Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “minimalism

Considering Color: Seven Historical Paintings

Color on my mind… I have been teaching my color-mixing workshop remotely for the Woodstock School of Art and next will move onto another live-streamed class that starts with color-mixing that will be the immediate basis for paintings. In any style or genre, the artists will create three paintings in the color compositions covered: monochromatic, analogous, or complementary.

Surprisingly, I have never written a blog post about this information. So, to share with more artists than I can reach with my classes, I will analyze here seven paintings, discussing color composition as well as hue, value, saturation, and layering.

I have chosen works from some favorite painters, presenting them in order of less saturated, more tonal color, to brighter, more saturated color.

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Twachtman was a master of tonal color. In this piece, he is working in a very subtle complementary green-red palette. The greens come in more strongly and have black embedded within them for the deepest value and then move through a whole range of mid and light tones all of the way to the white of the clouds. The reflection in the water has both reds and greens in it in a lovely, soft color segue from left to right. Another way to look at the color composition would be that this is mostly a study in many colors of grey, which tend to harmonize with each other. Note the date on this very modern feeling, tonal landscape painting.

John Henry Twachtman, “Arque La Bataille”, 1885.

 

This Milton Avery figure painting uses a stunning, simplified palette in blues and browns, a combination that I have always found deeply satisfying. Blues tend to be be a kind of beacon color in the human psyche, partly having to do with the history of color—coveted, romantic, even sweet at times. The earthy browns ground them effectively. There are several value and hue shifts with both blues and browns, the lighter blue in particular is cool while the deeper blue moves to a warmer, slightly more purple hue.The deep greys and an off-black in the hair, while cool, look to be middle hues between the blues and the browns, linking the flattened shapes together into a well-knit composition..

Milton Avery, “Summer Reader”, 1956.

 

In the Turner painting, below, a warm, desaturated monochromatic palette is used to very dramatic effect. There is not a full range of value contrast, the warm tones starting with a medium naples yellow and moving through deep, desaturated reds to to the deepest black, which is essential to the drama. The feel is of fairly bright golden colors, but in fact this is a tonal painting, relying on exquisite drawing and well-blended edges for the overall feel.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, “Chichester Canal” c.1829.

 

I selected this dynamic Frankenthaler in particular for it’s primary/secondary-color palette, red/blue/green. The three large shapes are equally desaturated, reminding me of slightly faded vintage cars that have been in the sun for decades. They are also of similar value and not quite flat, with canvas just barely showing through in some areas and breaking up entirely in the red. Also key to the success of the painting is the small shape of desaturated red on the right, presenting as a tint of medium value, somewhere between a pink and mauve in hue. (And of course, the graphic of that deep orange line!)

Helen Frankenthaler, China II, 1972.

 

A still life by Soviet era painter Vladimir Yukin, this painting is interesting as a well-integrated color study. In a complementary warm/green palette, it does have a full range of value, from white to deep greens and reds to black, but most of the painting is in mid-value, rich but desaturated. I love this painter’s work, often distinguished by the similar treatment of fore- and background, both in terms of hue/value/saturation and paint handling. This makes the delightfully off-center composition and dark outlines key attributes, as the positive and negative shapes embed with each other within a uniform surface. Splashes of more saturated color with the red/orange flowers add drama.

Vladimir Yukin, “Flowers”, 1970.

 

I couldn’t possibly discuss color, or my comfort-art, or art of the 20th century, without including Rothko, my single most ever-present lifelong influence. He loved red, and used it oh-so well, and was the master of subtle layering. This is an almost monochromatic palette, but that top line of warm yellow-green throws that meaningfully off. The layering creates many shifts in hue and value, like the whiter color on top of the background red that goes to pink, leaving an uneven gutter of the deeper red around the orange rectangles to create a beautiful vibration. And while the narrow top rectangle has the most going on, the flattest area of the bottom orange one counter-intuitively draws my eye, enhancing that well-known Rothko mesmerizing effect. This is a perfect example of when less-is-more, the emptiest area drawing the eye more than the busiest (if you can even use the latter word in describing a Rothko!).

Mark Rothko, Ornage Red Yellow, 1961.

 

Kandinsky was my first true love, and immediately upon discovering his body of work at age 14, I was drawn most to his expressionist pieces over the early landscapes and the later constructivist painting. In the below piece we see seemingly all-over-the-place color, and yet it harmonizes. Several factors are at work here to create this effect of lively, dense painting that hangs together. One is that most of the surface area is actually in a neutral cream to naples yellow color, light on the value scale. This is often a factor in work that appears very bright at first glance—the brights are popped and prevented from fighting by the neutrals, which here include the black lines, as well. Two other factors are a composition anchored by those black lines that keeps the eye circulating within the painting; and that he pretty much left out purple—omitting one of the six primary/secondary colors or one section of the color wheel can be very helpful in organizing a cohesive palette.

Wassily Kandinsky, Composition 4, 1911.

 

Well, this is the most fun I have had all week. I hope you enjoy reading it half as much, and please feel free to comment—agree, disagree, elaborate!

CHRISTIE SCHEELE COLOR MIXING AND COMPOSITION FOR PAINTERS ONLINE COURSE


2017 Late Spring News and Upcoming Events

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

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

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

 

Red River Shore, 20″x30″.

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

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

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

 

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

 

Trees with Mists, 18″x48″.

 

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

 

2 Shores, 12″x12″.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Summer Inlet, 48″x24″, 2017.

 

Sengekontacket Greens, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

Katama Field, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

Summer Wave, 12″x12″, 2017.

 

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

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

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

 

 

And a few others:

 

Monotype/Green Marsh, 8″x10″.

 

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

 

Monotype/Wave#5, 8″x10″.

See more of my prints and pastels here:

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

March reception in my studio.

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

 

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

 

“White Trail”, 40″x30″.

 

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

 

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

The Woodstock School of Art:

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

 

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

 

Turquoise Sky/White Cloud, 20″x20″.

 

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

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

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

 

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


Available Work/Studio/Works on Paper

Almost all of the unframed pastels included in this data-base are now priced $200-$500. Inquire for details—-only the framed pieces are priced, so check in  with me on the others. (Through 2020.)

These are works on paper, many of them unframed, currently in my studio. Often works on paper are an option that is more affordable than oil paintings. Several of my galleries and consultants also have a selection of framed or unframed pastels and monotypes, most notably Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY; JSO ART Associates in Westport CT, and Gallery Jupiter in Little Silver, NJ.

Pastels:

Summer Haze, pastel on paper, 12″x18″.

Blue/Green Range, 10″x16″.

Warm Fields, 16″x25″, available through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

Resting Cloudbank, 8″x9″, (framed with mat and black moulding), $700.

River Sunset, 11″x18″, (framed with mat and black molding), $1,200.

Red Sky with Gleam, 5″x12″, $600 (Matted and framed with cherry molding).

Trailing Fields, 4″x24″, framed with black molding, $800.

Summer Farm Fields,

Summer Farm Fields, 6″x12″, available through he Louisa Gould Gallery.

Magic Hour in the Mountains, 8″x10″, framed with off-black molding, $900.

Red Field/White Sky, 10″x26″, available through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

Soft Greens,

Soft Greens, 5″x14″.

GleamonGreySea

Gleam on Grey Sea, 14″x14″.

Triptych in Red/Black, 3 panels of

Triptych in Red/Black, 3 panels of 7″x13″.

River Lighthouse, 14″x21″.

Rusty Crane, 14″x21″.

Red Sun, 12"X18", $1,400 (uf).

Red Sun, 11″X18″.

“Gleam over Island”,  7″x11″. Available framed through Gallery Jupiter.

MOuntain Fall

Mountain Fall, 6″x16″.

Mountain Trio, 6.5x13.5.

Mountain Trio, 6.5×13.5.

Moody Mountain Sky, 12"X13", $1,200 (uf).

Moody Mountain Sky, 12″X13″.

Warm Light, 9"X20", $1,200 (uf).

Warm Light, 9″X20″.

Mists over Fields, 5"x8.5".

Mists over Fields, 5″x8.5″.

Green Hills, 15"X18".

Green Hills, 15″X18″.

4 Trees, pastel on paper, 13″x21″.

Oil on paper:

“Study/Yellow Band”, 5″x5″, oil on primed paper, $550 framed.

Study/Still Mists, 4.5″x13.5″.

Study/Ptown Marsh, 3″x9″, $550 framed.

Study/Skyline, 8″x8″, $700, framed with black molding.

 

Ocean Blues, 6″x12″, available through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6.5″x8″, $600, framed with walnut..

Study/Red Fields, 5″x10″, $550 framed in vintage cherry,.

Mixed Media/Collage (Of paper and other things, on board):

Hudson Canyon Collage, 12″x12″, $1,200.

Watershed Map, 12″x12″, $1,200.

 

Atlas/HV Collage, 2 panels of 16″x8″/ea., $1,800.

 

CSoThere4x12

So There, 4″x12″, $500.

Actively Seeking, 7″x5″, $450.

Stand Alone, 5″x5″, $400.

Growing Tall, 5″x5″., $400

CPAth7x5

Path, 7×5, $750.

Cloud, 6"x6".

Cloud, 6″x6″.

Wetlands, 6"x6".

Wetlands, 6″x6″.

Waterways, 6"x4".

Waterways, 6″x4″.

Waterways/Arial, 5"x5".

Waterways/Arial, 5″x5″.

Linocuts

Riverbed Map #1, 6″x12″, $125.

Riverbed Map #3, 6″x12″, $125.

Rverbed Map #2, linocut print on rice paper, 6″x12″, $125.

Four Nantucket Maps.

Nantucket Map #2, 12.5″x18″, hand-colored, $400.

Monotypes:

8″x10″s framed monotypes are $900 framed and $750 unframed.  Larger sizes go up to $1,800—please inquire.

Five prints.

Cloud over Green Valley, 8″10.

Waterfall #5, 14″x7.5″.

Waterfall #3.

Overlook with River, 8″x10″.

M/White Wedge, 10″x8″, 2018.

M/White Wedge #3, 10″x8″, 2018.

Wave Triptych, 3 panels of 8″x10″/ea.

Wave, lg. 10″x16″.

The View from Here, 10″x16″, 2018, $1,400 unframed.

M/Wave #6, 8″x10″, 2018.

M/Dark Road, monotype and pastel.

M/Dark Road, monotype and pastel, 2016.

Sunset prints as they came out, the AAN, 2017.

M/Mountain Travel.

M/Mountain Travel, 2016.

Moors #3, 8″x10″.

Moors #1, 8″x10″.

M/Waterspouts with Walking Rain.

M/Waterspouts with Walking Rain, 8″x10″, 2016.

Creeks # 2, 10″x8″. through LGG.

M/Creeks#4, 10″x8″, framed.

M/Mountain Stream.

M/Mountain Stream, 2016, through LGG.

M/Marsh with House, 8″x10″, 2017, through LGG.

M/Wave1

M/Wave, 8″x10″, 2016.

mfallmarsh1

M/FallMarsh1, 8″x10″, 2017, through LGG.

mfallmarsh3

M/FallMarsh3, 8″x10″, 2017.

Fall Grasses with Fogbank, 8″x10″, 2018, through LGG.

The three below show the pressed edge and different colored papers. Prints are normally framed showing the distinctive edge, and a little float of the paper, where they are signed:

Evening Travel #2, 8″x10″.

Evening Travel, 8″x10″.

Evening Travel #3, 8″x10″.

Three framed prints, 8″x10″/ea.:

And how a collector framed his:


Available Work/Studio/Oil on linen and board

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

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

HorizonwithRisingClouds30x60

Horizon with Rising Clouds, 30″x60″, $7,500.

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BlueMountain

Blue Mountain, 12″x12″, $.1,300

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Commanding Angles, 12″x24″, $2,200.

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Sunset Reflected, 12″x36″., $2,800

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Approach at Day’s End, 12″x36″, $2,800.

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Boats @ Rest, 12″X36″, $2,800.

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

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

ThingsPastEsopusValley

Things Past/Esopus Valley, 30″x30″, $4,000.

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Things Past/Hunter Mountain, 30″x30″, $4,000.

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MountainRoad

Mountain Mists, 24″x24″, $3,200.

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WarmFields

Winter Brilliance, 30″x40″, $5,000.

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ShorelinewithBLues30x40

Shoreline with Blues, 30″x40″, $5,000

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Tree with Mists, 18″x48″, $4,600.

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Interwoven Stories, 30″x60″, $7,500.

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Layered Reds, 30″x40″, $5,000.

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

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Moving Sky, 24″x48″, $5,000.

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

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Summer Mists, 40″x40″, $6,500.

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Turquoise Light, 30″x40″, $5,000.

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Contrasting Sunset, 18″x52″, $4,800.

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Downriver, 24″x24″, $3,200.

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

Affinity/Flatland’s Drive, 18″x18″, $1,800.

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

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Marsh at Dusk, 14"x16",

Marsh at Dusk, 14″x16″, $1,500.

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Affinity/Return at Dusk, 12"x24".

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

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Light into Dark, 12″X24″, $2,000.

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Layered Clouds, 20″x16″, $2,000.

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

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

Affinity/Dual Twister, 10″x10″, $900.

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GleamingSkyoverProvincetown

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

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River Gleam, 12″X20″, $1,600.

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“Contours/Distillations”: a Solo Show

“Contour/Distillations” has been extended to October 11th.

contours:distillations

We are tremendously drawn by stuff. The content of our lives—acquiring possessions; taking care of or replacing said possessions; packed schedules; busy brains—loudly demands attention. What we need the most for balance is intervals of the absence of our stuff, and yet it is hard to reset and choose openness over content.

“Blue Tidal Pool”, 20″x24″.

Creating space in my life is an ongoing project, and has long drawn me both to spend a great deal of time outdoors and to paint my landscapes in an open and minimalist manner. This approach quiets the mind, evoking a direct response. Abstract elements can elicit deep, complex feelings, (a theme beautifully explored in Vassily Kandinsky’s 1910 “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”) and larger, flatter shapes with soft edges awaken the wide-open feeling of being outdoors in our atmospheric world.

Tree/Mist, 18

Tree/Mist, 18″X48″.

Delving further into the less-is-more discussion, I think that less is different. If there are many details to look at in a painting they tend to compete for attention, creating an experience that remains purely visual or intellectual without going deeper. With fewer elements and more open space, both the emotional and formal content have enormous impact, often visceral. At the same time, what is there has to hold up under analysis, as there is no hiding.

Layered Clouds, 20

Layered Clouds, 20″X16″.

My process in the studio is comprised of long swaths of time in which I am intensely focused and living within the emerging painting, punctuated by intervals of scrutiny and analysis during which I observe the elements with as much distance as possible. This rigor is, ultimately, what allows the viewer to sink into the piece—-many small just-so decisions to create a seamless whole.

Diagonal Flux, 36

Diagonal Flux, 36″X36″.

The landscape inevitably holds powerful associations, so painting it becomes a back-and-forth between exploring the narrative and focusing on the formal elements of shape, composition, surface, color, and edge. In this body of work, drawn from the past several years, I am presenting the most open, color-field aspect of my work. Viewers can bring their own memories to these paintings, as mine are only suggested, or simply experience them as a conduit for feeling.

“Affinity/Dusk Road”, 30″x30″.

Both the above and below are from my Affinity Series. These pieces start with fraying the edges of raw linen; gluing it down to the board; priming with dark primer, and gridding the whole thing with graphite. Then I do the actual painting, and when it dries some selective regridding. The series evolved from the desire to manipulate my support in a way that moves my other choices in a more abstract direction, and brings attention to the surface.

“Affinity/Black Trees”, 30″x30″. (Sold)

Sometimes, as in the new postcard piece, “Tender Reds”, there are more shapes included. I see this as being a rhythmic approach—repetition of similar shapes moving across the surface of the painting.

“Tender Reds”, 32″x70″.

This piece is less minimalist, but just as abstract. The reduced palette with a white sky allows it to hover between a dreamy in-the-moment being there and an on-the-surface color-field painting.

If one were to consider this as a totally abstract piece, the exercise would be to turn it sideways, or upside down. Compositionally, upside down would work very well, but not sideways—too strong of a horizon line, now going vertical. This would be true of every painting I do—abstracted, but not abstract, and usually with a clear horizon line as an anchor.

“White Trail” has a number of horizons, but the strong line in this piece moves on a skipping, slightly diagonal vertical, emphasizing the format. This piece, too, has a sense of rhythmic repetition of forms.

“White Trail”, 40″x30″.

I have been exploring for this show how a large composition can be successful in small format with these oil-on-paper pieces.

“Study/Gleam over Tidal Flats”, 6″x10″.

“Study/Mountain
Contours”, 4″x14″.

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

Quiet, tonal color is most often my choice, as it tends to sit back, creating emotional space and allowing for introspection.

“Autumn Bay Mists”, 18″x52″.

But every so often I like to move to stronger color to intensify the timbre of the experience. Whites work well—like a thirst-quenching drink of water— when paired with strong, saturated color.

“Sunset Reflected”, 12″x36″.

Most of my pieces have quite a bit of contrast, moving from an atmospheric white or off-white (often tinged with a bit of Mars Violet) to a true black. I find, though, that low-contrast pieces can be intensely riveting in a different way, kind of like a full-throated, low hum. “Evening Shoreline”, below, is an example of this.

Evening Shoreline, 12

Evening Shoreline, 12″X12″.

“Continuing Progression” is really a study in monochromes. The detail of the row of trees on the right, seemingly very subtle, actually pops more because of the reduced palette.

Continuing Progression, 24

Continuing Progression, 24″x48″. (sold)

The body of work presented represents the core of my thinking, my base of operations. Albert Shahinian Fine Art, my gallery of longest standing, is the perfect venue for this theme-based exhibition, having shown, over the years, every possible exploration that I have launched from this base.

I hope you can join us for the reception on July 25th and my talk on August 2nd to see all 40 pieces and hear more about landscape, form and mood.

Link to a short but sweet article on the show by Paul Smart in the Almanac:

New paintings by Christie Scheele on view in Rhinebeck

The installation and reception, below:

Installation shot, wall with Affinities.

Installation shot, wall with Affinities.

With and old friend at the reception.

With my old friend Deb at the reception.

Installation shot, wall with postcard piece.

Installation shot, wall with postcard piece.

Additional work in the show:

Drifting CLouds, 20

Drifting Clouds, 20″x20″.

Approach in November, 6

Approach in November, 6″x24″.

“Lush Mists”, 12″X36″.

Hill Beyond Hill, 3 panels of

Hill Beyond Hill, 3 panels of 24″x20″.

Winter Field, 10

Winter Field, 10″x30″. (Sold)

Dawn Headlights, 12

Dawn Headlights, 12″X36″.

Cranberry Bog, 48

Cranberry Bog, 48″x24″.

Stormy Sea, 12

Stormy Sea, 12″X12″.

Glowing Mountain Mists, 20

Glowing Mountain Mists, 20″X30″. (Sold)


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!


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.


Painting Workshop: Considering Composition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSC_5196

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

DSC_5237

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

WSPTown2

DSC_5341Beginning my 12″x36″ piece.

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

DSC_5571

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

DSC_5592

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

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

How come I never noticed that?!

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

DSC_5573Packing up…till next time.

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

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

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

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

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

About our emotional experience while painting:

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


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

Luminists_Poster_or_flyer9A(3)

"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


Perfection

In the most lovely rejection that I have ever received, the galleriest involved set me thinking when he wrote of my pieces,  “…I find many of them really perfect.”

I was intrigued by how much food for thought this simple comment gave me.

Perfect still means…well, perfect. And yet the word has acquired a bad connotation in some instances, becoming almost not PC. We are frequently chided for trying to be perfect; that the effort to perfect something is a bit rigid; and that perfectionism is soul-destroying (and probably elitist).

Affinity:WhiteonBlue

My process involves laying in a slightly transparent layer of paint during which time I find my composition and colors; move shapes this way and that; paint things in and paint them out and maybe paint them back in again differently, or elsewhere. After this layer dries, I continue with a second, making any needed changes that I didn’t catch the first time, and creating richer color, more complex edges, deeper blacks, and subtlties of surface and shape.

This second layer feels as if I am polishing the piece like a gem, bringing out the luster and so making visible the intricacies of composition, shape, color, and edge that weren’t fully developed before.

So yes, I am indeed trying to make my painting perfect. The process is done when the whole and  every part of the piece hit my eye just so and vibrate to deep satisfaction, pure joy, or uninterrupted absorbtion as the eye travels around the canvas.

This version of perfection (and of course there are others) is a process of refinement. In my version, the compositions and shapes are  softly flattened, and detail is reduced. My feeling about minimalist work is that what is there must be just so because there is not a lot of detail to distract the eye.

SandflatswithCloudbank copy

While reading the introduction written by my  brother-in-law Harold Augenbraum for his recently published book,  The Collected Poems by Marcel Proust , I was struck by his closing observations, including that the poems “…were not rewritten many times, and they represent a shortening of the distance between creator and reader, not a lengthening”.

Mulling over this concept, I asked myself why a creator would want distance between themself and the reader/viewer. Surely we don’t want to hold our audience at arm’s length?

The answer is to create a space, a sort of moat, where our viewer can plunge in and participate. A leap must be made not just from creator to audience, but also from audience to creator. This open space, though, in my case, is actually created by the process of refinement, which allows all of the parts and aspects of the painting to unite to invite the viewer in to spend time.

SundrenchedSaltmarsh copy

There are probably as many permutations of perfection, through refinement or directness, as there are artists and creators in other fields. I love hearing discussion of how they strive to arrive at their perfect.


Vintage Boxes, Slates and Sifters/The Occasional Found Object

When I work on or with found objects – antique boxes, distressed cupboard doors, old slate blackboards with lovely stains and unravelings at the rim, vintage sifters, and the like — I adjust both my choice of imagery and the way I compose and lay in the paint to honor what is already there. I see these pieces as a collaboration between my accumulated skills and the accumulation of history that is manifested in this unique object. This feels like process that is both conceptual and deeply intuitive.

My interest in this series began some years back when I was looking for a new exploration. I had, quite some time before, realized that for me, to stay fresh required more than just to find new subject matter. Reflecting my background in contemporary art, the presentation, process, and/or materials can also all be up for grabs.

And yet, I always want there to be at least an insinuation of a landscape within. How to get both of theses things—a newly painted landscape and an object full of the marks of its own history, to look as if they were made for each other?

Once I have my vintage or scavenged object, I generally have to look at it for many months. It drifts around my studio, claiming my attention from time to time. I examine it…free-associate…put it up, aside, or away. Come back to it…sift through possible images…think some more.

Often, I have to find just the right sized board to go inside of a box, drawer, or sifter, generally preferring that this be distressed as well. I have ridiculously good luck with this—serendipity after serendipity.

Finally, the way forward in terms of imagery emerges and I can begin work, trying to keep myself in a hyper-aware state while responding to the suggestions of the vintage or distressed object I am using. I am following, not leading, and the dance is intricate, even if the piece looks simple in the end.

I recently completed these three new pieces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vertical Road/Contained,    (ASFA)

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

Winterin6

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

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

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

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

Crossings copy

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

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

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

IrrigatedFields

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


The Marker Piece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Hudson River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tidal Flats

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

Back on the Flats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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