our time on earth. As thirst, water rights and fights; severe storms; droughts, fires, floods; and sea level rise become increasingly critical on much of the planet, I have been catapulted into creating an expanded rubric for water imagery in my work. This focuses in on our environment and the challenges it faces, while continuing to celebrate the beauty our planet provides.

 

After the Rains Came, 24″x36″, oil on linen, 2019.

 

Atlas /Forms of Water maps the environmental theme while mapping my body of work, revealing a 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 make these connections, I have created a site map for the body of work on view.

Maps functions as an aid to find our way. In this context, I am mapping our bodies and states of water; the paintings in the exhibit; memory and self; and threats to our environment, among other, more elusive things.

 

Site Map/Forms of Water. mixed media/collage and printmaking, 48″x36″.

The Site Map has small monotypes running up both sides that are interpretations of the major paintings in the show. The four other prints are a conversation about threats from global warming: bigger hurricanes in upper left; sea-level rise in upper right: and stream/river flooding in the two at bottom, before and after.

At the top, I have included topographical contours, a loose and flattened version of the Escarpment that curves around Woodstock and then runs north parallel to the Hudson River.

Mountains are the first source of our surface water, and the painting below includes that form of water visible as the Catskill Mountains rising above the back shore, as well as mists, a cloud, and the Hudson River.

 

Light that Glows, 32″x60″, 2016. (Sold.)

Another new collaged map for the show is of the NYC watershed, water tunnels included. New York City has negotiated—and renegotiated, multiple times—a pass on national regulations that mandate the filtering of drinking water. This exemption is a huge deal, and requires constant monitoring and regulation of the watershed townships within the areas shown, and many mandates for property owners to keep the water flowing into NYC reservoirs clean. While this makes our relationship to our larger neighbor to the south a complex and co-dependent one, it also has transformed our stewardship of our land and streams.

 

Map Collage, Watershed. 12″x12″, 2019.

 

The below same-size collage from the year before is of the Hudson Canyon, which is essentially an underwater extension of the Hudson River, extending southeast until it drops off the continental shelf.

 

Hudson Canyon, collage on board, 12″x12″, 2018.

 

Also in mixed media/collage, “Forms of Water: A Taxonomy”. This small tintype drawer contains the following seven categories, from the top row moving down: states and phases of visible water; geographical bodies of water; wetlands; types of clouds; storms; waves; and human made forms of water.

 

Forms of Water: A Taxonomy, 17″x11.5″, 49 mixed media/collage pieces in a vintage tintype tray, 2019. 

 

Creating pieces in vintage boxes, drawers, muffin pans, and child’s blackboards has been one of my ongoing series for some years now. It requires a listening attitude to select and then bend the imagery to work with the support that I have chosen, starting the process in a different way from a blank canvas. In the below piece, the box and the piece of wood that I painted on had elements that determined both what imagery I chose and how I painted it.

Snowplows at Work, oil on board in vintage box, 3″x7″, 2018. (Sold.)

 

Dusk Drive in 12, oil on board in a vintage muffin pan, 18″x11″, 2018.

 

For decades now, I have been devoted to painting fog, suspended water that softens our landscapes, sometimes obscuring, sometimes defining:

 

Blue Dawn, 12″x36″, oil on linen. (Sold.)

 

Blue/Green Mountain Fog, oil on 4″x12″ board, 2019. (Sold.)

 

Many of my paintings depict wetlands, so gorgeous and vital for controlling flooding caused by excessive rain events, storms, tidal flooding, and sea-level rise; as well as filtering sediment in water and providing  habitat for wildlife. Visually, salt marshes in particular create color and shape that I return to paint over and over again.

 

Summer at the Creeks, 36″x24″, oil on linen, 2018.

 

Angle of Repose, 40″x30″, 2015.

 

Summer Reflected, 12″X12″, oil on linen, 2014.

 

Manmade forms of water are included in the show, as seen in the flood image near the top and in the vertical painting below, which depicts a wetland developed by humans to cultivate cranberries.

 

Cranberry Bog, 48″x24″, oil on linen.

 

The pieces in the show include landscape imagery in oil on linen; monotypes; small works in oil on board; water imagery using vintage boxes, blackboards, and other containers/support; and map collages.

 

Gale, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019. (Sold.)

 

Stillness, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019.

 

Flow, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019. (Sold.)

 

Drift, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019.

 

I was motivated in fall of 2016 to move towards creating shows that place my open, color-field landscapes within a complex experiential web. Three major factors came into play at just that time.

 

Sky Meets Water, 18″x24″, oil on linen.

 

The first was anticipation of a residency in Nantucket scheduled for that winter, and this dovetailed with the second, some thoughts about turning 60 later on in 2018. Given that my background is in contemporary art and that I have always viewed my progressions in landscape painting through that lens; my question to self was—what do I want to do, now, that I haven’t yet?

Among my answers to this question was learning monoprint and linocut techniques, which I now employ both for stand-alone prints and also for the Site Map. Below, some recent monotypes.

 

Color Field in Blue/Green, 16″x10″, Monotype, 2018.

 

Overlook with River, 8″x10″, Monotype, 2019.

 

Waterfall #2, Monotype, 14.25×7.5, 2019.

 

Reflected Sun #2, 10″x16″. (Sold.)

 

The third factor was key. Feeling profound grief over the outcome of the 2016 election, my mind returned repeatedly to the single biggest issue on the table, climate change. The conviction that time is running out here and that four years could be critical was decisive in determining the direction that my work has since taken. The acceleration of bad news in this arena since then is eye-popping—sea level rise predictions alone are much, much higher and sooner than was predicted while I was researching the topic in my February, 2017 Nantucket residency.

 

Moving Storm, 20″x62″, oil on linen.

 

Flooded Roadway, oil on 6″x6″ board, 2018.

 

Snow and ice appear in my work and in the context of Atlas/Forms of Water, depict one of the main three phases of water, solid.

 

Fields of Snow, 12″x12″, oil on linen, 2012. (Sold)

 

Ebullient Winter, 18″x24″, oil on linen, 2018.

 

Water vapor, the gaseous state of water, is invisible. The closest thing that is visible is steam, such as the image of a geyser below.

 

Geyser with Winter Sun, oil on paper, 3 panels of 4.5″/each, 2019.

 

Globally, precipitation has shifted so that many of the wet places are wetter and the dry locales are dryer. For this reason, I decided to create and include several pieces that depict water’s opposite, fire.

 

Fire #1, oil on 6″x6″ board. (Sold)

 

Fire #2, oil on 6″x6″ board. (Sold)

 

Fire Snake, oil on 4″x12″ board. (Sold)

 

My imagery is heavily weighted toward the Northeast of the United States, as that is where I have spent much of my life. But I could be anywhere on the planet, exploring the same themes, and I bring with me memories of living in the arid Andes and central Castile; painting in rain-soaked Western Ireland; traveling Northern California to capture the coastal golden hillsides of late summer; and returning to the Nebraska flatlands of my early childhood. It all informs the matrix. It is all water.

 

Red Sky over Tidal Flats, oil on 4″x12″ board.

 

Yellow Gleam, oil on 4″x12″ board.

 

Affinity/Dusk Shoreline, 12″x16″, 2014. (Sold.) My Affinity Series involves these steps: fraying the edges of a piece of raw linen and affixing it to a slightly larger board; priming the whole thing dark and then gridding with graphite; painting the image; selectively regridding over areas where the graphite got painted out.

 

Affinity/Lightening Storm, 16″x16″, oil on linen with distressed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding, 2013.

 

2 Shores/Reflected Sun, 12″x12″.

 

Evening Shoreline, oil on linen, 12″X12″.

 

This show builds upon my Atlas/Hudson River Valley show in March of 2017, which you can read about here:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/atlas-project-hudson-river-valley-and-catskills/

 

Serene Sea/Quirky Cloud, 40″x40″, oil on linen, 2005/2019.

 

Overlook with Sparkling River, 16″x20″, 2019.

 

Soft Greys from Peaked Hill, 10″X30″, 2015. (Sold.)

 

We are collaborating with Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper on a fundraising benefit October 12th, 5-8. That evening, 15% of sales will go to these vital local environmental organizations, as well as the proceeds of a raffle for this 12″x12″ painting:

Stormy Sea, 12″X12″.

(Note: Raffle was drawn on 11-16. Tickets were $20. We raised almost $1,300 from the raffle alone!) 

I was delighted to co-host this benefit for Riverkeeper and Catskills Mountainkeeper, as tie in to the environmental discussion of my Atlas Project. This a small way of giving back to those who are fighting to protect the gorgeous, biodiverse open spaces of land and water that I have been frequenting and painting for decades.
A number of people came to help make this event a success, a gift to ourselves; our children and grandchildren; and our own, beloved habitat. I gave a short talk on how this project came about; followed by Kathy Nolan of CMK, who will give us some pointers on how to reduce waste and our carbon footprint.
In addition to the raffle funds and the 15% of sales we donated that evening to CMK and RK, I  created a special edition of a dozen of these 3″x3″ and 2″x4″ collages–inspired by the verticals that I did for the Taxonomy piece in a tintype box—to be sold for $135/ea. that night only, as a way of offering an accessible price point. $25 of the price will go to the keepers.
 

 

 

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