Sunday, December 16, 2012

Painting Around My New Home...

I'll be honest, it took me awhile to quit wiping off paintings, and to feel comfortable with my new surroundings here in CO.  I try not to accept anything less than what I feel very good about in my painting.  I've thought a lot about it, there were many factors to acknowledge, that had me scratching my head at my painting for a while.  They're all interesting to me.  This post is my idea about what I've been going through since moving here.

There is one thing about painting, above all others, that keeps my interest alive and energized.  Including all of the good and bad, that comes with being an artist.  It can be, in part, the following 'things'.  But they're not the major underlying motivation for me.  It is not the particular subject that I'm painting, it's not the physical act of applying paint or pastel, it is not only color, it is not only design, it is definitely not money or the benefits that other 'jobs' hold.

The one thing that keeps me painting is the intimate insight that you develop when you work long enough with your subject.  It's such an immensely satisfying, internal reward, and it is why I paint, above and beyond any other reason.  When you have that, everything that you do in a painting, is guided by it.  That is the quality that I hope to bring to my art.  

In painting the landscape, in my opinion, you Must become intimately familiar with the mood of the land, the smells, sounds, climate affects, the weather patterns, the way the sky above changes the look of the dirt, trees, rocks, and water.  You must sense what the land is about every single time you head out to paint. 

That doesn't mean that you can't be out there painting if you're not in tune with what I'm discussing here.  Yes, you can make images all day long, and I do this a lot.  But to give those images more than just a rendered surface, you need more than a good hand and a good brush.  

Everything that I put into a landscape painting, that I am proud of, has an underlying force that comes from how well I understand the raw essence of what it is I'm painting.  It's the kind of intimate knowledge that gives the weapons, clothing, art and accoutrements of the First People, the native Americans, such an amazing life force and connection to a wilder land than exists today.  They lived it, breathed it, ate and died on it.  That's the kind of understanding that I'm talking about.  It is Spiritual. 

I used to paint birds in a natural history style.  In that case the accuracy of the biology of the animal or bird, and their environment, was critical to the viewers of those paintings, and to me in painting them.  I'm not talking about that in this case, I'm talking about a much deeper and yet bigger picture than that.  

I lived in Minnesota for 33 years, fished, hunted, xc skied, hiked, and painted it on a near daily basis.  I became very familiar with what the land there was telling me.  Not to be mystical, although this is a bit of a mystical sensibility, I felt the land, much as a farmer does, because I had so much experience being out in and on it.  

As a painter, that sensibility came into my work, via my own internal editing, desires and artistic choices.  I painted many, many 'rendered' images, not pieces of art, along the way.  Learning has a much higher volume of failures than successes in any field.  I look at those failures as teaching tools.  "Why didn't I catch the mood of that day?"... "Why did I get caught up in the type of tree instead of what those trees mean to the shape of the land that they're growing on?"... "Why is this painting so boring to me?  It's well rendered, it looks like the scene.  What is missing in it that doesn't allow the spirit of the place, the sense of place, to come through?  What was I saying as an artist about the landscape that is unique to my own vision?"  These are the questions that come to my mind when I leave a painting location and am not thrilled about what I just painted.  It's not usually that I didn't get the color, that I didn't draw it well enough, that I didn't choose a good design.  I usually can accomplish those things.

What is missing when I don't enjoy my efforts, is that I return with a mere rendering, not an understanding of the life of the landscape that I just painted.  That happens for two reasons... 1- I don't know the place...or... 2- I didn't dig deep enough into why I want to be there, at that time, painting that place.  The latter can't be understood until the former is in place.  

That brings me back to the point of this post, I hope.  When I moved to Colorado I was excited to jump into painting immediately, faster than I was ready to.  Not only did I have some emotional things to overcome, normal in a relocation move when you've been in once place for so long, the logistical things that had to be done... like driver's license, unpacking, creating a workplace in a new place, finding out how to get around town, feeling like you're in a new country, and so on... I also needed some time to wander around the country side to understand a few things about this new land I was now planted in and on.  I did a lot of that, wandered, photographed, attempted to paint it, and wondered if I would ever learn this place as well as I knew where I lived in Minnesota, well enough to paint it as I wanted to?  

I have been blessed since moving here with great things happening in my career... an article in the November issue of Southwest Art Magazine, and the cover of the same issue... I've been invited to show as a featured artist at Gallery 1261 in Denver, and have also been invited to show as a guest at Saks Gallery in Denver, and at Mary Williams Fine Arts in Boulder.  I'm grateful for these and other opportunities that have arisen since my move.  Not to mention all of the artist friends that have been so gracious and welcoming to me here.  

If you're an artist, you know that despite every other good thing that happens in your life, if your painting isn't going right, if you're not in touch with that Artist within you, it can be overwhelmingly concerning. 

Not to draw this out too much longer, but I am happy to say that I am 'finally' beginning to be more in touch with where I am.  When I first started painting around Longmont and Boulder, I would stand and stare, mouth agape, at the mountains.  They're so powerful, so beautiful, that they put me in a painterly trance.  I've painted a few of them, wiped out a bunch, and am now settling down into seeing things closer to my feet where the understanding begins.  I found a couple of dirt roads that are rich with texture, color, shape and design possibilities.  Any success I'm gaining, has been because I've limited myself to gaining an intimate understanding of those two areas first, before I try to tackle chunks of the larger landscape, just yet.  It's working, I feel good about what I'm painting now.  

In fact, I've been hauling out large canvases, up to 24x30, and feeling pretty comfortable that I'm beginning to gain a sense of 'my' place in this landscape.  As time goes along, as more paint is pushed, more in depth observation and questioning is pushed through my art brain, I am now confident that I will find out how this land breathes in time.  Now the fun begins... 

These are all field paintings that were painted in October and November.  The first one, "Longmont Resident" was the first painting that I painted here as a new resident of Colorado, back in late September.  

Thanks for reading... 

Longmont Resident - oil - 9x12

October Flow - oil - 10x8

Indian Summer Day - oil - 11x14

Entanglement - oil - 11x14

November Willow Gold - oil - 9x12

61st Street - oil - 6x6

Fast Lane - oil - 6x10

Ringbills - oil - 14x18

Pasture Cows - oil - 6x12

Snaking Along - oil - 9x12

Softly Opening Day - oil - 18x24

Spread - oil 0 12x16


Concetta Flore said...

thank you for posting, you're always an inspiration.

Slim Johnson said...

I'm liking these latest works -- glad you're happy in CO.

SamArtDog said...

I've always enjoyed your paintings, your posts and your blog. As a matter of fact, your posts were exemplary. To say I'm relieved you've decided to return to the blogosphere is an understatement. To say the least. You have not been the only art-blogger to have been tempted to "Face". Your absences have all been felt. As a diehard Luddite, Faceless and Twitless, I noticed that it was beginning to get pretty echoey in here.

So, welcome back to blogland. And welcome home to Colorado. I won't even try to express what a total treat it is to have you back and to see that your new paintings are of places that I know and love so well. Wow.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

What I always like is the fresh eye that people like yourself can bring to a landscape that is new to you.

I will follow and watch as you attune to the new colours of the seasons

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thank you Concetta. :)

Slim... happier than a clam here! Thank you.

SamArtDog... Good to be back. I don't know what happened, but then it got away. Kind of like exercise, easy to stop, harder to keep it up. I appreciate it, thanks.

Katherine... this is going to be a "new" landscape for me for years to come. Thank you.

Alice Picado said...

Beautiful! I especially like the paintings that include the hills/mountains. I dream of living in Colorado one day, and this beauty fuels my dreams. :)

Marc R. Hanson said...

Ahhh... Thank you Alice! I hope that your dream becomes as real as mine has.

Bruce Trewin said...

It is encouraging to see what we all experience expressed by one of my painting 'gods'. How often we get excited about a scene, get the drawing spot on , get the colours and tone right and miss the painting entirely. Glad to see you back and running Marc.

Victor Errington said...

Hi Mark.
Glad to see you back. Brilliant Paintings, brilliant story. More please. All the best.

Sergio Lopez said...

Great paintings, and great to read about your thoughts about what makes you dissatisfied with your paintings. It makes me think about why I am dissatisfied with my own landscape paintings a lot of the time. Also why plein air events are so difficult to do great work at if it's in a new area.

Nancy Clearwater Herman said...

A beautiful post and marvelous paintings. Thank you.

Justin Holdren said...

These are all awesome Marc! Love the way you capture Colorado.

Vicki Sergent said...

I can't even begin to tell you how much I like this post.

Sonya Johnson said...

It is so wonderful to see you back here in the blogosphere, Marc! Love all the new paintings, and the post itself was a wonderful read.

Looking at these paintings, no one would ever be the wiser that you haven't been painting the CO landscape for years.

I know I'm not the only one who is excited to see your winter paintings of our fabulous state, either.

René PleinAir said...

Have you ever considered that the landscape has to be acquaintances with you as well? I mean you talk a lot about yourself walking around on and in this new landscape, but in fact the landscape could well be looking at you from multiple corners. When I see the sketches you made they really look also like little welcoming sketches. I'm looking forward to this renewed blog Marc, and together with this lovely insights it will be a great blog to follow. Thanks. Only such pity it isn't in Dutch ;-)

Ann said...

Hell, do you know you write like an artist as well as you paint as an artist? Awesome blog article-- too bad American Artist could use some of that writin'. ;)

But I'd rather see your paintings...


Eugene Veszely said...

I wholeheartedly agree with SamArtDog. Great to see you posting on this blog again.

So Marc when are you putting out a painting instruction book? :-) I think you have a painting philosophy that seldom gets a mention in today's world. You'd corner that part of the market. Plus I think you are one of the best painters alive.

Shame I dont live in the States, I'd so love to do workshops with you.


ps hope you got my 2 emails.

Bruce Sherman said...

Good Morning Marc!... So glad that you're back posting... and painting!

I have your blog site on my own... and I have been waiting to see the painting icon change for oh so long. I almost dropped it off the page, but I so enjoyed your posts and particularly your paintings and looked forward to them.

I too have made a similar move in my life... but back home to the Thousand Islands on the shores of The St Lawrence River... a haven where my personal and painting lives were begun.

I too... was overcome by the (not so) new landscapes before me and encountered so many of the very same feelings and joys of which you speak.I too... try to paint from my soul and constantly search for deeper meaning in my own work.

The words you speak really capture the essence of my own... its just about passion and feeling One" with the Universe.

Beautifully expressive... deeply felt... and magically painted "snaps" of your new Home!

We are both... deeply blessed!

Good Painting... and welcome back!
Warmest regards,

Chloe Ling said...

wow! this is amazing! you are really talented! could you check out my site as well?

Merry Christmas! Thanks!

Pattie Wall said...

Having lived most of my life in CO - I can say you have definitely nailed the color and feel of it in your recent plein air paintings! They are gorgeous - sounds like you are welcomed open armed there - and why wouldn't you be? That is wonderful!

john pototschnik said...

Marc, I can sure relate to the "If you're an artist..." paragraph. If the painting is not going well, it's hard to overcome those concerns despite how good everything else is in one's life.
Good blog post. Nice to have you back doing this. I will enjoy following your posting. You write very well indeed. I'm happy for all your successes for they have been hard earned.

Ann said...

I can relate to that "wiper" stage, it's so frustrating to find a painting not working after so much work, ugh. After a couple of days of not looking at the painting, I'd take a another look at it and the things that are wrong with it become quite apparent. What's fascinating is that each painting is like another lesson learned about color scheme, or composition, or subject matter, or paintstroke style, but always something.

Never a boring moment, lol.

Enjoyed your latest paintings, wonderful "post-wipers". ;)

Have a great holiday in your new home state!


Simone said...

Rembrandt said, "Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God." My feeling is that painting is not only related to God, it leads to God.

Nice work, Marc. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

So inspiring to hear about your process and experiences. You described exactly why I love your art and study it. . . beyond the technical expertise, there is just such a calmness and a SOUL to it. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing art and thoughts with us. I learned so much just from this post.

I also feel very positive that this is just the start of so many wonderful experiences for you in CO. I wish you the best!

Gexton said...

very nice stuff great work i like it so much
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