Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

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Small Studies in Oil on Primed Paper

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

At work on one of the studies for

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

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

Version

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

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

Version with suggestion of houses in back land form.

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

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

Blue Above, 12

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

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

First set of small

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

I soon saw that the studies function nicely as small paintings in their own right if I finish them the same way I do a larger piece. They look great framed with a mat and under glass, though I have also exhibited and sold a number of them mounted on board, sealed to be airtight, and presented without glass, such as the below.  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!

Tidal Flats at Dusk, 6

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

 

Study/Triptych in Reds

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

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

Triptych in Reds

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

 

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

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

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

Intervening Bay, 24″x24″, private collection.

The study and the large version each ended up where they needed to, and different from each other in subtle ways.
Study/Open Road #1, 4.5

Study/Open Road #1, 4.5″x14″. (Sold)

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

Open Road, 20

Open Road, 20″x60″, available at Gallery 901, Santa Fe, NM.

 

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

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

Yellow Band, 36″x36″ (at Julie Heller Gallery).
With the following pair, the study is simpler and more illustrative than the larger piece that came after.
Study/Skyline

Study/Skyline, 7″x7″,  (at Thompson Giroux 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.

Skyline with Lifting Rain

Skyline with Lifting Rain, 20″x20″ (sold by Edgewater Gallery).

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

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

 

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6

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

Study/Lake Mists, 5

Study/Lake Mists, 5″x5″ (currently at the Tenderland Home, Phoenicia, NY).

 

Study?Gleam over Tidal Flats,

Study/Gleam over Tidal Flats, 6″X10″. (Sold.)

 

Study/Green Valley

Study/Green Valley, 6″x10″.

 

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

Study/Late Summer Light, 5″x7.5″.

 

Study/Meadowlands with Mists.

Study/Meadowlands with Mists, 3.5″x10.5″. (Sold.)

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

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4″X8″. (Sold)

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

Soft Summer Light, 4"x8".

Soft Summer Light, 4″x8″.

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

 

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

Study/Yellow Bush, 4″x14.5″ (at the Tenderland Home).

 

Study/Waterspouts, 6"x9".

Study/Waterspouts, 6″x9″ (at Julie Heller Gallery.

 

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

Study/It Looks Like Rain, 6″x9″.

 

Study/Summer Marsh, 5"x12".

Study/Summer Marsh, 5″x12″ .

 

Study/ClusteredCLouds, 5"x12".

Study/ClusteredClouds, 5″x12″. (Sold.)

 

Study/White Fields, 5"x11".

Study/White Fields, 5″x11″ (Sold).

 

Study/Grey Dawn, 5"x7".

Study/Grey Dawn, 5″x7″.

 

Study/Winter Warmth, 7"x7".

Study/Winter Warmth, 7″x7″ (sold).

 

Study/Se.rene Winter, 5"x11"

Study/Serene Winter, 5″x11″ .

 

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

Study/Reservoir from Little Mountain, 4″x12″ (sold).

 

Study/Green Fields, 5"x13".

Study/Green Fields, 5″x13″.

 

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

Study/Glowing Sky over Fall Marsh, 6″x8″ (at Tenderland Home).

 

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):

 

Study/Resting Clouds, 4"x14".

Study/Resting Clouds, 4.5″x12″ (sold).

 

Lifting Clouds, 18"x42".

Lifting Clouds, 18″x42″, (private collection).

 

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.

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

Staying Fresh

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.)

"Rare Summer Silence", 20"x30".

“Rare Summer Silence”, 20″x30″, (courtesy Gold Gallery), an example of the sort of palette and light that has drawn me from the beginning.

Sky in Motion, 24"X20", $2,800. (GG)

“Sky in Motion”, 24″X20″ (sold by Gold Gallery), which shows the kind of complex sky that beckoned a little later on.

 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.

Sunset Sea in Red/Gold, 20"x60", $6,500.

“Sunset Sea in Red/Gold”, 20″x60″, (private collection).

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.

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

“Cranberry Bog in Reds”, 48″x24″ (courtesy Gold Gallery).

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”.

ExhuberantStorm

“Exuberant Storm, 30″x36” (sold by Chace-Randall Gallery).

"Conviction of Beauty", 12"x

“Conviction of Beauty”, 14″x40″ (courtesy Albert Shahinian Fine Art).

Bridge Crossing in Violets

“Bridge Crossing in Violets”, 12″x12″ (courtesy Butters Gallery).

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.

River in 5, 5 panels of 10"x10"/ea.

“River in 5”, 5 panels of 10″x10″/ea., (sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art), one image stretched over a number of panels.

"Trove",

“Trove”, 35 3″x5″ oil-on-panel paintings (private collection). In order to make these separate images hang together and not be too busy, I used at least some reds in each piece, and toward the end I painted six or seven very minimalist black-and-red images to create a sort of matrix for the brighter, more complex pieces. Also, some of the images had already been explored in larger pieces, usually in a different format, and revisiting them was a pleasure.

"Rainy Road/Fireflies", 3 panels of 12"x12"/ea. (sold)

“Rainy Road/Fireflies”, 3 panels of 12″x12″/ea. (sold by Gold Gallery), three versions of the same stretch of road and close to the same moment in time, with implied movement and a non-linear nod to film.

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.

Approach, oil on vintage blackboard, 11"x13.5"

“Approach”, oil on vintage blackboard, 11″x13.5″ (courtesy Chace-Randall Gallery). Elements and color in the image reflect grain, texture and color present in the frame of the blackboard.

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).“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.

Cyclone Sampler

“Cyclone Sampler”,21.5″x10.5″, (collection of the Tyler Museum of Art). Unlike the expansive feel of my single-image landscapes , this piece shows the vast energy of many twisters tightly contained within the grid.

 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.

Irrigated Fields, (sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art).

Irrigated Fields, 4″x18″(sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art).

My most recent addition is the Affinity Series, oil paintings on linen with frayed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding. I don’t even remember the exact thought process that brought these into being, but it started with the idea of manipulating the support. I was enjoying both selecting and adjusting the subject matter to the individual vintage object that I was using in the pieces in that series, and was interested in creating a more specific support myself, forcing a considered mesh between it and the painted imagery.

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.

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

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

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.

Affinity/On the Grid, 36"x48", (courtesy Gold Gallery).

Affinity/On the Grid, 36″x48″, (courtesy Gold Gallery). In this very recent piece I pushed the gridding quite a bit, moving to black instead of graphite and actually spending more time very selectively gridding than on the earlier painting portion.

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.

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

“Factory at Work”, 7.5″x3.5″ (courtesy Julie Heller Gallery).

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.

"Blue Light", 20"x60", 2014.

“Blue Light”, 20″x60″, 2014.

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.

"White Light/ Red Light", 24"x24", (Courtesy Chace-Randall Gallery).

“White Light/ Red Light”, 24″x24″, (Courtesy Chace-Randall Gallery). Sneak peak at a new piece going into my upcoming solo, opening May 24th!

What is next? (I have several ideas just taking shape, so not sharing yet!)


Autumn 2013 Newsletter

“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:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/bearing-bad-news-the-emotional-content/

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.

Later…

 “…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.”

Winter Brilliance, 40"x50".

Winter Brilliance, 40″x50″. 2004.

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.

River in 5, 5 panels of 10"x10"/ea.
River in 5, 5 panels of 10″x10″/ea., 2006.

Below, a few sales of recent pieces.

Affinity/Narrow Road, 48"x12", sold by Gold Gallery.

Affinity/Narrow Road, 48″x12″, sold by Gold Gallery.

Mutable Mists, 20"x20", sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

Mutable Mists, 20″x20″, sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

Wave, 24"x48", sold by Van Ward Gallery.

Wave, 24″x48″, sold by Van Ward Gallery.

Mists off the River, 12"X36", $2,600. (CRG)

Mists off the River, 12″X36″, 2013,  sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

A few newly finished pieces:

Triptych in Reds

Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 24″x24″/ea., just packed off to Gold Gallery in Boston.

Moving Light, oil on vintage blackboard, 9.5"x5.5".

Moving Light, oil on vintage blackboard, 9.5″x5.5″.

"Blue Above", 12"X36".

“Blue Above”, 12″X36″.

Soft Summer Sky, 30"x36".

Soft Summer Sky, 30″x36″.

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.

Small oil-on-parer studies, 6"x6" or 5"x7" or 3"x8".

Small oil-on-paper studies, 6″x6″ or 5″x7″ or 3″x8″.

My recent workshop at the PAAM in Provincetown, with a wonderful group:

Color-mixing from primaries.

Color-mixing from primaries. (Photo credit Carol Duke.)

Last day.

Last day. (Photo credit Carol Duke.)

 

See my blog post on how the workshop runs, with emphasis on composition:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/painting-workshop-considering-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.)

Upcoming:

Boston International Art Fair, with Gold Gallery, Nov. 21-24

2014:

“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

2015:

Solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston, early March.


Spring Newsletter

Cloud over Castle Deel, 30"X36".

Cloud over Castle Deel, 30″X36″.

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.

Mists off the River, 12"X36".

Mists off the River, 12″X36″.

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.

Winter Brilliance and a small Affinity in the living room.

Winter Brilliance and a small Affinity in the living room.

Changed Integrity in the second floor stairwell.

Changed Integrity in the second floor stairwell.

Rivergimplse and Extravagant Sky in the dining room.

Rivergimplse and Extravagant Sky in the dining room.

Lightening Storm, one of the pieces that sold in Chicago. This one going gave me a pang!

Lightening Storm, one of the pieces that sold in Chicago. This one going gave me a pang!

"October Saltmarsh", 24"X48", looked so perfect  where we hung it that it ended up staying.

“October Saltmarsh”, 24″X48″, looked so perfect where we hung it that it ended up staying.

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.

_Slow Down Make Space_ - invite - back

Spinning Clouds, 20"x40".

Spinning Clouds, 20″x40″.

Sunset Roofline, 24"x30".

Sunset Roofline, 24″x30″.

 

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.

Seaview Mists, 12"X12", another in my Oak Bluffs morning fog series. Off to Dragonfly Gallery on the Vineyard soon!

Seaview Mists, 12″X12″, another in my Oak Bluffs morning fog series. Off to Dragonfly Gallery on the Vineyard soon!

Continuing Progression, 24"x48", $5,000.

Continuing Progression, 24″x48″.

Sandflats in Red/Purple, 11"X14". Since folks who have not experienced extreme tidal flats have trouble making sense of these images, this piece will most likely land at Julie Heller Gallery in Provincetown.

Sandflats in Red/Purple, 11″X14″. Since folks who have not experienced extreme tidal flats have trouble making sense of these images, this piece will most likely land at 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.

"Sandflats with Seagrass", oil on beach-weathered fiberglass, 4"x18".

“Sandflats with Seagrass”, oil on beach-weathered fiberglass, 4″x18″.

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!

Affinity/Watertower, 20"X20".

Affinity/Watertower, 20″X20″.


Vintage Boxes, Slates and Sifters/The Occasional Found Object

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.

"Red/Green Fields", oil on drawer slats in antique box, 7.5"x30".

“Red/Green Fields”, oil on drawer slats in antique box, 7.5″x30″.  An example of serendipity—I spotted the collapsed drawer slats on my friend Jenny’s porch and basically pounced on them; had them in my studio for some months; and then saw that they fit beautifully into the box. The shapes of the edges helped determine the choice of imagery.

"Sandflats with Seagrass", oil on beach-weathered fiberglass, 4"x18".

“Sandflats with Seagrass”, oil on beach-weathered fiberglass, 4″x18″. This one came together quickly—I just found this piece of fiberglass on the tidal flats on the East End of Provincetown a few weeks ago.

"Gleam over Meadowlands", oil on vintage blackboard, 9.5"x13".

“Gleam over Meadowlands”, oil on vintage blackboard, 9.5″x13″.

The below are several others completed in the past few years.

"Smokey Sky", oil on a child's vintage slate, hanging in my downstairs bathroom.

“Smokey Sky”, oil on a child’s vintage slate, hanging in my downstairs bathroom. Often the color in the slate pieces is warm, reflecting the wood, but this time I used only hints of red in an otherwise tonal palette.

Vertical Road/Contained,    (ASFA)

Vertical Road/Contained, a distressed board in an old file drawer. (Courtesy ASFA)

Winterin6

“Winter in 6”, a vintage tin  tray, use unknown to me.

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

“Hilltop Contour”, oil on a vintage child’s slate. (Courtesy JHG)

And finally, a few favorites that were sold several years back.

Crossings copy

“Crossings”, a weathered board (probably a barrel-bottom) in an antique sifter. (Sold by JHG)

"Smoke in Four",  a distressed, compartmentalized box that was a lucky find. (Sold by ANG)

“Smoke in Four”, a distressed, compartmentalized box that was a lucky find. (Sold by ANG)

IrrigatedFields

“Irrigated Fields”, an object (heavy!!) found on Overlook Mountain near the ruin of the mountain house. Someone once told me exactly what this is, but now I don’t remember! (Sold by ASFA)


Collectors Comment

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.”

 

 

 

 

“This most recent piece that I bought from Christie, “Gleaming Sky” leapt out at me the same way the 27 other pieces that I own did. You’d think by now there is something specific that brings me back to her work time and time again. But that’s just it – there ISNT anything in particular that grabs me – it ALL does. At this point Christie could even pick out ahead of time which of her pieces I will love and add to my “Must Buy” list and which pieces I will enjoy, but aren’t quite my style. That is a gift that she has considering we have already established there isn’t really a consistent pattern to my selections. This particular one I chose for a new bathroom in my house in Woodstock.”

 

 

 

 

“And when you are looking at the painting, and have the windows open listening to the stream, for a second you can actually imagine that the magnificent sound is coming directly from the canvas…It is those kind of intangibles that will keep my collection going for many years.”

 

“(I actually can’t wait to hang your piece … there is a spot on one of my bedroom walls yearning for it.) I remember being so refreshed by this little piece of life — usually, it’s the mist and its depth, the textures in the wetness that I adore in your work. But, the laundry is so fresh! And the textures of the wood and fabric raveling delicately remind me of the depth of the mist. And! … the sun! On the line and in the sunset. I also remember that red/orange warmth. It already had my name on it…”

 

“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.}

{Another vertical, this one a pastel, piece #2.}

 

“When I first saw “River Sunset in 3,” it stopped me in my tracks. The deep orange of the sunset, the mystery of the reflection in the water, strikes a chord deep within me.”

 

{August Tidal Creek, 36″X72″, piece #4 acquired by the above collector last summer.}

 

“What attracts me to her pieces are her use of light and color and shading. You get the feeling of the image without any distinct lines or definition of space, it registers because of the mood the use of shading and lighting creates. The paintings are soft and warm and comforting, even if it’s a painting of what looks to be a rainy night on a dark road. You still feel safe and warm in the painting.”

 

“The box seemed an enigma to me—I was attracted to the warm palette within the warm wooden box. I loved the compositional arrangement within the independent compartments. The piece has an architectural tone to it, yet in a painterly way.”

 

“In my south facing dining room I have an east window, where the sun rises, and a west window where the sun sets.  Above each of these windows I positioned two 14X38 Christie Scheele paintings.  One landscape pictures calm, yet vibrant day light…  “

 

“…and the other landscape shows a warm golden evening light at dusk. I really enjoy how these two paintings interact with each other and complement the space and natural light in my dining area …allowing me to enjoy the mystery of daybreak and dusk at anytime.”


Saltmarshes

The marshes west of Provincetown, where I have been spending more time in recent years, the harbor and Wood End Lighthouse behind.

Grassy areas—moors—bordering the bay, with a small glimpse of tidal creek wending through, fall burnt ochres.
The blacks of the grasses, bordered by olive greens on the edges, are part shadow and part shapes simplified by being counterlit, creating high contrast. The quirky area on the left where the water of the tidal pool and the water of the bay almost meet was a big draw for me, complemented by the dreamy blues in sky and water and white areas infused with subtle pinks. 

The clouds echo the shape of the channel, reversing the angle. At 48″X24″, this is a lot of vertical sky!

My favorite tidal creek, in Brewster, late summer. It is the shapes of this creek, as well as the those of the junipers on the headland beyond, that keep me coming back—both in person, and on the easel.

“Angle of Repose”, the deep red color of winter marshes.

A large piece, 36″X72″, of the tidal Creek in Menemsha, warm tones underneath the greens and white of the sky.
“Acuity”, as the title suggests, explores the angular shapes and diagonal lines that I love, here in a green-white palette.

August 12, 2011 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments