Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve Farm 2008 -8˙F!

"New Years Eve Farm -8˙F!" - oil - 8x10 - © Marc R. Hanson '08

Compared to my Christmas Eve painting... today was a real treat even though it was a lot, lot colder.... -8˙F to start and up to -4˙F when finished.

It was definitely a chilly one today... but with sun and very little wind. So painting in -8˙F weather was surprisingly tolerable. I've noticed that when painting in temperatures as low as this that there are a few things that make it just plain hard to want to do it very often.

One is that in order to get the paint fluid enough to work with, you need to break it down with thinner. Because of the temperature, it becomes so stiff that a bristle brush won't pull it off of it's pile and into the palette mixing surface. Thinning it down makes it easier to work with. Even a knife doesn't do the mixing trick. The resulting problem with this is (I hope you don't mind the 'experience' related issues here....) that the paint is very hard to control. Especially hard to control is the way it comes off of the brush.

For instance... you might be expecting to paint a little spot of color, and since you've already done that a hundred or a thousand times before (albeit in warm weather), you expect it to do just that! Well, it cannot be expected to do the same thing in really cold weather. Instead of a little spot you end up with a big blob. The paint acts so differently that it's unpredictable... and frustrating.

A lot of 'fixing' things is the result. After an hour or so of frigid weather, fixing things is less attractive, getting the heck out of the cold and into the warmth is the issue at hand.

That said, the color on days like this can be hard to resist. It may seem that my compositional choices are pretty simple in these. They are, but out of necessity. I don't spend a lot of time wandering around off the main path. When everything is covered in snow and ice and it's this cold, it's safest just to find an 'out of danger', wide spot to paint from. That usually means a gravel road alongside one of these farms. I try to look for diagonal elements to lead into the paintings. But there seems to be a lack of that sort of thing when we have a fair amount of snow cover. Even weed patches are covered with snow now and leave very little to work with.

I like these old farmsteads. You wonder how they make it on such a small operation. Usually a little farmhouse with a half dozen outbuildings, all seemingly in disrepair? So in all reality, these are 'experiential' studies. Just painted to try to understand the effect of a time and place on color, texture and other visual relationships that cannot be retained on a memory card.

A safe, sound and Happy New Year to all!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Day 2008

'Christmas Eve Day 2008' - oil - 8x10 - © Marc R. Hanson 08

Even though it was a very chilly +9˚F with a light breeze (God only knows what the wind chill was), I couldn't stand it any longer. I haven't been out to paint the fresh snow yet this year, so I did. It was beautiful but difficult to be comfortable enough standing for an hour or so to really do it justice.

Times like this are "Paint something and get the h*** out a' here!!!" days.

I won't go into all of the things on me that froze almost to the point of frost bite, but when the bristles of your hog brushes are breaking off in little pieces, you know that 'somethin's' up!? Then there's the paint which is like trying to paint with nearly set concrete. Okay... 'nuff complaining.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Project...

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 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


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

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I can't let the cat have the last word so here's a 'seasonal' painting.
I just put this piece up on my website today and thought that it would make a nice 'time of the year' image to add to the blog as well. That's until I can get this other one done... or until Sargent gets tired of my time line and finishes it himself.

I hope that you are all with the 'spirit', Holiday, Art or Other!
It's a wonderful time of year and I wish the best for you all now and onward into the New Year.

'Winter Wonderland' - pastel - 11x14 - © Marc R. Hanson '07

Staying in touch....

This is supposed to be a daily blog. I'm painting daily, can't help it, but am on a long project.

Just to prove that I am painting... here are a couple of pics of my 'daily' companion, 'Sargent' the cat. I've been working on this large painting for awhile now.

Sargent is getting tired of it and I can tell he's wondering just when I'm going to post the final? He's so relaxed that he's begun to cross his back legs during his daily snoozing and watching up on the steps!

You might notice that Sargent is a Hemingway Cat... a polydactyl cat. It makes him 'special'. :-) (good thing for him!)

I'm not too far from finishing if he'll just be patient.....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

And now for something completely different!!!

This is today looking outside my studio window. Makes you want to stay inside and paint, or something. Brrrrrrrrr!

'Rose Breasted Grosbeaks' - oil on panel - 15x12 - © Marc R. Hanson '95

'Northern Orioles' - oil on panel - 15x12 - © Marc R. Hanson '95

'Downy Woodpeckers' - oil on panel - 15x12 - © Marc R. Hanson '95

For some reason I decided to photograph some older 'pre- digital' age paintings. These go back to '95...whoa.....13 years ago! Yikes. I'm not sure I even owned a computer then. My first one was a Mac 2200 or something like that? But I know for sure that I didn't have a digital camera. Anyway, I thought it would be good to take some pics of some of the paintings lying around my studio that are probably on slide film (remember that cantankerous stuff?), but should be on digital files too.

Plus, it's bird feeding season and my cat is out in the kitchen area leaping up and down trying to grab the birds feeding right outside the window as I type. He's inside, they're outside. I should have named him after a cartoon character like 'Pogo' instead of a famous artist 'Sargent', which is his name. So in part, this is just to tease him too. ;-)

I painted these images along with about 6 more for The Hamilton Collection. They took a circular section (guess where??? :) ) and made a plate series from them. Everything is in focus, for the most part, birds as large or slightly larger than life, and right in your face. That said, I liked painting them...and they paid me $$$. : -) (real big grin).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tonal block in

I thought that I'd show some steps along the way with the painting of the larger version of the little sketch from a few days ago. This is nothing more than a transparent tonal block in using Perm alizarin and transp. oxide brown. I don't always start this way but for this one wanted a warm undertone to play against the color I overlay. So I am letting this dry so that it's not subject to being picked up with subsequent washes or color application.

I'll keep you posted as.....if..... something happens????!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A few good ideas...

Stacey mentioned, "I like to think of it ( painting )as less "reporting" and more "poetry"."

In light of that, I wanted to share a few quotes and a book that many of you have probably read, but for those who haven't, I recommend it as a 'must read'.

The book is "Art & fear", 'Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING', by David Bayles and Ted Orland. They call it an Artists Survival Guide, and it asks questions like these....

-What is your art really about?

-Where is it going?

-What stands in the way of getting it there?

This is part of what they write in the intro-

"It is about committing your future to your own hands, placing Free Will above predestination, choice above chance. It is about finding your own work"

Here's a sampling of some of their words to the! ;-)

"In large measure becoming an artist constists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive."

"Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitaly exists between what you intended to do, and what you did. In fact, if artmaking did not tell you (the maker) so enormously much about yourself, then making art that matters to you would be impossible."

"...The best you can do is make art you care about-and lot's of it!"

"...the first few brushstrokes to the blank canvas satisfy the requirements of many possible paintings, while the last few fit only that painting-they could go nowhere else."

"A finished piece is, in effect, a test of correspondence between imagination and execution."

From Ben Shahn, "The painter who stands before an empty canvas must think in terms of paint." :)

"Fears about yourself prevent you from doing your 'best' work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your 'own' work."

On talent-
"By definition, 'whatever' you have is exactly what you need to produce your best work. There is probably no clearer waste of psychic energy than worrying about how much talent you have-and probably no worry more common. This is true even among artists of considerable accomplishment."

*Have you ordered the book yet??????*

"What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece."

On finding your work-
"If, indeed, for any given time only a certain sort of work resonates with life, then that is the work you need to be doing in that moment. If you try to do some other work, you will miss your moment." (That is pretty heavy if you think about it. Not sure how to know that, but it makes sense.)


Okay... enough of my tease. There are a few books that we as artists need to have on the shelf. 'The Art Spirit' by R. Henri, 'Hawthorne on Painting', to name a couple of books for thought, and these two. That's my 2cents.

This is a great $10.00 book of only about 120 pages. There is a companion book written by Ted Orland "The View From The Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way In An Uncertain World", which I just got and have not read yet.

Working in the studio... a color study for larger painting.

Oil-8x10 © Marc R. Hanson

This is a color study for a larger painting that I am just beginning. I am trying to go into an emotional place rather than a descriptive place with this one. We'll see what happens in the translation from this small color comp to the larger painting. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Book!

This is exciting! I've just published a new book of paintings that I've done. Please click on the image for a preview.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

'November Flurries Coming' - oil on linen - 16x20 © Marc R. Hanson '08

'Raking Light' - oil on linen - 10x25 © Marc R. Hanson '08

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day to Night

I'm going back in time a little bit, but I am in the studio working on longer term paintings. So to stay a little active with some posting here, I thought that I'd let a little 'kitty' out of the bag concerning nocturnes and the way I paint them. There is going directly to the source and painting from life, a requirement IMHO, and then there's using that experience to draw on to do work in the studio.

This isn't really a secret. Artists like Whistler, Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, Harold VonSchmidt, Frederic Remington, Frank Tenney Johnson, Tom Lovell, Doug Dawson, and a myriad of other painters and illustrators from the past and in present have painted nocturnes from inside during the daylight hours. Most if not all of them had spent a lot of time in the saddle of a horse, or out observing what happens visually at night, in order to be able to render the effect of the 'lack' of light on the subject that they wanted to paint.

As a side note of interest... At night the rods ( about 120 million, the light and dark receptors ) in our retina take over from the cones ( 6 to 7 million, our color receptors). This is the reason that as it darkens our ability to sense color diminishes. Many scientists think that this makes evolutionary sense. At night is when the predators are out. In our early development as humans, it was very important to be able to see those critters, who were out there to eat us, in order to have a chance for survival. Seeing movement was critical, color not as much so.

Harold VonSchmidt, for instance, painted many, many illustrations and easel paintings of the old west, stampeding horses and cows, the cavalry and their scouts, and much more, at night with a very limited palette of either a blue or green dominant color scheme. For many of his paintings he used a palette of Ivory black, Viridian and Alizarin Crimson. Prussian blue and black with burnt sienna is another popular palette for nocturnes. These are very effective generic palettes for nocturnes due to our inablility to see much color at night.

'Cold Riding' - oil - 30x50 - 1954 Harold Von Schmidt

Painting only in the studio with a generic 'nocturne palette', without the experience of painting from life at night, however, presents the painter with the dangerous possibility of becoming 'formulaic' with the subject. Back when Remington was painting there was often a palette for nocturnes referred to as the 'Frank Tenney Johnson' palette because he had so perfected the luminance seen in the night sky. For an illustrator, that's fine. Their job is to communicate the idea of their client to an audience not necessarily of their choice. It's completely possible to make up a situation on canvas in the studio. To do that takes the right amount of skill, and they are skilled.

For a painter who is trying to paint a response to what they're observing in an honest, objective way, I believe that it's imperative that the work is based on direct 'on the spot' observation. Once that you've understood the principles of a particular lighting situation it is possible to use studies from previous, different experiences to make a complete and meaningful statement.

Just take a look at the quality of work that Frederic Remington did with nocturnes. He didn't stand outside painting a wolf staring at him in the moonlight. Yet it's totally believable as an image. And I doubt that the native Americans setting the prairie fire would have thought it a good idea to stand there and allow an artist to set up the easel either. He did use a new tool, flash photography, to capture some models and nocturnal reference. And he did do small sketches from life as a base for his reference.

'Moonlight, Wolf' 1909 Frederic Remington

'The Grassfire' (Backfiring) 1908 Frederic Remington

I've been enjoying painting the nocturnes for a few years now, both from life and in the studio from both life studies and from photo references. Another thing that I do and want to share with you, is to take daytime studies and convert them to nocturnes. I've actually done this a number of times and am going to show you a few here. This first image is my reference for the painting below it. I posted this same image in the recent post about the nocturne article.

'Palmetto Island Park' - oil field study, 9x12 © Marc R. Hanson '06

'Palmetto Island by Night' - oil - 16x20 © Marc R. Hanson '08

Another example are these two images. First one is a little field study painted a couple of years ago in spring. I used it as the only reference for the painting below it called 'Spring Night Light'. I'd been painting some nocturnes from life at this point and felt comfortable with translating day into night.

'Spring Painting' - oil - 10x8 © Marc R. Hanson '06

'Spring Night Light' - oil, 20x16 © Marc R. Hanson '06

In the following images I took the idea of this translating a little further and am showing a couple of examples. In both of these cases the only reference was photographic.

The point of all of this is that what we do as artists is make 'paintings', not duplicates of nature. I find this kind of challenge to be one that gets my creative juices flowing. From the source, to the reference photo or sketch, to the finished painting, the similarities between the two change. I move things, shrink, enlarge, emphasize, de-emphasize and employ any number of other alterations to make 'my' point. To me this is where the creativity in my work lies.

'Full Moon Barn' - oil 14x18 © Marc R. Hanson '06

Reference photo

'Winter Solstice Night' - oil - 20x24 © Marc R. Hanson '06

Photo reference

Monday, November 17, 2008

Article -"Paint Evocative Nocturnes", by Michael Chesley Johnson

'Palmetto Island by Night' - oil - 16x20 © Marc R. Hanson '08

I want to tell you about an online article in The Artist Magazine, 'Painting Evocative Nocturnes' written by artist/writer, Michael Chesley Johnson. The feature is only in the online magazine, the title above links to it. He interviewed four of us who paint nocturnes fairly often, Douglas Morgan of California, Cody DeLong of Arizona, Yours truly and Brian Stewart, also of Minnesota.

It's a very good article and worth the jog over there to see what we all talked about. Thank you Michael.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The sun did come out...briefly... today.

'November Coming' - gouache on paper - 4.5x6.5 © Marc R. Hanson '08

So I grabbed the gouache bag and truck and painted one little study. It became too dark to try for two, too bad. I used this medium because I am just not ready to put on the cold weather clothes just yet. Sitting in the truck with a radio, coffee and heat on the feet, is where I was today.
I started doing this in the car last winter and then didn't keep it up. It's a method of last resort, a way to keep painting when you don't feel like being in the elements. I need to remind myself to stay with this... because it's fun! ;)

Where's the sun!?

'Sun Block' - oil on linen - 8x10

We haven't seen it for awhile now. That's just an excuse to post a little painting that I did a few years ago called 'Sun Block'. Wish I needed some right now.

This was a painting that was a bit of an experiment for me. I had been on the Upper Mississippi River painting a 24x30 plein air piece for an upcoming show that was opened in 2005. I had some new lead white paint and some of a very nice double lead primed linen called RIX, a Frederix product. My idea was to paint some of the drama I had been witnessing while painting the 24x30 over the period of a couple of long days out. But I wanted that old, turn of the (20th)century look, the 'sublime' idea of the Hudson River school painters. So I limited my palette to Alizarin Crimson, Transparent Oxide Red, Cad Yellow Deep (Rembrandt), Ultramarine Deep (Rembrandt) and Great White Flake White (Studio Products, Cenninni), an absolutely wonderful flake white to work with. The entire painting was kept transparent as long as possible ( photo taken back when my camera and my digital photo taking knowledge was minimal at best so the transparency doesn't show well here) with only the lights, using a heavy application of the flake white, being opaque. It became a very emotional painting for me and led to several other pieces that ended up in the show. They all sold. :) A very sweet lady who worked at the art school where I was doing some teaching and the show was held, purchased this one. She cried, it affected her that way. It is so cool that we are able to bring about that kind of emotion in people. I've made people cry, believe me, but to make them cry because they're affected by what you've done in a positive way, not in a negative way (high school coaches...) cannot be measured on the 'I'm lucky' scales.
So that's my morning mix of 'procrastination' prose. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008


Let's see if I get this 'tagged' thing right...? First, Sharon Wright did the deed, so here she is! First obligation fulfilled.
Second obligation...7 unusual things about myself. Hmmmmmm.... let's try this out. I'll start with the early years.

1- I was born in a place called 'Oxnard', at Port Hueneme (correction....not a Seal base, a Sea Bee station. I was only 0 yrs old then. Can't be expected to remember everything). How's that for a start to life. Following that at six weeks old, I was moved to Fairbanks, AK via ferry and the AlCan highway most of which was gravel at the was cold, I remember that! ;-)

2- I was part of the first Boy Scout troop to achieve the '50 miler' badge on skis while living in Norway. At the same time, our troop leaders (some ex British paratroopers), took us over a mountain range that had not been traversed before... in the middle of a raging blizzard. I don't think that they knew it was there, frankly.

3- While at summer camp in Norway, the camp of Olaf Reed Olsen (a Norwegian undergroud hero from WWll), I sank two miles off shore in a small sailboat during a raging storm. The boat was overloaded with boys and we could not be picked up by boat so had to swim to shore. We also learned to like fish balls, and a combination of sardines/gjeitost (goat cheese)/ and raspberry jam on flatbrød. Hunger will make you do strange things. I'm lucky to be here to write this now!

4- My Little League baseball team from Oslo, Norway took 2nd place in the European Little League Allstar Playoffs. Rota, Spain beat us and got to make the trip to Williamsport, PA to play in the Little League Allstar World Series Championships. We were very, very sad about that. I only regained my love for Spain after discovering J. Sorolla's art. I love Spain now!

5- I went to 3 high schools, college and art school in California and then reverse migrated to Minnesota because I like snow. Now you know I'm 'unusual'. At one point I had to decide, continue to make a life teaching skiing in California ( I had been doing that in the Sierra's since high school), or leave that and go to art school. I am fortunate to have chosen art school. It's become my life.

6- I'm very disciplined. There are many things that could possibly distract me if I'm not careful. I'll list a few of the things that I like but 'don't do' any more very often, in order to stay on track as an artist. I am a licensed private pilot with an instrument rating with a partially built 200 kt aluminum airplane that I'm building (stored in my house), am building a 12 foot wooden flat bottom rowing skiff for painting out of, I sail, shoot a traditional wooden bow ( have started a couple of 'self bows' from hickory) and homemade cedar arrows, like to fly fish and tie flies, hunt, ski of course, build and fly RC aircraft, copper sculpture, silver work and enameling, cooking, and about 50 other distractible activities that I find interesting.

7- I painted birds for 25 years!

I'll list the 7 tagged people when I find them...soon....

Here they are. Fine painters and teachers... my two requirements for the list.

1-Kami Polzin:) Inspirational person, teacher and painter! :)

2-Anne Kullaf Great teaching blog!

3-Michael Chesley JohnsonWriter, painter, teacher!

4-Marc DalessioWow! Just discovered Marc's work. Teaches, paints and knows materials.

5-Frank GardnerYeah I know, everyone already knows Frank! :) But I like his work, he teaches and if I could only get a teeny weeny little bit of his traffic flow (I'd have NO free time left)!

6-Xiangyuan JiePoetic painter, but bold.

7-Jennifer McChristianHer work speaks for itself, and she teaches!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wabi Sabi-"Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect."

'Earth, Wind and Fire' - A painting I did a few years back, maybe 6 or 7 years back, that I thought would be a good illustration for this blog post of mine. It's a 30x40 oil on linen.

"Wabi-sabi is an intuitive appreciation of a transient beauty in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an understated beauty that exists in the modest, rustic, imperfect, or even decayed, an aesthetic sensibility that finds a melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things." (Juniper, Andrew. Wabi-sabi: the Japanese Art of Impermanence. Boston: Tuttle, 2003)

I might be getting off track here in terms of a blog about posting paintings. But is it? I need to get out more because I've only discovered this philosophy now. I've read the The Tao Te Ching (also called "The Tao", by Lao Tzu, have read a little about Buddhism but must not have read enough to know about 'wabi sabi'. But I recognize the universality of it's presence in the other writings and way of life.

To be honest, I was reading an article in the magazine, 'Wooden Boats' ( I'm building a little one and 'nothing is finished' applies here! ) about an artist who paints pretty contemporary looking paintings of old traditional wooden boat structures.

The writer said that the paintings and subject matter acknowledged 'wabi sabi' and went on to say that it referred to the Japanese aesthetic that "nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect".

That really peaked my interest because my interests are most often in things and activities that are made by hand, that are old and have some sort of aesthetic that transends the 'glitzy' part of our society. I am an archer and shoot a wooden flat bow, make my own arrows, am building a wooden boat, tie my own flies for fishing, and in general appreciate those things in our world that look to most people (other than artists in many cases) like they should be torn down and rebuilt. I am typing this on an iMac, not sending smoke signals, so there is compromise of course.

When I'm out painting, I don't stop at the metal pole barns to paint, or the asphalt parking lots and new construction, by choice. I am not a fan of painting industrial things either. They do not make me feel comfortable. I'm a painter who is trying to pass along my deep seeded love and joy in the subjects that I choose to paint to others, and most of those subjects seem to be either a little out of the way corner that usually is overgrown and "unnoticed" by many! It's just my choice. I am not slamming anyone who would rather paint glass and steel skyscapers, or the grand subjects such as mountain peaks and majestic waterfalls. I've done that too, a little bit, but not with the same conviction and interest that I've found along the shore of the local swampy little pond. It's just that I'd rather find a 90 year old shed that is about to fall over in the next 5 mph wind to paint. I've always been like this. Reading about 'wabi sabi' is causing me to reflect on what it is I paint and why in a very positive way.

I'm constantly amazed by the discovery of ideas that have been here for so long that every one, but me, knows about it. I googled 'wabi sabi' and quickly realized that there are wabi sabi blogs, books (here's one that I'm going to get and read-Koren, Leonard. Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 1994), art, photographs and on and on. I never did investigate 'feng shue' but probably should have.

"We must teach ourselves to see the beauty of the ugly, to see the beauty of the commonplace. It is so much better to make much out of little than to make little out of much-better to make a big thing out of a little subject than to make a little thing out of a big one. " (Hawthorne, J.C. Hawthorne On Painting. Dover Publications, 1960)

Charles Hawthorne was a painter and teacher who understood this philosophy either consciously or by instinct. Many of us respect what he had to tell us through this book published by his daughter. It's full of the same sort of consciousness for painters and is also worth reading.

As artists we are constantly aware that we are a little different than a lot of the other people around us if simply by the nature of what and how we do what we do. Now it's comforting to know that we have a connection to humanity that the ancient cultures have recognized and practiced for eons.

Am I the only one who didn't get the memo on this? ;-)

"Wabi-sabi, as a tool for contemplation and a philosophy of life, may now have an unforeseen relevance as an antidote to the rampant unraveling of the very social fabric which has held [us] together for so long. Its tenets of modesty and simplicity encourage a disciplined unity while discouraging overindulgence in the physical world. It gently promotes a life of quiet contemplation and a gentle aesthetic principle that underscores a meditative approach. Wabi-sabi demotes the role of the intellect and promotes an intuitive feel for life where relationships between people and their environments should be harmonious. By embodying the spirit to remind itself of its own mortality, it can elevate the quality of human life in a world that is fast losing its spirituality." (Juniper, Andrew. Wabi-sabi: the Japanese Art of Impermanence. Boston: Tuttle, 2003)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roadside quick study

I stopped this afternoon because of a spectacular overcast light punctuated by little breaks that allowed the sun to penetrate and light up small portions of the landscape. This little clump of birch and willows were glowing like the Everyready Bunny itself had plugged it in... like a fall Christmas tree. The painters out there know that the most beautiful light shows in nature usually disappear right about the time you tear off a paper towel and lift up the first brush full of paint, ready to go. NO exception here. Having all the gear out I painted what was less than the inspiring sight that made me stop. Knowing that we are only going to get colder as each day goes by, I painted. Still good to be out painting. The title refers to a sign that was right in front of me out of the picture plane. Geese were coming in to the fields in the distance and a couple of ringed-neck roosters flew from behind me and right across my field of view. That made staying to paint worth it even more.

"NO HUNTING" - 8x10 - oil - © Marc R. Hanson 08

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Better late than never?

I'm trying to find my way around the desktop of my personal confuser and found a folder of images from my camera. Problem with huge gigabyte storage cards is that it's too easy not to be 'efficient' and file things in the present...easier to just keep adding and sort out in the future. That's why I'm just posting some paintings from Coleman FA's "Wet Paint" event, which I took part in last March, now in October! Somewhere I have the titles and sizes but that would require another half day of searching around. These were painted Mon thru Fri of the week and framed, exhibited and sold on Friday night. I wrote the pertinent information down back then but don't remember all of the details. All are oil and about 8x10, the boats being 11x14...I think. :)

© Marc R. Hanson 08

© Marc R. Hanson 08

© Marc R. Hanson 08

© Marc R. Hanson 08

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Slate Blue October Skies" - oil - 11x14 © Marc R. Hanson 08

If there is any such thing as a 'perfect' fall afternoon, this afternoon was it! Only made it out for a couple of hours but the time was worth it, every second. Who knows if there will be another day like this until...crying...April or May!?!?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'Receding Fall' - oil on linen - 8x10 © Marc R. Hanson '08
It's just so beautiful out right now. Most of the gorgeous riot of color, that doesn't seem real, has subsided and now is what I consider to be the most beautiful time of the fall for painting. Temps are still above freezing (unless you don't wear good warm footwear...then the toes get cold) and the atmosphere is smoky and rich. The grey tones of the tree branches subdue the leaves that are still clinging to the limbs and branches. I think most painters prefer the more quiet times for painting. If it's all loud, there's no restful quality. I painted this one this morning outside of town and did get cold feet. It takes some indoctrinating each change of the season in my case.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Finally...I made it out to paint this utterly spectacular fall we're having. I was driving home from the Twin Cities early this afternoon and the color was so unbelievably beautiful that I felt that I had to paint it before the rain, wind or my schedule made it so that I couldn't. If I'm lucky over the next week or so, we'll still have some of this around.
Of course I end up right at the base of the hill I live on in the Interstate Park to paint. The problem with painting fall is one, the color is almost so over the top that it's garish. The other is that fall is an overall impression of the entire landscape all around you. Not just one little corner. Once you settle into an artist view point you eliminate all of your surroundings that are also a large part of your impressionistic influence of "fall". In the first instance,'s our job as painters to tame that garish quality to make it a harmonious, pleasing image of what we feel about what we're seeing. No easy task. Secondly, all of the information around you comes into play as you paint your chosen little corner of the world. It just doesn't show in a direct way. It probably shows most directly in the enthusiasm the painter has to paint on a day like this! Mine was high.
'Nuff complaining. It was one hell of a gorgeous day, painting or no painting.

"Fall Maple" - oil - 8x10 - © Marc R. Hanson 2008

This one was posted here last spring. Thought it would be interesting to post it again as it was painted about 20 paces to the left of 'Fall Maple'. These are both painted from the parking lot.
Now I suppose I'll have to do 'Winter'. That should be no problem!!! It's coming soon...

"First Green Of Spring" - oil - 8x10 - © Marc R. Hanson 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

'Noon Hour Shower' - oil - 40x30 © Marc R. Hanson 08
I'm slightly hesitant to post this painting. Only because it's pretty large and pushing the limits of my ability to take a good photo of it. There is a lot going on in this one that isn't showing up in the photo. So come to Charleston, SC in November if you 'really' want to see what's going on in it.

Oh, I wanted to mention that these two ladies were meter maids on lunch break. I'd guess that parking anywhere you wanted to that day wouldn't have mattered much to these two.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

P.A.P.W. Annual Show and Sale

Segil Fine Art in Monrovia, CA is hosting this show for our group of painters, 11 in total, the Plein Air Painters West. Some of the group is able to be there for a week of painting and the Quickdraw contest. Unfortunately, I am so close to my NOLA exhibit and getting the work for that finished, framed and shipped that there was just no way for me to be out in California for this event. I will be submitting three paintings for the show however.