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????!!!