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Category: Art

Landscape sketches

Bierstadt Lake, Colorado. Paint on paper, 18×24 inches.

Took a little dip into painting again today. The quarantine energy has been the opposite of what motivates me to paint, but today as i was setting up a painting station for my daughter, i decided to flip open the big pad and do some quick, monochromatic paintings.

Backyard. Paint on paper, 18×24 inches.

It was fun, and i felt things click for a bit, which was reassuring.

There is a mind state I find conducive to making landscape paintings. The best way i’ve found so far to induce this state is by working to certain kinds of jazz. I am going to explore this more in future writing, but for now I’ve got a handful of records that bring me right there.

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Dorian’s

I made this blind contour drawing while waiting for Jeff Parker to play at Dorian’s. It was my last night out, and the last live music I witnessed before the stay at home orders hit Chicago just a few days later.

The show was exquisite. I can’t wait to get out and see live jazz of that caliber again. I have a new list of acts I have to see and I’m willing travel to make it happen “whenever this coronavirus thing is over” (as my daughter Ingrid would say).

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More painting experiments

I’ve had the Sayre Park painting hanging in the living room to observe for the past few weeks. It’s been a great reminder of the kind of work i don’t want to do. Through talking about this with Zion and Josiah last weekend, we decided it looked more interesting turned on its side. Once I did that, the painting was crying out to become an underpainting for something new.

A couple of days later, an artist named Katie Vernon posted a painting to her instagram that inspired me to start my new painting in a particular way. Here is her painting:

Last night I found just the right photo source for the new painting and got to work. I starting blocking white, then gray, then blue and brown and greenish grays. I made a few passes over it and really got into a flow and had a lot of fun. I’m absolutely loving the direction this took and I’m looking forward to digging back in to it.

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Loch Lake: session 2

Covered a lot of ground and had a really fun painting session last night. I blocked in more of the hills and mountains in the distance, and put in a couple of washes on the lake itself. I expect the final painting to not look much like this at all, but it’s heading in the right direction. Next passes will focus on sky and some elements in the foreground that haven’t been painted yet.

2. Blocking in hills, mountains, and the lake
My favorite detail at this stage

It feels inevitable that all this diving into observational painting is just taking me the long way back to complete abstraction. I’m not trying to go there, but as I continue to incorporate mindfulness into everything i’m doing, it’s hard to ignore the bursts of excitement and delight that I get when I’m making marks for marks-sake. Who knows!??!!!!

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A big scale-up

1. Gotta start somewhere!
My favorite part so far

Put in time last night doing an underdrawing and putting some paint down on this 48×36″ panel. Lately i’ve been trying to just work on whatever i’m drawn to in the moment, and last night I was feeling this big one. I lost a little momentum looking for the right source photo. to work from. I landed on a view of The Loch, a lake I hiked past on the way up to Sky Pond in Estes Park.

One thing i realized right away was just how much this change in scale changes the game for the way I’m painting, and really the way i’ll *be able* to paint. This one is going to be a challenge but i’m determined to learn as much as possible.

The main drawback of jumping into this painting is that I won’t be able to iterate as fast, which is going to slow down the overall learning cycle. To this end, i’m going to get one or two smaller works going over the weekend so when i’m not ready to dive into the big one, i’ll still be able to make progress.

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Gestural landscape practice

Gestural landscape practice. 1 pass, 24 x 18 inches.

Working on freeing myself up a bit more, so I’m going to be making some low-risk, low-stakes landscapes on paper. I have some ideas about what i’ll do with these but I’ll discuss that when I actually do something. I’m thinking this needs one more pass before calling it “done.” This scene is inspired by a photograph I took on my hike to Chasm Lake, just after climbing above the treeline.

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Painting: Above Sky Pond

Above Sky Pond, 2020. 22 x 15 Inches. Acrylic, pencil, ink, and resin on wood.

I am very pleased with how this painting turned out. There was a very real risk of overworking it and I managed to avoid that. I am still thinking about what i’ve learned with this painting, and I’ll probably have to consolidate those thoughts into another post.

This has been a great week of painting.

See the process leading up to this finished work.

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Painting: Wild Basin

Painting: Wild Basin, near Copeland Falls
Wild Basin, near Copeland Falls. 7 x 5 inches. Acrylic, pencil, paper, and ink on wood. 2020

Painted over another old abstract print/painting from 2002. I am very happy with how this painting turned out. I’m just beginning to identify the conditions that are making for enjoyable painting experiences with quality outcomes.

The scene is somewhere along the trail to Ouzel Falls from the Wild Basin trailhead in Estes Park. If memory serves, this spot is not far above Copeland Falls.

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A very good painting session

Everything about this roughly two hour painting session felt good. It had its ups and downs but more often than not I was experiencing a flow state. I succeeded in not overworking anything, and I now have a clear vision of where this painting will end. I am toying with a tone change in the sky but I want to add the foreground elements before changing anything.

one thing that has been working well when my intention is to paint looser and more intuitively is to put on improvisational jazz music. The last couple of painting sessions were powered by Makaya McCraven. Something about the groove and the open ended improvisation really helps me get out of my head and paint more by feel.

studio aftermath
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Starting something new

I was finishing up sanding a few freshly primed wood supports when I came across an old project I started about two years ago. I had cut up the solid wood top of an unused drawing table to use part of it for another project and was left with a 22×15 inch panel that seemed to have potential. I decided to use wood carving tools to carve a series of grooves into the wood, then pushed magenta ink into those cracks and wiped the top surface down (kind of like inking an etching). I then filled the cracks and covered the entire surface with about 1/8 inch of resin. This is where i stopped (my original plan was to layer further groove/fills, but I put the panel aside).

Upon seeing that board again, i had an urge to paint over it because i’ve found that starting with an old painting seems to work well for me right now. I took the panel outside and sanded the resin down to a paintable surface with 150 grit, wiped off all the dust, then got busy.

Using a photo I took from above Sky Pond, I started with a pencil sketch. Feeling the momentum, I decided to white out the sky as a base, then make some green marks. I really like where this is headed, it’s got a lot of potential and it feels right.

First pass, painting a view from above Sky Pond in Estes Park, Colorado.
Grooves and paint filled with resin, 2018
Carved grooves in wood, then filled with magenta paint, 2018
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