Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “composition

Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus: June Newsletter

Our hot, dry June has been a boost for my studio work, and with some ample watering, my garden as well.

 

 

Paintings have been drying readily in the yard, allowing me to move onto painting another layer or dry a finished piece after just a day of sunshine.

 

Castle, 18″x52″, available for viewing in my yard/studio.

 

Tidal Creek with Mackerel Sky, 48″x24″, now safely delivered to the Louisa Gould Gallery on MV.

 

First up in my news, I am open to scheduling yard/studio visits. I have contemplated an open studio/yard event, but am not ready for that quite yet, and also continue to be busy with painting deadlines. Maybe I will feel ready in a few weeks, or in August.

One of the reasons that I hesitate is because I have seen many of my friends and neighbors relax their guard around closer contact with others and mask wearing. The more that happens the more we become, as a community, a network with multiple access points, as far as the virus is concerned. We need to circle back to what we have learned: we cannot trust anyone, not even ourselves, to not have the virus. The virus is entirely untrustworthy, and not in our control. And growing, nationwide. So, distancing and masks—same old lesson. Rinse, repeat.

That said, the outdoors now provides us with wonderful opportunities for safe encounters. So if you would like to visit my studio, we can select a nice-weather day, and with masks you can take a turn around my studio and ask to see particular pieces outside on one of my tables or an easel.

I have done quite a bit of this sort of contact, taking walks with friends and having a BYO everything picnic, 10-12 feet apart with masks and 3-4 feet with them. You get used to it, though it remains hard with family.  And if this reminder is a downer, I am as weary of it as anyone, but see no other course that makes any sense but to stay the course…and live fully in every other possible way.

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In exciting June news, the delivery to Martha’s Vineyard of this season’s new pieces has been safely accomplished, and the Louisa Gould Gallery reopened a few weeks back, following the Massachusetts timeline and protocols.

 

Long Wave, 12″X48″.

 

Tidal Creek with Summer Greens, 24″x24″.

 

Soft Glow over Tidal Flats, 30″x60″.

 

My other galleries that have been able to reopen are Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck (weekends only), with a large selection of my work:

 

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

 

Summer Hillside, 30″x30″.

And Gallery Jupiter in Little Silver, NJ:

 

Summer Moors, 2 panels of 12″x12″/ea.

 

Affinity/On the Grid, 36″x48″.

 

My online show with Butters Gallery continues. A piece that they have in Portland, OR, was in my thoughts earlier today when we had a strong thunderstorm, complete with hail:

 

Catskills with Walking Rain, 36″x36″.

 

The View from Here, 24″x36″, in the online show and currently in my studio.

Link to the work in the show:

https://www.buttersgallery.com/Artist-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=486&ppage=120

As I prepare to begin work on another commissioned painting, I still have a glow from the recently finished one, a 6’x8′ canvas installed in a private home at the beginning of this month. Here is my blog post on this ambitious piece created during the constraints of the shutdown, in case you missed it:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2020/06/09/a-large-commission-art-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/

Recent sales have included these pieces, through the Louisa Gould Gallery:

 

Summer Marsh with Junipers, 40″x40″, 2019.

 

Seaview Dusk, 18″x24″.

And this one, through Albert Shahinian Fine Art:

 

Path, 48″x40″.

Last but most definitely not least, I am teaching my color-mixing workshop remotely through the Woodstock School of Art, 10-11 am for four Mondays in July, starting July 6th. It has been an enjoyable challenge consolidating the information to fit into the time frame; the live-stream requirements and limitations; and to a lecture/demo rubric (as opposed to my usual conversational style). You can see more here:

 

CHRISTIE SCHEELE COLOR MIXING FOR PAINTERS ONLINE COURSE

 

 

If you are an artist who works with color, how would you mix these greens? Green is very complex because it is to begin with a secondary color, made up of blue and yellow. So, it can go toward the yellow or toward the blue; also toward the brown; and then there are tints, tones, and shades. The below doesn’t even go very brown or yellow, but you could still mix a palette with dozens of colors to capture the nuance.

 

 

Happy greens of summer!


A Large Commission/ Art in the Time of Coronavirus

In this post I will be documenting the planning, preparation, and creation of a 6’x8′ painting for returning clients through my Rhinebeck gallery, Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

The project has presented special challenges because of state restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. The planning began before our abrupt quarantines, and the piece was finished in late May, framed, and installed June 6th.

I met these folks at a reception at the gallery on February 15th. What followed was a  31 email chain discussing various possibilities for their beautiful, big wall:

 

 

They already had a good-sized marsh painting of mine, acquired from ASFA years ago when the gallery was located in Poughkeepsie:

 

 

A sea view was always the idea, either open sea or with Chatham sandbars or with big surf. I sent multiple jpegs with ideas and they sent me many others. It seemed that they liked several of the ideas and had to go through a process of narrowing down, until they honed in on their choice, a view of blue sea, sandbars, and Monomoy from a favorite bit of beach in Chatham, MA.

These were a few of my pieces that they were drawn to initially:

 

Carrying On, 6″x12″, oil on board.

 

Long Wave, 12″x48″.

 

Moving Clouds, 24″x48″.

In an email about 25 in, the clients were dialing in:

  • In the first attachment, Moving Clouds: we really like the way you have angled the beach in contrast to the horizon. We feel this will work well with your rendition of the CBI waterfront.  We also think that having a more active sky would be good, since the water is usually tranquil inside the bar.
  • The second attachment shows the near shore section of the beach that we hope you might be able to represent similar to the way you already mentioned, “show just a bit of beach, a simplified swath of beach grasses off to the right… And some sky interest.”  We would like to see more beach than grass though.  We recognized that you would not be painting  the scene exactly as is, and that is fine with us.  We are going for something that looks natural, but for those of us who know the area, we can easily imagine it as the same section of shoreline.
  • The third picture can be found at the following website. We really love the colors and contrast of the water and the nearshore beach, the middle bars, and the bright sand of the outer bar.  We are hoping you could incorporate these elements along with the above.

All of this made perfect sense, after the discussions that we had already had. And since all of it is also perfectly within a subject matter that I hold dear and in my signature style, I was more than happy with their choice. That it wasn’t a tweaked or reformatted version of something that I had done before made it exciting and fresh.

I was lucky with several of the logistics that could have proven difficult under quarantine. First, that I could have a stretcher made in the needed size through my Vermont custom stretcher-makers  Brickyard Enterprises—that they were healthy and willing and had the supplies. Next, that when I contacted Claussens linen in Belgium I was assured that the weight linen that I like to use —for its lovely slubbed surface–would be fine for a canvas of that size. Lastly, that I could get a porch drop-off delivery from Brickyard, since this canvas would not come even close to fitting in my Volvo wagon.

I always start a commission with a study, usually oil on paper and small, in the 8″x10″ range but to scale with the desired piece. Approval of the study is sought before moving forward. I agreed with the clients that the size of the painting called for a larger study, and when I realized that I had a 30″x40″ on hand , perfectly to scale with 6’x8′,  I suggested that we do a way bigger study…seemed to make sense with a way big painting.

 

The day before the delivery of the stretched canvas, the clients decided to come by for a porch-viewing of the 30″x40″ study, since they were having a hard time seeing the true colors from the jpeg. I was so glad that they did, since it put a few questions to rest, and they left very happy.

 

Canvas (with 30×40 study) in my studio awaiting a sunny day for priming.

Priming with my usual off-black gesso proved to be a challenge. I usually do this flat, but realized that I wouldn’t be able to reach the middle section that way, so I opted to prop it on the ground against a table that I use for various outdoor jobs. I wired the back of the stretcher to the sides of the table with picture wire so that the wind wouldn’t catch it, which turned out to be a wise precaution later in the day when the breeze picked up.

 

 

I positioned the canvas so that the sun didn’t hit the front, since the gesso goes on more smoothly if it stays damp.

The first coat is wettest and the last coat the thickest, following an oft-used maxim in painting, thick over thin. I sand lightly between coats, and even very lightly, at the end.

 

After the second coat. With the third, I also do the sides.

 

By the end of coat #3, five hours later, I was exhausted. Using a 5-inch house-painting brush, the gesso has to be thoroughly worked into the fibers of the linen, and quickly. The physical part was one thing—wrist and shoulder of my right arm, though I did try to use the left a bit—but the mental another altogether.

My understanding is that repetitive motion releases serotonin in the brain, something that we enjoy with, for example, running or walking. So maybe that explains the level of brain-dead that I felt at the end of the afternoon. It was unlike anything I had felt before, like I was stunned into absolute mental disfunction. You might think that this would be accompanied with euphoria, but it was not!

The next day, canvas back in my studio, I was not satisfied with the evenness of my priming job and, knowing that once I started painting I would be stuck with whatever it was, I did a forth spot- coat and some very careful sanding, and then got the canvas back up on my easel (with help…a two-person job).

Next up: mix a palette, making a range of blues, sand colors, and a few greens, and adding nice amounts of my wax medium for easy spreading on the absorbent gesso.

 

 

Establishing the horizon line was the first step in applying paint. For such a large canvas, it is hard to see proportion while working up close and impossible get a level line without measuring. I used, as I have before, a standard equation for proportion, in this case x is to 72″ (the height of my canvas) as 30″ is to 40″, the height and width of the study: and so I came up with the placement for the horizon and measured across a few times. The sea does need to be level at the horizon, gravity doing its work. Then eyeballing it, I decided I wanted it a little higher.

 

 

Many passages in the painting of this large version can and will be spontaneous and based upon a lot of coming forward to paint and backward to examine. But given how hard it is to see proportion while working up close, it has been very helpful to measure based on the study and not reinvent the wheel at every turn. I calculated that one inch of study is equal to 2.4″ in the large piece, and then deviated a bit where I saw fit as the painting evolved.

This clip of video catches a bit of the of the process:

 

The next week, a pic of the painting after one layer was completed:

 

 

The composition and all of the major shapes have been worked out, following what was established in the study and then shifted a bit where it felt natural to do so.

I add layers of paint to an area based on what, to my eye, needs brightening up. For this painting, it ended up being three to four layers, with the original dark gesso showing through very subtly to mitigate flatness. I am at heart a minimalist, so often less is more in terms of detail; but within each area there is a good deal of color shift and soft brush work.

Going up in size means more play in each area of color. For example, going from a swath of green salt grass on the outer bar an inch high in the 30″x40″,  to two and a half in the 6’x8′ gave me room to segue from varied warm greens (with quite a lot of white in them) above to some burnt reds at the edge of the sand. This created a visual link to the reds in the lighter sand colors, and also explores the warm green to warm red color-wheel interaction (think olive green to burnt sienna).

This is the final version, signed off on when the collectors visited for another yard viewing. You can see the difference in luminosity.

 

 

The way that I explain my version of minimalism is to point out that if you try to pack too many elements into a painting, it is hard to fully see and appreciate any of them. Further, the openness of large shapes and soft edges creates a strong composition that works with the image, or view, to invite contemplation.  In that way my pieces are very much about the painting as abstraction, while also expressing a strong sense of place.

Named Chatham Bars by the collectors, signed in front with my initials and labeled on the back with my name, title of the piece, medium, dimensions and date, the piece was ready for framing.  The final step in the whole process for me was to get the piece to my framer extraordinaire, Geoffrey Rogers, in Pine Hill. It’s a short hop from here, but still required hiring a mover, due to the size.

The clients had requested a walnut floater frame, so Geoff created his own molding, which he hand-finished. He suffered a broken collar-bone in the middle of the process after a bicycle mishap, so help from his son moved the project forward to completion. Here is the painting in the shop, awaiting pick up from Albert Shahinian.

 

 

I wasn’t there for the installation, which was carried off by Albert and another art installer that he brought on board, with help from the clients. As you can imagine, getting a large painting up on this wall was a process.

 

 

 

Chatham Bars, at home.

 

This project was particularly meaningful for me in the midst of staying home during the pandemic. It not only created a complex, multilayered point of focus for me, but also worked so beautifully as metaphor—a very large canvas of a particularly open and expansive view being created within a set of constraints unprecedented in our lifetime.

 

Special thanks to my husband Jack and son Tony, one of whom had to help with every out-into-the-sun and back into the studio later; each up-and-down from the easel to work different sections; and the final in and out of the truck for delivery to my framer. One day when unexpected dark clouds blew up and I was home alone, I managed to get it into the studio with no damage to myself or the painting…which made me appreciate all of the help even more.


Spring 2019

This last week of April/first in May I am hard at work preparing paintings to go to Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard. My sixth season with the gallery—and 20+ showing on the Vineyard—we are in a good groove together, and both excited about this line-up for the season.

 

Surging Swell, 48″x48″.

 

Menemsha Summer, 36″x66″.

 

Chillmark View, 40″x40″.

 

Summer Marsh with Junipers, 40″x40″.

 

Seaview Dusk, 18″x24″.

 

Setting Sun, 12″x12″.

 

For more, you can go to the gallery website:

http://www.louisagould.com/gallery/search/results/?q=Christie%20Scheele&exb_id=0&n=0&k=0&d=0&m=2&a=1&subject=0&medium=0&p=0&page=1

A recent sale at Louisa Gould Gallery was the winning selection of a fellow who thoroughly researched my galleries’ websites and then sent inquires about pieces that he liked to five different galleries. After careful consideration, this is what he chose:

 

Mutable Blues, 24″x36″.

 

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Reaching back to last winter…gone but not forgotten. I taught my Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape workshop at the Woodstock School of Art. This is a very structured course, especially the first day+, dialing in on compositional shifts and how they affect movement, directionality, and mood. I always love what evolves, and this incarnation was no exception.

Here are a few of the student-executed exercises.

First, just hillside and tree or two in black gesso. Then move them around; change angle and division of picture plane; different type of tree. Several thought to break up the hillside.

 

These are all done by different students.

 

One student’s take during day #2, adding color and further tweaking the shapes.

 

Day #3, a another student’s painterly version.

 

This workshop feels like a slow flowering from tightly following direction early on to a much more open expression, integrating lessons learned along the way. I feel grateful for the trust that I am given to lead this guided work, since at the beginning of the workshop students feel a little hemmed in and have to go on faith that there are reasons for this, and that we are headed somewhere quite satisfying.

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The first quarter of 2019 has been busy not just in the normal progression of events, projects, and deadlines, but also unusually so in the shear number and complexity of sales. Some of these required a fair bit of waltzing on my part, often accompanied by one of my galleries or consultants and assisted by my husband.

As you can imagine, each of these has a story.

A few of these stories:

In late February a designer I work with in Piermont NY, Ned Kelly, called in regard to the large painting below, wanting to show it to a client who already owned a smaller piece of mine. So off we went, my husband and I, that painting and a few others in tow, to meet up with the designer at the client’s home.

 

Engaging Greens, 36″x66″.

The piece actually didn’t work in the planned spot, so Ned headed upstairs to look for another likely wall, finding it above the bed in the master bedroom, across from my smaller piece that they owned.

With five people in a huge house, conversations splintered off, grouping and regrouping. By the time the painting was settled upon and the below smaller piece brought in from the car and actually installed, we had ranged far and wide, through good-natured expletive-laced teasing and the performative appearance of a shot gun. Add in two gorgeous dogs and a couple of cute kids and you have the whole picture.

 

County Mayo in Summer, 10″x30″.

 

Shortly after that I picked up a phone message from a person unknown to me but with a familiar last name, inquiring about a piece on my website. She turned out to be the new wife of a long-time friendly acquaintance. He and his (now I am understanding) ex-wife had remained on my mailing list for some years since I had last seen them, and I had been picturing them together, with the visiting grown kids and grandkids, exactly where I had seen them every summer for about twenty years.

But big changes had taken place. His new wife wanted to purchase a piece for her husband for their 3rd wedding anniversary. Apparently, the first wife had gotten the painting that they owned in the divorce (something I hear fairly often, actually) and he had been forwarding my invitations and updates along to his new wife, expressing enthusiasm for my work.

I had assumed years of silence meant lack of interest. But this is why I don’t take anyone off my mailing list unless they ask to be removed—I never know who is looking and enjoying and who deletes without opening.

So, after much back-and-forth and a delivery of three pieces for a staged viewing on the anniversary itself, this five-part vertical seascape was selected. I even got to have lunch and catch up with my old friend when he brought the other two paintings back to my area.

 

Seablues with Sun, five panels of 8″x8″/ea.; 40″x8 overall.

There is something in this story that feels very rich to me, maybe starting with the fact that it spans decades of time. There is a lot of life-essence in it—changes, losses, new beginnings, time passing, reconnections, and tracing the timelines of entwined lives.

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We did a pop-up house party, a big collaborative effort, in Riverdale, NY. I hadn’t done one of these since the several that I did about a decade ago with Asher Nieman Gallery:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/open-studio-house-party/

My co-conspirators this time were Albert Shahinian Fine Art, my husband, and my sister and brother-in-law, who opened up their apartment for the event. With this crew I had a driver; art handlers; a chef; a party planner; and a galleriest. Lucky me!

 

The living room with artwork installed for the party.

 

A low-light hallway where these three 12″x12″s worked very nicely.

 

Below, a few of the pieces that departed for new homes:

 

Sundrenched Saltmarsh, 20″x16″.

 

Blue Dusk, oil on board in vintage drawer, 12″x3″x2d”.

 

The View from There #2, monotype, 10″x16″.

 

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I have two very different workshops coming up in May and June in the Catskills.

At the Emerson Resort in Mount Tremper, for all levels, an exploration of the imagery of our beautiful Catskill Mountains in May color:

Arts & Culture Packages

And in June, for more experienced painters looking to explore a different concept:

 

https://woodstockschoolofart.org/course/multiple-panel-paintings/

 

On deck in my studio is another incarnation of my environmentally -themed Atlas Project.  Atlas/Forms of Water, a solo show, will open at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck this September, exact date TBA.

This show will feature all sorts of water imagery along with a new site map, in progress below. Along with the oil paintings, look for map pieces in collage and lino/mono print exploring climate change and sea level rise/storm flooding.

Site map for Atlas/Forms of Water, 48″x36″, in progress.

This builds on the show that I had at Thompson Giroux Gallery last spring, Atlas/Hudson River Valley (you can see the site map for that show in the upper left background). If you missed seeing or reading about the show, here is the link to my blog post on it:

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

Forms of Water explores a more a global rather that locale-specific theme, though my personal forms of water have most often been experienced in the Northeast.

 

Harbor with Shifting Light, 18″x24″.

 

Also upcoming, a small duo show with my friend Polly Law at the Roxbury Arts Group; more workshops; and fresh work heading to Nantucket. More on all of this soon!

 

If you are not on my mailing list and would like to be, contact me at scheeleart@gmail.com.

 


Sweetest Sales, Part Two

In 2011 I wrote a post describing some quirky and heartwarming stories that led to a sale or sales of my work:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/sweetest-sales

 

Since then, I have accumulated a few more that I want to share.

 

My seven-year-old collector:

Several years ago I was approached by acquaintances who live in our little hamlet. Could their younger daughter interview me for a school project on her favorite artist?

Juliet had accompanied her father Brett to an open studio I had hosted several months prior, and so thought of me (the other kids did mostly Picasso or Van Gogh, I think!).

So we did that, and then Juliet returned to my studio for a private art class. Her mom, Rebecca–who I barely knew, at that point—read in the yard while we did our session, and at the end she came into the studio and we chatted. Juliet was still quite shy at that time, but summoned her courage to ask me how much I charged for my paintings. Her mother feared that the question was rude, but I said, no, that asking for price in an artist’s studio was perfectly acceptable.

So I pointed to a 36″x36″ and said, “This painting will go out to one of my galleries shortly and is priced at $6,000”, and then I pointed to a few other pieces in a stack and continued, “but those pieces in this stack” and I pulled out one that had been in the possession of my sister for years, “are much, much older and I will sell to a friend for a few hundred dollars”.

Her mom and I continued chatting, and then Juliet tugged on her  mothers clothing. “MOM, I want to buy a painting.” Rebecca was floored and a little embarrassed, so I picked up what I thought was just a conversational ball. “Juliet, if you were going to buy a painting, which one would it be?

“That one”—she pointed to the stack, where I had stashed the earlier piece behind a few others. I pulled it out again. “I want to buy THAT one.” Her mom tried to backtrack, or at least table the conversation for later, but Juliet was having none of it. “How much would you charge me for it?”

I thought quickly. I could certainly have happily gifted her the piece, it was clear that she wanted to purchase it. So I told her that I would sell that painting to her for $150. “MOM, she said, I have savings and I WANT to buy the painting.” It went back and forth like that for a bit, Juliet also insisting that they take the painting NOW.

And so they did.

Her parents made the great call to have her go with them to the bank and make her first ever withdrawal and then bring me the money herself.

The angelic-looking and very strong-willed young artist:

 

 

I have since enjoyed getting to know the whole family better, as Brett and Rebecca have acquired a few pieces of their own and we have shared a glass of wine or two.

 

“Blue Ridges”, also in the family’s collection.

 

__________________    _____________________________________________    ____________________

 

She googled “Moody Greenscapes”:

 

“Hi,

I was wondering if Green Waves was available?  I have a perfect spot for this painting in my new home and love the story behind this piece on your blog.”
Here is the post that she found:
This sort of email often leads to a discussion about the shipper because…you guessed it…it is a scam.
But of course, I answered politely, not knowing that for sure:
“Yes, the piece is at my gallery in Rhinebeck, Albert Shahinian Fine Art. Someone has been nibbling on it, but has not yet moved.
I am glad that you like the story, as of course, do I!
Where do you live? Would we be delivering (nyc metro area) or shipping? I will loop the gallery in as soon as we figure a few things like that out.”
Then it became clear that we had a price misunderstanding, because there was the big piece itself:

 

 

Green Waves, 13″x76″ overall, oil on linen.

 

And the study for the piece:

 

Second and final small version of Green Wave., oil on paper, 5″x28″.

 

So that was just about that for that, as she explained:

 

“Unfortunately I was hoping the price of the piece was the other one I had seen online since $8,000 is definitely beyond our budget.  This would only be my second piece of original art so we are just now starting out.
I certainly appreciate your response though and congratulate you on beautiful work.  I found you from doing a google image search. I knew I wanted a moody greenscape and from one click to another I found Green Waves.”
Meanwhile, I did offer to look for a different piece:
“If I charged that price for the larger one, it would not even cover the cost of the frame, I am afraid, after gallery commission. This is an expensive business to be in!
If you would like to carry this a little further (I would be honored to be represented in your second piece of original art), we might be able to find something more affordable that you like.”
And then, some communication–she really did love that piece, and it was perfect for her spot—some silence—a bit of dickering— discussion with her husband—much back and forth between me and my galleriest Albert Shahinian—but only about a month later, altogether:
“I can’t believe I get to have Green Waves in our home.  I am so excited. I still cannot believe that not only did I spend so much on a piece of real actual art (instead of all the TJmaxx wall decor I have going on), but that I did so on a piece without first seeing it in person.  All that being said there is no doubt in my mind.  I LOVE love this piece and know i will love it even more in our home.”
And then finally, after Albert packed and shipped the long, heavy piece:
“It’s breath taking.
Thank-you”
____________    ______________________________________________    _____________

Painting from 1987:

A few months ago I received an email from a fellow asking about the inspiration for this painting:

 

Sisters painting, 40″x50″, 1987.

I have to say, I was very excited to see this piece, to me a standout from my abstract figurative period in the 1980’s when I was living in NYC. I remembered the sale of it to a woman who was accustomed to collecting high-end work, and I had always wondered if/how long she had held onto it. Frankly, given what else she had on her walls in her Sutton Place apartment, I was afraid that it had ended up in a dumpster.

It turned out that she does indeed really love her art–all of it, no dumpsters—even those pieces that have been switched around to different residences and in and out of storage. A few years ago, she offered to gift this piece to her sometimes personal assistant/friend and her husband. And so, it ended up in their California home…and sparked the inquiry.

I was communicating with Rich, the husband, batting info back and forth. Eventually, it was his idea to purchase two small pieces to go on either side, accommodating their budget. After studying the photo of their living room with the painting (which we started calling simply the “Sisters” painting, as is is a stylized image of me with my sister Karin behind me), I realized that monotypes would be the best bet, both for color/affect and for price. I recommended going with the pop of warm color that is in the painting, rather than trying to match the greens.

Then the couple decided that they wanted two more prints, for other spots in the room. I sent the four of them off and the next day got the email below:

“Love them! Thank you.  I can’t wait to get them framed!

Love them, love them, love them!”

Framing options—the final decision was the warm mat, since these two are printed on ochre-colored paper.

 

These are the other two that they acquired:

 

Monotype/Divided Fields.

 

Monotype/Mountain Stream.

 

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Does a gift qualify as a sale?

Some 12 or so years ago we had a holiday party and Gary Alexander, art and science writer from Woodstock, came with his girlfriend. He had been introduced to me years before by my then-gallery, the James Cox Gallery, and had gone on to, over time, write extensively about my work. (This included an 8 page article that got into Freud and brain science and required some serious focus, even for me.)

I had my studio heated and lit that night for those who wanted to take a look, and Gary, of course, did. After a bit of circulating on his part, we went out together and he pretty quickly got snagged by a 36″x36″ painting that was almost totally in black and white, big stormy sky gleam over our Catskill mountains backlit to black.

I can’t find a jpeg of the piece, but it had a look very similar to this one, but with a black mountain range in front:

 

 

 

A bit later, when I went back out with another friend, Gary’s partner was kneeing on the floor, rapt, in front of the same painting.

A few months later, this piece began to—ugh!—develop fine cracks in the surface. It was a new brand of stretched linen I had tried, quite pricey, and I think now was actually stretched too tight, a rare thing. Sadly, this painting was not going out to one of my galleries, even though these cracks were not visible from a few yards back.

I knew immediately what to do. I called Gary and left a message on his machine. Can you come by the studio, I have a surprise for you?

He was there within the hour. A gentle, laconic fellow, he did not stay around to chat after I gave him the painting, but his face said it all.

I am quite sure that it was the last time I saw him. He passed away in 2017.

I hope his girlfriend is still enjoying  the painting.

 

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To Madrid on the private jet:

 

One more, a quick one, because that is how the sale happened.

 

In June of 2017 a fellow was drawn into my gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, the Louisa Gould Gallery, by a very large marsh painting in the window. That piece was too big, but sitting still wrapped in the gallery was my season’s delivery, dropped by my husband earlier that day. The fellow, from Madrid, helped unwrap a new 44″x68″, and fell in love with the piece instantly. His wife concurred. Problem was, would it fit in their private jet?

Just then, his pilot walked by the front of the gallery and was promptly hailed. Would this piece fit? Hurried consultation in Spanish. Yes, it would!

The piece was wrapped back up and invoiced and paid for, and out the door it went.

The whole encounter took about 20 minutes.

 

Rolling Cloud, 44″x68″.

 

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I have been steadily selling my work for decades, resulting in many hundreds of pieces going out to homes, offices, and public collections around the country and the world. These stories remind me to be grateful for each and every one of those sales, but you can see that most of the ones that stick with me  are not necessarily big in dollar amount, but big in heart.

 


News, Pictures, and a big Save-the-Date as we Launch into 2018

Hello all, happy oncoming 2018! I have quite a lot to report in this year-end update, both from 2017 and about events on the schedule so far for the coming year.

Atlas Project

Many folks have asked me to send out a save-the-date for my Atlas/Hudson River Valley show opening on Match 31 at the Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham New York. I’ll do a separate email soon so that it’s easy to find in the inbox, but here on my blog I can talk about the exhibition in more detail.

This will be the first full-size installation of one of my Atlas Project-themed exhibitions. Later themes might be Atlas/Cape Cod or Atlas/Forms of Water, but I an delighted to be launching this within my own Hudson River Valley/Catskills, both as the theme and the locale of the show. Included will be monoprints, mixed media/collages, and pastels along with the oils, and the Site Map that explains it all.

 

Downriver, 24″x24″, oil on linen.

The Site Map is an integral part of an Atlas Project installation, a map of the show itself which includes tiny monoprints of all of the oil paintings in the show overlaid on a collaged map of the Hudson River Valley. It includes numbered map tacks that show the locales of the scenes depicted; river towns and bridges and a key to the map and the show.

This map will have to be finished and photographed at the last minute, when I am sure of exactly which oil paintings are going into the show.

A side panel is Mapping Memory/Wildlife of Particular Interest that includes lino-monoprints and some text of my associated personal memories. Three panel extensions coming asymmetrically off the right side and top and bottom of the main map include a collage/lino/mono of the upper Hudson, the source of the river in the Adirondaks; another of Hudson Canyon, which continues out to sea from New York Harbor for 400 miles; and a third comprised of short discussion and collage/prints of three local trees endangered by climate change.

 

Hudson Canyon collage in progress, mixed papers (including hand-dyed rice papers) on map on board.

 

New Blog Post

In current news, I have recently published a blog post on the intersecting themes of teaching, independent studio practice, and group dynamic for the artist:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/teaching-creating-community-and-fostering-independence/

I welcome any comments on the post!

Many Things Nantucket

In January I will again be part of an exchange between artists of Woodstock and Nantucket, this time to take place at the Woodstock School of Art. We will be working together for three days in the graphics studio; doing a few studio visits and looking at the historical connection between the two arts colonies;  eating and schmoozing. (What could be better?)

Part I of this exchange took place in September at the Artists Association of Nantucket with a show of the four Woodstock-area artists seen below, who had all taught and/or done a residency there:

 

 

The plan was for the four of us to show up for a closing reception and artist’s talk on September 23rd, and my plan was to to do a tour of the Cape and Islands with my husband, starting in Provincetown, checking in with and delivering to or picking up from my three galleries in the area.

Just as we were coming onto the Cape Tropical Storm Jose was approaching the area, causing concern over the Cape bridges closing as well as cancelled ferries. From Provincetown we saw some amazing sights during the storm, particularly the surf from the high dunes on Longnook Beach.

We had a ferry reservation to continue on to Martha’s Vineyard, and from there I had another res for the fast ferry to Nantucket a day later.

Three of the four artists did manage to get on Cape, or in my case, to Martha’s Vineyard, and then reschedule ferries to arrive for our reception at the AAN. We suffered a rocky crossing and then enjoyed a lovely evening of spirited discussion and camaraderie.

I also arrived in time to pay a visit to my new gallery on Nantucket, Thomas Henry Gallery. I am looking forward to painting some large, open seascape and marsh imagery for the 2018 season there:

http://thomashenrygallery.com/Christie_Scheele.html

 

My residency at the Artists Association of Nantucket in February was one of the highlights of 2017 for me, beautifully intensive and key in advancing the rubric for my Atlas Project:

 

Summer Dune, 9″x24″, oil on linen.

The below was my second prototype for a site map for a grouping of Atlas Project work. From here I was able to take what works best (the monotype thumbnails of paintings that I had done) and change things that I didn’t (particularly the text) for the next map, for Atlas/Hudson River Valley. I would also love to return to Nantucket for a more fleshed-out exploration of of the theme.

 

Site Map with lino map of Nantucket; monotype thumbnails; tracings; writing and letterpress.

 

Fall Studio Demonstrations

 

This fall I did three second-Saturday demo/open studios, starting in October. During the first I worked on  small oil-on-paper pieces, like this:

Study/Headlights, oil on primed paper, 5″x12″.

The below I developed during the November demo, which had the theme of working large in oil. I had a nice group who I can only describe as riveted, watching for about two and a half hours while I painted and explained. Then the mood shifted to jolly when I called for a break and lively conversation ensued over a glass of wine.

The slightly textured surface of this piece is something I love to do every so often, allowing a little more of the underpainting to show through, creating a subtle vibration.

 

Reflected Suns, 32″x48″, to be included in my spring Atlas/Hudson River Valley show.

Here is a link to the video created by the Woodstock School of Art from a painting demonstration that I did there a few summers back:

https://woodstockschoolofart.org/author/christie-scheele/

For the last demo, in December, I worked in pastel, completing both of these during the two afternoons:

 

Oak Bluffs/Lights/Fog, 10″x10″, pastel on paper.

 

Trailing Fields, 6″x22″, pastel on paper.

 

Other Highlights from 2017

I had a successful show last winter/spring with my gallery of 20 years, Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck. It is such a pleasure to work with Albert and Joanna, who are also friends and neighbors in our Hudson Valley arts community.

Hill Beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24″x20″/ea., sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art

Here is a link to my post on the show, updated to label pieces that sold later in the year, as well as those that went during the show (the others are, of course, still available):

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/gallerystudio-a-symbiosis-solo-show-with-albert-shahinian-fine-art/

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In April I went to Florida to do a large painting for my friends Karen and Len:

 

Working in the pool enclosure, enjoying the April warmth and humidity. Last touches.

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During my third year with Louisa Gould Gallery and my 18th or so showing on the Vineyard, we had the kind of year that the artist really looks for. I had some relaxing off-season visits that gave us more time to connect. The crazy Cape and Islands tour in September with Hurricane Jose was followed by several days of sun/fog/sun/fog, rolling in and out, that had even islanders exclaiming. This started as I was leaving Nantucket on the ferry, included a wild rainbow at sea, and continued into the next day while I photographed favorite and new locales on MV and Chappy with my husband. There will be paintings to follow!

This piece, which I delivered to LGG the next month, was of a moment just after the fog cleared.

Big Sky over Sengekontacket, 44″x68″.

In 2017 Louisa and I sold work big, medium, and small and in a range of palettes and formats. When this happens, I feel truly appreciated and at home in the gallery. The below are a few that found new homes since my last post.

Gleaming Sunset, 24″x24″.

 

Whispering Marsh, 12″x36″. sold by Louisa Gould Gallery.

 

Older Favorites Find New Homes

In the past several months I have been delighted to see a number of pieces that, despite generating admiration, have lingered too long in gallery or studio leave my walls for others:

 

Winter Light, 24″x30″, from my December demo/open studio; a view of the Jersey Turnpike with the gorgeous, polluted light of a winter afternoon.

 

Height of Summer, 36″x48″, from my September demo/open studio; a romantic piece with unusual color that has received much attention.

 

Mountain Fields, 20″x24″pastel on paper, a subtle-bright interpretation, sold by Albert Shahinan Fine Art.

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The Luminous Landscape at Albert Shahinian Fine Art continues through the month of January, closing with a last reception on January 27th. I have several pieces in the show and many more in inventory, accessible for viewing. I look forward to the reception, which is also a 20th-year anniversary party, an opportunity to enjoy the warmth of our arts community during the winter months.

http://www.shahinianfineart.com/ChristieScheele.html

En Masse, the dynamic small works show at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY,  continues to January 7th. They have been generating anticipation for my spring show with the many small works they have of mine seeded throughout the gallery, as well as larger pieces in inventory. One of my last sales of 2017 was Blue Tidal Pool, one of my favorite paintings from the past decade:

BlueTidal Pool, 20″X24″, sold by Thompson Giroux Gallery.

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I have a new workshop at the Woodstock School of Art, rescheduled for March 3rd-4th. The theme, somewhat more descriptive than my workshops that emphasize formal elements, is for students to create a suite of paintings of the four seasons.

Many representational painters explore a zone on the spectrum of realism, on one end, and very abstracted imagery, on the other. I have often emphasized the abstract in my teaching, feeling that the go-to for landscape painters early on is to try to copy everything they see within a scene. So my approach is to encourage students to think instead about the needs of the painting, inventing an image that is not a copy but a new reality.

In the past year I have been closely examining my connection to place through my Atlas Project. The theme of this new workshop, more descriptive than abstract, may have emerged from these musings. That said, students will be focusing their attention, with my help, on all of those formal elements in order to create compelling, personal paintings.

https://woodstockschoolofart.org/course/form-color-narrative-landscape-painting-seasons/

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I look forward to a focused, productive year ahead. We have much work to do on the national level, and also need our creative retreats more than ever. I hope you enjoy yours, and am filled with gratitude that you have supported mine. ♥

 


Late Summer 2017 Newsletter

June brought two great-story sales. The first was of this piece, a favorite of mine since I did it a few years back. My husband delivered it to Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard in early June and a few days later it was headed  to Madrid on a private jet. The collector even helped unwrap it after being drawn into the gallery by my 50″x90″ piece in the window.

Rolling Cloud, 44″x62″.

 

This octych has received a great deal of attention, including a blog post of its own. It was shown and appreciated at Gold Gallery in Boston, and then at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck this past winter.

Green Waves, 13″x76″ overall, oil on linen.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/the-evolution-of-a-new-concept/

In May I was contacted by a woman in NC who told me that she wanted to buy it, and had the perfect spot for it. She had read the blog post and loved the story. She had never bought original art before, except for one print. She found me through a google search.

After much back and forth, it turned out that she had seen the price on the small oil-on-paper study that I had done leading up to the final piece, and the actual cost was way beyond what she had anticipated or budgeted for. So I offered her some other, smaller pieces in the green palette that she prefers…and then didn’t hear back from her for a few weeks.

This happens with some frequency. For a discussion of why original art created by a career artist costs what it does, you can read this blog post:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/this-painting-costs-what/

In the end, she could not resist the piece and I could not resist making a price accommodation to enable her to have it, though it was still a huge leap for her both in cost and in faith, as she hadn’t set eyes on the actual piece.

My galleriest Albert Shahinian, who had the piece and is also an expert art handler, did the packing and shipping, and here is Green Waves in its perfect spot:

 

 

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My Atlas Project is gaining momentum and focus. I earlier began a description of the evolution of this  endeavor and got so carried away that I found I needed a separate post, which I will be working on going forward.

In brief, motivated last fall by a number of factors including an upcoming residency on Nantucket and my fears over an acceleration of climate change with the new administration in Washington, I decided I needed to marry more concretely my deep love of the outdoor world and its complexities with my visual expression.

The third and most complex grouping, Atlas/Hudson River Valley had a trial run during a recent studio tour/open studio. Each site map circles closer to what I want, this most recent one being a collaged road map with map pins showing the locations of the paintings in the grouping and monotype thumbnails of the same. Like the earlier versions, this folds up into a small map.

I ran out of time—this was an excruciatingly slow process, with many design elements and much trial and error—and didn’t get any of the written piece figured out, but in discussion during the open studio I figured out how to approach this in a way that has integrity with the map.

This will all coalesce into a large solo show at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY,  March 31-May 6 in 2018, of Atlas/Hudson river Valley and Atlas/Forms of Water. There will be many more paintings and therefore more thumbnails on the map; most likely an off-center extension at top right to show the source of the river in the Adirondacks; and a narrow extension the length of the left side to add written and visual detail about our area. The show will feature monotypes, collages, and pastels as well as oil paintings.

Overlook with River, 24″x36″, the last piece finished before the July Tour.

 

The Studio Tour overall was a sweet weekend with folks from my mailing list coming through as well as those who were new to me. Usually it is a low-pressure event for me and I have a lovely time at the outset setting up my studio for viewing. I had knocked myself out working on the Site Map and printing linocut wall tags for the Atlas Project this time around, but it was well worth it for how the deadline brought the project together enough for me to hone many aspects and trouble-shoot the things that are not yet quite right.

 

Front wall of studio arranged as Atlas/Hudson River Valley, for Studio Tour 2017.

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The day after the Studio Tour ended I was off for a week to teach on Nantucket. So lovely to see the island wearing its summer color, after spending two weeks there in February! I taught my composition workshop, Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape, to a receptive and able group of six. These are the exercises that they had finished at the end of day #2.

For demo purposes I did several small oil-on-paper pieces, choosing subject matter according to the requests of my students:

Horizontal Wave, 5″x12″.

 

Warm Fall Fields, 5″x12″.

 

Dusk Palms, 5″x5″.

 

After my workshop was over I spent a long afternoon in the print shop, rediscovering what works for my imagery in monotype (there are always a row of failures before some successes). This is my favorite of the batch:

Monotype Sunset over Tidal Flats, 8″x10″.

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In June I had a discussion with some of the artists who I mentor about curating a show of their artwork, and got a very positive response. I contacted what I thought would be the perfect venue for a show of such an eclectic group of artists, the ArtBar in Kingston. The only slot Allie had open in 2017 was for August, so this exhibition of 18 artists had to come together very quickly!

It was interesting switching hats back and forth from mentor to curator, and there will be follow-up in my groups on my experience with the artists as curator. I have heard repeatedly from gallery owners that it is their quality-of-life choice to represent talented artists who are also easy and responsive to work with, so this is a theme that I pass along.

On the card, top to bottom: Betsy Jacaruso, Rebecca Darlington, Elizabeth Panzer, and Sandra Nystrom.

I selected the work and Allie, who owns the venue, hung the show. The opening reception was busy and the the comments very enthusiastic. The list of all of the artists involved: Polly Law, Sandra Nystrom, Rebecca Darlington, Linda Lynton, Linda Puiatti, Al Desetta, Betsy Jacaruso, Patti Gibbons, Lois Linet, Stacie Flint, Elizabeth Panzer, Dave Channon, Karen Schaffel, Julia Santos Solomen, Mary Katz, Loel Barr, Mark Loete, Cathy Metitchecchia.

This is my short description of the work I have done with these, and many other, artists over the years:

My mentoring work began as a way of helping other artists enter or expand their presence in the art market by providing support for both studio practice and exhibiting. The groups are a blend of coaching, support group, and targeted career advice for emerging and mid-level artists.

An article, written by Lynn Woods, will be coming out shortly on the show in the Kingston Times and I will add the link.

 I love two things the most, I think, about working with artists in this way. One is that the artwork is so varied, and as my artistic taste is too, it is a huge pleasure watching and sometimes helping these artists hone their voices into bodies of work that have depth and impact.
The other is that, in our overly busy and complicated lifestyle, I can inform, simplify and advise. So, while every venue, gallery-artist relationship and even many sales have their own unique wrinkles that make generalization difficult, there are guidelines that can help emerging artists streamline their approach and be more decisive in their responses—and feel better about the process.

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Coming up, very soon, this four-person show at the Nantucket Artists Association, a brainchild of Program Coordinator Mary Emery: Due East, 4 Woodstock Artists on Nantucket, featuring the work of Polly Law, Kate McGloughlin, Jenny Nelson, and myself; all artists who teach and/or have done residencies at the AAN. Dates are September 1-22.

https://www.nantucketarts.org/dues-east-woodstock-artists-on-nantucket1.html

A medium-sized oil-on-linen that will be featured in the show:

Color Field/Incoming Tide, 30″x30″.

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Recently finished, my second Atlas/Hudson River Valley mixed-media/collage:

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

 

And in oil, an image of the tide coming in over the tidal flats mid-Cape, always a moment of bliss for me:

Sky Meets Water, 18″x24″.

 

This piece fits into the Atlas/Forms of Water segment. It is a different type of category from Atlas/Hudson River Valley, and there will be overlap, making for a more dynamic installation.

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A few of my other sales so far this season:

 

Calm Crossing, 38″x70″, sold by the Louisa Gould Gallery.

 

Monotype/Wave#5, 8″x10″, sold by the Julie Heller Gallery.

 

Haybales, 8″x24″, pastel on paper, studio sale.

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Upcoming workshops are at the PAAM September 11-14, the loveliest time of the year to be on the Cape:

https://www.paam.org/workshops/summer-2017/?course_detail=abstraction-and-narrative-in-the-landscape&start_date=9-11-17

And the Woodstock School of Art October 28-30, also a stunning time of year for the locale:

http://woodstockschoolofart.org/course/color-mixing-landscape-painters/

Enjoy your rest of summer season and beginning of fall!


2017 Late Spring News and Upcoming Events

This spring my mind has been on many of the seasonal imperatives, like creating new work for my galleries on the Cape and Islands and sorting through and shipping or delivering their selections. It has also, after a huge jump-start on my Atlas Project during my residency at the Nantucket Arts Association, been very much on advancing that exploration; and the spring has been spiced up by a few other new projects.

Mountain Sky/Blues, 24″x48″, newest piece, of the Catskills from the river.

I have scheduled a talk to discuss my Atlas Project for July 15 during the Shandaken Artists Studio Tour, 4:30-6pm. I am currently developing the third sequence, Atlas/Hudson Valley segment. This means that, in addition to other work in my studio,  I will hang a grouping of each of the sections that I have been working on this year: Atlas/Forms of Water/Snow; Atlas/Island (Nantucket); and the most extensive sequence to date, the Hudson River and Catskills work and mapping thereof.

 

Red River Shore, 20″x30″.

In my studio work progresses on my third prototype map for this grouping, which will include mini-monotypes of the paintings involved; maps of various sorts of the area; and a number of other elements, both descriptive and visual. I am hoping that this map will be the working template that clicks for me so that I can use it for new groupings/exhibitions going forward. This involves lots of trial and error, applied problem-solving and then experimenting with the materials (maps, acrylics, printmaking, rice paper, collage, river mud, etc.).

I have found that when I pose myself a complex creative problem to be solved, following a simple process works quite well. I start by seeing how far I can think my way into it, often using moments when I am driving or walking, and when I hit an aspect or aspects that stump me, I plant those as a seed, and then let go of the conscious effort. Some time later—usually weeks—the answer will pop into my head, my subconscious having been at work on it all the while, sometimes aided by new information that comes my way in the interval.

Here is where I am so far with the latest Site Map and associated prints:

 

Work table with HV map in progress; site map for the Atlas/Island (Nantucket) grouping in the background.

 

Trees with Mists, 18″x48″.

 

Above and below are a few of the Hudson River & Valley/Catskills paintings that are part of the new sequence:

 

2 Shores, 12″x12″.

 

My new series is bringing me ever closer to the many aspects of the natural world that I have in the past observed, researched and delighted in. Which of these things and how they can manifest in the work is the adventure. As is true of most meaningful new endeavors, the space this holds for me is both stimulating and disquieting.

 

My first gallery show of Atlas/Hudson Valley is scheduled for 2018 at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY.

To view more oil paintings that are currently in my studio, click here:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/available-workstudio/

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During spring I am always preparing to deliver or ship new work to my galleries in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and/or Cape Cod. Below are some new pieces at the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard. She always has a beautifully installed grouping of my work on display throughout the year, so please stop by if you are on the island.

 

Summer Inlet, 48″x24″, 2017.

 

Sengekontacket Greens, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

Katama Field, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

Summer Wave, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

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My residency at the Arts Association of Nantucket in February resulted in many advancements in my problem-solving curve for the Atlas Project; a number of small paintings; and some monotypes (see my blog post on the residency):

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

The five monotypes hanging below are a the results of printing sessions in both Woodstock and Nantucket.

 

 

And a few others:

 

Monotype/Green Marsh, 8″x10″.

 

Monotype/White Field #2, monotype and pastel, 8″x10″.

 

Monotype/Wave#5, 8″x10″.

See more of my prints and pastels here:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/available-workstudioworks-on-paper/

 

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In April I flew to South Florida to do a large painting for friends with a new house there. I managed to pack in one big suitcase everything I needed, including the 16″x20″ version of the wave image that I had painted ahead of time. The one thing that did not fit in my suitcase was the 48″x60″ stretched linen canvas, which we had shipped from my wonderful stretcher-makers in Vermont, Brickyard Enterprises.

I had exactly one week to do this large piece and so, concerned about the possibility of things going wrong, I put in long days for the first several, working under an overhang in the pool enclosure.

 

 

Happily, nothing did go wrong, so we had a finished piece on the wall ahead of deadline and then I got to play, spending time at the Morikami Gardens and the beach (more wave paintings to come!).

 

 

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My winter-spring show with Albert Shahinian Fine Art wrapped up in early April. We had a nice run of of two receptions—one at the gallery and one at my studio; a number of sales of pieces small and large, old and new; and an interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal containing questions that I quite enjoyed:

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/entertainment/2017/03/22/landscapes-art-artists/99454762/

 

March reception in my studio.

Several of the pieces that went to new homes from our show “Gallery/Studio: A Symbiosis”:

 

Glistening Greys, 10″X10″, oil on linen.

 

“White Trail”, 40″x30″.

 

Affinity/Duo/Palms, diptych of 2 paintings of 16″x8″/ea.

 

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I am teaching four more workshops in 2017, several of them new. In my workshops I emphasize composition as well as color, and share not only my techniques, but also an eclectic delight in many styles and aspects of contemporary and historical art.

The Woodstock School of Art:

June 17-19, Sat.-Mon, 9-4pm, Form and Content: A Landscape Painting Intensive
Oct.28-30, Sat.-Mon. 9-4pm, Color Mixing for Landscape Painters.
The Nantucket Arts Association July 18-20,Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape;  and Mentoring for Artists, July 21.
Provincetown Artist Association and Museum, Sept. 11-14, Mon.-Thurs. 9:30-1:30, Abstraction and Narrative in the Landscape.

 

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I have plans for some new pastels in the near future—its a good time of year to approach these, with the studio windows wide open (ah, and I must mention sounds of birds and the creek behind my studio), mitigating any effects of flying dust. Below is a fairly recent one, in which I was pushing the color somewhat.

 

Turquoise Sky/White Cloud, 20″x20″.

 

Over the years I have at times felt pressure from some of my galleries to work brighter. I am very often a moody painter, though I don’t ever want to limit myself to any palette, locale, format, or mood. I do love a bright sunny day, but painting dramatic clouds and subtle, tonal color often draws me, and many of my collectors will follow me into that terrain.

With the pastel above, I set myself the intention of not going as dark along the horizon as I often do in a seascape, and in general keeping the colors more saturated or desaturated with white instead of grey. I wanted to see if I could make myself happy with a lower contrast, brighter image. And I did.

This is turning a request, essentially, into a creative problem. When people ask me how and whether being a full time, self-supporting artist affects my decision-making in the studio, that is part of the answer—that if I feel that I am being nudged in a particular direction, can I turn that into an interesting problem? And after I work that one out, what else can I do that is generated exclusively by, to use Kandinsky’s term, inner necessity?

 

Cotue of the Scalloped Edges, 6″x10.5″.


“Gallery:Studio – A Symbiosis” Solo Show with Albert Shahinian Fine Art

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A quiet chat during a lull...

Having a quiet chat during a lull in the reception…

 

 “GALLERY:STUDIO – A SYMBIOSIS” is a retrospective and a culmination, presenting over 60 works drawn from a broad range of Scheele’s recent output – including paintings, pastels, monoprints and mixed-media.  In designing this show, artist and gallery were keen on making more accessible to visitors and collectors the opportunity to acquire a painting (hence the special sale).  As a culmination, the exhibit and sale end a significant period of Scheele’s aesthetic explorations, making time and space available for her focus on, and movement toward, a complex new project.  Finally, important to both parties, this exhibit celebrates a friendship born, but not limited by, their respective callings as artist and art venue.
Light that Glows, 32"x60".

Light that Glows, 32″x60″. $7,500.

 

Soft Greys from Peaked Hill, 10"x60".

Soft Greys from Peaked Hill, 10″x60″, $4,200.

 

Green Waves, 13"x76" overall, oil on linen.

Green Waves, 12″x75″, $8,000. (Sold)

 

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/the-evolution-of-a-new-concept/

 

Rare Summer Silence, 20"x30".

Rare Summer Silence, 20″x30″, $3,200.

 

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

Cranberry Bog in Reds, 48″x24″, $5,000.

 

Affinity/WinterSunset, 36"x48", $6,500.

Affinity/WinterSunset, 36″x48″, $6,500. (Sold)

 

"Extravagant Sky", 36"X60".

“Extravagant Sky”, 36″X60″. $8,000.

 

TriptychinReds

Triptych in Reds, 3 panels of 24″x24″/ea., $7,500.

 

White Field, 20"x40".

White Field, 20″x40″, $3,600. (Sold)

 

Angle of Repose, 40"x30",

Angle of Repose, 40″x30″, $5,000.

 

Drifting CLouds, 20"x20".

Drifting Clouds, 20″x20″, $2,200. (Sold)

 

"Affinity/Dusk Road", 30"x30".

“Affinity/Dusk Road”, 30″x30″, $4,000.

 

SunsetonTremont

Sunset with Taillights, 40″x20″, $3,800.

 

SunsetContours

Sunset Contours, 20″X20″, $2,200. (Sold)

 

dawnharbor

Sunset Harbor, 20″X16″.

 

 

HiiiBeyondHill

Hill Beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24″x20″/ea., $7,000. (Sold)

 

Height of Summer, 36"x48".

Height of Summer, 36″x48″, $6,500 (sold).

 

 

summerfields

                         Summer Fields, 30″x30″, $4,000.

Moving Sky, 30"x36".

Moving Sky, 30″x36″, $4,500. (Sold)

 

Juncture, 18"x60".

Juncture, 18″x52″, $4,200.

 

 

affinityinmotion

Affinity/In Motion, 48″x12″, $4,000.

 

Sundrenched Field, 20"x24".

Sundrenched Field, 20″x24″. $2,500. (Sold)

 

 

Skyblues/Seablues, 10"x8".

Skyblues/Seablues, 10″x8″, $800.

 

Winter in Blue/White, 12"x12", oil on linen (at Albert Shahinian Fine Art).

Winter in Blue/White, 12″x12″, $1,300. (Sold)

 

Angular Tidal Flats, oil on paper on 12″x12″ board. (Sold.)

 

Mauve Sky, 6"x12", oil on board, $650.

Mauve Sky, 6″x12″, oil on board, $650. (Sold)

 

Affinity/Duo/Palms, 2 paintings of 16"x8"/ea.

Affinity/Duo/Palms, 2 paintings of 16″x8″/ea, $2,000. (Sold)

 

Glistening Greys, 10"X10", oil on linen.

Glistening Greys, 10″X10″, oil on linen. (Sold.)

 

Gold Bush, 10"x10". oil on board, $700.

Gold Bush, 10″x10″. oil on board, $700. (Sold)

 

2 Suns, 10"x10", oil on board, $700.

2 Suns, 10″x10″, oil on board, $700. (Sold.)

 

"Study/Sunset Sea", 5"x5", oil on primed paper.

“Study/Sunset Sea”, 5″x5″, oil on primed paper, $550.

 

Study/Skyline, oil on paper, 5"x5", $550.

Study/Skyline, oil on paper, 7″x7″, $700.

 

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

“Factory at Work”, 7.5″x3.5″, $600.

 

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, $900. (Sold)

 

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

“Hilltop Contour”, oil on a vintage child’s slate, $750.

 

Additional works at the gallery:

 

Gleaming Bridge, 20"x40", $3,600.

Gleaming Bridge, 20″x40″, $3,600.

 

 

Summer Sky over Divided Fields, 20"x24".

Summer Sky over Divided Fields, 20″x24″, $2,500 (sold).

 

Black Treeline, 36"x48", $6,500

Black Treeline, 36″x48″, $6,500. (Sold)

 

Sweeping Greens/Jostling Trees, 28"x68", $7,500.

Sweeping Greens/Jostling Trees, 28″x68″, $7,500.

 

Mists from Palmer Hill, 12"X36", 2014.

Mists from Palmer Hill, 12″X36″, $2,800. (Sold)

 

Dawn Headlights, 12"X36".

Dawn Headlights, 12″X36″, $2,800.

 

RefractedGolds, 20"x40", $3,600.

RefractedGolds, 20″x40″, $3,600.

 

Favorite Field/Soft Greens, 3 panels of 12"X12"/ea., $3,200. (CRG)

Favorite Field/Soft Greens, 3 panels of 12″X12″/ea., $3,200.

 

"Intervening Space", 20"X20".

“Intervening Space”, 20″X20″, $2,200 (sold).

 

Stormy Sea, 12"X12".

Stormy Sea, 12″X12″, $1,300.

 

Evening Shoreline, 12"X12", $1,300. (ASFA)

Evening Shoreline, 12″X12″, $1,300.

 

Study/Mountain Contours, oil on paper

Study/Mountain Contours, oil on primed paper, 4″x14″, $800.

 

Affinity/Bridge at Sunset, 12"x24".

Affinity/Bridge at Sunset, 12″x24″, $2,000.

 

Green Waves, oil on paper,

Green Waves, oil on paper, $1,600.

 

 

 

"Conviction of Beauty", 12"x

“Conviction of Beauty”, 12″x42″.

 

Red Sky with Gleam, 5"x12", $800.

Red Sky with Gleam, pastel on paper, 5″x12″, $800.

 

River Sunset, 9.5"x19".

River Sunset, pastel on paper, 11.5″x19″, $1,600.

 

Mountain Fields, pastel on paper, 20"X24", $2,500.

Mountain Fields, pastel on paper, 20″X24″, $2,500. (Sold)

 

White Trail, 40"x30", $5,000.

White Trail, 40″x30″, $5,000. (Sold)

 


Approaches to Abstracting a Landscape Painting

The specifics of how to create a less literal landscape painting seem to be a constant topic of discussion with my students, especially those who don’t come from an art-school background where the artist spends formative years in the mix, constantly exploring or discussing different ways of making art.

I have previously written about the toggle between formal concerns and storytelling in representational work in the following post:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/narrative-and-abstraction-in-representational-painting/

And about pure abstraction in this post discussing the shows of Ellsworth Kelly, Jenny Nelson, and Melinda Stickney-Gibson:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/three-abstract-artists-ellsworth-kelly-jenny-nelson-and-melinda-stickney-gibson/

Stepping further into how to break down this discussion, I see that most non-realist landscape painters are combining several ways of achieving this, and that the methods fall broadly into the two categories of what you choose to paint (and leave out) and how you choose to paint it.

In the image selection arena, the artist can either choose a view that had reduced detail for an open, minimalist landscape, or a macro view that has a prominent pattern —-for example, a rock cliff , sundappled water, or a glen of tree trunks.

The tools that the artist then employs in the painting process to emphasize abstraction can include simplifying, flattening, or distorting the shapes: reducing the amount of elements included; changing naturalistic color to non-literal choices; and/or unifying the surface with brushstroke or other technique to create overall  texture or pattern.

I have selected pieces from a number of contemporary artists who explore this terrain, many of whom I know or am friends with. In most cases artists are combining several of the approaches mentioned above, using pictoral tools that we, in this generation, have been fortunate enough to inherit and absorb from centuries of painting. The contemporary landscape painter then draws from the smorgasbord that art history provides and, putting it all in a sort of personal artistic blender, comes forth (usually over time) with their own version of the abstracted landscape.

Because the combinations are personal and often subtle, I have chosen to discuss each painting on its own merits rather than sift them into the categories introduced above.

I should add that I love gestural and color field abstract painting and generally am not so interested in realist landscape work. But having long ago chosen for myself a stylistic swath that lands somewhere in the middle, I find these explorations to be endlessly exciting, both in my own studio and in the work of other artists.

 

Stuart Shils, Fields near Ballycastle I,

Stuart Shils, Fields near Ballycastle I, 6.5″x7″.

I couldn’t resist selecting this piece of Stuart Shils, as I have also painted this dramatic locale in Western Ireland. It is just clear enough that in foreground we have farm fields, but the second shape is so peculiar that the mind could read it as abstract. So, by choosing to paint this bit of cliff that wends its way out into the Atlantic in a long curve, the artist has chosen subject matter that lends itself to abstraction and has also painted it in a broad, loose, and painterly way, emphasizing the color field aspect of the shapes within.

 

Deborah Munson, "Sparkle Square", pastel on paper.

Deborah Quinn-Munson, “Sparkle Square”, 12″x12″, pastel on paper.

Deborah has selected as her subject matter in this painting broad areas —and only two–that lend themselves to a patterned surface. It is key to the painterly beauty of “Sparkle Square” that the flecks of reflected light are varied in placement and shape, as are the shallow waves and subtly shifting color. Mystery is created by the dark shape of the shore. This is an example of the artist both selecting an image that is abstract in its simplicity and rhythm, and enhancing those aspects in the surface treatment.

 

Hannah Bureau, "Windham", 30"x30".

Hannah Bureau, “Windham”, 30″x30″.

Hannah, who also paints pure abstraction, selects material for her landscapes that has a feel that suits her sense of shape—squared off rhythmic forms that repeat within simple divisions of sky and land. In “Windham” I love the way the sky is so different from the ground—the sky like a Rothko and the ground a de Stael. At the same time, the mind reads them perfectly as an ethereal sky and cultivated sweep of land.

 

Eric Aho, "Ice Field",

Eric Aho, “Ice Field”, 80″x100″.

In Eric Aho’s ice series, the view is more pulled in than expansive, creating opportunity for very strong compositions that play with the formal elements of shape and line within a reduced color composition. The black shapes have depth when the eye reads them as descriptive—cracks in the ice leading to water below—but also emphasize the directionality of the fractured shapes as they point toward each other and the center of the piece. My eye delights in the play of shapes with this piece every bit as much as it does with a completely abstract painting.

 

"Blue Tidal Pool", 20"x24".

Christie Scheele, “Blue Tidal Pool”, 20″x24″.

As I have long influenced by the mid-century generation of American color field painters, this piece of mine reads as near abstraction, sitting on top of the picture plane almost before it reads as landscape. My selection of tidal flats as subject matter—already so stark and minimalist—is the starting point, enhanced by flattened shapes with subtle variations in color but no descriptive textural detail. The strong horizon evokes a vista, but turn this piece on its side and you have an abstract painting.

 

 

Wolf Kahn, "Orange Radiance",

Wolf Kahn, “Orange Radiance”,

Brighter-than-literal color is not of itself abstract, but combined with the simple fields of color that Wolf Kahn is known for creates a painting that sits right up on the surface plane. In addition to his famous barns, Wolf has also worked extensively with the repeated motif of tree trunks moving across the canvas, creating the patterned effect discussed above. In some paintings this is a more regular and more pronounced repetition, but I particularly liked the color in this piece and the way that the folliage is treated as diffuse scrubs of color. Look carefully, though, and you can see that as soft-edged as these shapes are, they are very particular, varied, and elegant.

 

 

 

Arnold Levine,

Arnold Levine, “Waves at Jenner”, 16″x20″.

“Waves at Jenner” uses brush stroke to create both an energetic expressive field and at the same time capture the feel of big surf crashing on rock, all of this using low-key, tonalist color. To my eye, the mind reads the scene perfectly for what/where it is, but the white strokes are actually more abstract than descriptive, sitting up on the surface of the picture plane. Arnold works in both abstraction and landscape painting, and this piece falls beautifully somewhere close to the middle of that spectrum…but rather closer to abstraction.

 

Heather Bruce, Sea #3, 14"x16".

Heather Bruce, Sea #3, 14″x16″.

Heather very much starts with the first strategy, reducing the content not only by choosing the simplest sea and sky imagery but also by eliminating detail within that. The subject is just recognizable, mostly because of the horizon and the gleams of light in the sky. The color is dense and murky–and also gorgeous—evoking one of those heavy weather days, but even more so a color field painting that sits on top of the scumbled and blended surface.

 

Jeorg Dressler, "Outlook

Jeorg Dressler, “Outlook XVI”, 18″x36″.

In “Outlook XVI”, as in other work by this artist, the soft blend is a wet-into-wet technique starting with a little more detail than many of the pieces discussed here. The surface is so heavily blended, however, that the subject matter takes a back seat and the viewer’s attention is brought to the movement that Jeorg made to achieve this effect. The result, in a descriptive sense, feels both like moving weather and as if we are witnessing the scene from a moving vehicle. As a whole, the technique crates both dreamy narrative and energetic abstraction.

 

Steve Dininno, "Boardwalk,

Steve Dininno, “Boardwalk, 7″x9”.

This monoprint of Steve Dininno’s is a study in monochromatic color and and reduced detail. To abstract an urban view—a scene that is inherently busy—certain light/weather phenomena are generally employed. In this case the image is being swallowed in fog, allowing the graphic elements to swim out of its implied depth even as the lines of perspective lead the eye forward into the scene. That there is so much interest in “Boardwalk” while at the same time so much empty space is a clear demonstration of the power of the less-is-more phenomenon, when skillfully done.

 

Donald Elder, "Untitled Landscape #0154, 12"x16".

Donald Elder, “Untitled Landscape #0154, 12″x16”.

These trees and, I presume, a light pole, are about as un-fussy as they could be. They, and the blended and scumbled surface relate to the Wolf Kahn piece. However, the eye here is funneled back in space, much like in the Steve Dininno above, and the analogous color composition is quietly moody. The foreground blacks help anchor the piece, creating contrast within the otherwise low-light scene. This piece balances beautifully between capturing the mood of a moment and place and pure, delicious painting.

 

Kate McGoughlin,

Kate McGoughlin, “Winter Sky Ashokan”, 8″x8″.

In this piece Kate uses surface texture to work the sky into a color field that is only just recognizable as a cloud bank. The shape of the shore is simplified, color exaggerated, though she did create a juicy reflection–so much a part of the land-into-water visual experience. The water is quieter than the sky, as is often the case. The white line that was scratched into the pigment on the left is a lovely graphic element that is entirely non-literal. Examining the elements, there is clear back and forth between those that are more descriptive of the scene and those that are more abstract.

 

Thomas Sarrantonio, "Transition",

Thomas Sarrantonio, “Transition”, 50″x60″.

Thomas is doing several painterly things in this piece that move it away from realism. There is clear patterning and brush stroke both in the field and the sky above that break up the surface into rhythmic abstraction. Combined with the soft band of fog in the middle distance,  this creates a duo perception of paint sitting on top of the picture plane and a recognizable field/sky with atmospheric perspective. The relative symmetry of this image also illustrates the point that when a painter reduces the number of elements, those that remain hold an enhanced interest.

 

Staats Fasoldt,

Staats Fasoldt, “Fair Street”, 11″x14″.

Staats is a master at relating shapes and creating light. Similar to my aesthetic, the number of shapes tend to be reduced and surface of them flattened, but the outlines of the shapes themselves have a good deal of subtle variation. In this piece, the paint handling within the shapes is also beautifully varied, the strip of light in a way that describes light itself and the shapes within the buildings in a more abstract manner. The blur on the left encroaching on the foreground building also seems to be more about the movement of the watercolor than about any recognizable visual phenomenon.

On the whole, what makes these all good paintings is that they are successful in capturing both the feel of the scene depicted and the surface, compositional, and color interest of pure painting, allowing the viewer to delight in both aspects. As for all painting, drawing ability is essential, since the artist needs the hand to do what the eye requires; creating dynamic compositions made of compelling—and usually highly edited— shapes, palettes, and surface.

Occasionally, there is an element that is barely or not quite recognizable…but interesting or gorgeous. My comment to my students when this emerges in their work is “I don’t know what that is…but I really like it so I don’t care”.  This observation would apply to the irregular light shape on the right in the Fasoldt piece and the field in the Sarrantonio. In many of the other pieces, there is an element or shape that we think is probably this or that…but we are not sure: the cliff in the Shils; the dark shore in the Munson; the orange band in the Kahn—field or hill?; the tidal pool in my piece; the light pole in the Elder, and so on. These mysteries serve to create complex interest as the mind works to accept the mixed metaphor that they provide.

 


 

I would like to mention the galleries that I share with many of these artists: Julie Haller Gallery in Provincetown, MA; Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY; Gold Gallery in Boston’s South End; and Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury VT–check them out to see additional work!

 

 


Available Work/Studio/Oil on linen and board

Castel, 18″x52″, $5,000.

This post, designed primarily for the galleries and consultants that I work with,  serves as a data-base for oil-on-linen paintings that are currently in my studio. As work sells or is consigned I will remove it, and new or returned work will be added.

 

Earth & Sky, 24″30″, $3,600.

 

Shore with Still Mists, 18″x52″, $5,000.

 

My website– created by Stephanie Blackman Design—was beautifully designed as a calling card. Since I create/sell/move work around frequently, it was never my plan to keep it current at all times. With this data-base I will have a comprehensive selection for you all to peruse and can reduce the number of emails that I send showing dealers my currently available work, as those become outdated quickly also.

 

Tree with Mists, 18″x48″, $4,600.

 

Often I am expecting some work back imminently or have a painting on the easel that is almost finished, so please feel free to inquire if you have a particular need: scheeleart@gmail.com.

For works on paper (pastel; oil on paper; mixed media/collage; monotype) consult this blog post: https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/available-workstudioworks-on-paper/

 

Interwoven Stories, 30″x60″, $7,500, available through my online show with Butters Gallery, Portland, OR.

 

The View from Here, 24″x36″, $4,000, through BG.

 

Layered Reds, 30″x40″, $5,000, through BG.

 

 

Additional work can be found at my galleries: Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY; Julie Heller Gallery in Provincetown, MA; Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, MA; Butters Gallery in Portland, OR; Thomas Henry Gallery on Nantucket, MA; and Thompson-Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY.

 

Shoreline with Blues, 30″x40″, $5,000.

 

Winter Sky, 24″x30″, $3,600.

 

Moving Sky, 24″x48″, $5,000, through BG.

 

Sunset in 5, five panels of 8″x8″/ea., $3,400.

 

 

 

Turquoise Light, 30″x40″, $5,000, through BG.

 

Meandering, 24″x36″, $4,000, through BG.

 

Contrasting Sunset, 18″x52″, $4,800.

 

Soft Fall Saltmarsh, 24″x30″, $3,600, through BG.

 

Downriver, 24″x24″, $3,200, through BG.

 

 

From the Lighthouse, 20″x20″, $2,200, through BG.

 

River with Lighthouse, 12″x36″, $2,600.

 

 

Sunset Roofline, 24"x23".

Sunset Roofline, 24″x30″, $3,600, through BG.

 

Affinity/Flatland's Drive, 18"x18", $2,000.

Affinity/Flatland’s Drive, 18″x18″, $2,000.

 

Embracing Pink, oil on board, 3 panels of 8″x8″/8″x10″/8″x8″, $1,800.

 

Marsh at Dusk, 14"x16",

Marsh at Dusk, 14″x16″, $1,500.

 

Affinity/Return at Dusk, 12"x24".

Affinity/Return at Dusk, 12″x24″, $2,000.

 

Light into Dark, 12″X24″, $2,000.

 

Layered Clouds, 20″x16″, $2,000, through BG.

 

“Smokey Sky”, oil on a vintage slate.13.5×9,5, $1,000.

 

Affinity/Dual Twister, 10"x10", $900.

Affinity/Dual Twister, 10″x10″, $900.

 

Moors with Mists, 6″x24″, $1,500.

GleamingSkyoverProvincetown

Gleaming Sky over Provincetown 11″x14″, $1,300.

 

River Gleam, 12″X20″, $1,600, through BG.

 

SummerCloudbank

Summer Cloudbank, 10″x30″, $2,200, through BG.

 

Favorite Field/Soft Greens, 3 panels of 12″X12″/ea., $3,200, through BG.

 

Oil on Board

 

Purple Layers, 4″x12″, $650, BG.

 

Reaching Clouds, 4″x12″, $650, BG.

 

Moving Mists, 4″x12″, $650, BG.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Painting Workshop: Considering Composition

My recent workshop was themed “Landscape and Mood”. Color pops to mind for most when considering mood, but I emphasize composition, shape, edge, and directionality of shape/shapes even more.  I have observed that many developing artists—even beginners to painting—bring certain things to the easel that seem to be innate. Color preferences and type of line or gesture that a given hand tends to make are often so. Composition, however, generally needs to be fully  brought into the conscious mind to be mastered, with much analysis that comes from moving elements around to see how they serve the whole.

In representational painting, the placement of the components of a piece greatly affect the mood, as well.

I encourage my students to look at the narrative aspect of their composition, but also to examine their work in progress as an abstract painting. Are all of the shapes interesting/pleasing to the eye? Do they relate well to each other even if not touching or near? Are they not repetitive, like the bumpety-bump of a caterpillar? Too regular a curve, like a bowl, rather than a subtle S-curve with lots of variation? Do the shapes create directionality within so that the eye circles around the piece and doesn’t fly off and get lost? Are the edges varied?

In order to better show all of this to my students and have them experience it mindfully, I added some new exercises to my recent workshop at the Provincetown Artist’s Association and Museum. First I demonstrated  and then the group did small color/compositional studies on primed paper designed to be done fairly quickly, with multiple versions of the same image, moving elements around. Instead of repainting the piece until you get things where you like them best, each version is left as is so that they can all be looked at and critiqued as a grouping before beginning a larger piece on canvas. The studies serve not necessarily to pick the most successful one to follow, but as a means of becoming familiar with the variables of the image so that the larger painting can be approached with more confidence and awareness of the choices that it presents.

As vehicles for learning, the small pieces can also stand on their own.

Thanks to my PAAM student Carol Duke—both a painter and a photographer—-I have a nice sequence of photos showing many of the exercises, demos, and steps I currently employ in this workshop.

This group was particularly lovely, though I always get great students (good hand; good eye; great questions; supportive of one another; usually a developed studio practice, sometimes a very open and enthusiastic beginner).

Below, working on small compositional studies with subtle variations in placement to explore these elements before starting the larger piece.

DSC_5196

DSC_5224Showing various ways of handling edges (so important!): embedded; lost and found; wet-on-wet; scumbled; hard over soft.

DSC_5237

Above, my studies and students dark-gessoed paper, ready to begin theirs. Below (my photo), first small studies completed. 

WSPTown2

DSC_5341Beginning my 12″x36″ piece.

WSPTown13Everyone setting up at their easels to begin work on larger paintings.

DSC_5571

Mixing colors from primaries. We all have our tubes of favorite mixtures, so the true derivation a given color we mix on our palette can be confusing—-so many ways to arrive at it!  Going back to mixing from primaries clears away a great deal of confusion, and is way more fun than it sounds. Hue, value, and tone are all covered, and all requests are fulfilled (Naples Yellow! Mars Violet! Olive Green—bring it on!)

DSC_5592

Final critique, which includes suggestions for where to go with unfinished paintings. This time we moved around to the wall behind each artist’s easel. Progress and breakthroughs happened on different days for different students, but everyone had at least one! And epiphanies—well, those often bear fruit later on…

I love what I learn from my students! Agnes, returning for the forth time, had this advice for another artist who wanted to create for herself the silky surface that I developed years ago—“If you can’t hear the brush as you work it across the surface of the dark gesso {with tooth}, you are using too much paint.”

How come I never noticed that?!

On the subject of surface, I do find that this is another aspect of  painting that seems to be innate to the artist. Many students come into my workshop and want to learn how I create my surface. The process is something that I developed years back through trial and error and experimenting with materials. I teach every step of it, but like to encourage an artists with a lovely painterly hand to go with what they already do well. From there, we build, returning to the emphasis on composition and organizing/simplifying detail.

DSC_5573Packing up…till next time.

RichnessofBlue“Richness of Blue”, finished in my studio. So glad that I didn’t include the lighthouse and jetty in this version…just simplicity. The other variables that I explored originally in my studies were placement and angle of the tidal pool and where it goes off the edge of the piece on lower right; size of back shore and strip of water beneath it; and color of sky.

For more on how I develop a piece, see my blog post;

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/painting-demonstration/

And for more discussion of landscape and mood, including analysis of mood in specific paintings of mine:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/landscape-and-mood/

About our emotional experience while painting:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/painting-teaching-and-the-emotive-self/


August Newsletter

At the height of this most lovely summer, things are going beautifully both inside and outside of the studio. I am currently busy replenishing my galleries, with recent deliveries to Chace-Randall in Andes and Albert Shahinian in Rhinebeck, and plans for another one to Gold Gallery in Boston.

During summer, I leave my studio door open and listen to the sound of the creek behind it, using my yard as an extended studio. I wish we could start all over again at the beginning of June…but plan on fully savoring what remains.

"Rare Summer Silence", 20"x30".

“Rare Summer Silence”, 20″x30″.

I recently published a blog post on creating an abstract painting, using three exhibitions that I attended in May-June as the basis for my discussion. I sent this out to my list of artists, but not to my whole list, so be sure and take a look if you think you would be interested. Collectors and friends have sometimes commented on how much they would like some sort of  art historical/art appreciation primer. This discussion would serve that purpose in regard to the formal elements of constructing a painting (any painting, not just an abstract one).

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/three-abstract-artists-ellsworth-kelly-jenny-nelson-and-melinda-stickney-gibson/

The Shandaken Art Studio Tour was busy again this year, with the added bonus for me of my two 21-year-olds participating. We had nearly 100 people coming through, with good conversation, sales, and follow-up, as well. Below, “Rainy Road/Metal Box”, one of the last pieces that I finished before the Tour, was acquired by a friend.

Rainy Road/Metal Box, 4.5"x9".

Rainy Road/Metal Box,4.5″x9″, sold at the Shandaken Art Studio Tour.

Checking out my "Affinity/Waterspout" with a visitor.

Checking out my “Affinity/Waterspout” with a visitor.

These two pastels sold at the Tour to the same couple. Buying pastels unframed is a really nice way to go, since then the collectors can pick frame and mat that look good both on the piece and in their chosen spot. I accompanied them the weekend after the Tour to my fabulous framer, Geoffrey Rogers (since 1990!) to assist in picking out just the right presentation.

"Downriver", 15"x28".

“Downriver”, 15″x28″.

Skyline with Sunset,

Skyline with Sunset, 21″x8″.

Since this is the season when many of my galleries are in full swing, there have been a nice number of sales, each with their own story. As I started putting this post together, there emerged a series of short vignettes about these  acquisitions, so I am running with that. Below, a handful of pieces sold recently and some accompanying stories. (This is one of the reasons that I like to stay in close touch with my galleries—to collect all of this information on what goes on and to impart to them observations of my own. It can also be helpful to share current news from one venue to the next, since they are too busy in their galleries to get much chance to exchange notes.)

Seaview Morning Mists, 12"X12", $1,400, 2013. (DFG)

“Seaview Morning Mists”, 12″X12″, 2013, sold through Dragonfly Gallery.

A fellow fell in love with the below piece in Andes, promising to bring his wife the next weekend.

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

“Mists off the River”, 12″X36″.

Fortunately, he also liked other work of mine in the gallery, including “Evening Headlights”, since his wife was smitten with it, and they decided that this piece was the one.

Couples work this out in differing ways. Sometimes they feel they need to agree 100% on each acquisition. Other times they take turns selecting the particular piece, but do need to agree on the artist.

Evening Headlights, 10"X30".

“Evening Headlights”, 10″X30″, sold through Chace-Randall Gallery.

I finally managed to get one of my larger Affinities to my Boston gallery and it was the very next thing that they sold. This piece was admired last summer in my studio by another artist as “the darkest landscape I have ever laid eyes on”. (And it WAS meant as a complement!)

Affinity/Seagleams, 12"X48", $3,800.

“Affinity/Seagleams”, 12″X48″, sold through Gold Gallery.

“Still Waters”, below, was finished last week and sold within a few days. I had a lovely time painting it, feeling mesmerized by the fog. It is going to a collector who has long wanted a large piece of mine.

"Still Waters", 20"x60", studio sale/Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

“Still Waters”, 20″x60″, studio sale/Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

Both this triptych and the even larger one sold by Gold Gallery last fall from my solo show there went to first-time buyers. That is quite a leap!

Ongoingness of Summer, 3 panels of 24"X30"/ea., $9,000. (GG)

Ongoingness of Summer, 3 panels of 24″X30″/ea., sold by Gold Gallery.

“Crossing at Dusk” was recently purchased by clients of my Andes, NY gallery. Interested at first in the above “Mists off the River”,  as they weighed their options they discovered a piece on my Boston gallery’s website, and this ended up being their final choice. They knew to work through the original gallery, though, and the sale was a co-broke between the two venues.

Crossing at Dusk, 24"X48", (TGG).

Crossing at Dusk, 24″X48″, sold by Chace-Randall Gallery/Gold Gallery.

A couple visited my studio looking for an over-the-couch sized piece with subtle color. After checking out some possibilities here, they headed over to Albert Shahinan Fine Art to look at a particular piece there. While perusing their ample holdings of my work, they fell in love with this smaller piece, below. So, following their heart (instead of sticking to a strict purpose) they left with “When Autumn Glows Softly”, leaving the larger spot to be worked out in the near future, most likely with a commissioned piece.

When Autumn Glowed Softly, 24"x30", sold through Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

“When Autumn Glowed Softly”, 18″x24″, sold through Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

They were no sooner home than they had it up and sent me a jpeg of the piece installed. So nice!

When Autumn Glowed hanging.

“When Autumn Glowed” hanging.

Two workshops are coming up, at the Provincetown Artists Association and Museum September 16-19, and the Woodstock School of Art October 18-20th  I am planning a different sort of workshop for next year that dials in on issues of composition and color with a series of exercises on primed paper. This should be great with beginners, and also a big help for experienced painters in better understanding decision-making about the formal elements of painting.

I will be scheduling a 1-day intake seminar for mentoring for career support in September or October—see link below for more info. Let me know if you are interested!

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/mentoring-for-artists-for-career-and-work-support/

Happy August!

"Memory's Waters", 16"x20", Cooper Lake in summer blue/greens.

“Memory’s Waters”, 16″x20″, Cooper Lake in summer blue/greens.


Three Abstract Artists: Ellsworth Kelly, Jenny Nelson and Melinda Stickney-Gibson

“I think that if you can turn off the mind and look only with the eyes, ultimately everything becomes abstract.” 
–Ellsworth Kelly

“I must have an accident, or I’m not happy.”–Melinda Stickney-Gibson

“I was drawn more to things that were happening between the objects than the objects themselves.” –Jenny Nelson

Having recently seen shows of these three artists, (Ellsworth at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY; Jenny at Tria Gallery in Chelsea, and Melinda at Elena Zang in Shady, NY,) the topic of how abstract artists develop their vocabulary of shapes and the process they follow to create a painting has been on my mind. This is something that pops up frequently in my teaching and mentoring, and I find it fascinating. While I fully realize that I am comparing some apples and oranges with these  artists, the basic conversation is relevant to all three.

ellsworth-kelly10

Ellsworth Kelly derived the imagery for his early abstractions from the street and building where he lived in Paris from 1948-to 1954, and later paintings from manmade forms and those observed in nature. One can assume,  then, that he approached each canvas with a plan.

Kelly, photos

Both Jenny and Melinda, in contrast, work from within each canvas, evolving marks, shapes, texture and color—all of the formal qualities that are critical in all painting but in abstract work ARE the painting—as they work. Many interests remain constant over the years, but shifts in vocabulary happen organically from series to series, usually over the course of a year or two (often punctuated by solo shows).

Where the emphasis lies is highly personal. Melinda describes a series where she felt that painterliness became too dominant, so she eased back to working with “reduced activity, where the shapes become more the point than the paint”. This meshes with her lifelong interest in positive and negative forms, explorations in light and dark values, clearly seen in her high-contrast, bold and muscular current work.

She begins her pieces by lining several up next to each other in her large studio and scribbling a diary of thoughts in pencil.  The written narrative gets covered over as she paints, but leaves a kind of charge. (Everything in the under layers of a painting works to create a kind of history of that piece that gives it energy—and so I am always encouraging my students to understand that having to repaint areas that aren’t quite right is an intrinsic part of the process and will add depth in the end).

Melinda Stickney-Gibson, "Now", 24"x18", 2013.

All three artists have had a solid grounding in observational drawing. Figure drawing teaches an artist not only how to see, but the hand-eye coordination necessary for any intentional mark-making. (If the hand will not do what the brain wants it to, there is struggle.) So even though the process that Jenny and Melinda are involved in is exploratory and many areas in each canvas have been painted and re-painted, drawing ability is crucial.

Jenny’s abstraction evolved from an early interest in still life. Space (famously discussed mid-cenrtury by Clement Greenberg, as I will get into below ) within the canvas is a big consideration. She found that limitless space–such as in a landscape painting—left her feeling unmoored. The shallow space of a still-life gave just enough opportunity to get beyond the picture plane, something still visible in her current work. The shapes and marks blend and separate on the front of the picture plane, but there is also the illusion of depth, some areas coming forward and others receeding .

There is also a great deal of push/pull, or lost and found edges in both Melinda and Jenny’s work, a painter’s technique wherein a given edge or shape looks on top of its adjoining shape (so that it comes forward toward the viewer) in one spot, but appears beneath it in another. This creates subtle vibration and movement.

Jenny Nelson, "Traveling Light", 48"x48", 2013.

Jenny Nelson, “Traveling Light”, 48″x48″, 2013.

Clement Greenberg’s famous essay on Modernism from 1960, “Modernist Painting”, discusses flatness as the goal of modern painting.

“It was the stressing of the ineluctable flatness of the surface that remained, however, more fundamental than anything else to the processes by which pictorial art criticized and defined itself under Modernism. For flatness alone was unique and exclusive to pictorial art. The enclosing shape of the picture was a limiting condition, or norm, that was shared with the art of the theater; color was a norm and a means shared not only with the theater, but also with sculpture. Because flatness was the only condition painting shared with no other art, Modernist painting oriented itself to flatness as it did to nothing else.

All recognizable entities (including pictures themselves) exist in three-dimensional space, and the barest suggestion of a recognizable entity sufffices to call up associations of that kind of space. The fragmentary silhouette of a human figure, or of a teacup, will do so, and by doing so alienate pictorial space from the literal two-dimensionality which is the guarantee of painting’s independence as an art. For, as has already been said, three-dimensionality is the province of sculpture. To achieve autonomy, painting has had above all to divest itself of everything it might share with sculpture, and it is in its effort to do this, and not so much — I repeat — to exclude the representational or literary, that painting has made itself abstract.”

Greenberg was discussing Ellsworth Kelly and others of his generation. In prizing flatness, EK’s work would be the definition of modernist painting—absolutely flat, right up on the picture plane (not even able to fly a little airplane in there, to borrow a comment from Tom Wolfe ‘s The Painted Word). This leads, me, however, to another thought about pictoral flatness and depth. Instead of seeing depth or volume going into the picture plane, how about rising from it, coming toward the viewer?

This is why I selected the above piece of Ellsworth’s. It is a little softer than the hard-edge paintings (as seen in “High Yellow”, below), with an uneven  surface casting subtle shadows and crooked lines connecting the rectangles. These elements create a vibration that brings the surface toward the viewer–a different kind of depth. This runs to my taste—I find absolute flatness to be harsh and off-putting, with nothing to invite the viewer in.

Jenny mentions an occasional longing for that teacup or, more likely, line of tabletop that surfaces every now and then and makes it’s way into a piece. These references are so abstract that the viewer can see them or not—they are just small glimpses, not essential to the piece, but there to be enjoyed by those who are inclined to do so.

In Melinda’s piece “NOW”, the paint sits firmly on the surface of the picture plane,  keeping all attention on the  painterly surface.  In “, Map of Thinking” below, there are hints of shallow space  behind some of the detail in the white area on the left, as there are in Jenny’s “Traveling Light”. (Don’t know if you could fly a little airplane in there, though! To me, it feels more like a back-layer of shallow space behind the surface. )

A MAP OF THINKING 30x43

Jenny begins her canvases with unintentional painted marks—scribbling with left-over paint and using color–often a little brighter—that is not planned. This gives her something to bounce off of as she begins a piece, and these splashes of color often appear in the final piece as nearly covered-over glimpses, such as the orange below in “Now here, Now there”.

Now here, now there

Color preference is highly personal and as innate as the types of marks that an artist’s hand tends to make. Jenny has always leaned toward mid-value blues and turquoises—increasingly grayed down over the years— balanced with  off-white neutrals, grounded with some earth tones. Melinda uses both nearly- saturated color, often blues and reds, in some work, and earth hues in other pieces, also using off-white or white to create open space. Jenny uses Paine’s Gray as her black, and Melinda deep, deep blacks.

Ellsworth tweaks and adjusts his color endlessly to arrive at the exact hue that he wants. My comment about minimalism to my students is that what is there has to be exactly just so, and as you want it, because there is very little to distract the eye in a reductive painting. With EK, you generally have a only a few colors, so his final choice might look like just another primary, but actually has been mixed very carefully.

Ellsworth Kelly, "High Yellow".

Ellsworth Kelly, “High Yellow”.

All of these issues are pertinent for every painter.  Our color should always be as we want it; if we love an accident, only kick-ass accidents should remain; we all have types of shapes and marks that our eye loves to see and our hand do; choices involving detail or its reduction are made with every canvas or series; flatness and depth are explored in varying degrees in each and every painting;  how much or how little planning we prefer before we begin a piece is a personal but important choice; and the processes that we follow while working not only lead to the finished piece emerging as recognizably ours, but is also what makes us happy—engrossed, focused, intent–and what brings us back to our studio again and again.


Drawing: At the Heart

With every mark we make with brush or a palette knife, each shape that we cut out with a mat knife or clay that we shape with fingers or tools…every object that we create with our hands that did not before exist in the physical plane, we are drawing. When our eyes follow the shapes of things around us, even when our bodies bend to a pose in yoga…we are drawing.

I asked some friends to comment on the importance of drawing, all stellar artists, most who also teach. I left the question wide open—importance how? as painters? as visual human beings?—and so received wise answers to these slightly different questions.

“Drawing, as Michelangelo said, is the foundation of all the arts.  It is the means by which an artist can make what  he or she does convincing.  Drawing, in my opinion, is not to be understood as the rendering of forms (which alone leads to eidetic illusionism), but as the construction of pictorial space within which form can palpably exist.  Drawing is not a visual equation (these marks equal this object) that is left to illustrators who always and only render.  Drawing is an abstraction which evokes and reifies the phenomenon of human visual experience of the world.  It puts both artist and viewer at the center of experience.”

Mark Thomas Kanter, from “The Theory and Practice of Drawing” copyright Mark Thomas Kanter, 2012
Mark Thomas Kanter, "Polytropos" Oil on Canvas, 72" X 96" 2011

Mark Thomas Kanter, “Polytropos” Oil on Canvas, 72″ X 96″ 2011

“If we are talking about the importance of drawing relative to painting, I think it is as important as the artist needs it to be. Having said that, I see little difference between drawing and observation. Observation leads to understanding, whether the subject is material or intangible doesn’t matter. Once one has observed and understood, then one may communicate.  The visual artists chosen mode of expression, be it representation, abstraction, non-objective, or otherwise, is irrelevant. How effective the communication is, is of paramount importance. Overall I would say that the more acute the powers of observation then the more powerful the expression. In the end, to quote Charles-Édouard Jeanneret  (Le Corbusier), “I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.”

Eric Angeloch

Eric Angeloch, "The Home Fires", 24"X48".

Eric Angeloch, “The Home Fires”, 24″X48″.

“There seems to be an ease with drawing that i don’t find in any other medium, yet I find a finished drawing to be just has important as any painting .”

Marie Vickerilla

Marie Vickerilla, graphite and wax on clay board, 7"x5".

Marie Vickerilla, graphite and wax on clay board, 7″x5″.

Drawing is where we start our creative lives and it continues to be where we take our exploratory steps into a new painting or sculpture or into almost any other medium. The immediacy of scratching lines on a piece of paper is perfect for experimenting with concepts or compositions for other works or for creating a pure, stark, honest work of art in and of itself.

I’ve always been so taken with the act of putting lines on paper, that I seem to gravitate toward drawing-based mediums like etching and drypoint. Again, it’s the immediacy.

Learning to draw well is essential for an artist. He or she can bring it to incredible levels of realism or break it down to pure abstraction…but it must first be mastered.

Steve Dininno

Steve Dininno, Night Traffic

Steve Dininno, Night Traffic, charcoal on mylar, 23″x16″.

Drawing by definition is process intensive.  The experience of drawing is also universal because everybody has at least made marks with a pencil; handwriting, a doodle or two.  This is not true of painting, sculpture or filmography.  There is no hiding with drawing, and also no drama.  It is a simple task to just pick up a pencil and make a mark.  Getting in the stream right where you are and navigating from there a pictorial impression.  It will be a drawing no matter what.

Margarete de Soleil

Enso Nest, Ink on paper, 33"x18".

Margarete de Soleil, Enso Nest, ink on paper, 33″x18″.

“Drawing is the primary vehicle of visual intention and commitment. When a person gains drawing proficiency, they stand and take their first steps as an artist. Prior to that, their mark-making is like a baby that scoots around the floor on their butt- they eventually get where they want to go, but inelegantly, slowly and sloppily. Making a strong, intentional mark takes a great amount of courage- it might fail. And that fear of failure- easily remedied by making another mark, and another, and another, until confidence- gained through experience and persistence- produces the shape we see in our minds,  stops too many people. And that is a shame. What is at stake here? A few pennies worth of materials, at best; some time; some self-criticism. The myth that artists tap into some deep well of innate talent and produce beautiful drawings ab ovo is just that- a myth. Most of us, our chubby child’s hands firmly grasping a crayon, made our first marks long, long ago. The main difference- we didn’t give up, we never stopped making bold marks, we learned to coordinate eye and hand, we learned to draw.

Polly Law

Polly Law, MEchanisms of Desire,

Polly Law, “Rude Mechanicals: The Mechanisms of Desire”, Bricolage, 2013, 24.25″x18.875.

From David Smith’s questions for students found among his papers after his death in 1965:

“21. Why do you hesitate–why can you not draw objects as freely as you can write their names and speak words about them?

22. What has caused this mental block? If you can name, dream, recall vision and auras why can’t you draw them? In the conscious set of drawing, who is acting in our unconscious as censor?

In particular, to the painter—
Is there as much art in a drawing as in a watercolor–or as in an oil painting?
Do you think drawing is a complete and valid approach to art vision, or a preliminary only toward a more noble product?”

I read these questions and loved them back when I was a student decades ago, and recommend them for any artist (link below).

http://www.davidsmithestate.org/statements.html

I remembered #21 incorrectly in the intervening years, and so I will end with what I thought was his question, but turns out to be one of my own.

“Why, when we learn in school how to write the word chair, do we also not learn how to draw it?”


The Marker Piece

I have been puzzling over what makes a piece a standout within my body of work. It is not a question of “better”, nor of “favorite”. There is consensus around these pieces, and the five I have selected (more in future posts!) have also withstood the test of time—they date from 1993 to 2008.

A major attribute that makes these paintings stand out is that they all push a particular direction to the furthest point along my spectrum. There are a number of avenues of exploration that have held my interest over the course of years, allowing for many subtle permutations along the way. These five paintings epitomize the categories that they represent—signposts, in their way, whether they came early or later .

Dark Castille, 42″x60″, 1992. (Private collection.)

My plan for this piece was to do a scene of Castille, complete with red soil and olive trees. (I much later did the image with additional detail as a pastel, which I also consider a marker piece, as discussed below.) This was all before I started working on the dark ground  that has long been part of my technique, so I created an underpainting with black oil to create the mass of the the large landform and used a light grey in the sky. I carefully scumbled the top line  to embed the tree shapes and hill into the sky.

When I returned to my studio ready to work back into the now dry first layer, I was struck by how powerful the piece was in just black and white, and so decided to find a way to honor that simplicity. Brushing a little thin almost white into the sky created a soft vibration there, and setting the piece on the floor, I added a wash of deep green, leaving the edges of the piece black.

This piece went so far in the direction of a totally abstract, minimalist color field painting that once it was finished, I felt thoroughly satisfied and never again felt the need to take another piece quite so far in that direction. With “Dark Castille”, I managed to wed landscape imagery with the open feel of  a Rothko.

Red Fields, 20″X24″, pastel on paper, 2005. (Private collection.)

“Red Fields”, hewing more closely to the original reference, pushes my palette in exactly the opposite direction as “Dark Castille”. It is not only one of my brightest pieces ever, but also has a larger range than most—quite bright blue in the sky. resounding reds, then into rusts and greens, both olive and sage. The matte surface of pastel on paper is ideal for creating a brighter and more inclusive palette that feels rich rather than jarring. Like the first version above, the treeline at the top of the hillside is the kind of focal point that I find absolutely delicious to paint. The detail and rich color in “Red Fields” makes me profoundly happy.

Rainy Road/Fireflies, 3 panels of 12″X12″/ea., 2008. (Private collection.)

“Fireflies” is simply the blurriest painting I have done to date. The softness captures the resonant beauty of a rainy summer day in the Catskills, tonalist greens and blues deepened by the low light. Since I have been doing paintings incorporating approaching headlights, I have been astounded at how different the points of light can be, depending on atmospherics. Here, they are oh-so-soft, and yet they buzz around the picture plane with a great deal of energy.

This effect is achieved because this triptych is, rather than one image divided into three panels, actually three different paintings. As I was working on them separately, I repeatedly brought them together to check on how they were interacting, establishing variation in placement of headlights, horizon, roadway, and other elements. The eye is thus invited to travel around laterally  between the panels, complimenting the implied movement of the headlights moving toward the viewer..

Divided Fields, 24″X72″, 2008. (Private collection.)

“Divided Fields” sparks two of my favorite discussions. One is about the summer palette of blue sky and green field or grass, and the other is about minimalism and color field painting.

This piece explores flatness and abstraction in a manner different from “Dark Castille” . The picture plane is divided up into long, horizontal wedges within the hillside, and the sky functions partly as one horizontal shape, and partly as clouds/blue sky. The upward direction of the clouds brings the eye back down to the horizon, while their diagonal directionality creates a rhythm  that helps the eye sweep along the expanse of the entire piece, almost like reading—left to right. The flatness is far from absolute, with lots of soft scumbling and hue variation to create vibration within the planes of color.

All of my pieces create mood, though I do not aim to create narrow, specific emotions so much as broad, subtle and complex resonance. Moody, tonalistic paintings are second nature to me, loving as I do weather and dense atmospherics.After some years of that exploration, however, I wanted to be able to also capture the sheer joy of a sunny summer day. The open, abstract nature of “Divided Fields” pairs strong blues and greens with the assertive lines of the field divisions to walk exactly the line that I am after—a duality of  delight in time/place/season along with the pure pleasure that planes of composed color can provide.

Dark Cloud, 40″x50″, 2006. (Private Collection.)

“Dark Cloud” also  has a reductive, color field affect, but departs from the pieces discussed so far in the dynamic of the cloud. There are only three shapes in the whole piece, including the negative space of the sky, and the cloud is the most assertive of them.

Clouds can be, and be painted, in countless ways. In this painting I pushed the cloud into the most dominant position of any piece that I have done, partly by creating just a single cloud, and partly by its size and color. I worked the subtle variations within and at the edges the way I do with any cloud, so that they are embedded in the sky rather than seeming to float on top of it. Yet, this cloud is clearly read as a shape that dialogues aggressively with the wedge of hillside below. The landform holds its own, in turn, by being totally black and having a tree lifting into the sky in such a way that the cloud seems halted by it. With this strong play of elements, “Dark Cloud” contains an edge of tension resulting from both narrative and formal elements.


The Hudson River

From the water, at the best time of day to be on the river in the summer.

One of my versions of the view from Olana, impossible to resist. (Private collection.)

One of those bright/hazy days, softening all edges, Kingston Lighthouse on the left. The divided format creates rhythm and brings the eye back to the surface of the painting.

Like most of these, a view from the water. Sunset over the Catskills, as minimalist as can be. (Private collection.)

A spot further downstream, where the shores create dramatic bluffs. (Private collection.)

Very often I plan on including the lighthouse—they appear in so many views—but then opt not to. Here, it fits well as a sign of human imprint, along with the sailboats. This is Esopus Light, situated way out in the middle of the river, warning boats from the shallows to its west.

A view of the Newburg/Beacon bridge from the train on the east bank, with a crazy sunset gleam reflected from the girders onto the water below.

In this piece the serenity of the scene and the balance of the composition led me to omit the lighthouse on the left. The Catskill MOuntains are behind the river’s edge.

I love the river marshes just as I love saltmarshes,  the grasses outlining shapes  against the expanses of water.

Deep dusk, playing with a camera-blur effect in the shore lights.

Though flanked by shores on either side, the river is wide and the sky big. (Private collection.)

Moonlit river looking west from Poet’s Walk in Rhinebeck.

A snippet of river in the vertical format, revealing the gleams of the setting sun without showing the sun itself. (Private collection.)

The Hudson from the West Side Highway, nearing where it feeds into New York Harbor. (Private collection.)