Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “christie scheele

Atlas Project/Hudson River Valley and Catskills

My first fully realized Atlas Project installation opens at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY, on March 31st, 2018. Elaborating on my artist’s statement for my discussion below, I am also including photos of all of the work in the show.

 

Here is the gallery’s press release, nicely weaving together my previous artist’s statement about my paintings with my new Atlas Project statement. Thompson Giroux Gallery and I are very pleased to be pledging a donation from sales to benefit two local land conservancy organizations, a small thank-you to the earth for the beautiful vistas and open spaces that I have been painting for the past decades.

 


 

Forms of Water

Forms of Water, 30″x36″. (G)



The artworks in Christie Scheele‘s solo exhibition Atlas/Hudson River Valley take the viewer on a walk through the Hudson River Valley’s open spaces from Albany south to Manhattan.

In this exhibition Scheele brings together paintings, drawings, printmaking and mixed media and explores the personal and collective connection between our lives today and our increasingly fragile environment. Scheele continues her immersion into open spacious landscape painting. Using soft lines Scheele allows the viewer to sense and experience a particular place in our local environment; the way the light makes you feel at a specific time of day, how a place has it’s own color palette reflecting memory and process. Scheele’s use of color and atmosphere creates a suspended moment to experience the intangible power of nature.

With each destination on the “Site Map” we are invited to take an intimate look at how process, history and memory play a crucial role in our relationship to our natural environment.

In an effort to support our local land conservation initiatives, artist Christie Scheele and Thompson Giroux Gallery pledge 5% of any sales by the artist during Atlas/Hudson River Valley on view March 31-May 6, 2018 to benefit the Columbia Land Conservancy and the Woodstock Land Conservancy.

Please join us Saturday March 31st from 4-6pm for refreshments and live music by Josh Connors & Otto Gardnier.

For more information please visit www.thompsongirouxgallery.com or call 518-392-3336.
Thompson Giroux Gallery is located at 57 Main Street, Chatham NY 12037.

Gallery hours: Thursday – Monday 11am to 5pm, Friday 11am to 7pm.
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Closed Sunday April 1st

Image credit: Christie Scheele, “Forms of Water”, 2016, Oil on Linen, 30″ x 36″.


 

Land and water use have been political since the beginning of our time on earth. As these issues become increasingly critical, I have been catapulted —but also eased, nestled— into expanding the environmental discussion that until now has been mostly implied in my work, putting into context my decades-long celebration of the powerful beauty of our planet.

 

River with Lighthouse, 12″x36″, oil on linen.

 

Ebullient Winter, 18″x24″, oil on linen. (G)

My new Atlas Project maps my work while mapping the world, 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 show these connections, I am working in one thematic grouping at a time, creating a legend, or site map, to each body of work. The Site Map is a key both to a given installation and to the region or theme that it explores.

 

 

The Site Map for Atlas/Hudson River Valley, the first of these exhibitions, is created with collage on a Rand McNally road map of the river valley, the Catskills, and our wider region. It contains numbered mini-monotypes of all of the oil paintings on view and corresponding map tacks showing the locale depicted on the map.

 

Site Map with Extensions, as it appears on the gallery wall.

 

Extensions of the Site Map include Mapping Memory, lino/mono prints of regional flora and fauna with written personal observations; a collaged and monoprinted map of the source of the river in the Adirondacks; a collage of the Hudson Canyon, extending 400 miles out to sea from NY Harbor; and a fourth extension discussing climate change and local impacts.

 

 

 

Using drawing, printmaking, pasteling, writing, and mixed-media along with oil paintings, I am exploring the interrelationships of process, history, and memory. These are revealed not only by air, land, and water but also by my materials and personal history as an artist, family and community member, and frequent inhabitant of the outdoor world.

The Atlas Project text is therefore a blend of natural history and personal memory.  For the Atlas/Hudson River Valley site map I decided to tuck the text of my stories into an envelope that I created with rice paper. You can see these along the left-hand side of the Site Map, and an open one below:

 

Detail from left-hand panel, “Mapping Memory”.

Other bits of writing get more into the life-cycle of the wildlife depicted. I chose the species included in the map based on my interactions with them but also on a long-standing fascination. We probably all have these — how amazing, to me, is the Red Eft, so bright among the fauna of the NE United States? How cool is the life-cycle? Here is my story about these creatures:

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that the salamanders that I caught as a child near Oneonta, NY, are the same creatures as the Red Efts that I greet after every rain or heavy dew on the trails of the Catskills.

They have three life stages: the first after hatching in ponds; the second when they turn from brown to red and lose their gills, traveling on land for several years to find a new body of water. Finally, in their adult phase the tail widens, and they turn back into a greenish-brown color, living and breeding as aquatic animals with lungs to complete their 12-15-year life span.

At eight I was enamored of catching and releasing in a pond that we swam in during summer months. On one occasion I brought two newts home in a mayonnaise jar, stocked with moss and bits from the bottom of the pond. I changed the water every day with nearby creek water and left the jar under a big tree on our lawn, dropping in small insects from time to time.

One day I spotted eggs in the moss. Such anticipation!

A few days later we heard young voices coming from our front yard just after dark, and looked out to see two boys walking away. The next morning, I found my jar empty of water and newts, the eggs drying in the sun.

 

 

Reflected Suns, 32″x48″, oil on linen.

Printmaking become an integral part of Atlas/Hudson River Valley. Below are two monotype versions of the image used in “Reflected Suns”, exploring the more graphic possibilities of the medium.

 

MReflected Sun #2, 10″x16″, monotype. (Sold)

 

MReflected Sun #1, 10″x16″, monotype. (G)

And the mini-monotype on the Site Map (placement of these had to do with compositional concerns, as the numbers and map tacks are what identify the precise locales):

 

 

The first energy and ideas for this project evolved in 2016. That fall, I was experiencing profound grief over election results and their potential to set policy that will accelerate climate change. I was also contemplating a scheduled residency on Nantucket in February of 2017, and my upcoming 60th birthday later on that year. The second two factors prompted a question—how do I want to expand and deepen my range as an artist? The first, my accelerating concern over the health of our planet, gave me direction.

This extension to the Site Map addresses the issue of global warming:

 

 

These two recent monotypes reflect a view of a section of  the Schoharie Creek valley in summer and then during the massive storm flooding caused by Irene:

 

MVroman’s Nose/Green Fields, 8″x10″. (Sold)

 

Vroman’s Nose/Flooded Fields. (Sold)

And two additional monotypes of our region:

 

MSweeping Sky with Fields, 8″x10″, monotype. (Sold)

 

MWhite Field #1, 8″x10″, monotype. (G)

 

The Nantucket residency produced a prototype Site Map where I first used the idea of making small monotype prints of the oil paintings to be included in the grouping or show. It is a very rich process, artistically, entering a new world as you are creating it, and also full of the discomfort of facing the unknown. To read about my residency, go to this link to my blog post:

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

 

I so loved the collaging-on-a-map process while working on the Site Map that I decided to create some of these as stand-alone art pieces. The first, below, leaves much of the under-map showing, and in addition to pattern and magazine papers; samaras, wasp galls, and other bits and bobs, I hand dyed some of the green papers used for the Catskill Park area.

 

Atlas/Hudson River, 18″x14″, mixed media/collage on Rand McNally Road Map on board. (Sold)

 

I live in the High Peaks area of the Catskills, so many of the pieces in this show are images of the mountains, roadways, streams, and of course, the Ashokan Reservoir, seen above in blue within the Park.

 

Esopus Mists, 12″x12″, oil on linen. (G)

 

Indigoes with Glowing Light, 18″x24″, oil on linen.

 

Affinity/Dusk Road, 30″x30″, oil on linen with frayed edges on primed board overlaid with graphite gridding.

 

Another collage, also of the River, is more tightly composed and with more contrast than the first, and includes the small river towns of Kingston, Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie, and Newburg.

 

Atlas/HV Collage, 2 panels of 16″x8″/ea.

 

For the third, following my own lead with the Site Map extension, I hand-died rice papers in varied blues to reinterpret the Hudson Canyon, the below-water extension of the river itself.

 

Hudson Canyon Collage, 12″x12″. (G)

 

The Hudson River originates in Lake Tear of the Clouds, in a remote area of the Adirondacks, as pinpointed in the upper extension, above. It empties out into New York Harbor:

 

Harbor with Soft Light, 13″x20″, pastel on paper.

 

Many images are Hudson views between NYC and Hudson, NY. The stretch between Poughkeepsie and and Saugerties is well-traveled in the summer by us in our small lake boat. Lower sections are often views from bridges and the train.

 

2 Shores/Reflected Sun, 12"x12".

2 Shores/Reflected Sun, 12″x12″, oil on linen.

 

Refracted Golds, 20″x40″, oil on linen. (Sold)

 

Downriver, 24″x24″, oil on linen.

 

River with Big Sky, 24″x30″, oil on linen. (G)

 

Rare Summer Silence, 20″x30″, oil on linen.

 

River Island with Castle, 9″x36″, oil on board.

 

Gleaming Bridge, 20″x40″, oil on linen.

 

Affinity/Shore Lights, 16″x8″, oil/linen/board/graphite gridding.

 

Red River Shore, 20"x30".

Red River Shore, 20″x30″, oil on linen. (G)

 

This is not a catalogue of all of the wonderful views of the HV and Catskills, but rather an organically created collection of a number of the paintings that I have done over the past 10 years or so of our region. In this way, the grouping is a bit of a retrospective.

I am frequently hiking and driving around both the East side of the Hudson, into the Berkshires, as well as the West side, reaching into of the foothills of the Catskills, providing sources for some favorite views of the river itself as well as farm fields and hillsides.

Triptych in Reds, 24″x24″/ea. panel, oil on linen.

 

Long Storm Cloud, 8″X28″, pastel on paper.

 

Meadow with Peaks, 14″X18″. (Sold)

 

Trees with Mist, 18"x48", $4,200.

Trees with Mists, 18″x48″, oil on linen. (G)

 

Mountain Sky/Blues, 24″x48″, oil on linen. (G)

 

 

“September Dawn”, 10″x28″, pastel on paper. (Sold)

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ParticularityPlace

Particularity of Place, 36″x36″, oil on linen. (G)

 

layersofmeaning

Layers of Meaning, 30″x24″, oil on linen. (G)

 

Snow Fields, 12″x12″, oil on linen. (G)

 

Snow Shadows, 12″x12″, oil on linen. (G)

 

The final study done for a large piece in oil, now sold, inspired by the Maya Lin Wave Field at Storm King:

Green Waves, 5″x28.5″, oil on paper.

My upcoming groupings will include Atlas/Forms of Water, and Atlas/Cape Cod, the former creating overlap with the place-based themes and requiring a different solution for the map (I am thinking maps, actually).

I alternate between focusing on aspects of this work that I am currently inventing and my continued immersion in my open, spacious landscape paintings, looking to draw it all together into a cohesive whole, mirroring the wholeness of life on earth.

 

Sweeping Greens/Jostling Trees, 28″x68″, oil on linen. (Sold)

A link to the Violet Snow article in the WoodstockTimes:

https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2018/04/02/artist-christie-scheeles-map-magic/

Many thanks to those who have helped this project along: my husband, Jack, for design and paste-up help; Kate McGloughlin of the Woodstock School of Art for teaching me monotype techniques; Mary Emery for inspiring my rediscovery of printmaking; The Artists Association of Nantucket for hosting the residency that advanced this work; Polly Law for brainstorming titles (including “Atlas Project” itself) and language with me; Jenny Nelson for being my sounding board; Loel Barr for showing me some of her cool collage techniques; Thompson Giroux Gallery for planning and mounting this large and complex solo show; Geoffrey Rogers for his expert framing; and Mark Loete for the perfect photographs of the Site Map and extensions.

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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)


Tidal Flats

“Sunset Contours”, 20″X20″, an intense moment when the setting sun coincides with the lowest tide, creating very black flats framing tidal pools.

Back on the Flats

Vacations, especially family ones, can be complex, and even when things go smoothly, it often takes a few days to relax.

On the tidal flats in Brewster on the Cape, it only takes me about three minutes into my first walk to melt into a blissed-out state, which is then repeated every time I set foot on the wet sand. From the beach entrance, it doesn’t look like much (where did all the water go?). Once you are striding across the sandflats, though, the effect is riveting. The shifting sky is vividly reflected in the tidal pools, so different from when the waves come in at high tide on the bay, and the constantly changing shapes of sandbars and tidal pools as I walk the mile or so out to the last bar are elegant and mesmerizing. The knowledge that I am walking on the bottom of the bay, that in a few hours the water on the sandbar that I tread will be over my head, intensifies the ephemeral wonder of the moment. My body in motion creates a stream of new shapes and colors, the movement of the tide alters the shapes of the tidal pools and sandbars, and the sky’s constant change is reflected in the pools. I move with purpose, as if I have a happy but important job to do.

Over the years, I become more and more fascinated with watching it in all its familiarity and constant transformation.

For a landscape painter, sense of place is always key. I often contend, though, that for the artist the painting needs to be more important than the place—that to even capture the place, any place, you need to keenly focus on the dynamics of color, composition, surface, and edges, while engaged in the process, and that mood will follow. The tidal flats experience transends this argument perfectly, though, providing the feel that I want to evoke both in my work and to experience while working—wide open, expansive, joy-infused serenity set in moments of crystalline focus—and this over a period of time, the body moving and engaged.

Moving from bliss to pictoral analysis, the shapes of the sandbars, tidal pools, and clouds over the flats lend themselves to the kind of color field painting that I love—essentially and yet barely a landscape. The interlocking shapes of the elements are sometimes subtle and others assertive; sometimes elegant and others odd, and like nothing else in the natural world.

Binary of mutually exclusive truths: the essence of sense of place and the purest abstraction.

“Blue Cloud” , 12″X12″, a storm rolling in over the flats.

“Blue Tidal Pool”, 20″X24″, all about the direction of the clouds.

Commanding Angles, 12″X24″, one of the quirkiest and most abstract pieces.

Evening Clouds, 12″X12″, the sky with two different types of clouds, the piece about angles and mood.

Sandflats with Cloudbank, 40″X50″, a color field painting, though the flats and sky really did look like that!

Vertical Sky over Tidal Pools, 36″X12″, the format seems counter-intuitive, but the slight tension created forces the eye back on the composition.