#51 Cloudy Landscape

#51: Landscape with Clouds (Oil on Canvas Panel, 8 x 6 inches)
#51: Landscape with Clouds (Oil on Canvas Panel, 8 x 6 inches)

In this small study of an invented landscape I was focusing on using broader strokes and stronger, abstract forms. I tried to do something in the style of Albert Pinkham Ryder, but in the end I think it looks more like a Constable.

As explained in my previous post, I recently switched from using Burnt Sienna as my main red colour to using Transparent Oxide Red from Old Holland. Right from the get go I fell in love with this colour, and it will be my main red for some time to come. The tree mass on the right of my painting is just the Oxide Red underpainting. Nothing added – just that deep, earthy old-world red peeking through.

My current bedside reading is Hawthorne on Painting. I have read this so many times before, I basically just jump from one underlined passage to the next. I may just put in some regular quotes in my posts as a reminder for myself (let me know if these are of value to you):

The vision of the artist is the vision to see and the ability to tell the world something that it unconsciously thinks about nature. Everyone knows what a man looks like, or a tree or a house, but it is our job to tell the world something about these things that it has not known before, some impression that we alone have received. Art is a personal commentary on nature – the more humble, the greater the personality of the artist, the finer the work. (from: Hawthorne on Painting).

How do I feel about my little landscape painting? When seen from my egocentric, socially comparative personality viewpoint I feel it is insipid and worthless. But there is another viewpoint:

This morning during my walk I saw an injured blackbird on the white line between lanes in the road. It flinched each time a car went past and I could only hope a car or hawk would put it out of it’s misery soon. Sitting here in my warm living room, me and my loved ones safe – I consider my little painting again: an image of “something seen or remembered” made by an organic pattern that emerged out of stardust, to which the pattern will one day return.

Humility comes to me and I reflect on my extreme good fortune – to be an eye of awareness in the universe that opens in an instant and says what it sees. Maybe my painting is priceless?

In one of his Four Quartets (East Coker),. T.S Eliot said:

There is, it seems to us, at best, only a limited value in the knowledge derived from experience. The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies, for the pattern is new in every moment. And every moment is a new and shocking valuation of all we have been…The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

Apologies for the long post. I guess most of this is only for myself to return to one day to see what my past self was up to on this day. Thanks so much to all of you who have commented on my paintings and encouraged me to try. I hope you are happy and content.

17 thoughts on “#51 Cloudy Landscape

  1. That quote from Hawthorne on Painting, it definitely resounds within me. I admire your work because you are going deep while I am still tittering on the visceral viewpoint. I struggle with my needing to depict an esthetic (and socially) pleasing painting. I would rather paint from my gut and soul like what I have attempted with my Psalm 65 intuitive painting. Your paining is reminiscent of you say, Constable. I find that we all desire to be in the same corner of an admired artist but often overlook our own contributions or viewpoint. What if you were to say…..more like me….or…. did I say what I want to say? does this depict me, my viewpoint, my inner world? did I convey what I have to say about my experience? Not that I am saying that you are doing this but I am projecting my own struggle, I believe, disregard if need be. 🙂

    I have the tendency to want to be a somebody to be admired (damn my ego!) and it rears up as my wanting to compare my work with other artists, living or passed on. Doesn’t our painting or our attempt at painting from the inner self worth the canvas or paper, you bet it is! Sorry, I piggybacked your post and hopefully didn’t miss your whole point. In short, your painting does matter, your “artist DNA” is in there and for that reason…you matter! I need to remember this for myself…..sigh….the struggle continues. I have been contemplative a little more than usual, hence, the spilling over to your post. lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for another really thoughtful comment Margaret. I did not think you missed my point at all. In fact, you touch on two really important issues: (a) who do we paint for; and (b) what should we paint.
      Of course we need to answer these for ourselves, but I can identify with your questioning of yourself very well. Please do not think I have it all figured out! In fact, if you don’t mind I may make this a theme of my next post, which will hopefully go out tonight.
      Regarding the second question: I think you might like the quote of T.A Daly that I put in this post: https://fruitfuldark.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/what-should-i-paint/

      When I read that, I felt an enormous sense of relief – to see that an artist I admired also once struggled with this theme, and also since it gave a potential solution.
      Anyway, thanks again for your comment, and please watch out for my next post (not a very good painting to go with it, but you may like the discussion).


  2. You have been wishing us contentment, and I have to say that I am very contented — I hope the others commenting are as well — and I also always enjoy your posts.

    It’s so fabulous your finding a new color that you love. That moment of recognition whenever one really sees a color in this appreciative way, notes how beautiful it is — I think that’s a thrilling moment. Very auspicious for one’s art. It’s an awakening to something.

    I’ll play devil’s advocate for the egocentric, socially comparative personality in saying that sometimes the competitive motive is not only essential but wonderful. It can goad us into taking up challenges. Also we learn things from other artists. When you find that your painting has some things in common with Ryder or Constable or whoever, it demonstrates how fine a thing it is not to be inventing painting from scratch. A lot of information is locked inside painting — cultural information and cognitive, psychological, emotional, intellectual, perceptual information. If each of us began all over again from square one, that certainly would be a tedious slog.

    But I’m also thinking about your compassion for the bird in the road and about T.S. Eliot’s observations that you quote concerning the limits of patterns as forms of knowledge. Each person does have a unique experience that connects to these patterns that form in society — the two threads social and personal interconnect, they are impossible to untangle — but the personal, idiosyncratic, the small, humble, solitary viewpoint is important — and we can become aware of it (in others) through empathy as we deal with other people (and their artefacts).

    What I have always loved about Van Gogh is the way that he treated the most ordinary things and seemed to find their transcendence through his keen attention which he fixed on them through his art. I sometimes wonder when I paint still life — it’s historically judged to be a lesser genre (for a variety of reasons that are probably obsolete now but which still resonate!) and yet when I am actually looking at my Green Fish Vase I can’t help but note that it is real and I am real and in this vast cosmos — here we are, it and me — it and me and the painting I’m making of it. Somehow that’s got to matter. Well, it definitely matters to me even if only to me (and to you kind folks also who looked at and kindly”liked” the versions, etc.).

    Art is not the less significant for being personal just as human beings are not the less sacred for being individuals making their short transit through time. Art has its grand — the Sistine Chapel and everything that is big like that — and its intimate like Van Gogh’s paintings of his hat and pipe and some earthenware pots. (Hawthorne could have been describing Van Gogh in his quote.) We need the grand and the intimate and the scales in between too.

    We can be good craftsmen. Focus on the thing at hand. And note that though your painting is small, its subject is big — the earth, the sky — those clouds are enormous and the height that they reach is so very high. You are imitating something huge in scale through a smallish lens and the contrast is ironic and wry and affecting — it nudges toward something splendid.

    A certain angst element is there. Okay. One can learn to ignore it. Or to paint anyway. Paint the picture. And whenever a color comes alive for you as the red oxide has — well, really let yourself exult in that. These are beautiful things.

    And I am happy and content — especially right now! So back at you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aletha – this is a masterful, beautiful comment! You have to make a post of this. I think almost every paragraph in your comment is superbly quotable, like: “and yet when I am actually looking at my Green Fish Vase I can’t help but note that it is real and I am real and in this vast cosmos — here we are, it and me — it and me and the painting I’m making of it”. That is it!
      I am so happy to hear you are content – in my opinion that is the peak of the human experience, perhaps more than happiness. Thanks so much for the time and care you take to read my posts and reply with thought and style – a rare thing in this hurried multi-tasking world.
      I will also talk a bit around these themes – and your comment – in my next post. I hope you find some time to read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “humility is endless” I like the sound of this. It breaks free from patterns which tend to call on references which repeat themselves. We all entertain the seeming encouragement in this. It’s all fluff though really…. The painting is so beautifully grounded..all those rich reds. I love talking about color, paint and painting. In another life I’d fall into it entirely. Glad I found your blog…vicarious thrills!

    Liked by 1 person

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