Saturday, December 26, 2009

'Atotonilco Afternoon'

This is a new painting for our group show of San Miguel de Allende to be held at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Massachusetts. The show opens January 12, 2010 and runs through February 28th.

Atotonilco is a small quiet town about 6 miles from San Miguel de Allende. It is the site of one of the holiest sanctuaries in all of Mexico, Santuario de Atotonilco, the "Sistine Chapel" of Mexico as it is sometimes called. The day I was there with Frank Gardner, Ignat Ignatov, Colin Page and Scott Burdick, it seemed like a very quiet, dusty little village. I liked that and chose to portray a scene of daily life.

'Atotonilco Afternoon' - oil - 20x24 - © Marc R. Hanson '09


'San Miguel de Allende Nocturne'- oil - 9x12 © Marc R. Hanson '09
I painted this one today as my second of two pieces for the Museum show. The first night we arrived in San Miguel, Frank and Julissa walked us into town, to the square, el Jardin. There was a party going on, not sure what it was about, but there were people in celebration everywhere. I knew that we were in a special place at that point. I did some picture taking and was captivated by the black shapes of these musicians. This isn't a large piece, but I am happy with that I stuck to my original concept. That was to paint the crowd designed as a large dark shape with a minimum of 'details' added and to still keep the spirit of that night in the painting. I am happy with the attempt to do that.

Now I'm done, this needs to dry, then framing, crating and shipping.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Show is Hanging!!!

I am SO proud of our upcoming 'First Annual Christmas Show' at 'Art In General' in Marine on St. Croix, MN! Tom Maakestad has graciously given this section of his space over to Kami Polzin and me as the exhibit area for our work during the show. Kami is showing in the neighborhood of 27 pieces and I have about 18 pieces hanging in this section of the space.

Anna Maakestad will be showing some of her ceramic art, like these absolutely gorgeous tiles in the picture.

Tom has a studio in another part of the space and is hanging his work in that area. At first we had thought that we would separate the work so that we would be seen individually by the visitors to the show. However, as we began to hang the show we realized that there is a harmony that exists between Kami's paintings and mine and that the best way was to intermingle our work. It works beautifully. WE are very, very excited about how it looks and can't wait to share it with everyone.

The is the first time that the four of us, who live within 30 miles or less of each other, have shown together other than at the Door County Plein Air Event last July. The second 'first' is that this is the first show that Tom and Anna Maakestad have held in this new venue of theirs. We are very grateful and proud to have been asked to be involved in it.

The third 'first' is that this will be the first time that Kami and I have exhibited solely together in one space. We paint together often so this is only a natural evolution of that. I'm thrilled to see our work hanging side by side, and I think that you will be too.

Tom and Anna will be working on hanging their art in the next day or so. I hope that anyone who is in this area can make it to the Opening Reception this Thursday night... December 10, 2009. We open at 5pm and will be there until 8pm. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Refinishing some frames...

...just so that they can be used. If I was in the position to purchase custom made, gilded frames, there's no way that I'd spend the time and effort to do this. Since I'm not independently wealthy, I do these sorts of things every once in a while to try to get a frame to fit a painting a little better then they do out of the box. Below is a beautiful corner of a 'real' frame, water gilded with 22kt gold.

It's a real Catch 22. We artists should not put anything but the absolute best frame on, the frame that best enhances the painting. To do that I'd have to give up eating, art supplies, fuel for the plein air truck, the plein air truck, and all but two brushes and three tubes of paint. I'd mix on my leg or forearm and beg for more paint. You get the idea.

Instead I make do with what I can. I'm not in favor of just picking a standard gold frame and slapping it onto every painting that leaves the house either. So I try to alter the mass manufactured frames, the ones that I can afford, to give them some customization and to make them a little more individually tied to the painting that they're going to be with for some time to come. That's when time is available. If it's not, they go out in the frames as they come.

I have frames all over the place, the typical varieties from the online suppliers. They're always just "too orange", "too bright", "too silver", "too dark".... or something other than "Just Right, a perfect fit...". With a little reading and experience as a framer and "mess making experimenter", I have learned about some processes to alter the prefinished mouldings and frames. If you are interested, look at the Picture Framing Magazine data base for lot's of helpful info about how to do this. For years I subscribed to that magazine and have files of the articles torn out of the magazine and saved for reference.

The other thing needed, well two other things, are a closet full of hazardous, dangerous and smelly products from paint stores, hardware stores and even etching supply houses, and tolerance for these sorts of chemicals and concoctions. If you don't like Turpenoid, I mean if that's your limit when it comes to toxic materials in your artistic life, then don't even think about doing this. It involves layers of 'stuff', spraying 'stuff' ( with an electric turbine powered HVLP sprayer), sanding nasty, dusty "stuff", rubbing and painting on other "nasty stuff", and using a lot of rubber gloves, rags, paper towels and face masks.

Despite all of that... I love doing this kind of thing. Although I have some confidence that I'm not going to blow myself up in the process, it's always a little bit of an experiment to launch into one of these. Probably because I don't really know what I'm doing, the results are always a HUGE surprise within the limits of my expectations. I discover new things to do to the poor little frames that give themselves up to my lab of indecent things to do to wood every time I try. In other words... IT's a heck of a lot of fun!

So here are the latest three victims of my "Frame Shop". All were too bright and warm for these paintings, two gold, one silver. I'll post the pics I took quickly and briefly describe what I did. Believe me, though you might not like these results, they're a lot better than generic gold and silver, the way the frames were. At least now they're individuals.

The 'official' disclaimer and apology to all of the professional gilder's and frame crafts-men and -women out there... and to any of you who might want to try this... I don't have a clue what I'm doing. Go seek instruction and/or advice from someone who does. :)

On all three of these frames I used something called 'asphaltum'... yes, asphalt in a can. This is an artist grade tar that is used to block out, protect etching plates when they go into the acid bath. You thin it with Naptha, a very nasty chemical. This is brushed on and then removed in varying degrees. It's not just brushed on though, it gets tamped with a rag, stippled with a brush, wiped with cotton rag, whatever it takes. When you get it to look like you want, it sets up fast so you have to work fast, it gets a dusting of Rottenstone, in varying amounts, that it is then removed, in varying degrees with various means, and watch ed like a hawk watching a mouse until you are sure that when it dries it's going to look good. That's considering that it's covered in a grey powder and you know that you're going to remove most of it, maybe 90% of it to get to the final look. This is very touchy because if you do it too early, too roughly, before the asphaltum has set up enough, you scar it and ruin what you just did. That can lead to a new discovery too.

The frame that I had on hand that fit this painting, "Chisago County Dusk" was a warm gold profile moulding that had been chopped and assembled. The profile isn't bad, but again for this painting a bright yellow gold just didn't help the painting out at all. I painted on the asphaltum and then wiped it off of the high points of the frame. It's a very smooth finish so I carefully tamped the panel of the frame with a cotton t-shirt ball to make a very smooth interior panel surface. That left a reddish gold color to the panel that enhanced the warmth of the painting. A light dusting of rottenstone to soften the dark and it fit the painting a lot better than as it was.

This is my favorite of the bunch. It was an Omega silver finish frame that on this painting, "Christmas Morning" looked green. Same basic procedure as these other two, asphaltum, wiped down leaving more in the interior panel area, added rottenstone, dusted off to my taste, let dry. Once it's dry the rottenstone is set into the asphaltum. I still took a soft cotton rag and buffed the panel area. That left a satin surface that softly enhances the quiet, cool light of the painting. I like this one a lot.

In this piece called "November Coming" I started to pull up the asphaltum before it had set. This was on an Omega gold frame that was too orange and dominant. So I mixed a wash of OMS and Liquin, to help it dry eventually, and brushed it on in one 'round robin' stroke, covering the entire frame around all four legs without stopping. It pooled and got sort of grainy, I thought it was very cool looking. Once that had started to set I covered it in a layer of rottenstone that I watched until it had just been 'grabbed' by the setting Liquin and then lightly brushed it off with a wide Chinese bristle brush. What was left when it dried and the excess rottenstone had been removed was a dusty, leathered looking surface that matched the paintings' own soft character. The entire package, though gold and black, is subdued now and it works as a smokey sort of presentation that I like.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Studio Painting

'Christmas Morning' - oil - 12x16 © Marc R. Hanson '09

Well it is the holiday season! I've painted in the field, on the day last year, and taken photos in this area several Christmas mornings, but never have painted the actual morning for fear of running into Santa Clause and interrupting his work. So this one was in honor of one of the most special mornings of the year. When I'm out in the country driving on these kind of mornings, Christmas is what I think of and I like that feeling.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Studio Painting

'Chisago County Dusk' - oil on panel - 18x24 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Will be on view December 10-12, 2009 at the First Annual Christmas Show at Arts in General, Marine on St Croix, MN.

I haven't painted many 'sunset' subjects because they're like painting peak fall color... the real thing is so spectacular that it's hard to tame it with paint and still have it give off that same emotional punch of reality. None the less, it's a colorists', luminists', impressionists'... and all of the other 'ists' palette of pure delight! And has to be attempted once in awhile.

I only wish I knew what this looks like on your screen. I have two computers, both Macs, and it looks different on them both... and they're calibrated.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hey... made it outside!

'Mid November' - oil on board - 11x14 - © Marc R. Hanson '09

Well the light isn't what you'd call dramatic now. But it's pretty warm so I am glad to have made it out of the studio today for a little while. This one was a study in "Geeez... there really isn't much of difference out there between my feet and that barn two miles away!!!"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

1st Annual Christmas Show - Arts In General, Marine on St Croix, MN

"Sunday Morning Frost" - oil, 16x20, © Marc R. Hanson '09
This is a new painting painted in the studio. We don't have snow yet. Four artists from the area will be showing in a nearby gallery in December so I am trying to put together a few new pieces for that. This is one.

On Thursday, December 10th, 2009 Tom Maakestad of 'Arts in General' in Marine on St Croix, MN will be hosting an Opening Reception from 5-8pm for his First Annual Christmas Show. The weekend exhibit of his work, Anna Maakestad's, Kami Polzin's and my work will be on display December 11 & 12- 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm in his studio above the Marine General Store.

Tom is a painter, Anna is a potter, Kami and I are both painters. This should be a great exhibit to view, please join us on Thursday night.

Monday, October 12, 2009

OPA Eastern Regional Exhibit

'Tilley Foster Farm' oil on linen, 20x24 © Marc R. Hanson '09
I'm happy to announce that this painting 'Tilley Foster Farm' has been accepted into the OPA Eastern Regional Exhibition at Corse Galllery in Jacksonville, FL. The show opens November 20th and runs through December 23rd, 2009.

I'm also proud to announce that I am now showing in two new galleries. They are-

Beardsley Fine Art in Wilton, CT


M Gallery of Fine Art in Sarasota, FL.
I'll be showing as the 'Artist of the Month' here in January and will be teaching a 5 day workshop January 4-8, 2010.
Hope to see you there.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sky and more sky.

One of these was painted in the studio last week during a rain day, the other outside yesterday immersed in another rain day followed by some finish on it today.

Even simply starting the larger paintings outside is so much better than not being outside at all to paint them. The piece 'Hovering' is one of those exceptions. A quick pull over along the highway to capture on pixels a fleeting few moments that are then recalled in the studio is necessary too. Truthfully, I have more fun being frustrated on site than making an acceptable painting inside from any sort of reference. Good thing it's my world or someone would tell me that I'm not allowed to have fun doing this and make me come back inside!!!

'Impending Change' oil, 14x18 © Marc R. Hanson '09
This was painted about 75% on site yesterday before the rain was so bad that I was afraid that it would ruin the board this is on, not to mention that my paintbox was acting as a water reservoir. I'm getting more and more interested in how brushstrokes can be used to depict the 'point' that you want to make. I don't mean a similar brush movement all throughout, ie, little swirling strokes no matter if you're painting grass or hard metal, but strokes that indicate movement up, down, sideways, diagonally, and strokes that indicate texture. Anyway, I was thinking of the 25kt winds that were gusting while painting this one.

'Hovering' oil, 11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Like I said, I saw this on my way to teach a workshop a week and a half ago in Zumbrota, MN. As you drive south of where I live now towards Rochester, the landscape flattens out into rolling hills that don't seem like hills. It opens up the sky view, you can see huge distances, like being in the prairie regions of the country. There wasn't a cloud near me except for this one very large 'blimp-like' cloud that was blocking out the rising sun. I'm probably going to explore this more and end up doing a very large painting based on it. Don't know if the color will be the same, this was an idea study of that concept.
(And yes, the telephone poles in windy country do bend eventually as are the trees shaped into 'wind vanes' by prevailing winds. Plus the poles warp... the less interesting explanation.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Paintings

I see it's been awhile since I posted. I taught a two day workshop a week and a half ago in Zumbrota, MN to a group of eager students. We had good weather, good subjects but frankly, not enough time. Before that and following the week, I have been working on a 24x36 painting on location. I finally had to finish it in the studio yesterday because the season has progressed and what I was painting is now a thing of the past. I think that I spent 5 days, about 3 to 4 hrs or more at a shot on location, and one day in the studio, about 5 hours. So I guess this was painted about 80% on location with just the finishing touches done yesterday.

This is the largest on location painting that I've done. At first I thought it would be a one shot painting...duh...not so. And in fact what I really value about working this way, I have discovered, is that returning for multiple visits gives me time inbetween to consider what I've done, critique the progress and adjust along the way. I have completely found that to be an advantage and the process has drawn me in and taken hold. My only regret is that winter is close, not because I don't look forward to painting large winter paintings on location, but because it is nice to be comfortable while dealing with what is a pretty difficult thing to do anyway.

The Beauport and large palette are GREAT! I love that easel.

'Autumn Fields'- oil, 24x36 © Marc R. Hanson '09

I've included a couple of photos of my start. I meant to film the progress but I was consumed by it and completely forgot to follow through on that.

This next painting is the result of some hazy weather that kept me from working on the larger painting one morning. As I was heading to the location I saw this scene and desperately wanted to paint it. But it was in an area where there was no way I could safely get off of the road for more than a couple of minutes. There was no room to stand out of the way of traffic. The other thing was that the condition that was so attractive was about to dissolve as well. So the only thing left is to resort to the camera and memory. That's what I did.

'North End'- oil, 16x20 © Marc R. Hanson '09
This was painted with a limited palette of Cad Yellow Lemon, Prussian Blue and Alizarin Crimson. A perfect palette for this particular color scheme and mood.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mid September Peas

"Mid September Peas" oil on linen/bd, 11x14, © Marc R. Hanson '09
I worked on a large piece this morning, a 24x36 and had an interruption that for some reason did a number on me for the rest of the day. I've discussed it on Facebook, am past that and want to move forward. Suffice it to say that I needed to get out, way out (that means north of Taylors Falls a few miles, where I would be left alone and I could paint. I did that and painted this scene of a tree line with a foreground of soybeans, sometimes called "peas" depending on where you live, just to release a little 'tension'. It did the trick followed by a good evening workout. Now I feel like I can breath.

This weekend I'll be in Zumbrota, MN teaching a workshop through Crossing at Carnegie. We have a full class, should have good weather and I'm looking forward to it all.

Thanks for looking in.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Working larger outside.

When painting this week, with a couple of exceptions, I've been working larger on site. This is a learning experience, one that is going to take some time to absorb and adjust to. I'm so used to containing all that I want to say in 154 sq inches or so that doubling or tripling that is a real challenge in simple things, like paint handling. It's a logistics vs time equation you have to become comfortable with. I'll be real honest, I'm also dealing with this... how do I get the same kind of look to the larger work that is a natural result in the smaller work that is painted on site? Or is it even necessary, is the result from working larger such a different animal that I shouldn't even worry about this? These are the questions that I'm facing from my personal point of view.

Even with those questions present, I am already 10 times more comfortable a week into this than I was with the first one, which wasn't even that large. None of these are 'BIG', 20x 24 the largest. But they're larger than what I have been doing so I'm giving myself a break on the struggles and just letting it work out as it does.

I'm comfortable enough now that the next one going with me is going to be a 24x30. I'll work at that size (weather and conditions permitting) for a while and then go up again in scale. They are beginning to look smaller already. I don't any longer feel like I'm staring into the face of the mainsail of 50 ft yacht!

I'm sure that some readers/artists of my blog are probably wondering what all of the whining is about. Many of you might already paint larger on site and don't see it as that big of a deal. I hope to get there soon....

Also, the Beauport easel is my new best friend. I love this thing. I'm sure that the Take-It-Easel would be even better, but I'm going to get my $99.00 out of this one before I worry about the $300.00's that the other one costs. I'm even painting the smaller size panels on it and find it so much more friendly in that use that if it weren't for it's size and the weight of the paintbox I'd take it every where I go to paint.

ALL of these were painted on location...

'September Pastures' oil 16x20 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Well... this was the first one last week. This isn't that big but I'll tell you that it was a good size to introduce myself to outside. I had enough issues with it, and it served it's purpose.

'Full Over Balsam Lake' oil 11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Obviously not a big one. I am working on an 18x24 of this same scene. The full moon is gone, but the land hasn't moved. In this case I'll do as much work on the larger one on site as I can, as the conditions permit, and then use this study to finish it up. One of the things that I see in painters working large on location is that the work tends to be of lighting situations that are more stable, towards the middle of the day, using the longer light situation to paint with of course. I like the end of the day light, the last hour or so, and those situations that are fleeting and one of a kind. In those situations I still want and will use the smaller studies as reference, it's the only way to really grab those last minute spectacular events.

'The Island' oil 16x20 © Marc R. Hanson '09
I have to remind myself with the larger paintings to be careful not to just 'record'. I want and need to stay tuned into the emotional side of painting even on the larger scale. I know that the more experience I gain doing this, the more comfortable I'll become with it and the more attention I will pay to that. In the mean time, some of these are going to be simpler, more 'records' of the place than the kind of statement that I really want to be making. Time....

'Loosestrife Autumn' oil 8x16 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Kami and I went out to paint purple loosestrife which is in abundance this year. It's an artist's dream, but it's invasive and not a good thing to see in the environment. Well anyway, we had a ball with the light at the end of the day and the effect that it's warmth had on the greens that are changing towards fall's palette and on the loosestrife itself. YUMM....

'September Beans' oil 20x24 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Man did this morning feel like September! Everything in the landscape is warming, except the temperatures. I wanted the sky in this one. I haven't mentioned time required to paint these. This one took about 4 hours, the 16x20's about 3 hours.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tilley Foster Farm Workshop-Brewster, NY-8/24-8/28

There's nothing like reducing a couple of weeks worth of teaching and painting into 5 days! That's what happened last week in New York to 13 students and one instructor. I taught a process of developing field work into a studio painting that by all rights should take a little more than a day of field work and a day to work it up into a finished painting.

Of course you could take the large one outside and do it all on the spot and that is what I am working towards doing more of myself. Even if I do that, these preliminary steps are still SO valuable that I will probably continue to use them as often as I discipline myself to do so. It's "easier" to just get to painting... but that is also fraught with the possibility that the basic considerations... aren't considered until you're into trouble.

I'm teaching this approach to as totally, as is possible, investigate the issues involved and the problems to be solved, before you start to paint on 6 sq ft of expensive linen. Many painters, myself included, talk about the importance of 'Concept', 'Memory' and 'Visualization'.

In this approach the main 'Conceptual' work is done in the very early stages. Using the B&W value studies, the small and medium size color comps to explore your concept allow those surprises that happen along the way to be incorporated as part of your evolving conceptual basis for painting the painting. I don't know about the rest of you, but I frequently get into a painting and find other things about the subject that I find as or more interesting than what I might be painting. What if you work the idea up progressively,on a smaller scale initially, to uncover those other ideas that pop up as you actually get deep into the oil and pigment and larger in scale?

As the process moves forward there is a discovery of 'memory' and a 'vision' of what the painting will become. You find yourself relying less and less on staring at the subject matter and more and more "thinking" as a painter creating a piece of art vs a copy of the subject.

So here's the work that I did as a demonstration (in one and a half days) to explain this idea to the class. They were successful with many 'revelations' expressed. They were surprised that they were able to work on large paintings without relying as much, or at all in some cases, on photo reference. Nothing wrong with the photos, but the essence of their feelings about what they were painting came through in a much more 'pure' artistic sense, and it was gratifying to see.

Demo Value Study- 5x6 oil-on location study

Demo Color Comp 1- 5x6 oil-on location study

Demo Pastel Color Study-11x13.5-on location study
This one was painted from life for information to use the following day in the studio work.

Demo Half Size Color Study-11x13.5
The morning of my in studio demo, this was painted from the previous three studies to finalize my ideas about color on a scale that was proportionally about 50% of the finish size of 20x24.

'Tilley Foster Farm' oil on linen 20x24-studio painting © Marc R. Hanson '09
This is the final painting. If this were a 10 or 12 session weekly class or an 8 day workshop, I would have painted this 24x30. But I had to cram all of the supplies in my car and do this all in a day and a half to allow the students time to do the same thing. I gave them two and a half days! It has changed from the studies in a number of different ways. That's the nature of doing this and the reason for it at the same time. Changes occur in translating studies to larger paintings.

'Peach Lake Nocturne' oil on linen panel 11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '09
We had a nocturne night following a very good Italian dinner. The lake was next to the home of my very gracious host and friend Jamie Grossman. Jamie is the one who has been trying to get this workshop to happen for a number of years. She did, it did happen and was nearly perfect.

At Tilley Foster Farm there is an effort under way to save endangered breeds of some of the domestic farm animals that came over to the Continent with the settlers. I'm not sure about these two guys, but they were very entertaining to watch. Must have been something very interesting... or very tasty down in that mud. Either way, they can have it!

This is the Putnam Arts Council's building (red building top photo and photo above) containing their gallery, office and studio space. They were wonderful people who's goal in life is to foster and promote the arts in their county and region. My hat's off to them and a big 'Thank you' too. They are about to loose this location and that's a real shame as it's a perfect location for a workshop like mine. Come to find out, this was a first for them, to host a week long workshop. I hope we made a good impression for the future.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Demos from August Taylors Falls workshop.

This is a brief post just to keep something going here. I finished up another workshop with a wonderful group of students on the 14th of August. I'm about to head to New York for another five day workshop tomorrow and will take the time (when I have it) to talk more about both of these events. For now, here are some of the demos that I did for the class last week. We had a nocturne night and I made the mistake of painting under a very orange light. The result is much more red than I thought it was going to be, lesson learned.

'Don's House' - 6x8 oil.
I use value studies as part of the curriculum in my workshops as a means to show and let be seen by the students, just how important it is to create a good value pattern and scheme in their paintings so that they're better able to understand and use color more effectively.

'Across the Pond' - 11x14 oil © Marc R. Hanson '09
I did this demo to talk about reflections and how the color and values in the reflections change in both areas.

'Taylors Falls Nocturne' - oil 10x8 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Well... the lighting situation messed with me. I did capture one of my students, Steve, painting with an LED booklight. Man was that thing blue!

'Mary's Wall' - 11x14 pastel © Marc R. Hanson '09
I usually have at least a couple of pastelists in the group and try to give them some of the limited demo time in that medium. There's a lot to cover in five days and it really doesn't matter what medium you're using, the principles are the same. I'm not teaching 'Oil Painting' or 'Pastel Painting' workshops in this case, those are for another time.

'Clay Pot Bell' - 11x14 oil © Marc R. Hanson '09
This was the last demo, literally, it ended at 3:00 pm on Friday. We had been beat to death with heat and wind the last couple of days so it was as hard for the students to endure this as it was for me to do it. I painted this pretty fast, choosing the place to paint entirely because we were all in the shade. I painted this about as fast as I've painted an 11x4 before. There would be more to do normally, but that's all I had left.