Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Along Cottage Hill Road

I have often heard writers say of their work, "Well it seems like the piece just wrote itself". I have had that experience with a painting many times. The last time was just a few weeks ago. In early October I was traveling throughout the countryside of Northern New York with my husband. He had business in Canton and Watertown, and since I also had business in Watertown, and our final destination for the day was our camp,in the Indian River Lakes, I was along for the ride. And was it ever a stunning trip! The Fall foliage was at peak in the North Country. Trees were gorgeous shades of gold, orange and red accented by the dark green pines against a sky that varied in color from shades of light blue to heavy gray. The clouds were massive and many times opened up to a shower, which only made the colors more intense when the rain cleared and the sun came back out. So of course all I could think of was, I've got to paint...NOW. Unfortunately, I did not have my painting supplies at camp... aka Windy Hill Studio North. My painting had to wait, but my head was full of the images I had seen and I was itching to paint! On Sunday night, when I finally returned to my studio I immediately began work on a painting based on a photo taken a few years ago. The photo however was just a starting point. The intense colors and shapes that I had seen while driving through the countryside (now known as my North Country Road Odyssey)all made their way into the painting. The photo was cast aside, and the painting took over. Many of the details in the trees were eliminated. Too much clutter and detail takes away from the emotion of the painting. The figure in the foreground is my husband; the colors of his clothing were changed to create a more unified composition with the colors in the painting. The figure gives a sense of scale to the painting, but does not become the focal point. The red hat calls our attention to the figure, but we tend to see the figure as secondary to the surroundings. The painting was about 3/4 of the way done when I brought it to my Tuesday night painting class. I usually have at least two or three paintings that I am working on and use as demos for my class. One of the topics I was addressing that evening was Hans Hoffman's push/pull theory of colors seeming to create movement as they either came forward or receded. Warm colors come forward, cool colors recede. Fall foliage against a cool blue sky, on a crisp autumn day certainly provided a good visual for the push pull theory. But as I looked at the painting in its nearly finished state, it seemed to be missing something. It seemed too calm and too orderly to be a portrayal of all that I had seen and felt during my North Country Road Odyssey. There was something that I needed to add. I grabbed a palette knife and began adding slashes and blops (my word...not a real art term) of color. It worked! I needed texture and movement and the slashes of paint in intense warm colors provided that. After a few minutes of adding slashes and adjusting intensities of colors, I was done. And happy. This painting, along with four of my other landscapes, will be part of the North Country Art Council's Juried
Fall Show, Nov. 3rd to 17th. The exhibit will be held at Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St., Watertown NY., and open 9am to 6pm daily.

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