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


Stacey Peterson said...

These are beautiful Marc - thanks for sharing your thought process as you decided what to do for the final paintings. "Evening Settling In" is just beautiful - poetic. And how fun to have the opportunity to work on a project as open-ended as this!

Solvay said...

You went for mood - you sure achieved it. Your commissioner must be ecstatic! Breathtaking.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Marc, Your work always inspires me because you capture the mood in your plein air work. Thanks for sharing this process. Your final is amazing.

ZanBarrage said...

These are all gems! 'Evening Settling In' is so remenicent of Monet's works "Arm of the Seine near Giverny at Sunrise" or Misty Morning On The Seine Blue" in its colours and feel. I love them all.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Stacey... Thank you for your comments. This was a great treat to be a part of. You really have to appreciate these opportunities when they're here 'cause it's not always like this, is it? ;-)

The painting 'Evening..." has a lot of subtlety in it that just doesn't show up in the photo I took. Very disappointed in this photo. :-(

I have spent the morning researching 'photographing flat art' on the computer. I'm tired of 'ok' results and need to start doing this right. I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know from the past, but do know that it's time to get serious about this part of being a painter.

My conclusion is that I need stronger light ( 100 or 200 watt bulbs), a grey card (I normally use a white foam board to meter off of), and a fixed focal length lens instead of using the telephoto that came with the camera.

You didn't even ask about this... :-) sorry, but it might bring out some remarks from others that will be of help to us all.

I'm heading over to comment about your 'mentorship' with Jay Moore...that sounded like a great experience!

Merry Christmas.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Solveg... Thank you... Yes, it went well.
The paintings evolve on their own no matter how many studies you do, or what you initially think that they will turn out like.
I teach students to visualize what their finished paintings will look like. I also do that. But if you're really reacting to the influence of your own peculiarities and variances from day to day, you just never know with certainty what will come out of you.
At least I don't...maybe counseling would help???? ;-)

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thank you Janelle...
The wonderful world of painting is just that in part because other painters never tire of hearing about what painters do and how they do it.
Thank goodness, huh? ;-)
It's such a priveledge to be able to talk about it and to have an audience. WE all need to share what we know when we're ready to do it.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Fawzan... You know, I can relate to that sort of color much easier now and not in a forced way at all, and not to duplicate the history that we all know. Reality is that these color schemes that we admire from painters like Monet are for real... they really do happen and are out there to enjoy.

Thanks for your coments.

Solvay said...

couseling? where'd THAT come from?
throw that idea in the trash heap.

just keep painting out the great mysteries. and stay away from people who don't marvel at the unpredicted final outcome.


: )

Happy Lille Jule Aften!
And Happy Great Skiing Conditions!

Solvay said...

...and, very interesting about the camera research........

Unknown said...

Thank you for being so forthcoming with your working method - I learned a lot. I was impressed with the field studies, so by the time I got down to the finished studio pieces I was blown away. Very beautiful and moody.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Solveg... I joke. :)

God jul!

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hey Jeremy... Thank you. I wish I could type faster, hence, less time spent on the confuser, and I would really get involved in writing about it in more depth. But I haven't found the confuser to be the way to paint paintings... so I do my best to tell the tale in an abbreviated way. I'm glad that it helps.

Marc R. Hanson said...

The skiing has been GREAT and should only be getting better. So far, we're having one of the best snow seasons in a long time. I was up Friday night and had a blast.

Solvay said...

oh, GOOD - glad that was a joke!!!


and, yes....skiing/snow. I started CC skiing the last year we had decent snow, decided to buy better skis for the next year, and we never really had snow since then. maybe this year I can start all over again. my "nice" skis are likely antiques, now. sigh.

have fun!

(night skiing - wondrous!)

ZanBarrage said...

"they really do happen and are out there to enjoy."

Absolutely. That is why I enjoy painting outdoors even in winter. There is something about studying nature in its classroom that is immesurable and cannot be duplicated any other way.

Your work is wonderful. I am figuring I am at least 5-6 years away from being where you are now and I marvel at your finished studies and paintings. Thank God we have the internet so we can see your work, and thank you for blogging.

Noel Darvie said...

Hi Marc,
Its been a while since Hyde Park. Just wanted to say I love what your doing. I love all your work, but what fascinates the most is the drama that you capture in such simple compositions ( like field study #3). I can look at those types of paintings in amazement all day long. It's great getting that type of commission. " Changing Seasons is my favorate

Frank Gardner said...

Wow, meaty post Marc. Lots of great paintings.
I like the way Evening Settling came out. Will have to visit these a few times.
So, what do you do with all of the plein air paintings that you say are sketches for the final pieces? Do those go on your web site or to galleries or just for you in your house?
Merry Christmas. Please receive some of the strong wind from the south that we are getting. Maybe it will warm things up a bit for you.

Kim VanDerHoek said...

What a great commission! Do you feel added pressure when you are working on a commission?

It's great to see your studies and know that you don't just go from zero to a large finished painting that captures the feel of the landscape and light right away. Beautiful.

Jo Castillo said...

These are just beautiful. Thanks for this post. I love seeing and sharing in how people work.

Marc R. Hanson said...

That's it Fawzan!!! Good luck to you.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Noel... Hello to you!!! Nice to hear from you again. I assume that you're still hard at it? Hope so. I may be out there later this summer to teach.. via Jamie G. It would be great to see you, paint, again.
How's Lee? Not being around WC you loose track.

Have a wonderful holiday season.
PS-I have a son in art school in NYC, well he's on a train at the moment, stuck in Chicago.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Frank as long as the snow's good, those strong winds can stay put. Skiing is great right now and it's a beautiful landscape out there, if only slightly warmer it would be good to get out to paint.

Thanks for the comments. I was actually pretty happy with the 'Evening Settling In' piece. I achieved the subtle shifts that I was after in tone and color and maintained a sense of mood. You know how it is, probably? You like what you've done, or you wouldn't let it go, but you always wish that you'd done something better or different. It's a necessary part of continuing to expand and grow as a painter.

I am 'very' disappointed, as I mentioned earlier, in the photos of the two finished pieces. Fortunately, I will be able to re shoot them most likely.

I have piles and piles of studies. You can only fit so many in a few galleries before you overwhelm them. First they need to serve their purpose as studies and I try to keep them around long enough for that. Then they sit around in boxes until one is needed for something. Some go to shows and galleries or are just sold. I do keep the ones that hold a memory of a special painting experience from a trip, a personal breakthrough, or other memorable time.

Marc R. Hanson said...

"Do you feel added pressure when you are working on a commission? "

Kim... yes...Always! For me it's like taking a test. I know the information but tend to lock up when it's crunch time. There are all of the concerns about 'pleasing' the client, meeting their expectations for what it will be, and of course (here's the counseling required part again....:-) wanting to please them.

But that was what was so enjoyable about this experience. We (another painter and I) were just turned loose to be and do what we do.

A special treat.

Portrait painters can spend hours telling you about the frustrations with trying to meet expectations.

It's probably best for us to be sure that we stick to our own ideas and express to the clients that we do best what we do, how we do it.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thank you Jo. Me too.

Solvay said... the way the light dances through the trees in sky and field - Field Study 2. the vast vista and the way fall is rolling down over the terrain in the clouds/sky, and how you perfectly captured the way the clouds and air break up the last patches of warmth and scatter them sparsely across the land in Field Study 3 - makes me think of original pioneers coming up over the hill and seeing the Minnesota River - that's what it looks like, at least. (I also like Kami's painting of the same view.)
And, I hope I'm keeping track of the Field Study 5 - love the golds of autumn and they way you render their impending melting away.
And, of course, the finished works...especially the "july night" one........that there are no words for. Breathtaking.
Merry Christmas!
Thank you for being the starting point. What a gift - what MANY gifts - have come from that first google click.
Thank you.
Merry Christmas!
I hope your son's train is on the way by now.....that's a nice train ride - much of it - even if it's very, very slow.
: )

Solvay said... could I neglect Changing Seasons.....(I think I commented on Raking Light at Thanksgiving...) - but, the sky/field palette --- fabulous - you got that strange phenomenon in the fall (and spring) of color radiance even in the midst of heavy overcast. That strangely glowy atmosphere - you relay that perfectly! And, the sky, as they always are in your paintings, is magnificent.

Christopher O'Handley said...

Thanks for sharing's like an early Christmas present. Beautiful set of paintings and it's always enlightening to hear the stories behind the paintings.

It's interesting to see how bits and pieces of the various studies made it into the final studio paintings...most evident with "Changing Seasons" which is simply a stunning painting...a new favorite of mine. Was that one completed mostly wet-in-wet or did you work slowly in layers, with drying time between each session? Regardless, it has that painted on site energy/freshness, which is a great achievement.

Merry Christmas...


Anonymous said...

I'm still hard at work. I had a show this past April at the gallery i'm in that went well. I'm working on new paintings for a December 09 show.

Lee is doing fine. We go out painting every so often. He's doing well with sales of his work.

What school is your son going to? I went to the Art Students League for a year.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Solveg... you're doing just fine! ;-)

Thank you for the sincerity with which you see what it is that we're doing as visual artists.

Your blog is fulfilling a niche' for those of us who are musically "challenged" and it is mucho appreciated by this avid listener. Music is what I hear when I paint (whether it's on and playing or not ), and is what painting feels like while in the process.

Merry Christmas to you too!!!

Marc R. Hanson said...

Merry Christmas Chris!

Thank you for those comments. I know you and know that you speak your mind so I take those to heart and truly do appreciate what you had to say.

I am a studio 'layering, layering, layering' painter these days. Finding great joy in letting stages of the paintings rest and set up for layers/effects to come that cannot be done 'alla prima'. I wish I could show the depth of those layers in the photos, but it can't be done at least not by me.

I'm using that Neo Megilp that Gamblin makes. It's the bridge between Liquin and Galkyd that dry too fast for my taste in this situation... and something like stand or walnut oil, which dry too slow. The neo megilp gives me a day to keep working the paint. And, technically it's sound to keep using in layers being a alkyd resin based medium.

I love the gloss that it retains while working and that it's sort of gel like, silky as they describe it. It lends a transluscence to the paint films that is attractive also.

The hardest thing for me to keep in mind, being more of an alla prima sort of guy ;-), is that IF you build the painting in layers, from broad to specific and allow the paint to dry in layers, you can build so much on top that adds to the paintings richness. It requires restraint not to want to finish it all at once.

Thanks for asking Chris.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Noel... good to hear that about your work and about Lee. Tell him 'Hi' for me please.

Well... my son is not exactly a chip off of the old block. He started as a musician, though painted and drew as a youngster, and his last musical gig was a couple of years or so with some over 40 yr old punkers. They played in Minneapolis and were 'old style' punk.

He has an appreciation for the 'edge' of the arts be it writing (he can write like a bandit), music or painting. He's very conceptually minded.

That being, he's going to the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture on 8 west 8th ST. He loves it. Though he's also considering Cooper Union and other schools too. For now I think that he's in a good place for who he is and what he's interested in as an artist.

Noel Darvie said...

It's not far from where I work. I'm sure it will be an interesting experience for him.

Stacey Peterson said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who gets frustrated with photographing my art!! Some paintings photograph better than others, and of course it's always the most subtle, moody ones that seem to be missing the most in a photo. I get tempted to have some of them professionally photographed, but I'm too cheap to actually do it... Anyhow, if you ever come up with any good solutions, let us know!

Merry Christmas!

P.S. Sometimes there's just as much (if not more) valuable information in your replies to people's comments as in your original post - I always have to remember to come read them later =)

Ben Bauer said...

Marc Gorgeous stuff is this what you were working on during the OPM show? in E.P.? Say, what type of linen were you working on for the studies? Like the look of it..... Love the enlarged studio works! The mood sets for the fall we had!


Mary Sheehan Winn said...

thanks for describing the process you use.
Frankly, the studies appeal to me as finished paintings in their own right.
The color harmony feels true.
Nice! Very inspiring!
Happy Painting New Year ,Marc.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Stacey... Thank you. I'm still looking! ;-)

I really thank you for your other comment too. If there were only more time to spend on this thing it would be fun. I'm glad that it's doing something for U.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Ben...Yes, this was the project.

These were painted on what I had left of that Yarka 'Fine' linen. The one that is no longer like it was!!! RATS! I really likes that stuff.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Happy New Year Mary! Thanks. I think that studies can be both. But... more and more I'm realizing their value to ME as reference being more important than to see them as wall hangers. That's really what I mean by that. They can end up that way, but not until I've finished with them. We gain that knowledge just from doing them, but if I can pull one out in six months to use as a spark or for specific info on a studio painting it has really done a service.