Monday, August 20, 2012

The relocation adventure begins...

The countdown to my newest adventure, a move to Colorado, has begun today.  I'm going to try to keep track of my progress on the blog... 11 days and counting... I leave lovely Minnesota on either the 30th or the 31st of August, depending on my progress in getting everything done that needs to be done.  Services have been notified, I still need to change mailing addresses with a bazillion different entities... first I have to try to remember them all to do that... working on it.  

With an exception or two, most of my art business that has to be done beforehand, has been completed. And a new lease and rent has been signed and paid on a nice apartment in Longmont, CO.  I'm really happy about where I'll be living, the space is tight for a pack rat of an artist, but nice and cozy for now.  Once I have feet on the ground there I can spend some time in the next year looking around and possibly finding something that is more than I'm starting out in.  

Today I'm packing up art supplies, cook books, tools and other miscellaneous 'stuff', room by room.  The studio is first, there's a lot to deal with in here, but it's going well.  It's really hard to imagine the entire bulk of your life possessions fitting into a 16' truck... But it has too, I want it to.  Of course the Hughes Easel is coming along... after nearly selling it a few months back, I realized that it's seasoned now, and just like my cats, must be with me.  

There will undoubtedly be a large truck load or two going to Family Pathways and ReStore in St Croix Falls, as donated goods.  I've already outfitted several rooms up there with furniture, clothing, tools, shop tools, sound equipment and on and on.  Chairs, kitchen table and chairs, dishes, and so many other household goods, that I wonder why there's anything left here now.  And there in lies the problem... There is still too much stuff!!!  

Talk about feeling liberated, shedding your belongings may be even better than shedding body weight! Doing the work it takes to shed the junk also sheds the fat cells... I hope.  

I have to get back to it, but wanted to share my chariot for the adventure... a 16' Penske truck and a dolly to tow my truck with.  Why Penske?  After reading reviews, in which you basically become totally confused by the differing opinions, I paid attention to a couple of independent review sights, and Penske came out right up there with Budget as being the two most highly thought of for services and cost.  The cost to do this yourself vs using a container, or having moving company do it for you, is at least a 1/4th less than those options.  

I like the yellow trucks, so Penske it is.  I'll have 5 days to load and drive it to Colorado before the truck has to be turned in to a drop off site in Boulder, CO.  Should be no biggie...??? 

For now, back to packing.  And throwing, more throwing than packing in fact!  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Abstract of the Block In

Whenever I write about painting ideas or methods, just to let you know, I'm only speaking about my own ideas or methods, and how I proceed with them.  There are many other methods and at anytime I may be using one other than what I'm discussing in any particular post. 

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend, who had taken a look at a lot of my paintings, and noticed that I frequently employ the use of a 'lead in' to the picture in the form of a road, shoreline, fence line, or some other linear idea to add a diagonal entrance into the painting.  This is true, they are great compositional tools for doing just that.  She also noticed that I often place that entrance to the right side of the composition.  I looked at some of those and realized she was accurate.  It was a surprise to me, so I began to think about it.  

I am right eye dominant.  You can do a simple test to see which eye is your dominant eye.  Hold both hands out if front of you gripped together as if holding a pistol grip, straight armed, and point your index fingers out in front.  Aim at an object in the near distance in front of you, put the two fingers on the object.  Now close each eye, one at a time.  The object will stay lined up with your fingers when your dominant eye is open, it will move when your dominant eye is closed.  

Back to my right side roads... I don't know this for sure, there are others who have probably studied such things, but I think that because I am right handed and right eye dominant, I tend to favor that side of the composition when it comes to drawing or painting a diagonal, or near vertical, entrance into the composition.  This is all subconscious, I don't purposefully, nearly always, place these entrances on the right side.  But, it would be more awkward for me to reach my right hand across to the left to draw in the same entrance on the left side of the canvas, unless I think about it (which I can guarantee you that I will be doing now) and make that conscious choice.  Also, my mechanical paint applier, my arm and hand, are on my right side... 

This seems to be a mechanical issue because I don't have a problem with placing other dominant compositional items on the left side, it's just this placing the entrance in on the right side that is interesting to me.  

A side note that may be related... When I was younger and skied, I taught skiing and did some casual racing and was coached.  I was always told that my turns, when on my right side downhill ski, were beautiful, very well done.  But when turning onto my left side downhill ski, I was told that I was "blocked" on that side, I don't perform a right hand turn as well.  Could that also be because of a dominance favoring my right?  Don't know.

Enough on that for now, but the way our brains work without our being aware of what they are up to sometimes is fascinating.  And thank goodness for artist friends, our 'third eye' contingency, for being honest in relating what they see in our work.  It's always helpful.  

Getting back to the topic "The Abstract of the Block-In"... To me this is the second most important stage of a painting, be it in the studio or in the field.  The first most important step is forming a Concept, an idea about what you're going to paint.  Without that, you have nowhere to go, not even enough information to get to the Block-In.  Concept is a blog post all by itself.

I use the block-in as the abstract break up of the blank space, the visual reminder of my conceptual idea about where I intend this painting to go.  It can be very complicated, or very simple, very specific or very loosely defined.  Either way, it sets the stage for the next steps in paint application to come.  
This is the way that I am able to see the 'big picture' of my idea for the painting.  If these big idea shapes aren't working, not proportioned in a pleasing way, not balancing each other, not providing a color scheme (loosely stated) that I am happy with, I will never improve the painting past this point.  

This is a critical stage. 

I'm asked often about using a toned painting surface.  As you can see in the photos of block-ins here, these are all painted on an untoned surface, linen on board to be exact.  That's one way.  I also sometimes tone the surface ahead of time and paint more directly and opaquely with out this same kind of a start.  Having many methods in your technique bag is never a bad thing.  

The other thing about beginning to place your Conceptual idea on the canvas in this way, is that it's a fluid situation, it can still be changed, moulded, wiped or continued at anytime.  The paint is thin, like a water color wash, nothing is locked into place yet.  This is the time to make the decisions...

If you normally get out the small brush or charcoal and begin to draw the little pieces of the composition instead of going for the large masses, try this way out, it might fit in some cases.

Thank you... Marc

These area few examples of slightly more drawn out block-ins.  In the one directly below, I began to use the middle to dark values that made up the road, weeds, treeline and buildings, to paint the negative shapes of the snow on the ground.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Demos from my last Taylors Falls Workshop

I've just finished a great workshop, my last at my Minnesota studio, the 6th Annual.  Below are the full demos that I did for the class and a group shot of some wonderful people who came to study painting with me from 7 different states.  It was a great week, I'll miss holding classes at this location.  

"Tree-O" - pastel - 9x12 ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

I neglected to add this piece which was done as the last demo on Friday afternoon for about 7 of my students who wanted to see me do a pastel.  I hadn't had time, until we were finally done with the critique early.  Everyone was spent, including me, but we found some shade, they got some chairs, and I painted the trees up the hill behind me in the yard.  I enjoyed using the pastels after a long week of oil painting.

'Crex Sun' - oil - 16x20 ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

'A Brief Respite' - oil - 14x18 ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

'Croix Tones' - oil - 11x14 ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

The last class at my Minnesota studio in Taylors Falls.  Artists from 7 states, some who've been with me a number of times, some who I've just had the pleasure of meeting and painting with.  One and all, a wonderful bunch of people and artists.  Thank you all for the time you gave to learn and enjoy this love we share.  

August 2012

It's been so long since my last post that the entire system for posting on the blog has changed!  I've had a busy spring and summer, and the fall isn't looking any different.  I'm just coming off of teaching my 6th Annual Landscape Painting five day workshop up here in Taylors Falls, my last one at this location because I will be relocating to Colorado in September!  

My resolution is to revive my blog as a place for conversation about my happenings and about Art and all things related.  For now a couple of items to get things rolling again...

In July I took part in the Peninsula Art School's "Door County Plein Air Festival" in Fish Creek, WI.  It was a week of amazing weather, artist camaraderie, and painting.  This years' line up of artists and the work that they produced was the best ever without a doubt.  The staff at the Festival did an amazing job  of keeping everything running smooth and creating the environment for the artists that led to great painting which resulted in many sales on the weekend.  Once again, a big thank you to the Peninsula Art School's staff and volunteers.

I took a little different approach to my own painting at the Festival this year, my 4th year, and painted larger and fewer paintings.  I stretched up linen for them all, smallest size for the exhibition was 12"x16", and I used Floater Frames on them all.  I was very happy with my choices, I prefer to paint on stretched linen.  I think it gives my work a more sensitive and softer feel than painting on a harder board does.  Of course there are times and situations for both, but for now, I'm really enjoying painting this way.  

I was honored to have been awarded the 'Best of Show' for this painting 'Monday Morning', given to me by Steven Doherty, former editor of American Artist Magazine since 1979, now editor of Plein Air Magazine.  It was such a treat to have had Steve select my painting, I've collected American Artist Magazine for a long time and still have all of the issues beginning with January 1979! 

To top that, the Featured Artists at the Festival selected the same painting for the 'Artists' Choice Award'!!!  That one is very special, to be honored by your peers is the highest honor an artist and painting can be given.  It was a wonderful feeling to be in that place.

"Monday Morning" - oil - 16x20 - ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

"Rolled" - oil on linen - 16x20 - ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

'Ephraim to the South' - oil on linen - 12x16 - ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

"Sister Bay Mood" - oil on linen - 12x16 - ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

"Wall Flowers" - oil on linen - 12x16 - ©2012 Marc R. Hanson

I will be back in the Midwest in mid September to teach at the Madeline Island School of Art, a workshop on the beautiful northern Wisconsin Island that sits just off the shore near the Apostle Island National Seashore in Lake Superior.  There is still space available in this workshop... if you're looking for a beautiful location to come and paint some field studies that you then take into their art studios to enlarge, and see my process demonstrated, this would be the place and time for you to join us.

See you next from Colorado!!!