Saturday, April 11, 2009

Marathon thoughts...

Day 11 is about to begin... I'm over the '3rd of the way' hump. I want to say a few quick things about doing this and materials that artists and non artists might be interested in.

First off... thank you for all of the supportive emails and posts. I'm trying to get to them all and eventually hope to do that.
There have been questions about the materials I'm using. I listed my palette in an earlier post, so am not going to do that again, besides I add, subtract and change it from time to time. It's a basic "Schmid" type palette with the sometimes addition of Perm Rose, Magenta, Manganese blue, Transparent gold oxide and probably a couple of others.

My preferred painting surface for these at this scale is the 8-ply 100% rag museum board to which I apply a solution of acrylic primer with pumice, a thin coat, followed by (when dry) a 50% cut of clear shellac. This surface gives me the most 'grab' but also acts like a lead primed surface in allowing the paint to sit on top and not sink in. I love the dimensional effect of the paint on this kind of board. It grabs but isn't so textured that I can't get the kind of brushstrokes that I want for these little paintings. I am also occasionally using some fine linen mounted on board too.

I don't use any medium. Just OMS to clean and thin in initial washes.

Now, I've been thinking about 'why' to do this. Believe me for those first few days of cold and wind, I thought really, really hard about that. But now I'm acclimated and can't wait to be out there each and every day. Four paintings a day isn't really the goal per se, the goal is persistence, the fine tuning of my observation and application skills, and learning more about what I seek out as a painter.

The first two, being dedicated enough to continue this despite all that is being avoided by giving myself this luxury, and improving my speed and application of paint and the principles involved in painting, are obviously going to improve and be met if I stick this out.

The third goal is an on going process. Probably a life long search. But I can tell you that I am finding material all around me that has me stopping to paint. I'm not sure yet what to make of this and will write about it on the blog at a later time when there's been some time to absorb this.

I'm challenging myself to look at the landscape in ways that are different than I might normally. That's hard to do, to take yourself out of yourself. I don't want to produce cookie cutter paintings. Which I could do. It would make more sense to stand in one spot all day and just turn in four different directions and paint four paintings, just to get the four done. More interesting for me is to be like a scout, looking for new possibilities for each one. There have been windy days where I sat in the car all day, the road painting day, and took what was in front of me and went with it. And at the end of the day it's harder to come up with the energy to be as fresh and open as in the beginning of the day. However, some of my favorite pieces have come at the end of the day too. 'Backlit Bugs' is one of them. That painting would be impossible to find earlier in the day due to the quality of the light and location of the sun.

I am challenging myself to 'try' to find a fresh view for each new painting, not to produce 'cliches'. Then again, what's that? A cliche to one can be a new view to another person. I want to make the most out of each and every painting, not to slight one single opportunity to make art. This is one of the great discoveries for me so far, that within a little 35 sq in panel, there is room for an artist to say as much as they would like to say about a chosen subject.

A side benefit, as a result of having to find four new compositions ( concepts ) a day, every day, is the realization that there is NO reason not to have paintings to do for years, lifetimes really. In 10 days I have 40 new studies that in nearly every instance could be the genesis for larger studio paintings! That's reason enough to do this.

To end this for now and to the "Why" of doing this...Why not?


Leslie Saeta said...

Whew .... and I thought you were crazy for doing this. Just kidding! I think it is an amazing feat and this experience will last with you forever. I am just glad that I get to go along for the ride (at least kind of). Fantastic!

L.Holm said...

This is a wonderful explanation, and such incentive to go paint, and not labor endlessly over one piece (like I'm doing now). When I look at your paintings, I'm always in love with the first, and then blown away by the one you've done last. You're so honing your already remarkable skills and eye.

Jesse said...

Excellent post. I know one thing that I've struggled with painting plien air is picking a composition. I've driven/hiked for hours and gone home frustrated having painted nothing!

Last summer I started doing small quick studies, and I find they really help. I have done 4 in a day, but as for keeping that up for a month...

Eden Compton Studio said...

Interesting post Marc and well written! I admire your ability to find so many compositions. I waste SO much time searching for the right spot. I can't imagine trying to find four in one day! Great work as always.

Linda Navroth said...

What is "a 50% cut of clear shellac"? I see there are 1 lb. - 3 lb. cuts mentioned on woodworking sites, but none are given by percentage. I am intrigued by the panels you describe here and would like to try priming some of my own this way.
I love your blog--I'm learning so much here and I enjoy your paintings very much!
Thanks for sharing your methods and work.--Linda