Painting #23

This is a landscape I painted just a few days before my time away from the studio the last two weeks.

#23, May 2016 (Oil on Canvas, 10 x 8 inches)

I had been looking at some of William Merrit Chase’s paintings, especially the landscapes he did of the Shinnecock hills. One painting in particular (link below) inspired me to try a similar composition and colour scheme. 

This painting goes straight to my emotions and stirs things up there. Looking at this truly gives me the urge to travel long distances. (Notice that I cleverly put the link to Chase’s painting below my own – I realized that if I had you look at his painting first, mine would look like a kindergarten drawing by comparison!)

Below is my own painting in a small black frame. The lighting situation is a bit different from the photo above, and I think it shows what the painting will look like in muted indoor light out of direct sun.


I am fairly pleased with this lesson, and I learned a lot. For one, I am starting to dislike the rough gesso coming through, especially in the sky areas. I think for the next batch of panels I prepare, I will apply the gesso more smoothly and sand down the last layer somewhat.

I also need to do much more observation of grasses and colour variations so I can paint them more confidently with a brush loaded a bit heavier. In places my painting looks a bit thin and deadly to me.

On the heart front: after returning from my trip to Indonesia – no sleep on the 10 hour flight and waiting for me a long To Do list with plenty of items flashing red – life suddenly looks somewhat bleak. Doubt, anxiety and “what if’s” are everywhere and life seems a bit less sweet.

For me these are all signals to slow down and start focusing on what is given in each moment, including my breath. And get back to my meditation cushion again. How many times have I learned how different the very same world looks when the mind is clear and rested.

Many thanks to all those that showed an interest in my blog and paintings through follows, likes and comments. I hope you are happy and content. I leave you with two poems.

This one by Dale Pendell makes it so clear how yielding can become a solution to something that initially looks like it requires more “doing” and hard work. I do not have a reference/link for the source book, but please his books up if you are interested.

How many nights now
has the stream told you:
“This is the way
to deal with Obstacles”

Dale Pendell

And this one by Wendell Berry with its “until the heart has found its native ground…” is always a pointer for me:

The Clear Days

The dogs of indecision
Cross and cross the field of vision.
A cloud, a buzzing fly
Distract the lover’s eye.
Until the heart has found
Its native piece of ground
The day withholds its light,
The eye must stray unlit.
The ground’s the body’s bride,
Who will not be denied.
Not until all is given
Comes the thought of heaven.
When the mind’s an empty room
The clear days come.

Wendell Berry – New Collected Poems

Postscript: I was just looking at this post of mine on my iPad, and also in the Reader, and the photo makes the painting look slightly horrific. It is almost as if the painting is being pushed right into my face! Too much detail and brush strokes visible. I tried to reduce the image size considerably, but the details remain. Perhaps I should just stand a few feet away while taking the photo? Any advice from some experienced artist-bloggers will be appreciated. I normally just use my iPhone to take photos.

9 thoughts on “Painting #23

  1. Oh, the dogs of indecision… I’ve always loved that line. I always seem to have an entire pack of those dogs at my heels. I really enjoy the poetry you share. When I first saw your painting, I fell in love with it, too. In fact, I like it better than Chase’s landscape. The painting has so much to say. Very expressive. I’ve become a fan of your art and always look forward to your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s not your camera, it’s your mood. The feeling that the painting is “being pushed right into your face,” is like the anxiety about the to do list. And your reference to the William Merrit Chase shows that you’re ready (and not-ready, a bit anxious) about taking some next steps.

    You have indeed found a kindred spirit. Chase’s painting looks like your painting’s cousin. I notice that his is much larger, so seen in reproduction all that visual incident compresses down into something that looks very tight and keen, though based on others of his paintings, I suspect that the actual painting is fairly freely made. His is 101 centimeters square (39 inches for us Americans) and that’s roughly 4 times larger than yours.

    When you’re ready, perhaps you’ll work at that scale and it will force you to think about each bit of visual information a little differently — you’ll need more information — that can come from observation of a similar place or from invention. I’m referring to literally more “stuff” — differentiated brushstrokes and tones, colors. If you can find a suitable Chase picture in a museum collection, some museums have zoom features for their website now and it can provide additional information about details.

    Here’s a National Gallery of Art link. The mood is different radically from yours, but you can see some of his technique up close (allowing for the impossibility of ever getting color/tone exactly right in reproductions).

    I love your painting. And hearing that others love it, you need to feel safer about reproducing it larger. As best I can tell from here, your photography is fine. The sense of its being too present is anxiety. And every artist feels something similar sometimes. The artist always sees the picture a bit differently from everybody else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Aletha! Thanks so much for your very thoughtful and extensive comment. I really appreciate it very much. I also think you are right in what you say about it being my mood. I looked at the painting of Chase that you referred to in your hyperlink (did not know you could put links in comments!) and yes, if I zoom in I can see the spots of pigment which need to be appreciated, else it can look a bit rough and unfinished.
      I have to say your comment really encouraged me to be a bit more accepting of what others say (nice things mostly) and not be so critical. To be honest, part of me liked to see those rough blotches of paint on my photos – it gives it an abstract feeling which emphasizes the surface texture – the “realness” of the painting. I think I just lack the confidence and conviction to trust in what I like, that this is all I need to.
      I recall reading a book about Rembrandt one time, and vaguely remember something about him telling people not to stand to close to the painting because of the paint smell – while actually he did not want to see the roughness of the strokes that of course disappeared marvellously when an observer steps a few feet away.
      Once again – many thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. PS – I just enlarged your picture as much as my computer will allow and all the detail visible in it, the mounds and bits of paint, the textures are wonderful. They are like — are facsimiles for the “stuff” in the field itself — the different grasses, the layering of plants, leaves in front of leaves. These are things that are delightful to behold. It’s one of the ways that the painting connects the spectator back to the reality of an actual field.

    They are like the beautiful scribbles in a Rembrandt drawing.

    When you’re painting, I can understand that sometimes you probably need to step back so that you can judge the unity of the whole picture, but know also that these details are wonderful. They are the warp and weft of the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

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