Fixing up and the Start of a Bushwhack

Thanks to everyone who appreciated the drawings last week.  Black and white can be boring, especially when not brought to a polished finish.  It is fun for me to go back through them occasionally, hopefully to discern some progress being made, and drawing is the backbone of (most) painting.  I will show you perhaps an exception at the end of this post.  (latest project being painted mostly from my head without references)

And today’s post is full of color!  I made small refinements to three deserving plein air pieces.  The first goes back to Castine, Maine, on the pier facing the student (Maine Maritime Academy) ship, the U.S.S. Maine with its tug.  I had allowed the lit facet of the yellow tug to brown down, which sacrificed drama, and more importantly the contrast that had attracted me to the scene in the first place.  So here’s the original, and after it, the new and improved version:

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

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My second redo is actually a finishing up.  A Spring painting of the valley behind Franconia Notch in Sugar Hill was interrupted by showers, and the sky was left as blank white canvas.  One of my closest friends and admirer of paintings begged me not to touch it as he thought it perfect as is.  Do I listen to such pleas?  Well, I hung back for yea these many months but decided I had to fill in that emptiness–without violating my friend’s sensibilities.  I concluded that what he liked was the extra crisp edge of the mountain range line, so I made sure to keep that sharp, and the high contrast between sky (light) and mountains (dark), so I maintained that contrast as well.  While there, I punched up some of the other small lit areas–meadow, roof top.  Here’s the before and after:

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Franconia Notch, May 2013

Franconia Notch, May 2013

Finally, I applied the advice that I had received at the Manchester Artists Association meeting last month, to my first painting of Clark Pond (link to that post here):

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

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Clark Pond will now be framed and readied for exhibit somewhere.  (Probably East Colony Fine Art Gallery, where I just took down my figurative show and put up landscapes that are dearest to my heart.  Each show lasts for two months.)  I was excited to learn that the Currier Museum is allowing us docents-in-training to exhibit one of our own pieces in the Museum (basement) for the month of December, but I have another project in mind for that particular honor.

And that project is the one I am calling a bushwhack, since I don’t have a trail to follow, and have no clue how to reach my rather amorphous goal–to paint an abstracted landscape inspired by Tom Thomson.

Here’s the scoop:  I am painting in Patrick McCay’s EEE class with a start from the photo of the cloud shadows.  (posted here)  In addition to experimenting with the idea of abstract landscape, I was influenced by a book that Bruce Jones brought to Bartlett for the getaway weekend–a book full of the paintings of Tom Thomson, a Canadian artist working during the earliest decades of the last century.  Thomson painted juicy, blocky abstractions of landscapes and used the complementary colors of dark blue and orange to great effect.  Here is a stunning example:

West Wind by T. Thomson

Sunset by T. Thomson

I wanted to paint something that had that same impact.  My painting looked like this when I left off a week ago Thursday:

Bear Notch WIP

Bear Notch WIP

Something about my painting wasn’t working.  Patrick suggested that it evoked a forest fire with the dark spots represented charred remains of forests.  In theory I didn’t care what it evoked since abstraction was my principal goal.  But it wasn’t working as a whole, so last Thursday, I abandoned the abstraction goal and transformed my painting into an identifiable landscape that I hope will have almost the same impact as the Thomson.  You will have to wait until next week to judge.  (I forgot to photograph it before I left the class studio.)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  starting Nov. 9, at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment.