Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Easel on Down the Road - The Southeast Leg, Finished Four

So, states 16-20 are done. "Easel on Down the Road" has influenced me in numerous ways. Obviously, the format of a three-year plan is a welcome structure in a painter's life. More subtle is the effect on my other work. I am single-mindedly producing the state paintings without looking back.  That is, once they're done, they're done.  As such, they are as much a record of my progress as a painter as of my physical journey. The quality of the paintings in my studio causes me more distress. They must be the best they can be! I'm thinking that the freedom with which I accept the "Easel" works, faults and all, will loosen my need for perfection (whatever that is) in my other landscapes.

Alabama - Oak Mountain State Park
Georgia - Catherine and John's View

South Carolina - Hickory Knob State Park
North Carolina - Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alabama - When is a painting done?

Final stage at Oak Mountain State Park
A confounding question: When is a painting done? When I am "Easeling" I rarely paint more than three hours at one sitting. It mostly just works out that way. It is exaughsting to work outside, especially when it's cold or windy or otherwise inclement. And, finding the spot first, then moving to a new place after (to stay the night) takes energy. There is no use in painting when tired. So, I stop and stack the painting in the car, confident that I will put more time into it once I'm home in my studio. 

But now here I am, with four fresh works before me and I wonder whether or not to touch them at all. They are complete in that they are a direct record of each particular time and place, how I felt in general and my reactions to the environment - all things that can't be replicated.  Who am I to mess around with that? And I am quite sure that the freshness of my actions when painting on-site can't be reinvented. So, when I consider one of my plein air paintings, I always feel a little afraid of going back into it. But, there is one here that clearly needs more paint: Alabama.

I was dragging that afternoon (I had driven 11 hours the day before and 3 to get there) and I felt unwell, but I did capably catch the values and also set down a strong drawing. So yesterday, in the studio, I had a solid foundation with which to work. I spent 5 straight hours on it and I think it is done. It clearly does not have the high-energy vibe of the on-the-spot version, but I think it is stronger because the colors are closer to real and the texture is rich. Now, to approach the other three!

Alabama (I think it is done)