I've been fortunate to have been involved in a project to create two paintings of an area in this region, for a client who's only other request was that they be paintings that I would want to paint on my own. That is a very nice way to be asked to paint. As any of you who do this know, most of the time you're asked to paint something more specific and within the client's guidelines. That's all fine, and what most commissions are about.
But, I cannot begin to express just how freeing and pleasurable it is to create paintings for someone who only asks that you paint what you like to paint the way you would paint it if painting for yourself. That is a real gift to be given, and I feel like one very privileged painter to have been a part of this project.
The first images are some of the field studies done over about 2-1/2 days. Weather of course was 'finicky'. We had a lot of overcast, mist and wind for a day or so of the painting period, then little breaks and the sun would peak out for a little bit.
These studies were an exploration of a very, very large area. It's intimidating to start. You painters will understand this...you have a limited amount of time to go somewhere new and gather all of the information you will need to take back to the studio make some fairly large, complicated paintings sometime in the future. You have to understand enough about the subject's personality to retain and use to do your best work.
Where do you start? In my case, I find it best to start by just painting what interests you about the location to get taste of the location and a sense of the place. In these studies you'll see my exploration of broad views and intimate little corners of the painting location. At the time that these were painted I didn't have a clue as to what I would do for the two finished paintings.
Field Study 1, oil, 11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '08
The first morning on location was cold ( nothing like now, but for then...cold and we weren't used to it), foggy, misty and overall grey and very moody. It was actually hard to get involved in the landscape at this point. But, the richness of the color due to the overcast was really a beautiful thing to see. As time moved on, that was really appreciated more and more. At this point though, I'm only beginning to search for a feel for the land I'm in.
Field Study 2, oil, 8x10 © Marc R. Hanson '08
Field Study 3, oil, 8x20 © Marc R. Hanson '08
Field Study 4, oil, 10x8 © Marc R. Hanson '08
There were brief periods of sun, as I mentioned, but it wasn't the norm for the experience.
Field Study 5, oil, 9x12 © Marc R. Hanson '08
I've posted these next two before. These are studio studies, off shoots of the 'inspiration' gained from the field work. Once in the studio I work very hard (head work) at trying to understand what it was about being on location that made the strongest impression on me. I know from experience that trying to take a field study and simply 'enlarge' it to a studio painting just doesn't work for me. At one time, I tried to make it work that way. Truthfully, I tried it this time too...won't ever learn... and that one was promptly wiped off after spending a couple of days working. I should learn because it would save me time and money.
On the other hand, it's those episodes that tell me what it is I really want to do and say. On the last evening of the time on location, we had the most incredible fading sunlight washing over the landscape. That's the kind of thing that happens so fast that I find it more advantageous to use the digital camera and shoot as many photos as is possible before the effects are gone. I have painted that kind of thing too. But you end up with 'ONE' image if you're lucky. Meanwhile all around you a bazillion other magnificent magical light scenarios were playing out, one after the other, and you missed them. As long as I'd already spent 2 plus days here painting, I knew that I had the taste of the location down in paint and I knew that the photographs would do me a lot of good later on in the studio.
This study 'Raking Light' was one of those cases. I had considered a diptych using this composition as the two pieces combined. I chucked that idea because what I realized was that most of the experience on location was spent in much 'moodier' weather, fog, mist, grey skies... not blue skies and bright sun.
Studio Study 1, 'Raking Light', oil, 10x25 © Marc R. Hanson '08
Studio Study 2, oil, 8x10 © Marc R. Hanson
THE FINAL PAINTINGS
For the commission then, I decided that the two paintings that I would do should be more about mood than brilliant sunlit effects.
'Changing Seasons', oil, 24x30 © Marc R. Hanson '08
'Evening Settling In', oil 24x30 © Marc R. Hanson '08