I began using small oil-on-primed-paper studies as a teaching tool in my September 2013 workshop at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum.
As you can see above and below, I did several versions of the same image, moving elements around, encouraging my students to do the same.
It is not just a question of what is included and what is left out–though that is always a major consideration in my work (see https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/contoursdistillations-a-solo-show/ for more on that conversation). Even in this very reductive composition, there are many variables. What, exactly, is the shape of the tidal pool cutting toward us, and where does it leave the picture plane, both on the left and on the right? How high or low is the horizon line? Cool greens, warm greens, or both? Back shore more compressed and lighter, making it seem further away, or larger and darker, bringing it forward?
I decided to go very white with the sky in the large piece, since I love the shore phenomenon of bright blue sky overhead and white at the horizon, which is due to the many miles of atmosphere, denser close to earth, that we are looking through.
None of these versions is any better or worse than the other—they are just different. The choices that I made for the larger oil were largely mood-driven. For example, I opted to emphasize the simplicity of the major shapes by omitting the lighthouse and bits of detail on the back shore. Including them would have made it a more descriptive piece, which I do from time to time. But at heart I am a minimalist, enjoying the open feel that these compositions bring.
I soon saw that the studies function nicely as small paintings in their own right if I finish them the same way I do a larger piece. They look great framed with a mat and under glass, though I have also exhibited and sold a number of them mounted on board, sealed to be airtight, and presented without glass, such as the below. I did a grouping, example below, for a small works show without any intention to do them larger—some of them are images I already had done as pastels or larger oils. Switching it up!
I decided to leave out the soft water-shape in the larger version, mostly because I knew that I was going to frame each panel separately and I felt that the simpler field dividers would work best, carrying the horizontal sweep of the composition through the strong verticals of the frames and the wall space between.
These two are quite similar, the main difference being the enhanced distance in the road that I created with the larger piece.
Study/Sunset Sea, 5″x5″ (at Thompson Giroux Gallery).
Yellow Band, 36″x36″ (at Julie Heller Gallery).
In the larger size I needed to add more buildings, and I opted to make it more atmospheric. It turned out to be very useful to have established the front detail in the small piece, since I wasn’t at all sure how it was going to work out or even if I wanted to include it. I liked it well enough in the study to follow my own lead in the larger oil.
I was so enjoying the color on the above that I decided to do a version without the industrial detail in the back landform.
And then I wanted to simplify even more and use the soft lavender with greens instead.
Additional pieces (updated since the publication of this post):
The study below illustrates another use for the small format, as it was a a study for a commissioned painting (something that I have always done in a small pastel or oil to iron out the imagery that has been chosen by the collector):
You may have noticed that some of the oil-on-paper pieces have a deckled edge and some have a clean edge. This does not translate with the large oil-on-linen work, but instead is something that I’ve been playing with in my pastels for a number of years. Some images have shapes within that relate to the uneven edge, and others have a more linear sweep to the composition. Those that have the deckled edge are framed showing it, and the others have the mat coming right up to the edge of the image.
October 22, 2015 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, art collecting, atmospheric landscapes, Cape Cod paintings, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , color studies, compositional studies, Edgewater Gallery VT, Gold Gallery Boston, large landscapes, large oil paintings, marsh paintings, Martha's Vineyard paintings, minimalist landscape, moody landscape, Mountain paintings, Oi on paper, oil painting, Provincetown Artists Association, Provincetown paintings, salt marsh paintings, seascapes, small landscapes, sunsets, teaching, teaching landscape painting, Thompson Giroux Gallery, urban landscapes, weather, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery, workshops | 2 Comments
How do we do it?
I have been working exclusively with landscape imagery since 1990, and painting full time since about 2004. I like nothing better than to be in my studio working, and since I have multiple galleries that all need work, that means a good number of landscape paintings over the course of the years.
So how do I keep it fresh, avoid being bored (which would surely show up in the work), not fall into painting the same painting over and over again?
This is a big question for artists who have a market for their work. Some do just that—paint the same thing, essentially, for decades on end, though realists and plein air painters often have a great love for minute changes in subject matter and locale and keep themselves happy and entertained with these shifts. No judgement here from me–the happy or engrossed artist is the key to good work.
We have all seen artists in the blue chip realm who disappoint with a new body of work (will Susan Rothenberg ever be able to delight me as much as she did with the early horse series?) And yet, the custom of many decades now is for an artist to work serially, ideally moving gracefully and yet compelingly from one body of work to another, maybe over the course of a few years (and often marked by the solo at their major gallery, when it is assumed that that work will leave their studio and never come back, making it easy to start a fresh series). Preferably, from the market standpoint, there is some stylistic or thematic continuity from one series to the next.
I found my true niche with my minimalist mode of landscape painting back in 1990, and a few years later felt a need for opening up my explorations. I addressed it then by expanding the range of my subject matter and palette. Initially, I had avoided anything overtly dramatic, keeping to tonalist color and flat light, and the first shift brought me into a complex sky, or a brighter, blue-sky day.
(The photos in this post may be more current examples, since I have not even begun to get all of my pre-digital slides and photos scanned.)
As the years passed and I felt ever more firmly in the saddle of my approach, I dared take on subject matter that borders on the cliche for a landscape painter—sunsets, a beach path, fluffy white clouds, even a sailboat at rest. I enjoyed the challenge of painting these subjects while avoiding the melodramatic or sentimental, at first by aided by instinct and later with a clearer understanding—which I now teach—of how this can be achieved.
I also played with format. The first time I did a vertical landscape I had never actually seen it done, and I found it quite daring. Later, I explored extreme verticals, as well as horizontals.
The next time I felt restless, I still thought of subject matter, now manmade elements. I started with phone poles, and moved on to urban images, road imagery, and then grittier industrial imagery. In 2003 I had a show at Albert Shahinian Fine Art, then in Poughkeepsie, called “Manmade”.
A few years later, I pondered how to get my love for the grid into my work (bearing in mind that my background is in contemporary, not traditional, art). On first glance, it seemed that there were only a few ways to incorpoarate this with landscape imagery. But I decided to just get started doing these first ideas, and eventually it became clear that there were many ways to bring the landscape and the grid together.
Somewhere around 2002, once again contemplating my next move, I began to use vintage boxes and other distressed objects as my support, selecting imagery and palette to mesh with the elements already present in the object.
This series sometimes requires applied problem-solving in to addition visual/aesthetic decision making, and I enjoy the stretch of the brain.
Many of these pieces have been set in lovely old compartmentalized boxes, trays, or pans, which means that they also explore multiple-panel imagery.
“Mountain Fall in 6, 5″x18” (courtesy Albert Shahinian Fine Art). This appears to be an old coin drawer from a cash register. At first I thought of putting small panels within the compartments, but that obscured the lovely curve at the back. Finally, I created flexible pieces of backed linen that follow the curve. I had to take them in and out a number of times while I was painting them, since being set back changed the light and therefore the color substantially.
When I was preparing to do my Cyclone Sampler, I spent a great deal of time just figuring out what I was going to paint on before nestling the tiny panels into the compartments of the box (I settled on bevel-cut 8-ply matboard—bless my framer—that I sealed front and back with multiple coats of matte medium, since I did not want to put glass over this piece). A spontaneous decision at the end, purely aesthetic, was to leave a few compartments empty, avoiding the feel of a catalogue.
This series has as many possibilities as the amazing things that I come across that fire my imagination, though I often have to stare at the object for up to a year before I decide what I want to do with it.
Generally the imagery that works best with the frayed edges and gridding in the Affinity Series is either very minimalist or has strong linear elements.
That I ended up with graphite gridding as an overlay was a circle-back to my longstanding interest in the grid, bringing the viewer’s eye to the surface of the piece and creating mixed associations. Some of the latter I hadn’t even thought of, like the historical use of gridding to aid with proportions while transferring a small image, or maquette, into the larger finished piece, an association that other artists have pointed out to me.
Many pieces now are some combination of these series. For example, often the frayed linen on board of the Affinity series works well in an old box.
All the while, I have continued to paint my wide-open landscapes on linen. Doing all these other explorations makes a small new slant on a salt marsh or hillside painting feel exciting and fresh, even though I have been painting this imagery for 24 years.
I love expanding the repertoire, adding both new versions within a body of work that reflects longstanding interests and, every so often, a whole new series. In my week-to-week, month-to-month, I juggle these series simultaneously, rather than consecutively, keeping myself riveted to what is developing in my studio.
The constant is the landscape.
What is next? (I have several ideas just taking shape, so not sharing yet!)
March 20, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, atmospheric landscapes, career artist, Chace-Randall Gallery, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , cranberry bog, creating new bodies of work, Gold Gallery Boston, headlights, industrial landscapes, innovation, lonely road, manmade elements in the landscape, minimalist landscape, mixed media, new series, new work, oil painting, painting series, paintings in vintage boxes, phone poles, road at night, road paintings, sunsets, the grid in painting, unusual landscapes, vertical landscapes, winter road, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery, workshops | 2 Comments
“Art is not meat. It does not go bad”, to quote Albert Shahinian.
I was thinking about that comment (again!) while assembling this post because I noticed that some recent sales have been of paintings that are not at all new.
So, why does a much-admired piece hang around, sometimes for years?
Usually the answer to that is that they have had many near-misses, and that something has come up at the last minute that has nixed the sale…each time. Bearing in mind that there is always a ratio of success to failure in every business, often in this one there are more almost-sales than sales. Bringing an object into the home that is not functional or strictly decorative, and that is also not cheap is, rightly, a big decision for potential collectors.
So, to put it another way, if you don’t have lots of nibbles you are unlikely to have lots of sales.
If there are no near-sales on a given piece it could mean that the painting doesn’t have wide appeal (which also doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good piece or that it won’t sell when the right person finds it) or that it is in the wrong gallery. But all of this is another story.
Here are two pieces that are a bit older and had been nibbled on many times before they recently found their wall in a new home. I will use them as examples of what can happen along the way.
Winter Brilliance just came under discussion in a recent blog post:
I will quote from that, but before all of the below happened this past year, this piece also was sold and unsold in a day. It went out on approval for three days from my (now closed) gallery in Redbank, NJ, to an NYC apartment. On the second day they called and said that they loved it and were keeping it. On the third day they called and said that they were being transferred by the husband’s job to San Francisco, where a fully furnished and decorated house awaited them, so they had to return the piece. Since this was all within the agreed upon three day approval period, back it came.
“…the piece below, recently sold, had quite a busy time of it this year before reaching its new home. In March, it went to Chicago, where it was selected for viewing in a home. Much as they would have liked it, the piece didn’t fit the budget at that time, so a smaller piece was settled upon. Then, it was vetted for a possible swap with one of my dealers for a coveted Milton Avery print. But before I could bring it to her for her to decide, a private dealer asked me to hold it back for a likely sale through a designer. Months later and no word, I let it back out again to my gallery in Rhinebeck, and from there it went out to a home (through an architect, this time) where it looked as if I had painted it for the room in question.”
River in 5 received a great deal of attention when I first stated showing it 2006. Not so exciting a history as Winter Brilliance, but I kept hearing from gallereists that this person or that couple had it under consideration. That was true also when it arrived at Albert Shahinian Fine art, with one collector of mine admiring both the soft monochromatic palette and the way it evoked the views he enjoyed while kayaking across the Hudson River from this spot.
Then…very quiet. Other work coming and going, but no nibbles on this piece for at least a few years…until last summer, when all at once two collectors spotted it in the gallery or on my website and were planning on buying it the next time they made it to Rhinebeck. First couple fell in love with a different piece and couldn’t manage both, and the second collector was still planning on acquiring the piece when it went out to the same apartment as Winter Brilliance and stayed there.
Below, a few sales of recent pieces.
A few newly finished pieces:
I have recently introduced a series of small oil-on-paper compositional/color studies in my painting workshops. I did this preliminary series beforehand, and now have others following—a wonderful way to work out placement of elements, using your painterly hand (instead of photoshop, which is a great tool but doesn’t help with the aforementioned!). I will be offering these small pieces for sale from my studio, tidbits that can be framed/hung individually or as a grouping, and are a great way to come up with an original—for yourself or as a gift—for the price of a print.
My recent workshop at the PAAM in Provincetown, with a wonderful group:
See my blog post on how the workshop runs, with emphasis on composition:
In other news:
I am sad to announce the closing of my gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, Dragonfly, but happy for Don and Susan as they move onto the next phase for them (more time for artmaking!).
Also happy to have joined the Louisa Gould Gallery, located the next town over in Vineyard Haven. I look forward to a long and successful relationship with my new MV gallery! (And a big thank-you to Don and Susan for connecting us.)
Boston International Art Fair, with Gold Gallery, Nov. 21-24
“LINE…”, Butters Gallery, Portland, OR, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, Feb. 6-March 1
Solo show at Chace-Randall Gallery, Andes, NY, May21-July 4th.
Duo show at Julie Heller East, Provincetown, MA, summer or fall, TBA
Workshops at the Woodstock School of Art: Feb. 15-17 & late June: PAAM, Sept., dates TBA
Solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston, early March.
October 16, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, art collecting, atmospheric landscapes, Butters Gallery, Cape Cod paintings, career artist, Chace-Randall Gallery, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , color field, Dragonfly Gallery, Gold Gallery Boston, Louisa Gould Gallery, Martha's Vineyard paintings, minimalism, moody landscape, new gallery, small oil paintings, teaching, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery | 2 Comments
The winter abundance in my studio is heading out for various points East, West, and North. Not only am I hard at work during the colder months, but also usually have work in the studio that comes back from my seasonal galleries in the Northeast. Then, in the spring begins the exodus, to both buyers and galleries.
All busy career artists find that sometimes work needs to move around to a few galleries before it sells. Some galleries like to keep a piece they like—and have gotten a good response to—indefinitely, while others, especially those that close down during the off-season, prefer to have all new work each year. This is typically a combination of brand new work and some pieces that have previously been in other galleries.
One galleriest who I have been showing with for many years is in the former category, feeling a devotion to certain pieces such that he wants to keep them until they sell, whether that happens in a day or a decade. “Art is not meat—it does not go bad”, he has been known to say, if someone questions the date on a piece.
There is a good deal of randomness in why a piece sells sooner or later. With my work, there are a number of variables. Size, format, palette, and locale of imagery are among them. Who stops by which gallery when, with what size wall in mind…or with an open mind? What is their budget? Do they have strong color preferences? Are they buying the piece that slays them, or a locale that they are fond of? Are they looking for a gift, trying hard to get it right?
Some of my work that I consider more accessible—often a little brighter—appeals to a broader spectrum and so has a larger pool of possible buyers. The moodier work draws from a smaller pool, but often so forcefully that they feel that they must have the piece. So, which one is more likely to sell?
Lucky for me, my studio process allows for a number of concurrent explorations, making it easy for me to ignore all such considerations while working. This is key for any artist.
In recent news, I did a pop-up show in Chicago in early March, partnering with the Asher-Neiman Gallery, which included the work of Jill Ricci (see work on the gallery website, http://asherneimangallery.com/ ).
It was held in the beautiful Lincoln Park home of family friends. (See my blog post on how these home shows work, https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/open-studio-house-party/ ) Our hosts threw a lovely party, very well attended , with excellent food, wine, art (of course!), and conversation enjoyed by all.
I am happy to again be showing at the Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY, with seven pieces included in a show titled “Slow Down Make Space”. Below are a few pieces that are in the show.
I am newly represented this year by Van Ward Gallery in Ogunquit, Maine. They, along with Dragonfly Gallery in MV and Chace-Randall in Andes, NY, are opening for the season the weekend of May 11, each with a fresh collection of my work. Final picks have not yet been made, but here are some new paintings that will be off to these galleries, as well as to the Julie Heller Gallery in Provincetown.
I taught two workshops in March, a two-day painting workshop at the Woodstock School of Art and a Mentoring Seminar in my studio with six artists from NJ, Louisiana, Westchester, and our area, working with their diverse styles and aspirations to further both work and career.
Coming up, that I know of? The Shandaken Art Studio Tour, July 20-21, always a busy weekend for me, by which time I will have created new abundance in my studio. A painting workshop at the Woodstock School of Art June 24-26; another at the Provincetown Artists Association September 9-12; and a Mentoring workshop May 5th, also at the PAAM. Gold Gallery in Boston needs a new infusion of larger pieces, so I am about to embark on another big triptych. I will be bringing new work to them at the same time I deliver to the Vineyard and Cape Cod, the first week in May.
So…stay tuned, keep in touch, and happy spring!
March 31, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: atmospheric landscapes, beach combing, busy artist, career artist, Chace-Randall Gallery, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , Deel Castle, Dragonfly Gallery, Gold Gallery Boston, Ireland, Martha's Vineyard paintings, minimalist landscapes, moody landscape, Mountain paintings, pastels, pop-up show, Provincetown Artists Association, Shandaken Art Studio Tour, Shore galleries, sunsets, weather, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery | Leave a comment
When I work on or with found objects – antique boxes, distressed cupboard doors, old slate blackboards with lovely stains and unravelings at the rim, vintage sifters, and the like — I adjust both my choice of imagery and the way I compose and lay in the paint to honor what is already there. I see these pieces as a collaboration between my accumulated skills and the accumulation of history that is manifested in this unique object. This feels like process that is both conceptual and deeply intuitive.
My interest in this series began some years back when I was looking for a new exploration. I had, quite some time before, realized that for me, to stay fresh required more than just to find new subject matter. Reflecting my background in contemporary art, the presentation, process, and/or materials can also all be up for grabs.
And yet, I always want there to be at least an insinuation of a landscape within. How to get both of theses things—a newly painted landscape and an object full of the marks of its own history, to look as if they were made for each other?
Once I have my vintage or scavenged object, I generally have to look at it for many months. It drifts around my studio, claiming my attention from time to time. I examine it…free-associate…put it up, aside, or away. Come back to it…sift through possible images…think some more.
Often, I have to find just the right sized board to go inside of a box, drawer, or sifter, generally preferring that this be distressed as well. I have ridiculously good luck with this—serendipity after serendipity.
Finally, the way forward in terms of imagery emerges and I can begin work, trying to keep myself in a hyper-aware state while responding to the suggestions of the vintage or distressed object I am using. I am following, not leading, and the dance is intricate, even if the piece looks simple in the end.
I recently completed these three new pieces.
The below are several others completed in the past few years.
And finally, a few favorites that were sold several years back.
February 18, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Albert Shahinian Fine Art, alternative landscapes, beach combing, Cape Cod paintings, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , christie scheele, color field, distressed boxes, minimalism, minimalist landscape, moody landscape, Provincetown Artists Association, sifters, subtle landscapes, Woodstock Scool of art Julie Heller Gallery | 6 Comments
I asked some of the folks who bought paintings from me last summer to comment on why they decided upon the piece(es) that they selected. I will let these collectors be the voice of this post, and share my own thoughts about acquiring original art when I do a post on my modest but lovely collection of art by friends whose work I love.
About these pieces and others that found homes over the summer, I will say that I am delighted with the variety of work that was selected.
“The best part of living with my very evocative Blue Night painting is the way its flavor and its mood changes during the course of the day as the light moves around it. Sometimes I feel as if I have bought not one painting but five or fifteen for all that it has to say. I loved it from the moment I saw it because it generated both peacefulness and seriousness, simplicity and power. It is a small but very strong painting and I have hung it where it catches my eye as I move through my home. The blue calls for my attention when I walk into the room where it hangs. I like that because for a fleeting instant I am reminded of beauty contained, of nature and its rewards. It takes me out of myself and the whirring in my brain.”
“I am drawn to Christie’s work by the way she captures the sense of depth and magic in her landscapes. The paintings allow me to bring something of what I love of the Catskills into my home.” (Piece #1 of four.}
October 5, 2011 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: art collecting, atmospheric landscapes, blue painting, Choose from the most used tags Albert Shahinian Fine Art art art collecting Asher Nieman Gallery atmospheric landscapes Barneche Designs Cape Cod paintings Catskills Chichester christie scheele color , color field, creeks, happy collector, Hudson River painting, lonely road, marsh paintings, Martha's Vineyard paintings, moody landscape, Mountain paintings, nocturne, oil painting, seascapes, sunrise, tidal creek, vertical landscapes | Leave a comment