two for work and five for art

Posted by on January 8th, 2015  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

What a strange vacation that was. Of the three weeks, I spent two painting, and less than one week climbing. My partner arrived 3 days late due to car trouble. But still, even when he did get there I was ambivalent about climbing.

Even stranger was that I didn’t do a single sellable painting in all that time. I had thought that all my studio painting since October was preparing me for plein air painting. But when faced with those big orange cliffs, I could not make them look real, at all.

After two failed full color 7 hour paintings I switched to monotone. By doing a wash of raw umber I was able to fall back on my tried and true neutral ground style of painting. With a  wash of umber (brown), I was able to pull forward by lifting out the whites, and push back with pure umber. This meant I was basically doing something similar to an india ink wash. Painting in monotone means I didn’t have to worry about hue, it was all black and white values and much simpler.

I took a couple down to show dad after work last night. We spent a long time talking about art, and how the monotones were lovely on their own. When I told him I was considering doing a larger version in full color, he argued that they were a perfect interpretation of how “the artist saw the light”, and why would I try to improve them?

I argued that they weren’t sellable…that color sells better and that bigger is priced higher. He had a bunch of his drawings out from when he would sketch lawyers arguing before the supreme court. He was a superb cartoon style quick sketch artist, classically trained in pen and ink. It was right about that time that I was also first experimenting with oil painting at 17. I have vague memories of him showing me those sketches, which he had held onto all these 5 decades later.

He was having one of his amazing days where he was on top of his game. He wasn’t confused at all, not even a little bit. 91 years old and just an amazing old guy, trying to support his sons dream of becoming an artist.

I have 30 students in my web class this quarter. It’s super fun to have that many students. The room feels full of energy, and while I don’t know all of them yet, I have a sense that it’s going to be a fun class. I’m teaching two days a week, which gives me 5 days to paint, every week. If I can’t get some sellable paintings this quarter I may have to give up this painting dream and get back into object oriented programming.