This is yet another attempt to come to grip with two things that lie at the end of my comfort zone in painting: (a) interpreting an intensely green landscape; and (b) innovating the horizon line.
In New Zealand, cool greens, whites and blues dominate much of the North Island landscape. Though most of my landscapes are invented, I find that I constantly draw imagery from my 3 km morning walk through the New Zealand countryside. Bringing that back into the studio is becoming my painting practice.
Handling large masses of green whilst still keeping depth, interest and variation is a challenge, and I keep on going at from different angles. I am quite happy with this effort:
I found a gem of a poem in Marie Marshall’s “Naked in the Sea”, dealing somehow with the same “problem of green”. Here are the first and last verses:
E is for the Emerald World: summer in all its sickening fullness the lush and green depth of trees alive with the rustling of bird-wings this time when the stink of wild garlic and of the crushed stems of fennel make the corners of my mouth ache ... give me the naked honesty of the desert of the undrinkable ocean’s sky-to-sky or of the dust-devils of the townscape because the emerald world of summer is a green gem of ever-hard promises mocking the starvation-stone in my belly Marshall, Marie. Naked in the Sea P'kaboo Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Below are two other paintings where I was pushing the edge of my comfort zone a bit. In the first, I was trying to keep a very light key. After this photo was taken, I unfortunately started fiddling with this painting whilst in a bad mood and managed to wreck it completely. It is now slated for recycling.
In the painting below, I was trying to work mostly in blue and grey. I have had a few good responses to this painting, but somehow I am not too fond of it myself. It was good practice though!
I keep going through cycles of doubt and confidence – proving that I am alive and fairly normal. The Doubt, I believe, is one of the most feared and useful facets in an artist’s arsenal. But seeing it that way can be a challenge.
In Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, he advises as follows:
And your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebellious. But don’t give in, insist on arguments and act this way, watchful and consistent, every single time, and the day will arrive when from a destroyer it will become one of your best workers—perhaps the cleverest of all that are building at your life.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. W. W. Norton & Company.
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