Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “composition

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!

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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.

 

"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.

 

"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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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!

 

 


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.