A couple of weeks ago I did an atrocious, wretched, horrid plein air painting that I was going to set on fire. I’m not sure what my wife liked about it back then, but she didn’t want me to destroy it. So, this is it now. Doesn’t look anything like the plein air beginning.
After a failure I get depressed and I retreat to my safe place where I don’t know anything about art history, I don’t know anything about contemporary painting, I don’t know what a painting is supposed to look like, I don’t even know how to paint. It’s my reset button. Usually I draw or do a self portrait and that recharges me. Sometimes I do this. I just get lost in a meditative compulsion of mixing colors and rubbing them around the canvas until it makes a picture. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Hours slip away and I don’t want to stop until that last piece falls satisfyingly into place. There are still things about this that I’d change if I had the energy, but I’m tired of playing with it and want to work on something else.
Fall Below Safe Harbor Dam, acrylic, 12×24″
For years I’ve had a need to get a painting done in an hour and then just put it away, and the next time I’d have an hour to paint I’d paint another one. I’m trying to break that habit. Here’s the painting as it was when I finished the plein air session. It’s so bad I’m embarrassed to even show it. It would’ve felt so good to gesso over it.
Today is Halloween so I painted in a cemetery in the city this morning. Boo!
I always say I’m gonna paint it differently, but I never do. Today I wanted to paint her with mostly knife and big bold strokes. Didn’t happen. I spent way too much time trying to get the stocking color right.
It was raining here this morning so I stayed inside and worked out with a still life.
And here’s a little painting I did in the park while my kids had tennis lessons.
I tried painting the milkweed in watercolor again. Still hard as hell. Fun though. Things that are challenging to paint keep me entertained longer than things I’ve already figured out. The somber colors are what the scene presented, which was fine because I was really focusing on figuring out how to paint the fluffy bits.
Pestered by bugs today. The spiders kept climbing me and my easel. I spent more time chasing them off than I did painting.
Spent some time down on the river today at what is probably my favorite spot to paint. Painted two.
I’m working over old paintings to reuse the panels. Sometimes I gesso over them, but lately I’ve been enjoying what the previous painting is contributing to the new painting so I’m working directly over the old one. Sometimes it helps if I knife on a lot of color to help cover the old painting. There was something about this early stage that I liked so as I tried to move towards a finish I kept reminding myself not to kill it. Part of me likes this better than the finished painting.
The finished painting (below). I enjoyed this a lot. I was able to let go of copying the scene. Lots of juicy expressionist qualities in this one that I like, and I like the little bits of the old painting showing through.
Then I slowed down and did this one which is much more literal. I know I can’t serve two masters, but sometimes it’s fun to try. I’m happy with both today. I like the longer format for this location. It’s a very ‘horizontal’ place.
I planned on using my tripod set up today instead of my french easel. When I got to the site I realized I had brought my tripod and the easel section, but I forgot the little connector to hold the two together. So no easel today. I had to sit on the ground. I think I’m gonna redo that rectangle of sky. It isn’t the blue I want it to be. And the trees are too light.
This morning I painted while my kids had tennis lessons.
Tried to paint those soft, fluffy seeds of the milkweed today with watercolors. Seemed like it would be a challenge. It was. I’ll try again soon.
I took a brief trip up to Providence this weekend and got to spend just a little bit of time around my alma mater RISD. This is a view of the city from a park near campus that I always remembered. It was chilly! Small and quick.
I never painted plein air while in college and it’s one of the regrets I have about that period of my life. I was so timid. In college I had time and freedom that I don’t have now. Some guys have regrets from those days like: “Why didn’t I talk to that girl?!” Mine is: “Why didn’t I just go sit outside and paint?!”
This was a beach at Warwick City Park. I didn’t have time to finish it while I was there so I just finished it off at home this morning while the kids enjoy their Columbus Day off from school.