Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “Catskills landscapes

Atlas/Forms of Water 2019

 

 

 

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 and 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 this painting includes fog, the Hudson River, and our Catskill Mountains:

 

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 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 south clean. While this may make our relationship to our larger neighbor to the south a complex and co-dependent one, it also has transformed out relationship to our land and streams.

 

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

 

Also in mixed media/collage, “Forms of Water: A Taxonomy”. This small tintype drawer contains the following categories, from top, moving left to right: 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. 

 

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.

 

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

 

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

 

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 wild life.

 

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 this exploration—Cranberry Bog depicts a wetland developed by humans to cultivate this coveted crop.

 

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.

 

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 ruminations 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Fire #2, oil on 6″x6″ board.

 

Fire Snake, oil on 4″x12″ board.

 

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.

 

2 Shores/Reflected Sun, 12″x12″.

 

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

 

This show builds upon my Atlas Project 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.)

 

This blog post is a work-in-progress.  As the show progresses, I will be including new installation pics and other news. I enjoy sharing my work far and wide with these posts, but hope you can see the exhibition, so that you can see the artwork in person and also experience the show as an installation.

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 this 12″x12″ paintings:

Stormy Sea, 12″X12″.

Tickets are $20. You can contact the gallery for purchase.

 

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

 

Entry Room #1.

 

Entry Room #2.

 

Installation pic, room #2.

 

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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.


Open Studio/ House Party

My timberframe studio in the yard next to my house.

An open studio and house party are alternative ways to share and sell art. The artist communicates directly with the collector or visitor, creating a scenario where stories can be shared and feedback absorbed in an immediate fashion.

I have done several of these events in the past weeks, two in my studio and one at my biggest collector’s apartment in NYC. It is my pleasure to share my work with collectors, friends, and newcomers in this one-on-one manner.

In my studio I try to have as much work out and visible as possible, so the look is quite crowded. When someone is considering a particular piece, I clear a spot for it on my easel, where the light is the best, for better viewing. Despite the fact that I have many pieces to choose from at these events, I often hear requests for something specific (size, color, or locale of imagery) that I might not have on hand.  For this reason, I keep my laptop handy with my files so that I can show folks other available work that is out in my galleries, and either send them to see the piece there, if geographically possible, or find another way for them to check it out in person.

The very best way to make a decision between pieces is to bring, or have my gallery bring, a small grouping of work to the collector’s home. One look at the right piece on the wall in question is a great solution to any dithering.

Arranging my studio or my host’s apartment with all of my work is a favorite part of the process (this is true of all the good galleriests that I know, as well). Not all paintings of mine go with each other well, either due to color or feel of the piece, and of course there are different sized walls, easels, and shelves to consider, so getting it right is a time-consuming process involving a good deal of trial and error.

When folks make an appointment privately to come to my studio they encounter a different situation—work on the walls and  stacked on the floor, works-in-progress on the easels, and tables covered with tools of the trade. This is fun in a different way, as I pull work out from stacks and flat files, paying close attention to  their description of what they have in mind. I will be doing more of this than usual in the upcoming months, since I recently created a program called “Artists in Their Studios”  through our local four-star inn, the Emerson Resort and Spa.

For the artist, hosting these visits hones communication skills, helping to create the habit of talking about the work with ease, fluency, and pleasure. And for the collector or visitor, a chance to sit for a bit, view the body of work in a leisurely way, ask questions, and browse the various articles about and photos of my paintings in magazines, books, and newspapers that I have accumulated.

Inside, a grouping from one of my Open Studio weekends.

Two new 20″X60″ paintings of the Catskills, the left hand one now gone to its new home.

The corner that is ordinarily my primary workspace.

My second easel on the left, normally used for drying work between layers or for the occasional private student.

Moving on to the home party—really a pop-up show—that I did at my biggest collector’s apartment (she owns 35 pieces!). I partnered with my galleriest Emily, of Asher Neiman Gallery. We took all the collector’s work (of mine)  off of the walls, and put up new work of mine, 34 pieces. She did not—understandably—want additional nail holes in her walls, so we needed to be creative to get as much onto the walls as possible.

You will see many of the same pieces that were in my studio, but looking quite different in a modern apartment. Once again, doing the set-up was thoroughly entertaining, and over the next several days we enjoyed the  interaction with our visitors, who came from her mailing list and mine.

There is another way to do a home party, where the host is present and invites friends and acquaintances who love art. The fun for them is in seeing their home transformed, and often they will want to keep a piece or two for themselves.

This piece, currently over my couch, looked great in the living room of my. collector’s Fifth Ave high rise apartment.

I had brought a stack of wreath hangers so that we could hang work on the many closet doors, but then saw that they were much higher than I remembered. Emily’s husband Simon thought to double the hangers, end to end, to get the piece down to the right height.

The triptych is hanging on closet door pulls, here, as well.

Then Emily thought to hang work on the door pulls of those closets, which gave us spots for four more pieces.

We loved how these two pieces from my Affinity Series looked in the bathroom.

The same piece that had been on my studio floor the weekend before, here on the wall of the guest bedroom.

We were able to make effective use of the entry, where the light was particularly good.

These events are a tremendous amount of work to organize and execute, so I am ready to be back in my studio as the working artist.

All good!