Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Fall!

This week I painted outside at Arcola Mills, a beautiful location on the St Croix River inbetween Marine on St Croix and Stillwater, MN that is open to the public for the month of October. Needless to say the painters are showing up to take advantage of this. I painted Monday by myself but then painted with Tony Hilscher on Tuesday and with Kami Polzin on Wednesday.

The color along the river up here is surprisingly still green. The make up of the tree population, mostly soft maples that survive the seasonal floods, has something to do with it. I'm interested in seeing if they ever do peak out or simply succumb to the season and just drop their leaves.

Yesterday I took out a new pastel rig that I plan to use for field painting to try out. It's just a shelf that I made of 1/4" ply wood that leverages on my tripod legs to hold the pastel box (a Dakota travels size box) and a board that attaches to my quick release plate for the tripod. It worked beautifully so I plan to have the dust sticks out more often now. I'll take some shots of the easel and get it on here soon.

I hope you are all enjoying the Fall... it's been an amazing one here. I'll be heading off to Fredericksburg, TX next week to help celebrate the opening of R.S.Hanna Gallery (and the wine festival of course), and then onto Scottsdale, AZ where I'll be teaching a pastel 'Field to Studio' workshop October 31- November 4 for the Scottsdale Artists' School. By the way, I think that there are probably still openings for that one if you're interested.


'ARCOLA FADING GREENS' oil - 12x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This one has already been posted here but it's part of the past week so...
I like the square format and am going to do more of them. I have a couple of these 12x12's sitting in the studio now and a couple of 24x24's as well. This day I was dealing with the fall season that still looked like August or earlier. The greens were quite gray, a challenge.


'ARCOLA GLARE' oil - 9x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Today Tony Hilscher and I just happened to show up at the same time to paint, so we did. As soon as I walked to the river the blast of light from the rising sun said to me... Paint that! It's a challenge that I hope to conquer some day. Was a beautiful day to paint.


'SLIVER OF LIGHT' oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I was lucky to meet Kami here today to paint. We were both talking about the lack of color in the trees, they should have been warmer than they were. There was some cloud cover in the sky on this morning so I thought that I'd back off of my view from the day before and try to capture that overall atmosphere. This is a very simple design, it's all about the sliver of light that broke through onto the surface of the water. I grabbed that right away and am glad I did because before long the entire surface of the river was once again a bright reflection.


'BLUSTERY OCTOBER DAY' pastel - 8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Yesterday I took out the pastels. I'm going to be teaching a pastel workshop as I mentioned in a couple of weeks so I wanted to test out my new easel rig and get the groove going with the dust sticks. Good thing too... for half an hour I felt like a total newbie to pastel. I've been sloshing around oil paints with goofy brushes so much lately that it took some time to get back into the careful and controlled way of working required with the pastels. Things like not having the color you want, but remembering that I can mix colors on the surface, wipe them down, layer back over again and I may end up with something similar to what I'm looking for. My rig worked beautifully too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Since Kansas some local Fall!

Since Kansas I've been in withdrawals but have also been out either painting or photographing our own magnificent fall color. The last couple of years I've been out of the area, San Miguel de Allende and Cape Cod, each fall during the peak of the color. I don't realize what that means until winter sets in and I'm anxious to revisit Fall in the studio and am at a loss because I didn't do my homework in either paint or pics or both! It is here and gone so fast that there's always a little conflict between painting two or three paintings or painting a taste of it and then taking several hundred photos. If I had my wish, I'd never step inside with a paintbrush again... everything would be painted outside on location. But we all know the things that step inbetween wishes and reality when it comes to outdoor painting.

Like this past week... I painted the painting below "Lake View" and it was as perfectly calm and gorgeous as you can imagine a Fall day to be. That was it, that day was the one. Good thing that I painted two paintings that day... that painting and "Oak Grove"... because the following three days came with quite a wind. Gusts up to 45 mph one of those days did a number on all of the leaves that had changed over and they're down now. The beauty is still out there to be savored, but there is something about walking into the maple forest at peak and being enveloped by the veil of golden light that cannot be photographed no matter how hard you try.

Ending this, I'm happy that I was here during the peak this year. I have enough inspiration stored within me and on my flashcard to last most of the winter. I hope that you were all able to make it out into the beautiful fall that seems to be surrounding most of the country this year too.


'Lake View' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I was lucky to be invited to paint on the property of some friends who live on a lake with a beautiful woodland not far from me. Everything was perfect this day, the light, the wind, and the temps. Not to mention that the Fall leaves were at peak and still all affixed to the branches! What a treat to be able to be outside at times like this it is.



'Oak Grove' - oil - 8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
In the afternoon, following a lot of photographing in Wisconsin in the Interstate Park, I wandered back over into my neighborhood. There is an oak savannah near me that captures my eye every single time that I drive past it. It's on a corner of two intersecting roads that I turn onto every single time I leave town to drive south or west of here. This day the oaks were alive with color and I finally had to stop and try to grab it. I also want to paint this in winter, and will. The problem is that this is a large area of large oaks and some maples and putting that on an 8"x10" canvas hardly begins to make the statement about the impact that this location has on me visually. I hesitate to say how big the canvas for this location should be...



"Arcola Fading Greens" - oil - 12x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
We're lucky that one of the nicest pieces of property on the St Croix River is now open to the public for one month. This is not the case normally although many of us from the area have been able to paint it some in the past. The Minnesota State Park System is manning it with rangers and volunteers until October 30th from 9am-5pm. The turn out has been enormous from what they were telling me this morning. It would be incredible if this property became open on a regular basis. It's very special and provides a different view of the river than is available elsewhere. The color is not as advanced down in the river valley as it is along the hillsides. I guess the warmth of the water keeps things slightly delayed, and many of the trees are soft maples and they don't turn to the brilliant golds and reds of their hillside cousins the sugar and red maples. It was still a very nice morning until the sun faded away, and I met some nice folks who were there for the programs that the park provide to the public. I'll be back.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Painting in the Flint Hills of Kansas!

I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend Kim Casebeer to come and paint the Flint Hills of Kansas with a group of very fine fpainters last week, September 29 - October 2, 2011. Along to paint was Cally Krallman, Phil Starke, John Potoschnick, Susan Lynn, Dick Sneary, Joseph Loganbill, Debra J. Groesser, Judith Mackey, Michael Albrechtson, Kim and yours truly. We stayed at the Flying 'W' Ranch, a working cattle and dude ranch owned and operated by Josh and Gwen Hoy. We had wonderful facilities, bunk houses and Josh is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) trained chef so the food was amazing and welcomed each morning and evening.

We had the most unbelievably good weather, warm and no wind for the three full days we painted. Not a cloud either... we were wishing that one of those would show up to break up the pure blue sky. The color at this time of the year was rich and full of the warmer side of the palette and a treat to paint. Kansas surprised my notion of what I would find there, that being a notion that it would be flat and agricultural. There's plenty of that, but the Flint Hills contain a huge amount of woodland riparian habitat that is broken by prairie and some agriculture. It's a great combination of textures, vistas, color and elevation change for painting. There is something about the vast open landscape and a near absence of any sounds other than grasshoppers and birds that I love. I really enjoyed myself there and am going to be sure to include it as a painting location again soon.

I painted a total of 8 paintings, wiped one off. The larger piece here "Morning View of the Flint Hills", a 16x24 oil, was painted for 3 mornings for about an hour or slightly longer each session. The shadows on the hills in the distance disappeared fast as the sun rose. Being that they're about the only thing that gave definition to the landscape, I would only paint for a short period of time while they had some form shadow to them. I guess you could say that I would have painted about 11 or 12 paintings in the 3 days if I had been painting smaller each of those mornings. I'm glad that I took on this one though, and it's not that large, but painting something that is new means learning the language of the land in paint. It's an exploration and period of discovery which slows things down a little bit.

One last thing, if you go there be sure that you have good tires with a large number of plys. The non paved roads are covered in broken, crushed flint and guess what flint is really good for? Making knives and arrow or spear points. They will go through even a good new tire, we found that out with one of the painters vehicle. Driving slow on the roads is a help. For the beauty, it's worth the $13.50 that it cost our painter to have it fixed in Cottonwood Falls where the gentleman spends most of the time fixing "rock slices" in tires.


'Flying W Ranch' oil-8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This was the first painting I did when I arrived on Thursday afternoon. Parked the truck, got out the painting gear, wandered for a few minutes and then painted this one! I love this job.


'Morning View of the Flint Hills' oil-16x24 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I spent 3+ mornings on this painting, about an hour or so per session, like I mentioned above.


'Flint Hills Autumn' oil-12x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
We had unbroken blue skies, which are nice, but for painting it's nice to have some clouds to play with compositionally. In this painting I waited and waited for one to appear, it didn't. Finally a jet flew over at altitude leaving a contrail for me to add to the sky. I probably would have anyway, that or a crow or three. But it's good when they help you out. This was a late morning painting, the landscape becoming quite flat by the time I painted it. I was counting on the design to help hold it together.


'Sunset on the Hills' oil-9x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Josh Hoy loaded us all up in the back of The Plains Drifter, a 1956 grain truck that has had the bed converted to carry guests out into the hills on rides, and we went up to a high point to paint the end of the day. The color was astounding.


'Stock Pond' oil-11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I painted with Michael Albrechtson and John Potoschnick one afternoon on the Magathon Farm. We found some shade around one of the stock ponds on the farm, complete with stock. As we were painting some of the milk cows decided that they liked John and got very close, a noses' distance from him. All of his "Go away cow!" commands didn't do a bit of good. They wanted to watch his magic.


'Mike's Green Day' oil-5x7 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This little monochromatic green painting, painted only with terre verte and white, is the result of a rather mischievous idea that I had for us all to do an 'all green' painting one morning. The reason is that Michael Albrechtson when showing us his work the night before was having a fit over his use of 'green', stemming from, according to him, his having been in the studio for a long period of time. We didn't think he was all that overtaken by green in the work, it looked quite good to us. But to help him along we pulled this little prank and that evening 7 of us laid out our green paintings all at once, much to his surprise and dismay! He got a kick out of it, good natured as he is, and we all had a laugh about it.


'Road to Bazaare, KS' oil-14x18 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I drove back up to the area where we had painted the sundown piece the night before and found this view to the east that was captivating in it's 'largeness'. This was an interesting painting to me. It's painted quite thin, just enough paint on it to grab the fast moving light and it's color. I used a lot of sketchy strokes, laid down fast and untouched. The effect is one that I like and am finding myself using a little bit here and there since.


'Hot and Bright' oil-8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This was my last painting of the trip. I stayed an extra day to get one more morning's work on the larger piece above and then had lunch with some of the group before they departed. Following that I went to explore another area that sounded intriguing... Sharpe's Creek Road. It was a beautiful place. I took a lot of photos but decided to do this one last painting. It was 'hot and bright' and I was tired and ready to hit the road.

Monday, September 26, 2011

9/25/11 A day painting with friends at Crex Meadow Wildlife Area

Yesterday was a fine fall day up at Crex Meadow Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, WI. Gray skies, slight wind and the beginnings of Mother Nature's changing of her palette with which she paints our surroundings. The reds, oranges, yellows, warm greens and a variance of other warmer earth colors are all beginning to overtake the summer palette, except that the trees that border the bodies of water where the warmth of the water holds off some of the frost, are still holding onto their August green foliage.


The Painters soaking it all in before the day starts... Critical to seeing paintings.

I've mentioned that I've spent a fair amount of time up there, 30 miles north of me, painting now over the last few years. But this year I have really begun to concentrate on this jewel of a piece of earth. It's a place where a person can hike, bike, hunt, nature watch or paint without the fear of traffic or being told that "You can't paint there". You are free to wander anywhere that you please or dare, free to stop at any point on the many miles of gravel and dirt roads that spider web through the refuge and surrounding wildlife area. This is a real treat to have in the neighborhood and I plan to continue to make very good use of it.

Yesterday I contacted a several other painter friends in the area and 5 of us ended up making the trip up and spent the day painting. Mary Pettis, MaryAnn Cleary, Joni Jurek, Tony Hilscher and yours truly, all spent the entire day at our easels in front of the daunting but beautiful surroundings that Mother Nature offered up for our painting pleasure. We started the day with layers of long underwear, sweaters, coats and more but ended up shedding a lot of that by the end of he day. The ending was perfect, calm winds and balmy temps. This is one reason why we put up with the gnats and skeeters, wind, cold and other deterrents, to experience a day like we had outside from beginning to the end of the light... priceless!


'COLD SKIES' 9x12 Oil ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Crex is primarily a sedge marsh, flat vistas without much more to break the distant horizon other than the slight rise in the ground elevation or a distant line of trees that make up the upland habitats that surround parts of the area. It's the kind of a place where you're tempted to just paint skies all day long. That's fine, but I find myself investigating the little nooks at the edges of the marshes, the islands that have scrubby growth on them, the expanses of sedge and other aquatic vegetation that all go towards interesting compositional elements for my work and what I'm trying to say in the paintings.


'A SLICE OF SUN' 8x10 Oil ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Yeah it was chilly... and any sun that came out was welcome from both my physical and artistic sides. After painting the first one above I stayed right where I was and tried to grab this little happening across the pond. It didn't last long, a few minutes is all, but I tried to hold onto what I had seen and use the now overcast scene in front of me as the structural guide and my memory as the artistic guide. From here we took off for the north end of the park and the bathroom/picnic area for lunch.


'NORTH END FALL' 10x8 Oil ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
On our way to my next suggested location, we were driving through one of the upland habitats that was just beautiful with a mix of birch, maples, oaks and all of the assorted vegetation, well on it's way towards peak color. I couldn't help it, I had to stop. I should mention that the others all had limited or no experience up here. I've driven 95% of the roads with the park map and marked painting locations on it. I'm pretty familiar with what the lay of the land is now. So I assumed the 'tour guide' status and felt responsible for putting us in nice painting locations. When we drove through this area we were on the way to another open water spot that I thought would be good, a Ducks Unlimited project that is just beautifully designed for the benefit of the waterfowl's use. Oh... it was also the opening day for the Wisconsin Waterfowl Season. I knew that spot would be good at the end of the day, so we all agreed to stop in this little upland spot and paint.


'END OF A SEPTEMBER DAY' 12x16 Oil ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Of course you can't count on the weather to do anything that you expected it to do. It didn't, it was a lot more overcast all day long than we thought it would be according to the official weather sources we checked. But...we had sun at the end and were excited by what that late light was doing to the landscape. So we get to the spot, the D.U project marsh and it is lit up so nice that there are 5 drooling painters all biting at the bit to go at it. No sooner did we set up than the overcast closed in and cut off most all of the sunlight. Every once in awhile there would be a slash of light off in the distance on the sedges that spread out for hundreds of acres in front of us. Being seasoned painters we knew that we'd just have to make the best of it and went to work. I grabbed ahold of the darkened foreground in cooler light against that sliver of sun off in the distance and did my best to try to capture that sensation that I had when it happened.

So it was a good day with 4 paintings being painted. Came home hungry and tired and slept like a baby. A good day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

July, August, September...

I really can't believe that my last post was early July! But then again it's been a crazy busy summer full of traveling to paint and teach. I have a pile of work to post here so rather than get into much detail about the last few months I'd rather show some of the images from the summer and talk about the recent past with them a little bit.

First of all... We, Sargent and I, have a new housemate. Her name is Frida. We rescued her at about 12 weeks. She's an adorable little sweetheart of a kitten. Even Sarge is beginning to see it that way.


I'M VERY HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE THAT I HAVE JOINED A NEW GALLERY IN TEXAS... R.S.Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX

I was forunate to have been awarded the Bronze Medal Award at the Oil Painters Of America's (OPA) 19th Annual National Juried Exhibition in Idaho for the painting "Right Or Left?"...


"Right or Left?" 24x30 oil
Available at R.S.Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX

All of these paintings are available, unless marked 'NFS' or at specific galleries and are linked to the galleries that they're hanging in.

Here we go... The first four are just random field studies that I've painted this summer.


'CORNER LIGHT' 8x10 Oil 2011©Marc R. Hanson
Available at R.S.Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX
I discovered that I had a tube of Gamblin's 'Chromatic Black' in my paint bin. So I took it out to see if it would be of interest to me when mixing some of the deep summer greens. It works very well for that, it's in my paint box as a 'occasionally used' color now. I used it extensively as my 'blue' when mixing the greens in this painting. There's a lot of scraping and palette knife work here too, a tool that I find myself using more and more now.



'TREE ISLAND' 8X10 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson
This little study was just painted this past week along the river below me in the Interstate Park, Minnesota side. I was looking at a very bright backlit scene that silhouetted the tree shape nicely. That was the starting point conceptually for this one. The silvery light and strong darks attracted me too.



'TEXAS!' 11X14 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson NFS
This is the first and only painting that I did in Texas during a trip there in July. Now that I am joining the R.S.Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg, Tx I hope to be there painting a lot more. There is something about that landscape that is very, very attractive to me. It reminds me a lot of the northern California Sierra Foothills near Loomis where I went to high school and where my mother and brother and his family still live. It's the dry grasses and large oaks spread across rolling hills that do it for me I guess. It was hotter than blazes there, 109ยบ F!!! Of course they've experienced terrible fires there this month, totally devastating. But it's finally beginning to rain from what my friends there are saying... Hallelujah!!!



'THAT'S MY BOAT!' 8x10 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson
Available at Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, MA.
In June I went out to Cape Cod to paint with friends Shannon Runquist, Paul Schulenburg, Elizabeth Pollie, Frank Gardner, Jerome Green, Sara Jane Doberstein and Peter Kalill. There was an exhibit held at Addison Art Gallery sponsored by the Cape Cod Museum of Art celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore by President John F. Kennedy. We painted all over the National Seashore area and in the harbors. This was a small boat at the harbor in Wellfleet, Ma.


THE NEXT GROUP OF PAINTINGS ARE ALL DEMOS OR PAINTED DURING MY SUMMER MENTORSHIPS AND WORKSHOPS...


'ST CROIX SWIRLS' 11X14 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson
Available at R.S.Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX



'PEONIES' 8X10 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'TAYLOR'S ROCKS' 12X16 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'GARAGE GARDEN' 11X14 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson


THE NEXT GROUP OF PAINTINGS ARE PIECES THAT I PAINTED IN JULY AT THE DOOR COUNTY PLEIN AIR FESTIVAL IN WISCONSIN...


'COOL MORNING' 9X12 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'FLAMING LACE' 11X14 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'MOONLIGHT BAY CULVERT' 11x14 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'MORNING BRIGHT' 11X14 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'WISCONSIN BARNS' 12X16 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson


7
'WHITE SOX' 9X12 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson


THE FINAL GROUP OF PAINTINGS ARE OF A SELECTION OF FIELD STUDIES PAINTED OF A SUBJECT THAT HAS BECOME NEAR AND DEAR TO ME THIS YEAR. THE LOCATION IS A 30,000 ACRE WILDLIFE REFUGE MADE UP OF SEDGE MARSH, UPLAND AND PRAIRIE HABITAT IN NW WISCONSIN NEAR GRANTSBURG... AND IS CALLED 'CREX MEADOW'. THIS EXPANSE OF LAND IS A HAVEN FOR CRITTERS AS VARIED AS WOLVES AND SANDHILL CRANES TO BLACK BEARS AND TRUMPETER SWANS. EAGLES, OSPREYS, ASSORTED OTHER WATERFOWL AND FUR BEARING ANIMALS ABOUND. THEY'RE ALL THERE BECAUSE OF THE SPECTACULAR NATURE OF THE ENVIRONMENT THAT HAS BEEN PROTECTED WITHIN THIS ECOSYSTEM OF CREX MEADOWS. I HOPE TO CONTINUE TO DO STUDIES, PHOTOGRAPH AND PAINT LARGER PAINTINGS ON LOCATION WHENEVER I CAN. EXCEPT FOR THE LAST TWO PAINTINGS BELOW, THESE ARE ALL FIELD STUDIES PAINTED ON LOCATION.


'OVERHANGING DARKS' 12X16 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'LILY'S' 8X16 Pastel 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'SEPTEMBER REFLECTIONS' 9X12 Oil 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'REISINGER LAKE I' 3.5X4 Gouache 2011© Marc R. Hanson NFS



'REISINGER LAKE II' 3.5X4 Gouache 2011© Marc R. Hanson NFS



'UPPER PHANTOM FLOWAGE I' 3.5X4 Gouache 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'UPPER PHANTOM FLOWAGE II' 3.5X4 Gouache 2011© Marc R. Hanson


I had a hard time photographing these two larger studio pieces... But you get the idea.


'BEYOND SHADOWS' 24X24 Oil - Studio - 2011© Marc R. Hanson



'TOWARDS THE END' 24X24 Oil - Studio - 2011© Marc R. Hanson

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Scottsdale Artists School Pastel Workshop 10/31-11/4, 2011


I'll be teaching a Pastel Only workshop at the Scottsdale Artists School this fall...

MARC R. HANSON...
WORKING WITH SOFT PASTEL IN THE FIELD AND STUDIO
Location: Scottsdale Location
Oct 31-Nov 4, 2011

(480) 990- 1422
http://www.scottsdaleartschool.org

Considering the different challenges that using soft pastels in the field versus in the studio presents the artist, this class is designed to give the students a chance to explore both situations under my guidance. Over the course of the five day class the students will spend approximately half of the time in the field, and the other half in the studio. In the field we will focus on shorter term studies and the issues of pastel working en plein air, along with all of those principles involved in all picture making. Students should expect to complete at least four to six plein air pieces during the outdoor segment of the class. Back in the studio we will work from either those studies, or from our own reference materials to produce one or two larger studio pieces.

Lectures about materials and technique, the elements of painting, including an AV media presentation, will reinforce the material discussed and taught during the week. I will also demonstrate a couple of different methods that I use to begin pastels in the field and studio, and will carry out at least one large studio demonstration, start to finish. Some experience with using pastels outdoors is recommended; otherwise the class is open to new and veteran pastel painters.www.marchansonart.com

Thursday, June 2, 2011

'Lake Elmo Respite' 6-2-2011


'Lake Elmo Respite' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson

Some days are just what you need, and today was one of those. Skies overcast, a little leaden, but with the promise in the air for a period of 'dry' and a little bit of warmth poking through every so often.

Since returning from Africa, it's been tough for me to get out and paint the intensity of the greens that greeted me on my return. They're starting to moderate a little bit now and are turning the trees into those nice summertime masses that are wonderful to paint. I went out today to paint with a good painting friend and as we were making our way to the location we talked about how important it is, to each of us, to go out to search for the 'mood' that Mother Nature is presenting for the day rather than to go out to paint a 'place' or a 'thing'. That's a good attitude to have at times like this when the color is almost painfully intense and so overwhelmingly monochromatic. A myriad of different greens, but all still green.

Mood in the landscape is not a tangible quality, not the trees, grass, water and sky. Mood is how the landscape affects you emotionally, it is what you feel from of your senses... sight, sound, smell, touch (weather), taste and hear. Your impression of the sum of all of those things, and Anything else that is affecting you while out there is what is interesting to paint to me.

ps... I could never stand and paint effectively while wearing an iPod device and earbuds.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cape Town, South Africa 4/29 - 5/17, 2011


I’ve just returned from my first journey to the African continent, Cape Town, South Africa to be specific. A couple of months ago a friend of mine, Kim Myerson who is a painter and a native of Cape Town, suggested that I might want to come there to see the landscape and to do some painting. Kim is back to her native country and city after training in Florence, Italy at Angel Academy and Cecil Studios and is taking on and teaching students the methods of academic drawing and painting that she learned at those academies. Her suggestion also included the idea of coming to Cape Town to do a landscape painting workshop for the many painters who are living there without a lot of instruction in the type of painting that I do available.




Having a couple of weeks or so in between my other teaching and show obligations, I decided that the 8000 mile trip to Africa would be just what I needed. So on April 29th I climbed on board a Delta A-330 for the first 9 hour leg of a 21 hour flight that would take me to Amsterdam where the second leg of 12 hours would eventually set me down in what I quickly discovered is one of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. My 16 days to explore seemed endless at the time.

Africa has always held a huge amount of mystery for me, from the books I’ve read, the movies I’ve seen including so many documentaries about it’s wild side, to artists like Bob Kuhn and Wilhelm Kuhnert who continuously inspired and made me jealous with their adventures to Africa, and who have shown it’s magnificence in their work.



But… until the morning of May 1, 2011 when I looked out the back door and onto Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, two prominent mountain formations in the heart of Cape Town that I could see from the balcony, I had no idea what I was in for in this land far away from my own state of Minnesota, USA.





I came to Cape Town armed with pounds of painting supplies, ready to paint like crazy. After a day of jet lag rest, I did paint a piece from the balcony of Kim’s studio while she was teaching students for the morning. From that point on, the painting was rare. Every day we would head out to see sections of Cape Town from the more developed beach areas near the city and the harbor, to the inland vistas of vineyards bordered by huge mountain ranges and valleys , to the quaint little towns with the Dutch/African architecture shops and galleries, and also to many of the wilder places like Table Mountain National Park (formerly Cape Peninsula Park) where I saw Cape Mountain Zebra, Cape Ostrich, Eland, Bontebok, and many other animals and birds. Everywhere we drove there was a drama to the land and in the skies that was breathtakingly beautiful and magnetic. The joke quickly became that we might want to write a book about “How to load your painting gear and not use it!”




What was really happening however, was the realization that there was so much to see that spending time setting up and painting on this trip, meant that I would miss out on the full palette of visual treats that this country had in store. I resigned myself to be comfortable with that and to explore as much of it as Kim and my time would allow me to. I am grateful for that and would have been more disappointed if I had come home on May 17th with a bunch paintings but not the 1200 or so photos reminding me of the variety and spectacular drama of the locations that we did see. Now I know what and where I’ll be painting when I return.



The amazing thing about this area of South Africa is the incredible variety in the type of landscape to see and to paint. Within an hour or two you can be on the Atlantic Coast side or on the Indian Ocean Coast. Both of these environments affect the land and the climate in different ways and make the landscape one of a constantly changing arrangement of sky and terra firma. The dramatic, quickly elevating slopes of the mountain ranges surrounding Cape Town, direct the temperature and air currents directly into the path of the ocean moisture laden winds; that mix provides the ingredients for skies that are in constant flux, changing by the hour. As a landscape painter this is like a gold mine. The visual feast that this combination cooks up is irresistible, it’s eye candy of the sweetest kind.



What the trip did do was show me a place that I will be back to in short time. Sometimes as painters there is a life changing experience that alters what our work is all about. I think that this trip to the southern end of Africa, it’s people, it’s culture and it’s beauty is one of those for me. I don’t know what it all means to me as a person or artist yet, but I know that it has great meaning for my future.


The best way for me to share my experience is visually. I painted only about 6 pieces but as you can see I found the inspiration in Cape Town that fueled my Art Spirit and will for a long time to come. In the end, I needed 16 months more than the 16 days I had.

Here are the paintings from the trip... I carried pre-cut pieces of linen rolled onto a stiff cardboard tube to prevent damage. They had a border drawn out on them to my preferred sizes which I used as a guide when taping them down onto a piece of Gatorboard with 1" masking tape. I also used W&N's Drying Linseed Oil to be sure that they were dry enough to roll back up and fly home with. They did dry but I added a precautionary piece of Wax Paper inbetween each one for insurance against damage. It worked beautifully. Now they'll be mounted onto prepared gator foam or hardboard with an archival glue. These are staying with me until I've had a chance to use them as possible reference for some larger paintings in the studio.


'Scarborough Surf And Fog' - oil - 8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson


'Oliphantsberg' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson


'Vineyard Near Ceres' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson


'Atlantic Haze' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson