Saturday, August 9, 2008

A little from home and a little from afar.

'St. Croix Hazy Morning' - oil - 11x14 - © Marc R. Hanson 2008
Yesterday morning broke with temps in the high 60's and the river valley fogged in. It was beautiful and had to be painted. So following my morning ritual of the coffee shop, and with painting gear in the truck I drove to the Canoe Launch at the Interstate Park, about a mile away. My excitement mounted as I parked the truck, looking out over what little of the river I could see because of the thick fog, warmed by the sun trying to burn it off. About the time I set up my gear, the sun... won! The fog was gone but there was still a good haze to the bank on the Wisconsin side. Not much compositionally challenging, but the color was very, very delicate so I decided to take a stab at it. Of course by the time I first started laying paint on the panel, the haze was gone too and you could see for miles as if there wasn't any moisture in the air at all. But I kept to my original plan and concept, with enough of it laid in to make a finish to the sketch, I carried forward and this is what I ended up with. Not sure that the photo is doing a good job of showing this one. But it's close, it's a very milky, softly colored painting. This leads me to a learning adventure story that started last week while visiting a friend in Maryland who was taking a Camille Przewodek workshop near Easton. I was just painting but was able to visit and discuss what Camille is teaching with my friend, Camille and the other painters a little bit. I'm very much in tune with the basic idea that they're working with. It comes from Charles Hawthorne through Henry Hensche and down the line to painters like Camille and her husband Dale Axlerod. Camille has a way of using the idea and teachings that she studied under Hensche with her own sensitivities to color, edge work and the like, and I like what she does very much. So it's inevitable that I thought a lot about this when painting there in Maryland and back here too. This painting presented me with a backlight, bright hazy morning lighting situation that is difficult to deal with. What little I've learned about what Camille teaches (going to have to take her workshop), helped me in dealing with the subtlety of color that this scene presented. I'm very excited to have another 'tool' to use as a painter when facing lighting situations that challenge me.

'St. Michaels, MD' - oil - 8x10 - © Marc R. Hanson 2008
Just a quick little study looking out from the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. If you're into history of the waterfront, or even just old boats and old small boat building (I'm building one now... if I ever get the time to finish it), this is a great museum to visit. There are active boat shops on the grounds with craftspeople building new boats using traditional techniques, and there are restoration projects going on too.

'Harbor At St. Michaels' - oil - 10x8 - © Marc R. Hanson 2008
I almost titled this one 'The Crooked Boat House' just as an excuse for the tilt of the little boat house. It was that tilted, it's not my crooked drawing... this time.

'Maple Hall Neighbor' - oil - 8x10 - © Marc R. Hanson 2008
This is a sketch from the road leading out of Maple Hall in Claiborne, MD where we stayed and the workshop was held. I just loved the play of the warm grasses and warm undertones of the greens against the white building.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A new pastel for the New Orleans Show.

'St. John' - pastel - 18x25 - © Marc R. Hanson '08

I'm showing this piece as it is, finished, with one small exception. The title is the tugs name 'St. John', but the photo shows the painting before I added the name to the boat. It's there on the painting now, but the photo was taken before that was done. Otherwise, it's finished.

One of the most interesting areas of New Orleans to me was the waterfront. I spent enough time on the upper reaches of the Mississippi River to feel a real identity with that murky but alive artery of a river. The Upper Mississippi River is a place of solitude, quiet rides in a canoe with the occasional interruption of a fishing boat motor or two. But it's a body of water that you can still get very lost on, especially if traveling the backwater regions of the area where the Chippewa River meets the Mississippi just below Lake Pepin. There is a swamp in that area called 'Black Slough' where even today only a few people could be trusted to take you into the middle of and still be able to get you out of... without GPS that is! That's the Mississippi River that I know.

Even in New Orleans with all of the industrial activity, the Mississippi has a presence and a personality that lets you know that there is something so much larger going on than all of the car horns, air traffic noise, sirens and general metropolitan background noise that surrounds you in a place like this. There's a calm about Old Man River. In New Orleans the working boats seem like a completely natural extension of what the river is. I'll probably paint more of this aspect of NOLA as I approach ideas for the other paintings for this exhibit.