For the headline this week I had trouble deciding between two stories. One candidate was Tuesday life drawing, at which I took camera-phone pictures of the output of my fellow artists. This blog will be more interesting for you and me if it isn’t always about me and my successes and failures. Not that I would judge another person’s artwork a success or a failure–I don’t pretend to possess any such expertise. I’m having enough trouble analyzing my own failures.
But how could I not feature the semi-annual Bartlett Artists’ Getaway Weekend? So Bartlett gets the nod for headline and first pictures, and let’s start out with this:
This nest on the porch of the Bartlett Inn is higher than my eyes , but I could still snap a photo of it with my Android smartphone and thus see from the picture what the nest contained. Such an incredibly vivid blue! Poor mother robin did not get much sitting done, what with the constant stream of guests flowing in and out. She sat bravely as long as possible, but would not let me get any closer to her, so I was stuck with the dark shade effect of the bright background on the lens opening.
The nest is entwined with a garland Christmas decoration that stayed too long and now now become a celebration of Spring.
I painted only two days, Friday and Saturday, and pumped out a respectable four oils, one in each morning and one for each afternoon. I struggled with the greens, and only now that I am home and comparing paintings to photographs do I realize that I was not seeing green correctly. For example, here is one photo of a scene that I painted Saturday morning:
The photo is a little washed out and does not do justice to the variety of greens that I saw, but it does point up the intensity, or lack of intensity, of nature compared to what I painted:
Ouch! More yellow, less viridian, please.
This next one was a good idea, poorly executed. I originally included three trees that I thought were contributing to the original composition, but later I painted them out hoping to improve the focus.
The path was the thing I wanted to focus on, and I was harking back to a much larger and more successful painting that I named “The Path Travelled Up”, suggesting that the path in question was the one on which I had hiked up about 1500 feet (as indeed it was–in Alberta; not plein air but from a photo). This new path intrigued me because it first dipped down and away from me, before zigzagging its way up to the road. Among the elements I put in and then removed was the guard rail that would have told you about the road. Methinks now I was a little too ruthless with the painting out bit. Also yes, you are correct, the blue of the water is too vivid. By the way, this is Jackson Falls, where the rocks and water provide endless possibilities for painting subjects, but no, I’m painting a path. Doomed.
Diane Dubreuil, a watercolorist who is SO good, and therefore someone whom I respect greatly, complimented me profusely on the next painting at Lower Ammonusuc Falls (spelling optional), so I will accept her judgement and say this was the best one:
Believe it or not, the greens are pretty accurate this time. The color of the green pool was spectacular when the sun was overhead. The young people arrived when I was almost finished, and I accepted the challenge of including a few of them. I kept reminding myself how Sargent could plug a distant figure in a landscape with undecipherable slashes of pigment, and slashes of indecipherable pigment are a good thing to learn.
My first painting of the weekend was pretty good too, but an accident befell. I was using Art Cocoons(TM) to carry my wet panels, and I had left the lid on the ground while I painted. When we packed up to leave, I grabbed the lid and slammed it on the painting without noticing the sand and grit that had settled in the lid. Here is that unfortunate painting:
Peter Granucci arrived Friday night with his wife Paula, so I asked his advice on what to do about the sandy painting. He thinks I will be able to brush away the foreign matter after the painting dries. Happens all the time–especially with plein air painting–that stuff gets stuck in the wet paint. Usually, it is a bug or two. One of the artists (Bruce Jones) claimed that he leaves the mosquitoes in and calls them “birds”.
I have to mention and applaud Sharon’s participation. Sharon Allen, aka Plein Air Gal, is the one person who keeps our plein air group going. She is being subjected to horrifically debilitating chemo and radiation treatments to back up the removal of a cancerous tonsil. She refused to miss a Bartlett getaway, though, soldiering through even though she could not speak without pain and had minimal endurance for our 3-hour outings. She nevertheless produced four paintings, two on the road with Diane and me, and another two from her cabin at the Inn.
Back to Story No. 2, the Tuesday Life Group. Here are the efforts of four of us (Dee got away before I got the idea of photographing everyone’s work):
You can see in Heather’s and my drawings our effort to get the proportions right, reflecting perhaps the influence of our workshops with Peter Granucci, or perhaps at base reflecting our desire to take workshops with Peter Granucci. For Chloe, color is the thing. And Roz is the master (mistress?) of mark-making. Perhaps we can learn from each other. In any event, we have fun.
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Library Arts Center in Newport; and at her studio by appointment.
Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com