Painting #38

Here is my painting number 38:

#38 Tonal Landscape at Dusk (Oil on Canvas mounted on Panel, 45.5 x 34 cm)
#38 Tonal Landscape at Dusk (Oil on Canvas mounted on Panel, 45.5 x 34 cm)

Although this looks very simplistic – for me it was a battle to get the right mood and colour tone that I was searching for. I repainted the sky three times! Twice I wiped it off and started again, until I found a sky that – to my eye – correctly resonated with the mood and tone of the landscape.

I started with a very stormy, dramatic sky in the underpainting. The landscape is invented and all that is left of the original plan is the hint or ruin of a man-made structure in the dusk. I have no idea what that is, but the road leads there.

I feel happy with this painting – it takes me to gratitude and silence. Today I have excruciating back pain – something that happens now and then and often stays for a while. Often it is a call for me to slow down, meditate more and reflect. It is no fun, but I find it heightens self awareness and sensitivity. I may take a day or two off painting.

With apology to all proper poets who may just happen to read my post (sorry Robert!), I leave you with a poem of my own which deals with physical sensation during meditation:

Dissolving Thoughts

Catching them is the hard part.
Once you have one,
slow the breath and slide it gently
into the top of the head.
Mark how it sinks easily to the base of the skull and then
releases into the darker waters of the spine.
Opposite the heart it disintegrates
in silence, awakening villages of cells
in the forearms and the hands
who – tired from hours of typing –
send telegrams of gratitude
up and down the arms.
The body awakens and threatens sweet rebellion.
A familiar joy comes home.
As always – my sincere thanks to all those who stopped amidst busy lives to comment or like my posts. A special thanks to all those following my blog.

24 thoughts on “Painting #38

  1. It’s good to be happy with something we’ve created. I love “moody” paintings that evoke feelings from within me. This one certainly does that. I especially like the suggestion of “civilization” — that hint of a structure. The road does lead somewhere, even if we don’t know what’s ahead. Do take time to rest if needed, then return to share your reflections of the world with us again through your paintings and poems. Your “Dissolving Thoughts” is very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed, I am always glad when I see you post something you like. I recall you did a greeninsh abstract a while ago that you liked and I thought that was great. Many thanks for your encouragement and kind words.

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      1. Yes, and gradually I’m starting to like more of my art, so I’m learning how good it feels. 🙂 Thank you so much for the encouragement you’ve given me.

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      2. Yes. I’m thrilled by how supportive the online art community is. I was so hesitant after I began my art blog…I thought people would be very critical of what I was doing or would just ignore me altogether. I was amazed by the encouragement I received. It’s truly a strong community.

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      3. Me to, I really thought my blog would just be for myself and my family. I couldn’t believe when one (1) like appeared out of nowhere (I did not know it shows up on the wordpress reader). I am motivated and encouraged by the online paint community, and it keeps me at the easel whenever I have spare time.

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  2. Simplicity is often hard won. To have everything be just so and yet to seem as if it just appeared there complete is not an easy task for artist or poet. The painting seems like a sound resonating in the air, or like a moment of life suspended and caught in the instant of recognition. And the poem explores some very deep things about being.

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    1. Thanks so much Aletha. I am really glad you liked this! Would like to know your view on my comment to DawnMarie below, it is quite an interesting issue for me. Perhaps not so much for artists working directly from life?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes DawnMarie, that is an interesting comment. When I finished this, it really felt somehow familiar to me, even though I painted it without any visual source materials. I think this theme is one of those Jung would have called archetypal, part of the collective human unconscious. It perhaps represents a theme in each human’s journey on earth.
        On a less philosophical note, I pour over paintings of Turner and the Barbizon school all the time. Many of their paintings look similar, and I cannot help but think something stays behind as a model which is then subconsciously retrieved when I paint. That is why I feel, as much as I like marsh paintings, I am reaching the end of that line. It has just been done so many times, and so well, by people like Dennis Sheehan and (not my style), Renato Mucillo, that I may get stuck there and suppress my own voice.
        I am sure this is an experience/situation other artists also have?

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      2. Our journey is through a barren hot desert and we each have our own. It is dangerous and lonely at times. You can be surrounded by people and still see that landscape. It is what is underneath all the glitter. Yikes!

        I would think that all artists reach the end of their line for certain subjects. It is growth. Then you move on to something new for a while, perfect it if you like and time to move on. If we don’t do that, we get stagnant….stale and I think we do end up suppressing our own voice so much because everything just becomes automatic rote action…it does not involve your own voice at all anymore. It looses imagination and personality eventually.

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      3. Very well said. I think if I turn out 3 paintings in a row without any fristration or difficulty, I am probably stagnating in my comfort zone. It may get a bit different once I have done 300+ paintings.

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      4. When you get to 300 plus paintings you are gonna have expanded skills and a well exercised artistic mind with endless possibilities and less technical glitches. 😀


  3. That’s a heck of a question, or series of questions/observations. Something to mull over. Regarding Jung, if he was right about the archetype then for sure it would have a strong influence but for me that’s the hardest part of this question to address. Sheehan and Mucillo are new to me. Beautiful paintings, ones definitely indebted to the Barbizon, and tonalism and photography in Mucillo’s case, too, I think.

    I think it would be very difficult to look at art and escape its influence. To be visually innocent and blank. When I was in high school and hadn’t seen much art yet, my drawing style (and thoughts) was very different from now. But I must have been influenced by sources. However, they were probably popular ones (illustrations maybe?). Stephen Wiltshire the British autistic artist with incredible memory draws in an illustrational style so even though he is supposedly a “naïve” artist, I suspect that his way of thinking is shaped by art anyway regardless whether he can articulate his process (which if I understand his situation correctly, he can’t). Presumably there’s something natural inside us too. Somebody somewhere had to be the first artist(s) and had no predecessors to imitate!

    When I was young and naïve I didn’t at first draw from life. But even after many years drawing from life, I am still shaped by the art I look at because various artists “tell” you (through their pictures) what to notice and what to ignore, and depending upon who you look at, these are of course different bits of advice that they give. When I draw from, say, a still life I try to focus exclusively on the motif, but I know that I am affected a lot by art while I’m looking. Some of that influence is unconscious. Probably most of it, even some of the conscious influence is non-verbal.

    But even having a word influences you too. “Contour” inclines you to look for the edges. Maybe we’d draw edges anyway. Those cave painters seemed to go for edges, so maybe that’s hard wired somewhere. But having a word in an artistic vocabulary, makes the “contour” an even sharper notion. Words go in and out of favor over time and cultures. In the West, in my generation “lost and found edges” has been popular. In the nineteenth century (and before), “repoussoir” (to push back) was a thing so still life painters were more inclined to put a knife prominently in the front of the still life, at an angle, so that you’d follow it back into the space. “Contrejour” (against the light), “mise en scene” (to place into the scene) or “mise en page” (to place on the page) both conjure up notions about the illusory 3 dimensional space of a picture verses the flat design layout on a page. “Tight” is a popular contemporary term (usually used disapprovingly, but not always), “painterly,” “loose” — what are some others?

    I know of one artist who is so influenced by photography that she sometimes includes an element of “depth of field” in pictures painted from life (or given that she has a sort of horror of using photographs one assumes that all her work is from life). But we don’t actually see depth of field because our eyes scan continuously. There are so many ways of being influenced by visual ideas. Just think of cross-hatching. Does anyone spontaneously use cross-hatching in a drawing innocent of its long history in art? I suppose it’s possible, but most unlikely. These are technical things, but each has an emotional resonance too.

    And about emotion, symbolism, psychology, archetypal things — goodness knows how we track any of those effects back to their sources. There’s a lot of mystery all around!

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    1. Wow Aletha! Great response, I think you can copy and paste 90% into a blog post just as it is? I have been thinking about this too, I look at art all the time, making mental notes of compositions or color combinations I like, it is defnetely a sort of filter that can perhaps take us closer to what we are drawn to, which probably is our essence. Like you say, we cannot escape those visual cues and influences while we paint, even though I very seldom, if ever, consciously think of another artist or painting while I paint. Thanks for your comment!

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  4. “Center of interest”! Just thought of that one. I’ll try not to get crazy with my comment. That one is a pet peeve because I think composition becomes much richer when people ignore this particular, popular art term. I don’t think you can know either thing of that term — the center or the interest. And to think you know them is to reduce the picture and its possibilities too much at the outset. But, forgetting my peeves (or yours, we all have them), language does shape how we think about art though we might strive to limit its influence somewhat when we’re being perceptual and striving to be purely or strongly visual.

    That said, I drive very differently from the way I paint. My paintings are perceptual — very involved in questions and wonderings about the way things look. I turn all that off when I drive! “How fast is it going” and “where is it now?” are all that I care about. Vision and visual thought and the brain’s doings are very tricky complicated things. And it’s great and wonderful that our brains can shift back and forth between different kinds of thought that have radically different objectives.

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