Explore, Express . . . Exploit?

I have been taking a class at the NH Institute of Art with Patrick McCay.  He teaches this class every semester for the Community Ed students like me (not going for a degree or a certificate), and I have taken it before (twice) because it’s not the kind of class where you get taught something specific.  The idea is to bring in your own project with the goal of exploring, expressing and exploiting.  The class is not over yet–we may have three more meetings before the end–but I thought I would catch you up on my doings there.  In the course of doing that, I will catch you up on a painting that I started some years ago in the first iteration of EEE, as I have come to call it.  It is the huge (for me) painting of the top of Mount Washington at the end of the bicycle race.

To reprise the tale:  My son had competed in the bicycle race up to the top of Mount Washington, and I was at the finish line watching for him.  I took a lot of photographs that day, and I used quite a few of them later as inspiration for paintings, but this last big one was supposed to be my magnum opus.  It was very ambitious.  I originally intended to include lots of figures of cyclists and the crowds cheering them on, but when the class ended before I finished the painting, I stopped working on it.  Then I forgot about it except occasionally when I would come across it and try to dredge up a desire to finish it.  Whatever had been the inspiration, it had fled.

So this year for my first EEE project, I brought in the MO (magnum opus) resolved to bring it to completion by simplifying the composition, and abstracting and subtracting most of the figures.  The cyclists are now represented by bicycle wheels. Clouds have been deployed to obscure the foreground so as to focus attention into the center of the canvas.  I am titling it “The Finish Line.”


The Finish Line, 24×36, oil

It may not qualify for the soubriquet “magnum opus”, but it is a few baby steps down the road toward more abstract representation (if that isn’t too much of an oxymoron) of landscapes, something I long to achieve.  In this regard, J.M.W. Turner is my hero.  Although Turner is not considered to be an abstract painter, I feel that he found ways to represent nature that were not strictly observed.  He painted emotionally, which is odd when you consider what a brusque, rude man he could be, according to the movie.  (“Mr. Turner”, a must-see movie in my opinion.)

My second project in EEE was to create a large painting from a plein air painting.  Many, many landscape artists do this routinely:  they paint outdoors only to produce “studies” from which to create the large masterpiece of the same scene.  Me, on the other hand, I paint outdoors on the chance I might make a good finished painting.  For this project, I chose “The Start of Winter “,  see previous post from October, Artists Getaway Weekend.  The title of the bigger version is “Winter Arrives in the White Mountains.”


Winter Arrives in the White Mountains, 18×24, oil

What next?  I was getting desperate for ideas.  Looking around my studio, I noticed an old painting on a panel that had been sanded down in preparation for becoming an entirely new painting.  But  the composition of the old one was good, and its ghostly image remained on the panel.  So I decided to re-paint the scene as a new me, using palette knife and greater energy and contrasts.  I also eliminated one element in the old painting that was just getting in the way of a scene that was already busy enough.  The subject matter is a little waterfall feature in a private garden.  The owners, Tiffany Gardens in Londonderry, had added a Japanese lamp or icon alongside the waterfall.  It had looked pretty in its place, but in the painting, it subtracted attention from the waterfall.


Reconnected Tiffany Waterfall, 14×11, oil

For my most recent class, I used a charcoal drawing from last Saturday at the Saturday Life Group, intending to replicate it in paint using a more expressionistic approach than my usual figurative work.  The drawing shows the model’s head, shoulder, arm and hand–from the side and back.  Her arm was over a chair that blocked my view of the rest of her body, but I made a virtue of my limited perspective by drawing her almost life-size onto my paper.  Unfortunately, I did not have the same size canvas for the replication, so the composition is not as perfect.  Jokingly, I promised to connect and paint an inch of extra canvas to the bottom of my painting, but in fact, I wonder of any composition is as perfect as it could possibly be, and we have to accept merely “good” sometimes.


Joey’s Head and Shoulder, 14×11, oil

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Center for the Arts in the New London Inn; at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Continuing through December 24 is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square on Route 101 in Amherst, NH, open Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

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8 responses to “Explore, Express . . . Exploit?