A couple of months ago I posted a rave on Anders Zorn, and I think I may have found him a few new fans. Today, I have another, similar artist for you to sample, through a click back to Robert Genn’s site here. The artist is Joachim Sorolla (WA keem SarOYah), a Spanish contemporary of both Sargent and Zorn. He was a master of all the same skills that I admire in Sargent and Zorn, plus he was a magician with white. Not actual white, but that hue as changed by light and shadows.
And now for a commercial: please visit this address for a view of all the artworks accepted into an online exhibit called “Women’s Rights, An Artist’s Perspective”. My painting “Grandma’s Jewels” was juried into this exhibit. All of the artwork in this and similar exhibits is something called “conceptual”, that is, a message is conveyed, to the most intense degree of drama possible. Picasso’s “Guernica”, for example. I think it would be hard to be a conceptual artist all the time, but some artists thrive on it. Personally, I just like to find something beautiful and paint that. Beauty does not convey message, at least not any message that packs a punch.
OK, with all that out of the way, on to this week’s topic: Do-overs. Lupines. In the past few weeks, I have been outside doing a lot of plein air painting. My best paintings have a way of being alla prima, without any going back to correct or improve. In fact, I cannot think of one that I was able to turn from mediocre into superlative. Yet I keep trying! Of my two from the Forbes House (discussed last week here), I did produce one winner, the little one of the “coverlet”. The other one was a bit messy, and I took a knife (palette knife) to it, thinking to reclaim the panel for another project. But that damned Urge to Fix overcame me, and I repainted the bloody thing, using the ghost images as my guide to the placement and shape of the boats.
I’m afraid the result may not have been worth the effort, but no effort is really wasted in this learning process. Or is it?
Then last Thursday, I took the day off to go lupine painting with the lupine experts of the NH Plein Air group. Lupines are a flower that blooms in June rather extravagantly in some places. The town of Sugar Hill has so many lupine fields that it holds a “lupine festival” every year to encourage visitors to the area. Lupines come in shades of blue, pink and white, sometimes within one plant, but mostly blues and purples. They look a lot like the Texas bluebonnet. I have had trouble painting lupines in the past, but I wasn’t giving up on them. Yet.
I produced three lupine paintings. Not happy with any of them. The first was the obligatory field of lupines against the backdrop of receding mountains featuring Mount Washington on the misty horizon. The second was lupines by the lake. In both of these, I was really more interested in the receding mountains and the lake, respectively, than I was in the lupines. The lupines seemed kind of stuck on. An accidental presence. So I painted a quick lupine closeup as my third and last opportunity to conquer the lupine hazard.
When I got home, with the advantage of distance from the actual scene, I decided the problem was my schizo approach to the lupines. To make the first two paintings better, I had to downplay the lupines, stop treating them as pimples on an otherwise idyllic landscape. And for the third study, I just needed a few more strokes to define the nature of the lupine and its leaves. Not so much of a do-over, more of a touch up.
I hope you have not been holding your breath! Here they are, the befores and the afters:
Not only am I cursed by this compulsion to fix mediocre paintings, I am cursed by the compulsion to write about it, doubling the time and effort expended. Should I make this my last lupine festival, or is there hope for me?
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment. Two paintings are also hung somewhere in an office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, probably the Manchester one.
Gee, I liked all the ‘befores’. Could that be?
Oh, no fair! But that’s why I take the before photos–too often I go right past the optimum stopping point.
Your AFTER photos seem clearer somehow. I think continuing to work field sketchs is fine – I do it all the time. Sometimes you need the mental distance.
Paint more lupine paintings from your reference photos!
In almost every case, the biggest difference that I see (aside from the already mentioned clarity … ie harder edges & crispness) is that your “fixes” are much higher key than your field paintings. Ones done in the field seem very dark … despite the fact that you use an umbrella. No pun intended … you need to lighten up when painting en plein air!
I love the Fields painting. I feel as if I can walk right into it! Wonderful. Thank you for continuing to share
I like the Afters, but I also like the befores of the first and last ones. The simplicity of “Lupines” makes it the absolute winner of the three! It’s all about the lupines? Love the water you have just ‘dashed in’. Yes, keep on.