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.
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!??!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I decided to relieve myself of the impulse to make another tonal, semi-representative work by forcing myself to work with a non-representative palette. I painted this over three sessions and I feel pretty good about it. The one thing i really learned while painting this is how much the music i’m listening to influences my approach to making marks.
I struggled quite a bit at first to get into a flow with this painting. Zion was also painting in the studio next to me and I let him pick the music. It was a great mix, but around halfway through the session some kind of more improvisational jazz type of music started playing and the groove and the energy of the music started influencing my painting. Zion noticed it too and commented on it. I’m going to start to experiment with different music as i continue this painting practice. There is really something here to use.
I spent some time last night priming new surfaces to paint on. I’ve got two 8″ square and two 12″ square panels. More importantly, I’ve got a nice 24×36″ panel that I’m really excited to work with. I need to see what I can learn from making increasing the scale. Plus, i’ve got some other ideas bubbling that would require working at that scale or larger, so it’s time to test the waters.
After a really wonderful afternoon of relaxation, meditation, journaling, and art viewing, I found myself looking for some passive entertainment. I was sitting at the Art Institute thinking about how much I had enjoyed people watching and so, rather than go see some jazz as I had planned, I walked over to the Siskel Theatre on State Street and saw Honey Boy.
I don’t know if i’ve ever been moved so much by a film. For me, it was about as emotionally intense as it gets. I came into the film so completely open (thanks to the meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation of the day), and found myself in tears throughout the film. Hours later I was still crying.
The film is essentially an thinly fictionalized autobiographical movie written by Shia LaBeouf that focuses on his strained relationship with his father from the perspective of his time in rehab, looking back at formative and traumatic experiences around age twelve. LaBeouf plays HIS OWN FATHER which ads a whole nother layer to the experience of watching it.
What makes this film better than all the other depressing but beautiful art/life films out there? This movie is profoundly empathetic, and that makes all the difference. The raw emotion and the difficult situations portrayed with such authenticity generate empathy and hope in me, not despair. As a man, a son, and a father of sons, and a surviver of my own anger, this movie absolutely wrecked me and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Shia, Alma, and team: Thank you for making this movie.