Monday, June 9, 2014

The Big and the Little, Views, That Is

I have spent the last two months or so bouncing between Texas, AZ, CA and NM, having company and hosting an oil pastel workshop. And I will be going back to CA later this month to see the Sorolla show at the San Diego Museum. So I have not painted as much as I would have liked. I have painted several still lifes, and because they were painted from life, probably qualify as a plein air experience. The studio windows were open so that counts, right?
But while I have been home, I have painted several views of the area here. Two specifically come to mind, one a mountain range view of the Mogollons and the other a far more intimate view of the road leading up our mountain. Both are done on 11 x 14 prepared wood boards with linen. I find I am pleased with that format for the road piece, but wish I had used a wider one for the mountain range.

Other differences include color choices and the angle of the sun. I was looking square into the sun when I painted “The Plume Is Blooming” and the sun was coming up over my right shoulder in the “On the Way to Mogollon”. I think the treatment of the paint in the Apache plume piece is far more impressionistic and uses a wider range of color. Conversely, the more limited range of color in the Mogollon piece leads to a more harmonic painting. Both have their strengths, but I feel as though they look to be done by different people. To be fair my goals were different in both. Maybe one is by my evil twin.

The Plume's a Blooming
Oil on linen covered board
The plume is blooming is actually a rework of a piece that I had painted last year with Ken Auster’s limited palette. It took me two weeks to figure out that that palette was not my personal one. The alizarin was way too strong a purple. I am currently trying out a couple of madders that have purple undertones but are not as all consuming as alizarin. So when I spied this piece in the studio, I took it down to the flats of the canyon and decided I couldn’t foul it up anymore than it was already. The amazing thing is that I gave myself permission to fail with this and have fun.  It is far more successful than the first attempt. And you really get the feeling of the muted silvery plume being lit on the tips by the sun rising. And the evergreens are believable, and not little stick trees.
On the Way To Mogollon
Oil on linen covered board

On the way to Mogollon was an amazing morning, golden with hints of the hot day coming on. The most memorable thing about this piece is how EVERY single car or truck passing by slowed way down. I know that out here, in the country people stop to offer help to those who have broken down. Distances are far and roads are long. But once they saw my bright blue umbrella and realized what I was doing, they often honked their horns and waved as they went on by. To be serenaded by the cows and refreshed by a soft summer breeze is a great way to start the day. The only real pain about doing this painting, was that as I packed up to go, the view over my backside had changed so dramatically that now I need to go back and paint it. Nobody would believe the blue of the mountains.

So what’s the thought here? 

Little view or the big picture, which is your favorite?

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