Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “Gold Gallery Boston

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!

 

 


Small Studies in Oil on Primed Paper

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

At work on one of the studies for

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

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

Version

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

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

Version with suggestion of houses in back land form.

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

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

Blue Above, 12

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

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

First set of small

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

I soon saw that the studies function nicely as small paintings in their own right if I finish them the same way I do a larger piece. They look great framed with a mat and under glass, though I have also exhibited and sold a number of them mounted on board, sealed to be airtight, and presented without glass, such as the below.  I did a grouping, example below, for a small works show without any intention to do them larger—some of them are images I already had done as pastels or larger oils. Switching it up!

Tidal Flats at Dusk, 6

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

 

Study/Triptych in Reds

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

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

Triptych in Reds

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

 

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

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

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

Intervening Bay, 24″x24″, private collection.

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

Study/Open Road #1, 4.5″x14″. (Sold)

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

Open Road, 20

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

 

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

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

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

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

In the larger size I needed to add more buildings, and I opted to make it more atmospheric. It turned out to be very useful to have established the front detail in the small piece, since I wasn’t at all sure how it was going to work out or even if I wanted to include it. I liked it well enough in the study to follow my own lead in the larger oil.

Skyline with Lifting Rain

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

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

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

 

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6

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

Study/Lake Mists, 5

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

 

Study?Gleam over Tidal Flats,

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

 

Study/Green Valley

Study/Green Valley, 6″x10″.

 

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

Study/Late Summer Light, 5″x7.5″.

 

Study/Meadowlands with Mists.

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

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

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4

Study/Fall Marsh Mists, 4″X8″. (Sold)

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

Soft Summer Light, 4"x8".

Soft Summer Light, 4″x8″.

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

 

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

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

 

Study/Waterspouts, 6"x9".

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

 

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

Study/It Looks Like Rain, 6″x9″.

 

Study/Summer Marsh, 5"x12".

Study/Summer Marsh, 5″x12″ .

 

Study/ClusteredCLouds, 5"x12".

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

 

Study/White Fields, 5"x11".

Study/White Fields, 5″x11″ (Sold).

 

Study/Grey Dawn, 5"x7".

Study/Grey Dawn, 5″x7″.

 

Study/Winter Warmth, 7"x7".

Study/Winter Warmth, 7″x7″ (sold).

 

Study/Se.rene Winter, 5"x11"

Study/Serene Winter, 5″x11″ .

 

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

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

 

Study/Green Fields, 5"x13".

Study/Green Fields, 5″x13″.

 

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

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

 

The study below illustrates another use for the small format, as it was a a study for a commissioned painting (something that I have always done in a small pastel or oil to iron out the imagery that has been chosen by the collector):

 

Study/Resting Clouds, 4"x14".

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

 

Lifting Clouds, 18"x42".

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

 

You may have noticed that some of the oil-on-paper pieces have a deckled edge and some have a clean edge. This does not translate with the large oil-on-linen work, but instead is something that I’ve been playing with in my pastels for a number of years. Some images have shapes within that relate to the uneven edge, and others have a more linear sweep to the composition. Those that have the deckled edge are framed showing it, and the others have the mat coming right up to the edge of the image.

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

What’s been Going on/Is Coming Up, Spring 2015

After a hard and busy winter I am so very happy to be in transition to the warmer season ahead. The work in my studio and recent events gave me a wonderful distraction from the relentless weather in the Northeast, but all logistics and movement are so much easier and more enjoyable with warm sunshine, no snow or ice, and planning that can be relied upon.

My solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston remains up through April 25th.

Everyone has heard how massively hit Boston was with snow this past winter, and the reports were no exaggeration. We had planned a February show, agreeing that since they had February traffic and business, we should go for it.

Sometimes I just love the expression: “Man plans. God laughs.”

After a few postponements, we did open with a reception on March 13th. It was a lovely time for me, with many in-depth questions, especially about my Affinity Series and the multiple-panel pieces.

Gold Gallery

Gold Gallery

The gallery brought my work to the AD 20/21 Fair down the street from them a few weeks later. I love the way the work pops on the grey walls.

Work at AD 20/21

Work at AD 20/21 with Gold Gallery

I wrote a blog post about this multiple-panel piece in the show as an example of how a new idea evolves. This piece has quite a story, involving photos of my son Tony; Maya Lin; Storm King; and many sketches and studies.

Green Waves, oil on canvas, 14"X82" framed.

“Green Waves”, oil on canvas, 14″X82″ framed.

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

Edgewater Gallery of Middlebury, Vermont brought my work to the Affordable Art Fair NYC at the end of March, so I decided to attend. I hadn’t been in several years, and found the whole fair to be well-organized and accessible, a kind of bubble of positive energy. This year was very successful, not surprising with with the quality and variety of work and the good vibe.

I was meeting up with friends and collectors at different intervals for three days running, so I spent quite a bit of time there. The first day I decided to get further involved by collecting information on some of my favorite artists being exhibited at the fair in order to write a blog post about it. This is a review of the work of the five artists that I selected:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/a-review-of-the-affordable-art-fair-in-nyc/

A few pieces of mine

A few pieces of mine at the Edgewater booth at the AAF.

I got a first-hand look at how hard the galleriests at these events work as I returned often to the Edgewater booth,  enjoying the chance to get to know Kate, Rachel, and Zoe a little better in between their many conversations with fair-goers and invoicing and wrapping sold work. The days were up to 12 hours of standing and smiling and chatting, and they had a great attitude throughout.

I have had several commissions in the first months of this year.  Although I am a tonalist by instinct, over the years I have found that I like to meander this way and that with my palette. These five pieces are about as bright as I can imagine going, but I am pleased to see how “me” they look, even with more saturated color.

Installation shot of four pastels commissioned through Megan p eter Fine Art.

Installation shot of four pastels commissioned through Megan 
Peter Fine Art.

"Saltmarsh in August", headed soon to it's hone on Martha's Vineyard, commissioned through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

“Saltmarsh in August”, headed soon to its home on Martha’s Vineyard, commissioned through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

I recently enjoyed a visit at my friend Marie Vickerilla’s studio. She had new work finished for her upcoming show in New Jersey that I was determined to see before it left her studio.

Marie's studio

Marie’s studio

Our conversation about this body of work had a lot to do with mixed associations (see my discussion of this in the blog post reviewing the Affordable Art Fair) and complexities of surface. I have always loved Marie’s more minimalist work, and found this new series to be exciting in a different way–lost and found edges and layers; unusual color juxtapositions; and stories begun one place and and finished in another.

From her statement about this series: “Not until after the work is complete do I realize from where the painting has come. From shifting lines holding up a shape, lines and bars moving from place to place, a kind of organization emerges from the randomness, and I find a correlation to some slow-moving event in life.”

Actually, I’ll just say it, since I have before in conversation: I think Marie is a genius. It’s not always apparent to me where and how her decisions are made, but they have amazing clarity, subtlety, and depth—“unique voice” is an understatement.

Inviation for MArie Vickerillas show.

Upcoming Shows:

May 9th: Chace-Randall Gallery (upstairs space), Andes, NY, 10th Anniversary show, 5 – 7 p.m.

A solo at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY, July 16-Labor Day, reception July 25.

The Shandaken Studio Tour, July 18-19.

A solo or duo at Louisa Gould in Vineyard Haven, MA, August 13-26:

A few new pieces:

"Perceived Acuity", 18"x52".

“Perceived Acuity”, 18″x52″.

"Blue/GreenSea", 3 panels of 12"x12"; 12"x16"; & 12"x12"

“Blue/GreenSea”, 3 panels of 12″x12″; 12″x16″; & 12″x12″

A few of my recently sold pieces:

"Skyline with Lifting Rain", 20"X20", oil on linen.

“Skyline with Lifting Rain”, 20″X20″, Edgewater Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair.

5 Trees

“5 Trees”, 20″x60″, Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

Turqiouse Light

“Turquoise Light”, 30″x30″, Gold Gallery.

My February workshop “Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape” at the Woodstock School of Art managed to come off, despite terrible weather, and succeeded in what I had set out to do. A new workshop, it involved an unprecedented amount of planning for me, as I was determined to develop exercises that would lead my students into a deeper analysis of composition and color, and a more conscious understanding how the elements form the whole.

The landscape itself is so seductive that it can actually get in the way of crafting a good painting, so much so that often I see artists plateau in their skill-building, finding it hard to advance to the next level. This workshop was designed for those artists, though I think it also works well for beginners as a step-by-step.

Day #2, working with color (those touchy greens!)

Day #2, working with color (those touchy greens!)

I was concerned that the artists in this workshop would feel constrained by so much structure, but they all surrendered to the process and felt that they learned way more than in a workshop with more open painting time. The exercises are also really fun—I did them myself first to make sure of that.

At work on a frigid February day.

At work on a frigid February day.

I will be teaching the same workshop in Provincetown in September, as well as these others coming up in 2015:

Woodstock School of Art, “Landscape in Large Scale” , June 20-23:

http://www.woodstockschoolofart.org/scheele_landscape_in_large_scale2015.html

Artists Association of Nantucket, “Landscape and Mood”, July 13-15:

https://apm.activecommunities.com/nantucketarts/Activity_Search/landscape-and-mood-with-christie-scheele/300

Provincetown Artists Association and Museum, “Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape”, September 14th-17th.

https://www.paam.org/workshops/summer-2015/?course_detail=constructingdeconstructing-the-landscape&start_date=9-14-15

Woodstock School of Art, “Interpreting the Landscape in Oil and Pastel”, October 17-19

http://www.woodstockschoolofart.org/scheele_interpreting_the_landscape_in_oil_and_pastel2015.html

I hope to see many friends and followers this spring and summer at a reception, a workshop, or my studio. Many of you have been students, collectors, and friends, in one order or another, and I love to see you show up.


The Evolution of a New Concept

Following up on the ideas that first led me to multiple-panel imagery,  (see my blog post on this subject )

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/multiple-panel-paintings/

I recently completed an 8-part painting comprised of panels 12″ high and of differing widths.

Green Waves, oil on canvas, 14"X82" framed.

Green Waves, oil on canvas, 14″X82″ framed.

I am always on the lookout for new ways to present multiple-panel pieces, whether they are parts of a whole, variations on a theme (as above) or completely different images united in a frame.

A few years ago, while chatting with my son Tony about his visit to Storm King Art Center (an expansive sculpture park located near Newburg, NY on beautiful, hilly terrain), I noticed a screen shot on his laptop.

Screen shot of a number of photos that my son Tony took of Maya Lin's Wavefield.

Screen shot of a number of photos that my son Tony took of Maya Lin’s Wavefield.

It was a sequence of photos that he had shot of the Maya Lin earth installation Wavefield at Storm King, with which he was quite taken.

I immediately asked for him to forward me the screen shot, and filed the idea away for future use, thinking I would eventually apply it to some other imagery—ocean; field; or marsh.

Two years later, I visited Storm King with Tony and my sister Carla  and niece Audri on a glorious fall day with a bright blue sky. When we finally wended our way down to the Wavefield, they had a sign up asking viewers not to walk out on it due to fragility from recent rains.

So this is my pic from the sidelines, not at all what my son had come up with from tromping around inside it and shooting it with his photographer’s eye. Our bright fall day also didn’t have the color of his original photos with a soft green-grass and white-sky palette that is a favorite of mine.

Wavefield as viewed from the side.

Wavefield as viewed from the side.

I, too, was intrigued by the installation, and got to thinking that maybe I would do a long, unequal-width-panel multiple using Tony’s earlier green/white palette photos after all, instead of some other view or hillside.

Back in my studio, I started planning and prepping.

First, I needed to establish the order of the panels, which I knew had  importance as an element completely void of any imagery—-a horizontal grid of unequal-width units creating rhythm. After I cut apart the units and moved them around, I planned my hillside sequence. 

Constructing panel border for the first small color version.

Constructing panel border for the first small color version.

Then, I was ready to move onto the small painting phase. When I do this I call it a color sketch, but it is really a finished small painting done to scale.

First version of small painting, oil on paper.

First version of small painting, oil on primed paper.

The first version I liked but found it didn’t have the horizontal extension that had captured my attention with the original image. I was worried about the larger final piece being too long and thin to be transportable and actually work in someone’s home, but had to set this concern aside and forge ahead.

Sketching Green Waves.

Sketching Green Waves, version #2..

Even in the pencil sketch phase of version #2, I was excited to see that I was creating a whole new sensation of wave with my varied placement of sky-meets-land horizon lines, and soon realized that this was the most salient feature of the evolving piece.

Second small painted version in prep stage.

Second small painted version in prep stage.

 

In progress, version #2.

In progress, color sketch version #2.

With more panels to work with, the horizon line creates a wave that, from left to right, sweeps across the piece. This was what I was after, so this became the final color sketch for the larger painting.

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

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

 As I got deeper into the process, I loved the idea that while I was riffing off the work of another artist (first time as a mature artist), and that said artist had created artificial and mesmerizing waves within a landscape, I was also creating in my piece a new, 2-dimensional wave.

 In version #2 I also enhanced the waves within the hillsides–Lin’s waves— more than they were visible in the photos and the first color sketch.

Viewers would mostly only experience this viscerally as the various waves in my painting move gently up and down across the panels. The soft green diagonal lines within the hillside are not the most noticeable part, but add interest compositionally and, upon scrutiny, are clearly not naturally occurring.

Next, onto the larger piece.

Using two easels, I painted the panels two and three at a time so that I could always ascertain how each one was interacting with its neighbor, and used my sketch as a guide.

Large piece in progress.

Large piece in progress.

 When I use a color sketch as a basis for a larger piece (and this is only a fraction of the time) I proceed the way I always do, blocking in large areas of paint and painting detail with smaller brushes, rather than using any form of projecting or measuring. The pleasure of creating a painting lies in the process of using my painterly/drawerly hand, so I don’t use shortcuts. This way, I also keep my drawing skills sharp.

First assembled, the panels not yet finished.

First assembled, the panels not yet finished.

I had worked things out quite well with the second color sketch, but scale does make a difference. In the large painting, I found that panel #5 didn’t completely please me, so I added a low back mountain on the left, which you can see below in the final version.

Why?

If you look individually at these paintings of slanting hillsides, it is easy to imagine that the composition could feel unbalanced and visually slide off the picture plane on the downhill side. In each of them, I have counterbalanced the downhill slope with trees, treelines, back mountains, and the Maya Lin hill lines below the top hill.

Green Waves, oil on canvas, 14"X82" framed.

Green Waves, oil on canvas, 14″X82″ framed.

In my wave—where the white sky meets the land—the eye goes down; then up to panel #5; and then gently back down and slightly up again in the last panel. The fifth panel is really the acme painting in the grouping, being the highest horizon and almost centered (that almost is important, too). By adding the back mountain and adjusting the top line of the hillside just a hair, I flattened out the horizon and made it sit better as an independent piece while also transitioning more successfully to its neighbors.

This piece was first shown in 2015 in my solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston’s South End, and then made its way to Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, where it is hanging in my solo show there, up through April 23rd, 2017. Here is my blog post on the body of work:

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

I may very well return to this theme in the future with an entirely different type of image/locale which will require fresh problem-solving. One of the gifts that comes from decades of moving deeper and wider into a body of work is the pleasure that this brings—a complex universe, all my own.


Multiple Panel Paintings and the Grid

The Grid.

Those caps are not an accident.

If you were in a BFA program in the late 70’s, as I was, conversation turned frequently to the various methods of exploring the ubiquitous grid by our hero-artists, from Sol LeWitt to Chuck Close. Two great loves of mine in this pantheon were, and still are, Agnes Martin and Louise Nevelson, both of whom used grid imagery in the most moving way possible.

What are the associations with the grid that hold our attention? Order, containment, rhythm, vibration, line and edge, surface and depth…and then all of the artistic possibilities of using it as a framework to break out of.

Agnes Martin, for example, applied the lines on her paintings free hand. It is the subtle variation in those lines that convey the meditative moments of their creation. In the  lithograph below the lines were clearly ruled, but there is all kinds of lovely variation in the surface. (Basic tenant of minimalism—reduce the amount of information in the piece and what is left becomes supremely, gorgeously important.)

Agnes Martin, Trumpet, 1967.

Agnes Martin, Trumpet, 1967.

Agnes

Agnes Martin, Untitled, litho, 1998.

Louise Nevelson, often worked with  constructions of irregular boxes painted black or white, asymmetrical sculptures creating an off-hand sort of grid; and other times adhered to a more organized grid, as in “Ancient Secrets”, both below.

Louise Nevelson, Untitled, 1968.

Louise Nevelson, Untitled, 1968.

Louise Nevelson, Ancient Secrets, 1964.

Louise Nevelson, Ancient Secrets, 1964.

Mark Rothko, my biggest influence ever, worked with a very reduced grid, just a few rectangles—the epitome of less-is-more. There is a remarkable amount of emotion in these canvases, and they allow the viewer to bring personal experience to the moment of contemplation. This is another aspect of minimalism— open, non-specific imagery invites the viewer to interact rather than being told exactly what to think or feel.

Mark Rothko, 1960

Mark Rothko, No. 7, 1960.

  Like all of my classmates, I ate it all up, exploring the grid myself in my earnest art-student manner. After I got over the most derivative phase, I used architectural plans as a basis for a series and a few years later did several abstract triptychs while attending the Royal Academy in Madrid.

When I was looking to bring my exploration of the landscape into new terrain back in the late 1990’s, I circled back to my longstanding affection for the grid and pondered multiple panel imagery. Thinking, at that point, from the outside, I could only see two possibilities, and they seemed a little bit obvious—either dividing one image into multiple panels (an illusion of window panes) or joining several related images into one piece.

This was, kind of blissfully, pre-internet, so I had no idea if/what other landscape painters were doing in this arena. I decided just to jump in and see what evolved. (I still tend to leap before I look at what others have done when exploring a concept that is new to me. It keeps it fresher.)

Below is a recent example of one of these options, and, as so often happens, once immersed in the process I found it anything but ho-hum.

Triptych in Reds

“Triptych in Reds”, 3 panels of 24″x24″/ea., 2013, an example of one image spread over 3 panels with each framed individually.

I have explored the divided field imagery repeatedly over the years, and just now understand that it, too, is loosely grid-based. We’ re seeing it in perspective, which creates the slanting diagonal lines that I love so much.

Returning to my comment about minimalism, I am including the triptych below because I feel that it illustrates well my version of of less-is-more.

One of my handful of favorite paintings ever. The divided frame serves to remind that  this is a painting, so that you can be both in the moment of the wave and enjoying the abstraction of the piece..

“Exuberant Wave”, panels are 30″x30″/ea., 2010, framed in one frame with dividers. (Private Collection.)

“River in 5” is an example of one image in five parts, exploring the more extreme horizontal. In single image multiple-panel pieces the subject wants to be quite simple, so often I begin with the size and format and then look for imagery to suit. The landscape that I choose generally has a strong horizon and often other elements that visually link the panels.

I am frequently asked if each panel should be able to stand alone as an individual piece. My answer is that this is not something I look for—often one panel might need to be quieter to serve the composition as a whole. In the piece below, the far left would not work on its own; in the wave piece above the right hand panel would be too static as a single. “Triptych in Reds”, in contrast, is comprised of panels that would each stand alone quite nicely…but it just so-happened that way.

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

River in 5, 5 panels of 10″x10″/ea. (Private Collection.)

The piece below explores the other option, three separate images. In this case they are of the same stretch of road minutes or seconds apart and so are tightly linked. This also creates a film strip feel, though without a progression that moves the action from point A to point B. Each of these panels would most definitely function well as a single piece, something that I do look for in multi-image pieces.

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

“Rainy Road/Fireflies”, 3 panels of 12″x12″/ea.,2008. (Private Collection.)

Starting around 2000 I did a series of four “Samplers”, named after the quilt style, 16 square 5″x5″‘s in pastel. I debated doing them individually and then moving them around until I liked the order, but decided that I liked the integrity and challenge of figuring out the order as I went along and then committing to it. Thus, these  were all done on a single sheet of paper.

Sampler #4, 16 5" panels on black pastel paper,

Sampler #4, 16 5″ panels on black pastel paper, the last Sampler completed. (Privaye Collection.)

There were questions of composition (both within each small piece and for the piece as a whole), color (which in landscape painting is related to season, locale, and time of day), directionality, and type of imagery (manmade objects? more detail or more open?). Simple things like placement of a horizon line had to be carefully considered to create variety and enhance the whole.

From 2009 to 2011 I did a series of  five vertical triptychs in a wide black frame that I titled “Colorcode”, related color being the unifying factor. I have a few more of these frames, so I may pick this format back up again.

Colorcode, 3 panels of 3"x5", vertical arrangement of 3 images united by color.

Colorcode #2,  3 panels of 3″x5″, vertical arrangement of 3 images united by color and composition. (Private collection.)

In 2002 I created the Cyclone Sampler, 37 tiny pieces in a vintage tintype box. Below the image is an excerpt from notes that I made about the piece when it was acquired by the Tyler Museum of Art in east Texas in 2009.

Cyclone Sampler

Cyclone Sampler, 21.5″x10.5″. (Museum Collection.)

“The Cyclone Sampler reflects a synthesis of my interests in the landscape as narrative, the listening aspect of working with vintage, distressed objects/frames, and the postmodern use of the grid and serial imagery.

The result of my investigations, these multiple-image pieces are about a sense of contained energy (unlike my single-image landscapes, which most often have a feel of expansive energy), the telling of multiple stories, and the rhythm of the grid.

The narrative in my landscapes is ever-present, though often second to abstract concerns. The image of the cyclone fascinates me on a very formal level—the shapes are varied and gorgeous, with the complex, soft, scumbled edges that I love, and often have unusually juxtaposed colors. The story that they tell is equally riveting — nature at its most intense, both deadly and awe-inspiring. The Cyclone Sampler projects the feeling of energy tightly controlled within the grid, since the images are tiny, but the energy of the twister that they depict is vast. The final decision I needed to make while assembling the piece was to leave some sections empty; after trying it out with all of the spots filled, it became clear that to avoid seeming like a dry and busy cataloguing of twisters, the empty sections were essential to give space and emphasis to the 41 that I chose to include.” 

In 2007 I did a larger piece in oil that is similar to my Sampler series, made possible by a lucky find with a frame that came with dividers for 35 images. The finish on the frame has tones of red, so each piece in it has at least some red, and a number of them quite a lot of it.

Like the Cyclone Sampler, I found that it was becoming too busy, but I knew that with this presentation I couldn’t leave compartments open. I opted to include six very minimalist images using only black and red, inviting the viewer in by creating depth and encouraging the eye to travel around the piece.

"Trove", 30"X48" overall.

“Trove”, 35 3″x5″ paintings, 30″X48″ overall. (Private Collection.)

I found a smaller version of the same frame, and did 16 images with a road theme. Using fewer panels allowed the detail in the many manmade objects to create a rhythm of alternating focal points that doesn’t feel overly busy.

Trove #2: From the Road, 16 panels of 3"x5"/ea.

Trove #2: From the Road, 16 panels of 3″x5″/ea, 2010.. (Private Collection.)

I am currently working on one last version of Trove, this with a weather theme, which I will exhibit in my solo show at Gold Gallery, February 18-March 21, 2015.

Final Trove in progress.

Final Trove in progress a few weeks ago in my studio.

A vintage box or tray that has several compartments always provides an enticing challenge for a multi-panel piece, even more so because no two are alike.  My choice of imagery follows the same idea of strong horizontal or vertical elements to link that panels, and also needs to visually mesh perfectly with that vehicle (for more on this, see my earlier post: https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/vintage-boxes-slates-and-siftersthe-occasional-found-object/).

Winter in 6,

Winter in 6, 2013. (Private Collection.)

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

“Smoke in Four”, 2007. (Private Collection.)

Recently I did a commissioned piece in two trays from a vintage  fishing tackle box. Many of the  images are from places of significance for the couple, and I worked with a combination of diptychs and single panel pieces, which created an interesting challenge while finalizing placement. The view of Opus 40 on the upper right was the only panel that didn’t get moved around repeatedly in the process.

Commissioned piece in two trays, 2014.

Commissioned piece in two trays, 2014.

 With multi-image paintings, concept and execution are both complex. They generally are thematic, and I always find that these pieces are a wonderful balance to the more open minimalism that I normally work with.

 Finally, my Affinity Series, oil on linen with frayed/distressed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding—about which I will write a separate post another day—can be expressed in the diptych and triptych format as well. In this series I have incorporated gridding into the image itself.

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

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

Recently, I had a vision for a different type of multiple image piece, now almost finished (and also headed for my Boston show). But that, too, I’ll describe in another blog post—exploring how a new idea is conceived and executed.

 I choose to do a multiple panel painting for several reasons. Most importantly, I like variety in the studio, so today’s choice of format, color, and type of imagery is likely to be different from the piece I just finished. That is also why I feel the need to come up with new series from time to time (see my post on this subject:  https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/staying-fresh/).

And then there is the reference to the grid, an association that is interwoven through my own history as an artist and is, much like with food, my
“comfort art”.


December Newsletter 2014

It has been a busy, fruitful year, but I am not dwelling too much on the past! My sights are set on 2015, when I will have several shows that I am very excited about.

The first will be in March at Gold (Au) Gallery in Boston, my second solo show with the gallery. My solo in fall of 2012 was quite successful, but I am looking forward to this show taking place in a better economy. Below is the piece we have used for advance PR, just finished less than a month ago.

"Rolling Cloud", 44"x68".

“Rolling Cloud”, 44″x68″.

There will be another version of “Trove”, 35 3″x5″ paintings in a divided frame—here is the one that I did and sold in 2007. This second frame is the last that I have been able to find, so only one more of these! The new one will have a weather theme.

"Trove", 30"X48" overall.

“Trove”, 30″X48″ overall.

I am working on a new idea for a multiple-panel piece, waiting for the delivery of canvas to begin work on the final version, which will come in (framed) at something like 14″x82″. A planning stages photo is below.

Studies for "Green Waves".

Studies for “Green Waves”.

 

Some recent highlights have included three blog posts that I quite enjoyed writing. These often generate quite a bit of discussion on FB that I wish was taking place on the blog where more folks could enjoy it, so feel free to jump in.

Most recent, this short one about how grounding a creative process is:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/creativity-and-happiness/

Some stories that I love (and a few of you might recognize them!):

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

And my version of a rant  about the costs, hidden to many, of making an artwork and bringing it to the public eye:

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

My early fall was well-occupied with this commissioned piece which was challenging in certain ways. My clients–who are also friends–wanted a piece that was most definitely in my signature style, but that also included a fairly large structure.

 

44"x68".

44″x68″.

The small pastel looked great with some loose detail for the building, but when I got to the large oil, there was just too much of it to leave open. So I hunkered down and went after the architectural detail, surrendering to process. Then, however, the building looked too linear and didn’t fit with the rest of the painting. Finally, I made it all sit together by putting a fairly translucent layer of a lighter brown over the whole castle and embedding it with more blend into the white sky.

This is what makes each piece an adventure. I thought that the large Rhododendrons flanking the pond would be difficult to pull off/make interesting, but they fell right into place.

The reflection, however, was always going to be the star of the piece!

One other observation about process is that when it comes to a section that has quite a lot of  of detail, I think of it as an abstract painting within a painting. This slows me down and enables me to focus with pleasure and patience, eventually backing up and scrutinizing how the area is working with the whole.

Below, a few recent pieces.

"Green Horizons", 12"x48", oil on canvas.

“Green Horizons”, 12″x48″, oil on canvas. (Studio.)

 

"Marsh at Dusk", 12"x16". oil on linen.

“Marsh at Dusk”, 12″x16″. oil on linen. (Studio.)

 

Five oil-on-paper paintings of just 3.25"x3"/ea.

Five oil-on-paper paintings of just 3.25″x3″/ea. (Studio.)

 

"Affinity/Sunset Reflected", 12"x36". Oil on linen with frayed edges overlaid with graphite gridding.

“Affinity/Sunset Reflected”, 12″x36″. Oil on linen with frayed edges overlaid with graphite gridding. (At Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)

 

And this piece that I repainted last summer, brightening the color.

"Endless Sky", 36"x72", oil on linen.

“Endless Sky”, 36″x72″, oil on linen. (At Gold Gallery.)

 

Some work that has sold recently through my galleries.

 

"Lifting Rain, 20"x60". Sold by Louisa Gould Gallery.

“Lifting Rain, 20″x60”. Sold by Louisa Gould Gallery.

 

"Mountain Sky with Mists", 24"x30". Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

“Mountain Sky with Mists”, 24″x30″. Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.

 

Seaside Reds, 20"x20". Sold by Edgewater Gallery, to my dear and recently   rediscovered friend from my year in Bolivia as an exchange student!)

“Seaside Reds”, 20″x20″. (Sold by Edgewater Gallery, to my dear and recently rediscovered friend from my year in Bolivia as an exchange student!)

 

"Counterlight BLues, 16"x20". Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

“Counterlight Blues, 16″x20”. Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

 

"Sunset Sea with Sailboat", 5"x14", oil on paper. (Sold by the Julie Heller Gallery.)

“Sunset Sea with Sailboat”, 5″x14″, oil on paper. (Sold by the Julie Heller Gallery.)

My other shows coming up in 2015 are with the Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard and a show exploring my most minimalist, color-field imagery with my gallery of longest-standing, Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck.

My fall workshops on in Provincetown and Woodstock were very focused and great fun. For 2015, I have two new themes on the schedule. (Contact me for a full course description.)

 Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape, WSAFebruary 14-16 Sat-Mon

Landscapes in Large Scale, WSA, June 20-23, Sat-Tues

Provincetown Artist’s Association and Museum, Sept. September 14-18 Mon-Thurs(Workshop will be similar to Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape.)

Interpreting the Landscape in Oil or Pastel, WSA, October 17-19 Sat-Mon

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

Last comment for now is that I have been doing quite a bit of mentoring/coaching of other artists this past year and especially recently, enjoying working with both early career and experienced artists. I developed my mentoring programs years ago after meeting and conversing with many artists who had so much hope and conviction, but didn’t understand the ropes. The work is satisfying to me because I can clarify and demystify, and thus take some of the emotional weight out of the process of bringing artwork into the marketplace. I am grateful to the many artists who have trusted me to help them rewrite artist’s statements, brainstorm new series, scrutinize resumes for old contacts, and open themselves up to advice.

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

Happy holidays, happy 2015!


So much happening! Summer Season 2014.

Over the top busy this spring and summer, with new galleries, a solo show in place and several other shows coming up between now and August.

We had a lovely, packed opening reception at Chace-Randall Gallery in Andes, NY. I will be updating the blog post I created about the work in the show as pieces continue to sell—but you really should see the show in person, if you couldn’t make the opening! Thank-you to Zoe Randall for the party and especially for a great job hanging the work. The show will be up through July 7th.

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2657&action=edit

With the largest painting in this show,

With the largest painting in this show, “Interwoven Stories”.

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Host Tom Lavazzi pouring wine…and tons of nice conversation passing around.

Owner/driector Zoe Randall and I in front of the [postcard piece, "Turquoise Light".

Owner/director Zoe Randall and I in front of the postcard piece, “Turquoise Light”.

I am showing again at Butters Gallery in Portland Oregon— and so  pleased to add this reputable gallery in a new locale to my list. I participated in the “Line” show there last winter, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, and have remained on the roster. Opening June 5th is a 4-artsist landscape show, invitation below. For my work in the show, see their website:

http://www.buttersgallery.com/Artist-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=486&sr=1&ppage=6

eastwest143

BUTTERS GALLERY LTD 520 NW DAVIS PORTLAND OREGON 97209 (503) 248-9378 (800) 544-9171 gallery hours: tuesday-friday 10-5:30 saturday 11-5 http://www.buttersgallery.com

East / West

June 5th – 28th 2014

Opening Reception: Thursday June 5th, 6 – 9 pm

My newest gallery is Edgewater Gallery in Middelbury, VT. This happened the way we artists love it to happen—a phone call offering representation. A beautiful space and locale, I am happy to be on the walls, and look forward to events there, starting with a visit and meet-and-greet in October. I just shipped off this triptych, painted with them in mind. See their website for additional work:

http://www.edgewatergallery-vt.com/scheele-christie.html

"Hill beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24"x20"/ea.

“Hill beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24″x20″/ea.

Up next is my duo show (with  M.J. Levy Dickenson)  at Julie Heller East in Provincetown, July 18-31, with an opening reception on July 19th from 6pm on. That same night we are also hosting a reception through the gallery at the Anchor Inn with larger pieces of mine and the work of Polly Law, 7-9pm. The idea is that viewers can go from East End to West End and see both shows.

Arriving at the Anchor Inn/JHG on June 5th, this new piece.

"Entering Province Lands", 30"X60".

“Entering Province Lands”, 30″X60″.

In August I will be showing with Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard in a show with Louisa herself and Paul Beebe. Dates are August 7-27. with opening reception August 9th, 5-7pm. I am new to this beautiful gallery in Vineyard Haven, though I have been showing on the island since 1998, beginning with Carol Craven Gallery and most recently with Dragonfly (thank-you, Carol, Don, and Susan!). The show will include several large-formeat pieces of Vineyard locales.

Here are a few pieces hanging now in her Memorial Day show, including several new ones recently delivered.

"Lifting Rain, 20"x60".

“Lifting Rain, 20″x60”.

"Summer Sunset/Tidal Creek", 36"x12".

“Summer Sunset/Tidal Creek”, 36″x12″.

Tucked in among all of these shows with my galleries is a very sweet happening, a show called “Three Generations” at Cano (Community Arts Network of Oneonta) in Oneonta, NY. This show will feature my mother, Gerri Scheele, with the ceramics that she was so well known for and the landscapes that followed; myself; and my daughter and son Tessa and Tony Scheele Morelli. This will be a special family affair staged at the Wilbur mansion, where I did my first oil painting at age 11 and where my mother showed extensively for many years.

Heading next week to Gold Gallery in Boston, this newly repainted piece. I am looking forward to my second solo show there in March of 2015.

"Endless Sky", 36"x72".

“Endless Sky”, 36″x72″.

Some spring sales:

"Bridge Crossing in Violets", 12"X12". (Sold by Butters Gallery.)

“Bridge Crossing in Violets”, 12″X12″. (Sold by Butters Gallery.)

 

Sunset River Expanse", 20"x62". (Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)

Sunset River Expanse”, 20″x62″. (Sold by Albert Shahinian Fine Art.)

 

"Approach," oil on vintage blackboard, 11"x13.5". (Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.)

“Approach,” oil on vintage blackboard, 11″x13.5″. (Sold by Chace-Randall Gallery.)

ALL of my galleries have work of mine at all times, so wherever you are or travel to among these locales, check them out!

Workshops are upcoming at the Woodstock School of Art June 23-25  and Provinctown Artists Association and Museum, September 15-18.

Abstraction and Narrative in the Landscape
Working in Oil or Pastel
Using photograhic reference, we will investigate how the elements in a landscape painting serve the whole, accessing the formal qualities of color, shape, edge, and composition to create compelling imagery. The first day we will explore these tools and how they impact the implied narrative of the painting through exercises in oil or pastel on paper. In these studies we will add, subtract, move elements around and change color using our painterly hand. Instead of painting over changes, each study will remain intact while we start a new one so that all variations can be rigorously critiqued and compared before being used as a springboard for a larger painting.
Days 2-4 will include a demo of color-mixing from primaries; more compositional studies, and pursuing fully realized landscape paintings on canvas or larger pastels. Instruction will emphasize the reduction of detail to create a strong, clean composition, along with discussion of both the abstract and the narrative qualities brought out in individual paintings.


Staying Fresh

How do we do it?

I have been working exclusively with landscape imagery since 1990, and painting full time since about 2004. I like nothing better than to be in my studio working, and since I have multiple galleries that all need work, that means a good number of landscape paintings over the course of the years.

So how do I keep it fresh, avoid being bored (which would surely show up in the work), not fall into painting the same painting over and over again?

This is a big question for artists who have a market for their work. Some do just that—paint the same thing, essentially, for decades on end, though realists and plein air painters often have a great love for minute changes in subject matter and locale and keep themselves happy and entertained with these shifts. No judgement here from me–the happy or engrossed artist is the key to good work.

We have all seen artists in the blue chip realm who disappoint with a new body of work (will Susan Rothenberg ever be able to delight me as much as she did with the early horse series?) And yet, the custom of many decades now is for an artist to work serially, ideally moving gracefully and yet compelingly from one body of work to another, maybe over the course of a few years (and often marked by the solo at their major gallery, when it is assumed that that work will leave their studio and never come back, making it easy to start a fresh series). Preferably, from the market standpoint, there is some stylistic or thematic continuity from one series to the next.

I found my true niche with my minimalist mode of landscape painting back in 1990, and a few years later felt a need for opening up my explorations. I addressed it then by expanding the range of my subject matter and palette. Initially, I had avoided anything overtly dramatic, keeping to tonalist color and flat light, and the first shift brought me into a complex sky, or a brighter, blue-sky day.

(The photos in this post may be more current examples, since I have not even begun to get all of my pre-digital slides and photos scanned.)

"Rare Summer Silence", 20"x30".

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

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

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

 As the years passed and I felt ever more firmly in the saddle of my approach, I dared take on subject matter that borders on the cliche for a landscape painter—sunsets, a beach path, fluffy white clouds, even a sailboat at rest. I enjoyed the challenge of painting these subjects while avoiding the melodramatic or sentimental, at first by aided by instinct and later with a clearer understanding—which I now teach—of how this can be achieved.

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

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

I also played with format. The first time I did a vertical landscape I had never actually seen it done, and I found it quite daring. Later, I explored extreme verticals, as well as horizontals.

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

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

The next time I felt restless, I still thought of subject matter, now manmade elements.  I started with phone poles, and moved on to urban images, road imagery, and then grittier industrial imagery. In 2003 I had a show at Albert Shahinian Fine Art, then in Poughkeepsie, called “Manmade”.

ExhuberantStorm

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

"Conviction of Beauty", 12"x

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

Bridge Crossing in Violets

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

A few years later, I pondered how to get my love for the grid into my work (bearing in mind that my background is in contemporary, not traditional, art).  On first glance, it seemed that there were only a few ways to incorpoarate this with landscape imagery. But I decided to just get started doing these first ideas, and eventually it became clear that there were many ways to bring the landscape and the grid together.

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

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

"Trove",

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

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

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

Somewhere around 2002, once again contemplating my next move, I began to use vintage boxes and other distressed objects as my support, selecting imagery and palette to mesh with the elements already present in the object.

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

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

This series sometimes requires applied problem-solving in to addition visual/aesthetic decision making, and I  enjoy the stretch of the brain.

Many of these pieces have been set in lovely old compartmentalized boxes, trays, or pans, which means that they also explore multiple-panel imagery.

"Mountain Fall in 6, 5"x18" (courtesy Albert Shahinian Fine Art).“Mountain Fall in 6, 5″x18” (courtesy Albert Shahinian Fine Art). This appears to be an old coin drawer from a cash register. At first I thought of putting small panels within the compartments, but that obscured the lovely curve at the back. Finally, I created flexible pieces of backed linen that follow the curve. I had to take them in and out a number of times while I was painting them, since being set back changed the light and therefore the color substantially.

When I was preparing to do my Cyclone Sampler, I spent a great deal of time just figuring out what I was going to paint on before nestling the tiny panels into the compartments of the box (I settled on bevel-cut 8-ply matboard—bless my framer—that I sealed front and back with multiple coats of matte medium, since I did not want to put glass over this piece). A spontaneous decision at the end, purely aesthetic, was to leave a few compartments empty, avoiding the feel of a catalogue.

Cyclone Sampler

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

 This series has as many possibilities as the amazing things that I come across that fire my imagination, though I often have to stare at the object for up to a year before I decide what I want to do with it.

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

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

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

Generally the imagery that works best with the frayed edges and gridding in the Affinity Series is either very minimalist or has strong linear elements.

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

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

That I ended up with graphite gridding as an overlay was a circle-back to my longstanding interest in the grid, bringing the viewer’s eye to the surface of the piece and creating mixed associations. Some of the latter I hadn’t even thought of, like the historical use of gridding to aid with proportions while transferring a small image, or maquette, into the larger finished piece, an association that other artists have pointed out to me.

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

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

Many pieces now are some combination of these series. For example, often the frayed linen on board of the Affinity series works well in an old box.

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

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

All the while, I have continued to paint my wide-open landscapes on linen. Doing all these other explorations makes a small new slant on a salt marsh or hillside painting feel exciting and fresh, even though I have been painting this imagery for 24 years.

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

“Blue Light”, 20″x60″, 2014.

I love expanding the repertoire, adding both new versions within a body of work that reflects longstanding interests and, every so often, a whole new series. In my week-to-week, month-to-month, I juggle these series simultaneously, rather than consecutively, keeping myself riveted to what is developing in my studio.

The constant is the landscape.

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

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

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


Narrative and Abstraction in Representational Painting

White Field, 20"x40".

White Field, 20″x40″, courtesy Gold Gallery.

This topic, a favorite of mine, resurfaced recently in a discussion of Andrew Wyeth with my son. He had stumbled across and was admiring some of the more minimalist drawings and prints, not being familiar with the more famous work (Wyeth is not taught in most BFA program art history classes). In contrast, I had never taken a really close look at the more abstract work, finding it masterful—especially in terms of composition– upon scrutiny.

All artwork that uses recognizable imagery carries some kind of a story, from the merest hint of one created by our own associations with an object or objects depicted to artwork that focuses on documenting something very specific about the world around us. Where an artist chooses to fall along this spectrum is of course a major piece of our stylistic puzzle.

Wyeth’s work is a good vehicle for the discussion of high narrative vs. open abstraction, as is my own, since we both wander back and forth between greater openness and more specificity in different pieces.

“Christina’s World” is the obvious choice for a high-narrative Wyeth. I have never liked this piece so I originally wasn’t going to include it, but the reasons for my dislike pertain to this discussion, so I will begin with it.

Christina's World

Christina’s World

This is a piece that is melodramatic, and photographically so. I find the poignancy of the narrative so cloying that I can’t appreciate the composition, and the rendering so exact that I take no pleasure in the surface of the painting. The story is sown up to the point that there seems to be no room for the viewer.

 Public Sale”, in contrast, is a gorgeous piece in its tonalist color and sweeping angles that manages to combine a strong narrative with equally strong painterly devices.

Public Sale

Public Sale

Wyeths compositions are stunning in their use of interlocking diagonal shapes and edges to create movement. In “Public Sale”, the tilt of the hill serves the story, clearly the destabilizing event of a home lost to the bank. We are kept from a sense of sliding off the left side of the piece by the dominant color of the driveway angling back toward center right and by the lovely soft stands of trees on upper left that travel off the edge of the piece with the slightest upward angle.

The ample use of gritty black and near-black for the human-interest details of figures, car, buildings, and so on also help convey a theme of human unkindness and grief in the midst of an idyllic (though also man-made) landscape. The genius of this painting is that it has in equal measure the open feel that the sweep of the landscape provides and the tautness of a clear story line.

I suspect that for these major oil paintings Wyeth started with the story and mood that he wanted to convey, and organized the painting to express these.

In the watercolor below there is a major shift toward the abstract with dynamic angles  delighting the eye as the lines and shapes lead it back and forth across the painting.  Even the signs of human activity have more presence as shapes than as descriptive objects. Much as I am impressed by “Public Sale”, I actually want to look longer at the watercolor. There is no story arc…just endless possibilities as shapes lead into others and tones  and lines divide the picture plane.

Wyeth, watercolor

Wyeth, watercolor.

The following two watercolors are quirky and abstract, playing with forced perspectives, odd linkings of shapes, and fabulous textures. The documentary nature of many of Wyeth’s figurative paintings and figures in a landscape is not present in any of these watercolors, creating an open feel that invites the viewer to enter.

Wyeth watercolor

Wyeth watercolor

Wyeth watercolor

Wyeth watercolor

This discussion of content and abstraction is of enduring interest to me as I explore the  compelling terrain that contains them both. My roots lie more in the abstract (I call it my “comfort art”, the work I was studying in my teenage years: Rothko; Agnes Martin; Kandinsky—the abstract expressionist work; Frankenthaler; Gotleib; de Koonig.) That I long ago chose to work with landscape imagery doesn’t lesson my ongoing love affair with the formal elements of painting, though it is exactly the intrigue with the push and pull of these two aspects of representational art that generated that choice, as I try to have it all.

The following pieces of my own compare to the Wyeths as examples of paintings with either more or less narrative.

In the first, “Bridge Crossing with Violets”, there is an openness of the dawn sky seen through the fog that counterbalances in mood the grittiness of the truck traffic. We are clearly in a particular moment in time,  but there is no story arc.

Bridge Crossing in Violets

Bridge Crossing in Violets, 12″x12″, courtesy Butters Gallery.

Sandflats with Cloudbank, in contrast, is almost a pure color-field painting. The whole piece sits right up at the front of the picture plane, the horizon line implying depth but not really describing it (abstract artists always say that the minute you put a horizontal line on a canvas you have a landscape whether you want one or not). The clouds have a bit of volume, anchoring the flatness of the sandflats and stripe of a tidal pool. The shapes of the scene actually looked like this—I might not have had the courage to paint that stripe if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Still, this is a piece that is more about painting than place.

Sandflats with Cloudbank, 40"x50"

Sandflats with Cloudbank, 40″x50″.

“Diagonal Cloudbank” falls somewhere in between–still a minimum of detail, but creating an experience that takes you there, and perhaps is equally about painting and the moment in time.

My approach to a painting is to carefully work out the formal elements of color, shape, edge, and surface and let the implied narrative and mood follow organically, sometimes surprising even myself. With the below piece, for example, I didn’t expect it to convey such a taut mood, since it is an ethereal subject matter.

"Diagonal Cloudbank", 48"x36", 2012.

“Diagonal Cloudbank”, 48″x36″.

Someone once said that all good art allows for the viewer to project their own feelings into the piece. That turf is vitally important to me—I want every single painting of mine to provide that opportunity, at least to the right viewer. In my experience, if the narrative is too specific,  it does not leave this chance for open, nonverbal interpretation.


Autumn 2013 Newsletter

“Art is not meat. It does not go bad”,  to quote Albert Shahinian.

I was thinking about that comment (again!) while assembling this post because I noticed that some recent sales have been of paintings that are not at all new.

So, why does a much-admired piece hang around, sometimes for years?

Usually the answer to that is that they have had many near-misses, and that something has come up at the last minute that has nixed the sale…each time. Bearing in mind that there is always a ratio of success to failure in every business, often in this one there are more almost-sales than sales. Bringing an object into the home that is not functional or strictly decorative, and that is also not cheap is, rightly, a big decision for potential collectors.

So, to put it another way, if you don’t have lots of nibbles you are unlikely to have lots of sales.

If there are no near-sales on a given piece it could mean that the painting doesn’t have wide appeal (which also doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good piece or that it won’t sell when the right person finds it) or that it is in the wrong gallery.  But all of this is another story.

Here are two pieces that are a bit older and had been nibbled on many times before they recently found their wall in a new home. I will use them as examples of what can happen along the way.

Winter Brilliance just came under discussion in a recent blog post:

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

I will quote from that, but before all of the below happened this past year, this piece also was sold and unsold in a day. It went out on approval for three days from my (now closed) gallery in Redbank, NJ, to an NYC apartment. On the second day they called and said that they loved it and were keeping it. On the third day they called and said that they were being transferred by the husband’s job to San Francisco, where a fully furnished and decorated house awaited them, so they had to return the piece. Since this was all within the agreed upon three day approval period, back it came.

Later…

 “…the piece below, recently sold, had quite a busy time of it this year before reaching its new home. In March, it went to Chicago, where it was selected for viewing in a home. Much as they would have liked it, the piece didn’t fit the budget at that time, so a smaller piece was settled upon. Then, it was vetted for a possible swap with one of my dealers for a coveted Milton Avery print. But before I could bring it to her for her to decide, a private dealer asked me to hold it back for a likely sale through a designer. Months later and no word, I let it back out again to my gallery in Rhinebeck, and from there it went out to a home (through an architect, this time) where it looked as if I had painted it for the room in question.”

Winter Brilliance, 40"x50".

Winter Brilliance, 40″x50″. 2004.

River in 5 received a great deal of attention when I first stated showing it 2006. Not so exciting a history as Winter Brilliance, but I kept hearing from gallereists that this person or that couple had it under consideration. That was true also when it arrived at Albert Shahinian Fine art, with one collector of mine admiring both the soft monochromatic palette and the way it evoked the views he enjoyed while kayaking across the Hudson River from this spot.

Then…very quiet. Other work coming and going, but no nibbles on this piece for at least a few years…until last summer, when all at once two collectors spotted it in the gallery or on my website and were planning on buying it the next time they made it to Rhinebeck. First couple fell in love with a different piece and couldn’t manage both, and the second collector was still planning on acquiring the piece when it went out to the same apartment as Winter Brilliance and stayed there.

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

Below, a few sales of recent pieces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few newly finished pieces:

Triptych in Reds

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

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

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

"Blue Above", 12"X36".

“Blue Above”, 12″X36″.

Soft Summer Sky, 30"x36".

Soft Summer Sky, 30″x36″.

I have recently introduced a series of small oil-on-paper compositional/color studies in my painting workshops. I did this preliminary series beforehand, and now have others following—a wonderful way to work out placement of elements, using your painterly hand (instead of photoshop, which is a great tool but doesn’t help with the aforementioned!). I will be offering these small pieces for sale from my studio, tidbits that can be framed/hung individually or as a grouping, and are a great way to come up with an original—for yourself or as a gift—for the price of a print.

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

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

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

Color-mixing from primaries.

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

Last day.

Last day. (Photo credit Carol Duke.)

 

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

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

In other news:

I am sad to announce the closing of my gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, Dragonfly, but happy for Don and Susan as they move onto the next phase for them (more time for artmaking!).

Also happy to have joined the Louisa Gould Gallery, located the next town over in Vineyard Haven. I look forward to a long and successful relationship with my new MV gallery! (And a big thank-you to Don and Susan for connecting us.)

Upcoming:

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

2014:

“LINE…”, Butters Gallery, Portland, OR, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, Feb. 6-March 1

Solo show at Chace-Randall Gallery, Andes, NY, May21-July 4th.

Duo show at Julie Heller East, Provincetown, MA, summer or fall, TBA

Workshops at the Woodstock School of Art: Feb. 15-17 & late June: PAAM, Sept., dates TBA

2015:

Solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston, early March.


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.


Summer Preview

Summer Trees, 16"X20", $1,600 (uf). (JSO)

Summer Trees, 16″X20″.

The pleasures of late spring and early summer as they affect my studio experience and the tasks related to showing and selling my work are too many to list. Must-mentions: painting with windows and door open to the yard and the stream behind my studio; drying my paintings in the sun in my yard so that I can resume work on a second layer within just a day; doing my daily work on the computer sitting on my screened-in back porch with the sound of the stream as accompaniment; and driving my work around for deliveries surrounded by the visual joy of many-colored lilacs, poppies creating a splash of brilliant orange next to purple dame’s rocket, and amazing, shifting, spring-soft greens.

Ellsworth Kelly at Thompson Giroux Gallery

I had the pleasure of attending an exhibition and 90th birthday party for Ellsworth Kelly on May 31st, the day of his actual birthday, at my gallery in Chatham, NY,  Thompson Giroux. Chatham is familiar turf for Ellsworth– the dinner  was thrown in the same space that he rented for his first upstate studio back in the early ’70s, and is of course the source for the title of his “Chatham Series”.

Ellsworth

It was lovely to see again the botanical prints that we studied and admired back when I was in art school as iconic line drawings from life—spare, fluid, and subtly quirky.

EKShowTGG

I was most interested to read that Ellsworth based his abstract paintings on “observed reality”, a departure from the ethic of the day. Comparing this with the work of the abstract artists that I am closest to, Jenny Nelson, Melinda Stickney-Gibson and Marie Vickerilla,, whose imagery evolves from within the process of developing each canvas (and whose shows I have also recently seen) has set me thinking. I plan a blog post on this discussion, coming up next.

Then, I may not be able to resist jumping into the issue of prices and how crazy the art market is. Discussing an artist whose work brings some of the highest prices of any living artist in the same breath as three mid-level artists makes it hard to avoid that particular elephant in the room.

What is the realtionship between quality and price in the art market? Why do these four artists have such different price points?

Shandaken Art Studio Tour July 20-21

Save-the-date for the Shandaken Studio Tour, when it is my pleasure to arrange and open up my studio to new folks doing the tour, my collectors, fellow artists, and friends. This is a busy weekend for me, though oddly grouped sometimes (last year about half the people who came by seemed to be there just after 2pm on Sunday!). Here are a few of the pieces that I plan on showing.

"Rare Summer Silence", 20"x30".

“Rare Summer Silence”, 20″x30″.

"Mountain Vista", 24"x48", $5,000.

“Mountain Vista/Max Patch”, 24″x48″.

Unreservedly Summer, 10"X30", 2013, $2,000.

“Unreservedly Summer”, 10″X30″.

Favorite Pieces at my Galleries

Within the past month six of my galleries have either received new work or been delivered the whole grouping that they will show for the season. I have chosen a favorite piece from each location to show you below—I hope you get a chance to visit these wonderful galleries!

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

“Ongoingness of Summer”, 3 panels of 24″X30″/ea., at Gold Gallery in Boston.

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

“Cranberry Bog in Reds”, 48″x24″, Van Ward Gallery, Ogunquit, ME.

"Spring Light", 36"X36".

“Spring Light”, 36″X36″, Chace-Randall Gallery, Andes, NY.

Sundrenched Saltmarsh, 20"x16", $2,000, 2013. (JHG)

“Sundrenched Saltmarsh”, 20″x16″, Julie Heller Gallery, Provincetown, MA.

Oak Bluffs Morning Fog, 3 panels of 14"x18"/ea., $5,000. (DG)

“Oak Bluffs Morning Fog”, 3 panels of 14″x18″/ea., Dragonfly Gallery, Oak Bluffs, MA.

 

Overlook Summit View, 24"X48".

“Overlook Summit View”, 24″X48″, Albert Shahinian Fine Art, Rhinebeck, NY.

An Invitational Show in Newburgh

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"Particularity of Place", 36"x36", one of three pieces of mine included in the show.

“Particularity of Place”, 36″x36″, one of three pieces of mine included in the show.

A Few Recent Sales

Trove: From the Road, 16 paintings of 3"X5"/ea., 22"X28" framed..

“Trove: From the Road”, 16 paintings of 3″X5″/ea., 22″X28″ framed. This sale was quite a story, involving a trip to Chicago where it hung perfectly on a particular wall, then back to my studio where it was almost shipped off to my Boston gallery; then the intervention of a purchase as a generous gift so that it ended up back in Chicago in its perfect spot. There were several co-conspiritors on this one!

Mutable Sky, 20"x40", $3,600.

“Mutable Sky”, 20″x40″, to a lovely home in Woodstock.

Upcoming painting workshops

Landscape and Mood, the Woodstock School of Art, June 24-26.  http://woodstockschoolofart.org/

Landscape and Mood, The Provincetown Artists Association and Museum, September 16-19  (this will be on their website soon). http://www.paam.org/mspaam.html


Spring Newsletter

Cloud over Castle Deel, 30"X36".

Cloud over Castle Deel, 30″X36″.

The winter abundance in my studio is heading out for various points East, West, and North. Not only am I hard at work during the colder months, but also usually have work  in the studio that comes back from my seasonal galleries in the Northeast. Then, in the spring begins the exodus, to both buyers and galleries.

All busy career artists find that sometimes work needs to move around to a few galleries before it sells. Some galleries like to keep a piece they like—and have gotten a good response to—indefinitely, while others, especially those that close down during the off-season, prefer to have all new work each year. This is typically a combination of brand new work and some pieces that have previously been in other galleries.

One galleriest who I have been showing with for many years is in the former category, feeling a devotion to certain pieces  such that he wants to keep them until they sell, whether that happens in a day or a decade. “Art is not meat—it does not go bad”, he has been known to say, if someone questions the date on a piece.

There is a good deal of randomness in why a piece sells sooner or later. With my work, there are a number of variables. Size, format, palette, and locale of imagery are among them. Who stops by which gallery when, with what size wall in mind…or with an open mind? What is their budget? Do they have strong color preferences? Are they buying the piece that slays them, or a locale that they are fond of? Are they looking for a gift, trying hard to get it right?

Some of my work that I consider more accessible—often a little brighter—appeals to a broader spectrum and so has a larger pool of possible buyers. The moodier work draws from a smaller pool, but often so forcefully that they feel that they must have the piece. So, which one is more likely to sell?

Lucky for me, my studio process allows for a number of concurrent explorations, making it easy for me to ignore all such considerations while working. This is key for any artist.

Mists off the River, 12"X36".

Mists off the River, 12″X36″.

In recent news, I did a pop-up show in Chicago in early March, partnering with the Asher-Neiman Gallery, which included the work of Jill Ricci (see work on the gallery website, http://asherneimangallery.com/ ).

It was held in the beautiful Lincoln Park home of family friends. (See my blog post on how these home shows work, https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/open-studio-house-party/ ) Our hosts threw a lovely party, very well attended , with excellent food, wine,  art (of course!), and conversation enjoyed by all.

Winter Brilliance and a small Affinity in the living room.

Winter Brilliance and a small Affinity in the living room.

Changed Integrity in the second floor stairwell.

Changed Integrity in the second floor stairwell.

Rivergimplse and Extravagant Sky in the dining room.

Rivergimplse and Extravagant Sky in the dining room.

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

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

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

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

I am happy to again be  showing at the Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY, with  seven pieces included in a show titled “Slow Down Make Space”. Below are a few pieces that are in the show.

_Slow Down Make Space_ - invite - back

Spinning Clouds, 20"x40".

Spinning Clouds, 20″x40″.

Sunset Roofline, 24"x30".

Sunset Roofline, 24″x30″.

 

I am newly represented this year by Van Ward Gallery in Ogunquit, Maine. They, along with Dragonfly Gallery in MV and Chace-Randall in Andes, NY, are opening for the season the weekend of May 11, each with a fresh collection of my work. Final picks have not yet been made, but here are some new paintings that will be off to these galleries, as well as to the Julie Heller Gallery in Provincetown.

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

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

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

Continuing Progression, 24″x48″.

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

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

I taught two workshops in March, a two-day painting workshop at the Woodstock School of Art and a Mentoring Seminar in my studio with six artists from NJ, Louisiana, Westchester, and our area, working with their diverse styles and aspirations to further both work and career.

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

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

Coming up, that I know of? The Shandaken Art Studio Tour, July 20-21, always a busy weekend for me, by which time I will have created new abundance in my studio. A painting workshop at the Woodstock School of Art June 24-26; another at the Provincetown Artists Association September 9-12; and a Mentoring workshop May 5th, also at the PAAM. Gold Gallery in Boston needs a new infusion of larger pieces, so I am about to embark on another big triptych. I will be bringing new work to them at the same time I deliver to the Vineyard and Cape Cod, the first week in May.

So…stay tuned, keep in touch, and happy spring!

Affinity/Watertower, 20"X20".

Affinity/Watertower, 20″X20″.


Winter Series

Perhaps it is because of the non-winter of 2012. Maybe it reflects the variety of weather and color that we are experiencing this year. In any case, at the beginning of 2013, I looked around my studio and saw that I had a series of winter images emerging. This is not something I normally do, creating a grouping based on a season, especially one that is so…charged? Controversial?

Since we do not reliably have snow cover in winter anymore, these images vary from a minimalist snowy field with bits of reddish vegetation poking out at the top, to a view of the Walkill with no snow cover at all.

Two of them were inspired by photos posted by friends on Facebook, used, of course, with their permission. This is something that I don’t seek out, having enough reference in my studio to last me about 500 years. But when I see the right thing…hard to resist!

About half were started in 2012, but all have been finished in the month of January.

Enjoy!

White Field, 20"x40", 2013.

White Field, 20″x40″, 2013.

Riverglimpse in December, 36"x48", 2012.

Riverglimpse in December, 36″x48″, 2013.

Winter Cloudbank, 12"x12", 2013.

Winter Cloudbank, 12″x12″, 2013.

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

Cranberry Bog in Reds, 48″x24″, 2013.

Winter Field, 10"X30", 2013.

Winter Field, 10″X30″, 2013.

Soft Snow/Approaching Cars, 12"X12", 2013.

Soft Snow/Approaching Cars, 12″X12″, 2013.


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.