Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “minimalist landscape

A Large Commission/ Art in the Time of Coronavirus

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

Carrying On, 6″x12″, oil on board.

 

Long Wave, 12″x48″.

 

Moving Clouds, 24″x48″.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Chatham Bars, at home.

 

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

 

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


Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus, May 12.

May 9: I  had thought to leave off posting until I complete my 6’x8′ commission and finish the blog description of the process, but find that I miss the diary.

Snow last night and today, actually quite dark and blizzardy at intervals this afternoon, alternating with sun flurries. It seems almost cruel that our spring is so delayed, when we crave the comfort of warm sunshine and a softer outdoor experience. For me, key to that is our screened-in back porch, my warm-season living room. A day in which I can have my siding door open to the porch and take my meals and do my online work out there is a good day .

But, while cringing on behalf of my snowy flowers and leafed-out plantings today, it popped into my mind that this weather might have its uses in slowing the spread of the virus. Warm days have brought with them prematurely reckless behavior. So maybe this prolonged chill will allow the curve to turn from its current level to downward, and save a few lives.

The news is not good at all and makes me despair about human idiocy, American and otherwise. So I unashamedly grasp at straws.

May 10th:

On this Mother’s Day, the first without our mom, I am fortunate to be doing the things that I have always chosen on this spring day in which I feel free to pamper myself. Sometimes the weather has been 45 and rainy and put a damper on my busy-in-the-yard plans, and yesterday’s snow would have been the kicker…but today we have partly sunny and in the 5os.

Ordinarily, I would have gone to Oneonta with my sister Carla yesterday, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, to have lunch and a nursery visit for hanging pots and annuals with our mom. I always brought flowers from my yard on every visit from April through October.

 

Mother’s Day bouquet from 2019, in the front seat of my car.

 

And later in the season, another.

When we finally scatter her ashes in multiple places, I hope it is during the growing season so that I can include some flowers.

____   __________________________________________   ____

 

The crumbling world around us cries out for help…socorro, socorro! I can only think in small, manageable bits about it, or it threatens hopelessness that sabotages action. So, to begin somewhere, I created a fundraiser last week in collaboration with Albert Shahinian Fine Art. I  offered to give a small collage from the eleven left at the gallery after an environmental fundraiser last fall to anyone who sent me a receipt for a donation of at least $40 to a food bank of their choosing. They all were spoken for very quickly and we raised about $500. Albert sent them all out a few days ago from the gallery.

Just a start. I’ll be thinking of more, and ASFA is on board for more collaborating. I do like to use my art to raise money because it is my ready resource that folks value. These little pieces went mostly to prior collectors and a few to a student or mentee not in a position to buy a market-priced piece. I used only social media so for the next thing could readily access my best outreach resource, which is my mailing list.

____   _________________________________________   ____

 

I am also involved in a fundraiser for the Island Food Bank on Martha’s Vineyard through my gallery there, the Louisa Gould Gallery. Her shows this spring and summer are an opt-in for gallery artists to join her in donating 10% of sales for food security, with every dollar raised going for $7 worth of food.

We just made a nice sale of these two pieces, accomplished through shipping, as the gallery has not yet reopened.

 

Chillmark View, 40″x40″, 2019.

 

Summer Inlet, 48″x24″, 2019.

Here is a link to the current online show of new work at the gallery:

https://www.louisagould.com/exhibitions/2241/1/BENEFIT_Art_Show_for_Food_Pantry.html

____   _____________________________________________   ____

 

My big studio project continues to be the 6’x8′ commissioned version of this 30″x40″. I am creating an in-depth description of the process for an upcoming blog post.

 

Largest “study” I have ever done—and in fact, a fully realized smaller version of the large piece.

 

Stay healthy, y’all, and let’s keep each other safe!

 

 

 


Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus, March 26, 2020

Tuesday-Thursday, March 24-26:

In the past few days we have seen the news become worse and worse, with the NYC metro area suffering huge numbers of infected and new infections mounting exponentially. The issue of New Yorkers fanning across the country to flee—or just wait out— the problem is finally much in the news, with some states requiring quarantine.

This has been on my mind here in the Catskills, where every second or third home is a weekend place and many others are AirBnB investment properties, currently rented. I would do the same if I lived in nyc and had a place up here, but I would have come up weeks ago and then stayed, like my sister and brother-in-law did. It’s the recent arrivals that pose a risk to us all.

However, we are all supposed to be behaving as if we and every other person has it. I would say that, for those coming from the global epicenter, this should extend to face masks while shopping. And, since recently trailhead parking lots in the Skills are full when the weather is nice, remembering to keep your six feet from other hikers—it’s easy to forget while out in the fresh air. Gloves and speed at the post office, as many of us in this rural area have to pick up our mail.

On the whole, it seems that folks are good and buttoned up in their homes, as they should be, wherever they come from. Since we have a lovely series of hiking trails just up my dead-end road, our road is always the choice for neighborhood dog walkers and hikers, and it is so nice to stop for chats, as in the past, but with more distance between us. I haven’t seen many of the new arrivals in this mix, but we are all good as long as we maintain our six feet.

Cases are mounting in Ulster County, though we have had only one in Shandaken for quite a while now (maybe a week, in our new telescoped time). Otsego County, where my Dad lives in Oneonta, went from zero to five in the past few days. My dear friend Di (known locally as “Dr. Di” and also my Dad and his partner’s yoga teacher) is now City Health Officer for preparedness for Covid-19. When we chatted the other night she described their local efforts, but there had yet to be a known case in the county. I am sure that they are now on higher alert to avoid community spread.

In other Covid-19 news, the NY Times published an article yesterday by a woman in NYC whose husband has a pretty bad case—just teetering on hospitalization—and how she and her 16-year-old daughter are coping with nursing him and trying not to get it themselves. It is clear that at his level of misery, there is no way he could take even the most basic care of himself.

This brought it home in a very concrete way, since with this illness all previous protocols are out the window. Family is not supposed to step in, no one is supposed to get near—the only help can come from folks dropping off needed supplies, whether medical or food. Each household, no matter how small, is on it’s own, with a bit of doctor’s advice and the worst case solution of being hospitalized.

I am glad that we have worked so hard within our household to stay safe, though we could still, of course, be unlucky.

Daughter Tessa called yesterday, just a check in before she goes back into the Minnesota woods to continue maple sugaring until her original target date of April 13 or 14th. It was so great to hear her voice.

I had left her a voicemail with a little bit of info on what’s going on in this country, and she seemed unable to let go of the idea that Jack and I are reacting with outsized anxiety. It is such an unprecedented situation that if you are not living it, of course it would seem like that…

She is now with only six others of the original crew, all having ben there for over a month, safe and happily out of contact with the world. How she will get back here to pick up her car, and then onto her Vermont home has yet to be determined. I am dead set against using her plane ticket to Newark.

In the studio I finished the sand flats painting, Soft Glow over Tidal Flats, 30″x60″:

 

 

I wonder when I will see the sea again? Almost surely not the first of May, as originally planned, for my seasonal drop-off at Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard.

Work is also progressing on the watershed Site Map; here, a detail of the most developed sections:

 

 

I have started painting the planned small oil-on-board pieces.

 

 

I am so focused on these projects that the studio constantly calls to me…I would happily spend even more time there every day, but there are both necessary and lovely other things to do—yoga, hike, cook, yard work, read, paperwork and phone calls (Jack’s job is shut down for the duration and mine—who knows?—so we are applying for all of the things), and all of the email and phone connecting with friends and family.


Art and Life in the Time of Coronavirus #3

Excerpts from my blog diary from March 16-18.

Monday March 16th:

We made the trip to a parking lot in Newburgh to hand off this painting to Janet Schwarz, JSO Art Associates.

It is impossible to know if the two interested parties are really going to follow through with a viewing, mostly because of the stock market and fears of a long recession. But at least she has it and that bit of business is taken care of. Also, a large painting leaving the studio feels safer for all of the rest. (No, this is not social distancing, just the moving-things-around risks!)

On our way back we had planned a “last” shop at Hannaford in West Hurley not so much because we need anything for ourselves but because Tony is coming back tonight from college and to shop for my MiL, who has not yet focused on stocking up.

Hannaford was brutal. There was one parking space left in the lot when we rolled in at about 2pm, and the place was mobbed, a number of shelves bare. They had just restocked, but the cashier—who was whipping the items through, knowing that everyone wanted to get the hell out of there—said that the parking lot was almost full when they all arrived before 6am. Some folks were wearing masks.

Everyone was polite, though. So far, still Woodstock.

Back in the car, I observed to Jack, what would it be like if this were a really deadly plague, like Ebola? He came back with the opinion that armed folks, gun nuts,  like someone we know from the old Marvel days, would have their machine guns at the ready in the toilet paper isle.

We are still good for a laugh.

Niece has been self-quarantining in the the Berkley area since a colleague in her Phd program tested positive a few days ago. Her boyfriend had been visiting during his spring break from Duke, so he was also in the net, and today has a fever. She has three housemates..also caught. She is trying to figure out how to get him tested. (There is so much wrong with that sentence.)

A few hours later we heard that the Bay Area is under a new “shelter in place” order.

___ _____________________________________ ___

Tuesday March 17th:

No test for my neice’s boyfriend. Bad sign. Now all five of them are just going to have to wait it out, and will it ever be known if they have it? It does not bode well, this continued lack of testing, since we have no idea of the scope of the epidemic without.

Numbers are ratcheting up day by day, and known cases getting closer. Saugerties has one now, and there are more in Kingston and Rhinebeck. Westchester declared a state of emergency. They declared a 8pm curfew in NYS for all restaurants, which can now only offer take-out.

Sara, who owns the yoga studio where I practice and teach, wants me to zoom a basics class a week, and I will start to think about that in a few days. She also proposed having me and/or the other teacher at CTH be her student in the studio while she zooms her classes. I love that idea, but  realized that if I stayed away from the studio last weekend to avoid students and she taught, I should probably stay away from her for another few weeks. Otherwise, what was the point of that?

But, we could stay far apart, so I am tempted.

Sigh.

Note: Sara is a lovely teacher and is zooming her classes with online sign-up. You can check it out at:

http://www.catskillsyoga.com/

Some nice painting studio time today, getting a layer in on on the sand flats piece. I got a late start because Tony got in and stayed up late and I found myself sleepless at about 5am.

We are setting up a small studio for him for silverpoint, cutting lino, and his remote classes in Tessa’s room, adjoining his own, and he can use my studio for messier work, like painting.

___ _______________________________________ ___

Wednesday, March 18, 2pm: I am thinking this morning, and last night while falling asleep, about what other studio endeavors I might want to begin just now. I am working on the grouping for Louisa Gould Gallry on MV and will be for a bit, to be ready with new work whenever the time is right. Also, a few more paintings for my online show with Butters Gallery, scheduled for mid-May. I also promised Judi at Gallery Jupiter that I would do some oil-on-board 8″x8″s or her (for whenever, no hurry!) that have the depth to stand on a table or shelf, like the 6″x6″s that she has; but for these the images goes all of the way out to the edge. Here are an examples of each version.

 

 

Below are five of these 6″x6″s from my end-of-residency show at the Artists Association of Nantucket in November of 2018, sitting below three hand-colored linocut maps of the island.

 

 

This is the new version, 4″x12″, on the shallower board meant for hanging.

 

 

 

My students and other artists and a number of collectors have loved the top version, with dark float, but several galleries are reporting that it makes the image even smaller—for the price point—and so I am experimenting with the second version, which also involves adjusting the color of the gesso on the sides to fit the image. So far, I like it.

It’a an instance of how innovation can happen based on market considerations, if taken as a creative challenge. If you are flexible and can get excited about the idea, this can work—if you are resentful of the suggestion, it’s unlikely that any good will come of it.

Here are some other ideas.

Ongoing or occasional pursuits:

~Dye more rice and mulberry paper for collaging.

~Circle back to printmaking, maybe joining Tony with a 3-color (hand) printing of a lino.

New projects:

~Figure out how to make collages with failed monotypes, probably using my dyed rice papers along with. Looking at them today, I realized that some would be appropriate to use as the basis for a pastel, since the print papers are the same as what I have for years used for pasteling.  I have found that trying to tweak a print with pastel doesn’t work well, since the paper really needs to have a density of pastel applied to be able to move it around, and this means pastel over the whole thing.

~Maps using walnut ink, mixed media, some found/vintage objects, using more natural materials.

~Other in-studio printmaking projects, maybe finding new ways to use maps.

~Work on watershed Site Map.

The watershed Site Map has been confusing me because I am thinking about either this Atlas theme or a Cape Cod (or Cape and Islands) version for next, and these environmentally themed projects are an enormous amount of work.

That’s what indecision does—stalls the brain, and stalls progress. I got a nice start on prepping the Watershed map on its 48″x36″ board last year, but got side-tracked with various painting projects, from my November show at Jupiter Gallery in NJ to the commissions this past winter, and more.

I have just talked myself through the dilemma (decision fatigue making even the low-pressure ones stressful), hooray. It makes sense to carry forward with the one that I have started. When the studio gets crowded I spend too much time moving things around.

This is the Site Map for Atlas/Forms of Water, finished last summer and the guide to the show I had of that name at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck. The new one will have a similar format. For more about this show see my blog post:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/atlas-forms-of-water-2019/

 

Site Map/Forms of Water, Mixed Media/Collage/Printmaking, 48″x36″.

Studio today:

 

 

First painting of the year to get to dry in the yard! With this accelerated drying time, I can work on the second layer tomorrow and likely finish it.

 

 

And now, for a walk in that sunshine.

8pm: Terrible news all around, numbers and economics. I have gone from reading every little thing back in early January to tolerating just measured doses of news. Despite the dread that I felt when I was first reading the reports from Wuhan, putting it all together required an attention to detail and cross-referencing with other material that engaged the grey matter . This is now onslaught after onslaught of of news that is worse by the hour, punches in the gut. It will only get worse, so let’s gear up the intestinal fortitude…


Atlas/Forms of Water 2019

As the finale of this show and thus this post, I offer a beautifully produced recording of my interview with audience Q&A by Brett Barry of Silver Hollow Audio.  This discussion ranges from my decades  of contemporary landscape painting to the environmental themes of this show to the gallery-artist  relationship.  You can listen here:

 

 

 

 

Water is ease, water is in our dreams, water kills. Water is 60% of our bodies and covers 71% of the planet. We float, swim, sink, ride on, drink, cook and grow with, own, fight over, drown in, boil, crave, gaze at, and are mesmerized by water. It bears repeating: Water is life.

 

Welcoming Sea, 24″x72″, oil on linen, one of the two largest pieces in the show, 2019.

 

Water use has also been political since the beginning of our time on earth. As thirst, water rights and fights; severe storms; droughts, fires, floods; and sea level rise become increasingly critical on much of the planet, I have been catapulted into creating an expanded rubric for water imagery in my work. This focuses in on our environment and the challenges it faces, while continuing to celebrate the beauty our planet provides.

 

After the Rains Came, 24″x36″, oil on linen, 2019.

 

Atlas /Forms of Water maps the environmental theme while mapping my body of work, revealing a web of meaning around and between the individual pieces that I create. The matrix that connects all of my landscape imagery is saturated with memory, both personal and collective. To make these connections, I have created a site map for the body of work on view.

Maps functions as an aid to find our way. In this context, I am mapping our bodies and states of water; the paintings in the exhibit; memory and self; and threats to our environment, among other, more elusive things.

 

Site Map/Forms of Water. mixed media/collage and printmaking, 48″x36″.

The Site Map has small monotypes running up both sides that are interpretations of the major paintings in the show. The four other prints are a conversation about threats from global warming: bigger hurricanes in upper left; sea-level rise in upper right: and stream/river flooding in the two at bottom, before and after.

At the top, I have included topographical contours, a loose and flattened version of the Escarpment that curves around Woodstock and then runs north parallel to the Hudson River.

Mountains are the first source of our surface water, and the painting below includes that form of water visible as the Catskill Mountains rising above the back shore, as well as mists, a cloud, and the Hudson River.

 

Light that Glows, 32″x60″, 2016. (Sold.)

Another new collaged map for the show is of the NYC watershed, water tunnels included. New York City has negotiated—and renegotiated, multiple times—a pass on national regulations that mandate the filtering of drinking water. This exemption is a huge deal, and requires constant monitoring and regulation of the watershed townships within the areas shown, and many mandates for property owners to keep the water flowing into NYC reservoirs clean. While this makes our relationship to our larger neighbor to the south a complex and co-dependent one, it also has transformed our stewardship of our land and streams.

 

Map Collage, Watershed. 12″x12″, 2019.

 

The below same-size collage from the year before is of the Hudson Canyon, which is essentially an underwater extension of the Hudson River, extending southeast until it drops off the continental shelf.

 

Hudson Canyon, collage on board, 12″x12″, 2018.

 

Also in mixed media/collage, “Forms of Water: A Taxonomy”. This small tintype drawer contains the following seven categories, from the top row moving down: states and phases of visible water; geographical bodies of water; wetlands; types of clouds; storms; waves; and human made forms of water.

 

Forms of Water: A Taxonomy, 17″x11.5″, 49 mixed media/collage pieces in a vintage tintype tray, 2019. 

 

Creating pieces in vintage boxes, drawers, muffin pans, and child’s blackboards has been one of my ongoing series for some years now. It requires a listening attitude to select and then bend the imagery to work with the support that I have chosen, starting the process in a different way from a blank canvas. In the below piece, the box and the piece of wood that I painted on had elements that determined both what imagery I chose and how I painted it.

Snowplows at Work, oil on board in vintage box, 3″x7″, 2018. (Sold.)

 

Dusk Drive in 12, oil on board in a vintage muffin pan, 18″x11″, 2018.

 

For decades now, I have been devoted to painting fog, suspended water that softens our landscapes, sometimes obscuring, sometimes defining:

 

Blue Dawn, 12″x36″, oil on linen. (Sold.)

 

Blue/Green Mountain Fog, oil on 4″x12″ board, 2019. (Sold.)

 

Many of my paintings depict wetlands, so gorgeous and vital for controlling flooding caused by excessive rain events, storms, tidal flooding, and sea-level rise; as well as filtering sediment in water and providing  habitat for wildlife. Visually, salt marshes in particular create color and shape that I return to paint over and over again.

 

Summer at the Creeks, 36″x24″, oil on linen, 2018.

 

Angle of Repose, 40″x30″, 2015.

 

Summer Reflected, 12″X12″, oil on linen, 2014.

 

Manmade forms of water are included in the show, as seen in the flood image near the top and in the vertical painting below, which depicts a wetland developed by humans to cultivate cranberries.

 

Cranberry Bog, 48″x24″, oil on linen.

 

The pieces in the show include landscape imagery in oil on linen; monotypes; small works in oil on board; water imagery using vintage boxes, blackboards, and other containers/support; and map collages.

 

Gale, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019. (Sold.)

 

Stillness, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019.

 

Flow, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019. (Sold.)

 

Drift, 16″x16″, oil on linen, 2019.

 

I was motivated in fall of 2016 to move towards creating shows that place my open, color-field landscapes within a complex experiential web. Three major factors came into play at just that time.

 

Sky Meets Water, 18″x24″, oil on linen.

 

The first was anticipation of a residency in Nantucket scheduled for that winter, and this dovetailed with the second, some thoughts about turning 60 later on in 2018. Given that my background is in contemporary art and that I have always viewed my progressions in landscape painting through that lens; my question to self was—what do I want to do, now, that I haven’t yet?

Among my answers to this question was learning monoprint and linocut techniques, which I now employ both for stand-alone prints and also for the Site Map. Below, some recent monotypes.

 

Color Field in Blue/Green, 16″x10″, Monotype, 2018.

 

Overlook with River, 8″x10″, Monotype, 2019.

 

Waterfall #2, Monotype, 14.25×7.5, 2019.

 

Reflected Sun #2, 10″x16″. (Sold.)

 

The third factor was key. Feeling profound grief over the outcome of the 2016 election, my mind returned repeatedly to the single biggest issue on the table, climate change. The conviction that time is running out here and that four years could be critical was decisive in determining the direction that my work has since taken. The acceleration of bad news in this arena since then is eye-popping—sea level rise predictions alone are much, much higher and sooner than was predicted while I was researching the topic in my February, 2017 Nantucket residency.

 

Moving Storm, 20″x62″, oil on linen.

 

Flooded Roadway, oil on 6″x6″ board, 2018.

 

Snow and ice appear in my work and in the context of Atlas/Forms of Water, depict one of the main three phases of water, solid.

 

Fields of Snow, 12″x12″, oil on linen, 2012. (Sold)

 

Ebullient Winter, 18″x24″, oil on linen, 2018.

 

Water vapor, the gaseous state of water, is invisible. The closest thing that is visible is steam, such as the image of a geyser below.

 

Geyser with Winter Sun, oil on paper, 3 panels of 4.5″/each, 2019.

 

Globally, precipitation has shifted so that many of the wet places are wetter and the dry locales are dryer. For this reason, I decided to create and include several pieces that depict water’s opposite, fire.

 

Fire #1, oil on 6″x6″ board. (Sold)

 

Fire #2, oil on 6″x6″ board. (Sold)

 

Fire Snake, oil on 4″x12″ board. (Sold)

 

My imagery is heavily weighted toward the Northeast of the United States, as that is where I have spent much of my life. But I could be anywhere on the planet, exploring the same themes, and I bring with me memories of living in the arid Andes and central Castile; painting in rain-soaked Western Ireland; traveling Northern California to capture the coastal golden hillsides of late summer; and returning to the Nebraska flatlands of my early childhood. It all informs the matrix. It is all water.

 

Red Sky over Tidal Flats, oil on 4″x12″ board.

 

Yellow Gleam, oil on 4″x12″ board.

 

Affinity/Dusk Shoreline, 12″x16″, 2014. (Sold.) My Affinity Series involves these steps: fraying the edges of a piece of raw linen and affixing it to a slightly larger board; priming the whole thing dark and then gridding with graphite; painting the image; selectively regridding over areas where the graphite got painted out.

 

Affinity/Lightening Storm, 16″x16″, oil on linen with distressed edges on board overlaid with graphite gridding, 2013.

 

2 Shores/Reflected Sun, 12″x12″.

 

Evening Shoreline, oil on linen, 12″X12″.

 

This show builds upon my Atlas/Hudson River Valley show in March of 2017, which you can read about here:

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

 

Serene Sea/Quirky Cloud, 40″x40″, oil on linen, 2005/2019.

 

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

 

Soft Greys from Peaked Hill, 10″X30″, 2015. (Sold.)

 

We are collaborating with Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper on a fundraising benefit October 12th, 5-8. That evening, 15% of sales will go to these vital local environmental organizations, as well as the proceeds of a raffle for this 12″x12″ painting:

Stormy Sea, 12″X12″.

(Note: Raffle was drawn on 11-16. Tickets were $20. We raised almost $1,300 from the raffle alone!) 

I was delighted to co-host this benefit for Riverkeeper and Catskills Mountainkeeper, as tie in to the environmental discussion of my Atlas Project. This a small way of giving back to those who are fighting to protect the gorgeous, biodiverse open spaces of land and water that I have been frequenting and painting for decades.
A number of people came to help make this event a success, a gift to ourselves; our children and grandchildren; and our own, beloved habitat. I gave a short talk on how this project came about; followed by Kathy Nolan of CMK, who will give us some pointers on how to reduce waste and our carbon footprint.
In addition to the raffle funds and the 15% of sales we donated that evening to CMK and RK, I  created a special edition of a dozen of these 3″x3″ and 2″x4″ collages–inspired by the verticals that I did for the Taxonomy piece in a tintype box—to be sold for $135/ea. that night only, as a way of offering an accessible price point. $25 of the price will go to the keepers.
 

 

 

.

 


Sweetest Sales, Part Two

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

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

 

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

 

My seven-year-old collector:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so they did.

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

__________________    _____________________________________________    ____________________

 

She googled “Moody Greenscapes”:

 

“Hi,

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

 

 

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

 

And the study for the piece:

 

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

 

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

 

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

Painting from 1987:

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

 

Sisters painting, 40″x50″, 1987.

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

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

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

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

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

Love them, love them, love them!”

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

 

These are the other two that they acquired:

 

Monotype/Divided Fields.

 

Monotype/Mountain Stream.

 

________________    ______________________________________________    _______________

 

Does a gift qualify as a sale?

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

I hope his girlfriend is still enjoying  the painting.

 

________    _______________________________________________________    _________

 

To Madrid on the private jet:

 

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

 

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

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

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

The whole encounter took about 20 minutes.

 

Rolling Cloud, 44″x68″.

 

_______________     _____________________________________________________________    ______________

 

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

 


Eagle Above, Fish Below: Summer 2018

The surface of a body of water is a reflective, moving, open expanse. Beneath it, the water roils with life—rooted or crawling or burrowing or swimming, lifeforms going about their business of feeding off of each other and reproducing and eventually dying. Above it, life also carries on.

Sky Meets Water, 18″x24″.

One day last July, while staying on Otsego Lake near Cooperstown, NY, I headed to the dock to sit and gaze at the water for a few moments. Looking down at the dock to find my seat, I heard a throaty, loud honk/squack. We had been enjoying visits all week from a mama duck and her nine ducklings, so my first thought as I turned my head was, “that was not a duck!”.

Nothing behind me, but as I straightened to face the side I was now seated at, I saw an adult eagle taking off from the water about 25 feet in front of me. It had been addressing my intrusion, I think!

Shortly after, I decided to make a call to my friend Jenny, with whom I had been playing phone tag. I got her voicemail, and the message went something like this: “Hi Jenny, we’re playing phone tag but I am around today so give a  OH MY GOD THAT IT THE BIGGEST *#!%ING FISH I HAVE EVER SEEN IN A LAKE GOTTA GO BYE”.

The fish was directly below my dangling feet, at least two feet across, lit up by slanting sunlight. I know there are fish in these waters, despite an altered ecology due to Zebra mussels—my husband has caught some other years from our small boat and I have seen them feeding off of bugs at sunset. And yet, it was as if this big fish had crawled up on land and joined us on the deck for cocktails, such was my sense of worlds colliding.

I am puzzling out, ever since, what was so startling about this fish sighting. After all, I have been among whales in our 16 foot boat off Race Point in Provincetown—including a pod of killer whales; froliked with a mola and some dolphins in the harbor; snorkled off St. Thomas among all sorts and sizes of sea life.

I think that my jolt of surprise was about expectations, so often the case. I had for days been focused on the surface reflections, and I lost track of the awareness of how much is going on underneath and that during my daily swims, I was intruding upon their busy world. Seeing this large fish directly under my feet brought that crashing back.

As artists we are concerned with both surface appearance and deeper function and meaning. The surface is mesmerizing and ever-changing, feeding our visually-linked emotional hunger, and soothing our quotidian bumps and bruises. The complicated churn beneath, however, mirrors life in its day-to-day, demanding a nuanced and dedicated attention.

 

Indigos with Glowing Light, 18″x24″.

 

________________________________________________________

 

This summer has served to remind me of how much I appreciate my galleries. It can be rewarding, sometimes, to hop off that train and do something self-generated like an open studio or studio tour; or an event at a non-gallery venue. But ultimately, a gallery is where people go to view and buy art. It is a business whose purpose is to exhibit and sell art, and therefore all effort is going to that end.

Invitations generally go out in a timely fashion, instead of getting buried in the more pressing things that a non-gallery venue might have to attend to. The galleriest installs the show, with beautiful results based on years of experience. Folks walk in off the streets who are interested in art; search for the local galleries when visiting; respond to invites. A showing of a grouping of selected works in a collector’s home gets on the schedule without delay, follow-ups are done to inquiries as a matter of course…and so on.

Rokeby Meadow, 24″x30″, at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY.

That said, the mom-and-pop galleries struggle to stay afloat, with many more friends and lookers than buyers. So collectors, please support your favorite galleries!

 

Familiar Reds, 11″X14″, at Butters Gallery in Portland, OR.

And if you are an artist with gallery representation, this is how you can help:

https://scheeleart.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/the-art-ethicist-your-relationship-with-your-gallery/

 

Forms of Water, 30″x36″, at Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, NY.

 

Harbor with Sunset Mists, 24″x36″, at Thomas Henry Gallery, Nantucket.

________________________________________________________

 

I had a lovely time teaching this past June in Woodstock and August on Nantucket, with a full house for my color-mixing workshop in both places.

My Woodstock group.

These are the demo pieces that came out of the two landscape workshops:

 

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

 

Saltmarsh with Soft Sky, 24″x36″.

 

Seablues with Brilliant Fog, 16″x20″.

 

Three Posts, 12″x24″.

My week on Nantucket was filled with not only with my wonderful students, but also with salt air and good food and warm friendship.

I organized an informal gathering at Thomas Henry Gallery so that my students could see my work there, all of the sea or the island:

A grouping of my work at Thomas Henry Gallery.

_______________________________________________________

 

The Woodstock School of Art invitational Monothon in July was a printmaker’s dream. Imagine having a printing staff at your beck and call, both master printmakers and monitors, facilitating your every move. Master printmaker Anthony Kirk guided and facilitated my hoped-for plan, my first monotype triptych (and then a few more).

 

 

Wave Triptych, three panels of 8″x10″, headed for a show at Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

 

One 8″x10″ was chosen from each participating artist, to be sold at the show there opening September 8th, 3-5pm This is my donation print that will be featured, followed by some of my other wave monotypes.

https://woodstockschoolofart.org/event/woodstock-monoprint-invitational-exhibition-2/

 

8″x10″.

 

10″x16″.

_____________________________________________________

 

 

We will be featuring monotypes and my vintage series, along with oil paintings, in my grouping for the upcoming four-artist show at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY, their yearly Luminous Landscape exhibition. The show opens on September 29, 5-8pm.

 

 

Cloud over Green Valley, monotype, 8″x10″.

 

Dusk Drive in 12, oil on board in a vintage muffin pan, 18″x11″.

 

Reflected Sun, 32″x48″.

 

_______________________________________________________

 

Several of my summer sales:

 

Gleaming, 12″x24″, sold by the Julie Heller Gallery, Provincetown, MA.

 

Swirling Winter Sky, 20″x24″, sold by the Woodstock School of Art.

 

One of my favorite pieces from the past decade, Perceived Acuity pleases me for its simplicity, movement, elegant shapes, and unusual color:

“Perceived Acuity”, 18″x52″, sold by the Louisa Gould Gallery, Vineyard Haven, MV.

 

Serene Sengie, 44″x68″, sold by the Louisa Gould Gallery.

__________________________________________________

Link to in-studio available works in oil and on paper:

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

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

__________________________________________________

Coming right up, my teaching week in Provincetown, Sept. 17th for Color Mixing and 18-20th for the Landscape Painting Intensive. If you are feeling inspired and spontaneous, come and join us!

 

Provincetown, 20″X30″, at the Julie Heller Gallery, Provincetown.

 

Also upcoming: another residency on Nantucket in November. My focus there and in my studio will be on Atlas/Forms of Water, from the sky to the land to the ocean, and everywhere in between.

 

Affirmation in Blues, 36″x72″ overall, at Louisa Gould Gallery, MV.

 

 


Available Work/Studio/Works on Paper

Almost all of the unframed work included in this data-base is 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), $1,000.

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

Trailing Fields, 4″x24″.

Summer Farm Fields,

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

Magic Hour in the Mountains, 8″x10″, framed.

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

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

Study/View from Little Mountain, 6.5″x8″.

Study/Red Fields, 5″x10″.

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

Atlas/Cape Cod, 15″x30″

Hudson Canyon Collage, 12″x12″.

Watershed Map, 12″x12″.

CSoThere4x12

So There, 4″x12″.

Actively Seeking, 7″x5″.

Stand Alone, 5″x5″.

Growing Tall, 5″x5″.

CPAth7x5

Path, 7×5.

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:

Five prints.

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 There, 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″, 2017, through LGG.

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:


Shape and Mood: 2 Paintings so Alike and so Different

In representational art, the formal aspects of a painting can contribute to a narrative or mood just as readily as the descriptive. This is a theme that I discuss often in workshops, talks, and here on my blog. I recently finished two paintings of the same locale and time of year—same day, in fact—using a very similar palette that illustrate this point well.

In fact, the difference between them really boils down to the mood that the shapes create.

In “Lingering”, below, the overall feel of the piece is warm and welcoming, despite the weather depicted being overcast. Putting ourselves in the scene, the misty/drizzly day creates a sheen and depth to colors in the marshes and a sense of intimacy—privacy, almost— within the landscape. On these sorts of days there are fewer people about; the air is thick and embracing; vistas tend to be limited. There is a boundary of trees at the horizon, enclosing the space.

"Lingering", 10"x10".

“Lingering”, 10″x10″.

On the formal side, the eye is led into the piece by the wide open shape of the tidal pool at the bottom left, and then is invited to move around by the directionality of soft edges and dispersed accumulations of detail. Variations of color within the areas of orange marsh grasses encourage the eye to linger. Sky and water are a mauve, relating to the coolest of the reds in the marsh.

I would describe “Lingering” as warm; friendly; intimate. And descriptive, for sure.

In the second piece, the color is the same but the feel is much bolder. Now we have a highly structured piece with assertive directionality. The eye is swept into the image by the strong zig-zag created by the edges of the marsh and moves back to a open area with minimal detail along the horizon. The detail that does exist is necessary to balance the composition, keeping the eye moving within the painting rather than being swept off to the right by the strong edges of the tidal creek.

"Edge of Discovery", 18"x24".

“Edge of Discovery”, 18″x24″.

The description of  “Edge of Discovery” could include abstract; expansive; dynamic. Movement within structure.

As I was working on these pieces–about a month apart—I decided independently with each that the image needed some interest in the marsh as it went back in space. To create this, I added the back tidal pools in both cases, and then the evolving paintings clicked into place.

Even here, with a similar solution to a common problem, the feel of these pools is quite different. In “Lingering” there is quite a bit of detail to the two glimpses of white, while in “Edge of Discovery”  the bit of water is minimal, austere (and right in the middle!), jibing with the overall reductive composition.

So, when we talk about mood in a landscape painting, we are discussing two things. One is the mood of the moment captured—how would it feel like to be there? The other is the feeling that the lines, shapes, and surface of the painting create for the viewer.

Color relates to both. It reflects the seasons; light; locale; and time of day of the views that we see around us. It also is inherently linked to mood and personal preference.

Kandinsky in his 1910 “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” posits that abstract elements have emotive power in their own right. In comparing these two paintings, it becomes clear how the shapes with their edges and directionality and the overall composition that they create impact the mood projected.

Unlike with color, many people are not consciously aware that these particular formal aspects are actively contributing to their experience of a representational painting. It is up to the artist to be adept at exploring the endless possibilities of these pictoral tools as the painting is being shaped, narrowing the gap between a good painting and an excellent one and finding variation in feel from piece to piece.


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.

This Painting Costs WHAT?!!

I can practically hear people thinking this sometimes.

After many years of having the  conversation in my head or with other artists about what goes into the price of an artwork for the career artist, I decided to take my rant public.

I will use as an example a recent pastel demonstration in my studio. I carefully planned a piece that was horizontal (so folks could see around me); had seasonal color; and had elements that were quite familiar to me, even if I didn’t know until I was in progress exactly what I was going to include and where it was all going to go. I knew that I was planning on finishing this piece in the hour+ time I had allotted for the demo, so picking certain kinds of imagery (a flat sky rather than complex clouds, and a minimalist hillside with some field dividers instead of marsh grasses, and so on) was essential.

And so, with many years of experience paintings landscapes and quite a few doing demos for students and occasionally the public under my belt, I pulled it off. Here it is, below, a 10″x27″ piece.

Red Field/White Sky

“Red Field/White Sky”

For an exhibiting artist, prices need to be consistant. This means that same-size pieces (unless they are an entirely different series or medium) should be the same price. Furthermore, for me personally, it doesn’t matter in the least that one pieces takes me six times as long as another, since it all averages out.

A lovely minimalist piece that practically painted itself is worth the same price as an equally lovely image of more complexity that I might have struggled over, or just surrendered to with exquisite patience. I love doing them both, and often my buyers prefer one over the other fairly strongly.

And REALLY furthermore, there are many things that go into the price of an artwork. So to any of you who have ever thought, “OMG, she just did that piece in 1.5 hours and she is charging $1,500 for it without even framing it, so that’s $1,000 per hour!”, here goes!

Sticking to the example of my recent demo:

1. I spent hours arranging and cleaning the studio. (Let’s say, 5?)

2. More time driving to get the paper I needed and planning the pastel, including looking for and then contemplating all the references photos that this one required, and selecting my palette of pastel colors. (4?)

3.  Creating the email and Facebook invitations, back-and-forth with folks wanting to attend, photographing and processing the digital photo. (3?)

3. Materials, since the quoted price I am using for the piece is unframed, were minimal. ($50?) but that doesn’t take into account that I have hundreds of pastel colors (mostly Schminkes costing $6 a stick) necessary to my work, even if a small amount of those actually got used up.

4. Also averaging in other overhead that I must cover daily or regularly to create and sell my work: A larger car that uses more gas than I would otherwise drive and the many errands and deliveries to galleries, framer, art supply store, and private buyers (this is both time and money); studio construction, maintenance, and heat;  emailing galleries and creating events (hours every day and tech and office expenses); keeping up with taking and processing photos (IPhone and time, laptop); ferry or airfare and accommodations and meals further afield for shows (expense and time);

5. My husband is very helpful for deliveries and installations and repairs and being personable at openings. Does his time get factored in?

6. Brain space. This piece used quite a bit of it. They all use a goodly amount (and are supposed to!).

    7. Gallery commission, on most sales, 50%. (And trust me, they earn it!)

I am not even getting into how many years/decades it took me to be able to do this work with enough ease to a) do it well and successfully and b) do it in front of an audience. Nor am I going to add up the above estimates of time and materials.

With any luck, I have made my point.


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.


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


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)


Mountains, Streams and Lakes

The vertical is always intense in a landscape, focusing the attention in a cropping that is not how we normally experience it.

A high meadow in autumn, the angles and diagonal lines interlocking.

“Summer Fog” emerged from my mind, a set of descriptive elements that I had a yen for…

“September Dawn”, a pastel, shows how expressive color can be within a grey palette.

The view from a nearby lookout, with the Catskills’ highest peaks in the background creating a quirky set of shapes. The greyish-pinks that emerge on a thunderstormy summer day were one of the things that drew me to this image.

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.