I went to the farm yesterday and explored a bit - shot a bunch of photos and met the "owner"... Long story.
Anyway, I put the camera on the ground and shot across the field. I like the "big" sky but I'd like to get more detail in the close grasses/dried crop stubble.
I will need to get more 4x4s before I continue. I have it I my head that I'd like to create 100 of them and see how mind blown the curator is - no "boundaries" were given so I feel the need to see how much I can get away with.
Hope as I may, changing my view of landscape (and life) isn't happening in what I would call a timely fashion. I'm little Miss GO GO GO! and being patient and going through processes doesn't suit my nature. Landscapes feel so calm, so peaceful, so patient...
I'm a google/research (ha) junky so I decided to search for landscapes that don't bore or annoy me. To me, this collection of landscapes is interesting and beautiful. I really enjoy the one by Tim Dolby that is made of 40 separate pieces. I hope you enjoy this collection of images and I hope that I can find some way to inspire and create interest in my own work by studying them.
This farm is just that - an empty field. There isn't even a crop planted or any preparation happening for the spring season. There is, however, a big puddle out in the middle today topped off by a fairly decent sky as dusk approached.
Driving down the dirt road to reach this farm is really strange for me. I mentioned previously that I owned the adjoining farm in my former life. I thought about the plans "we" made and how they all crumbled... There's nothing I miss about my former life but I can't help but wonder how different I'd be now if "we" hadn't crumbled.
I don't know what possessed me to sign up to paint landscapes. This is not my thing. I don't enjoy them - not even to view a really well crafted piece by someone who does enjoy landscape.
I'm reading "Art as Therapy" by Alain de Botton. This book came to me as a gift - it was a total surprise and means a great deal to me. de Botton starts out describing what he views as the "seven functions of art" - remembering, hope, sorrow, rebalancing, self-understanding, growth, appreciation. In describing hope, de Botton discusses landscape. He states:
The most perennially popular category of art is the cheerful, pleasant and pretty kind: meadows in spring, the shade of trees on hot summer days, pastoral landscapes... This can be deeply troubling to people of taste and intelligence.
This pretty much sums up my response to landscape - they are troubling. They are too pretty, too simple, too perfect in most cases. de Botton goes on to state:
The worries about prettiness are twofold. Firstly, pretty pictures are alleged to feed sentimentality. Sentimentality is a symptom of insufficient engagement with complexity, by which one really means problems.
Problems... That is what art has become to me - a means with which to address my problems. I rip things up to get out my frustration and reassemble them to produce something less ugly. I paint objects in solitude to ease my loneliness. I compose scenes where the shadows have more life than the subject because I giving more energy to my sadness than to my life... To the viewer, the work may come off as pretty, but to me, there is always some disturbance being addressed.
I think I have avoided landscapes for the entirety of my artistic life because they always felt so simple. They are what they are. I fail to see the mystery in creating a scenic picture. I fail to see the symbolism in creating an iddlic scene. I fail to enjoy the "real thing [pretty pictures] represent."
So here I am, trying to paint landscapes... and at the same time, trying to learn to hope again. I have avoided "taking too rosy and sentimental a view" and most definitely have "suffer[ed] from excessive gloom" in recent months, and really, throughout my life. I have spent an excessive amount of time consumed with thoughts of all that is wrong and have forgotten to appreciate what might be right if only I took the time to hope and think positively.
I'm trying. There is always something to learn and through landscapes I guess I will explore the lighter side of life. I "hope" to be moved by that which is simple and pretty rather than always being consumed by that which is difficult and sorrowful.
I really thought I'd be finishing out the month of April with the bunny but I just can't bring myself to paint another bunny. I've lost my connection to the object and feel drawn to...well, nothing really. I just know I don't feel drawn to painting another bunny.
The photo reference for this painting was taken in early February when the area was blanketed in snow. I'm fairly certain the location is the exact same as the first painting, just at a slightly different angle. I've included some progress shots to show the transition of the foreground.
I may need to invest in some new tiny brushes if I'm going to continue in this direction.
This is the earliest image - the foreground was too soft.
In this image you can see a bit more detail in the foreground shadows.
Then I softened the left side of the foreground and darkened the right to help balance the areas of light and dark in the composition.
Final image - I played with the middle ground a bit. I thought I was done after the last progress shot but the more I thought about it the more the middle ground bugged me. I middle ground glows in the photo and in my memory so I tried to create some luminosity within the white space. I'm not sure you can see the difference in these images but in the painting, there is a definite glow now.
I've signed up to be part of a landscape show to be held next year - 2015. The show is sponsored by the county and will feature artistic representations of preserved farmland in honor of the 30th anniversary of the program. No one asked if I was a landscape artist when I signed up...
I'm really nervous about this - the entire process is a new to me. To be a part of this show, all you had to do was fill out a form and choose the farm(s) you want to document. Farms were assigned to artists - supposedly based on postmark date. I listed 7 farms on my application - and the farm I was assigned - "Dublin Creators" in Springfield, NJ - was not at the top of my list. I listed the farm because of the location - I actually used to own the farm neighboring this property in another life... As farms go, this one is fairly typical and doesn't really inspire me. There is a large, open expanse of land and some trees in the distance - no barns, no fences, just open, tillable land - not much to be inspired by, in my opinion. Oh, and I don't paint landscapes, lets not forget that!
For some reason, I didn't want to paint today, which clearly meant I had to paint today. The bunnies and I are close to parting ways which gave me the perfect opportunity to start exploring this new project I've gotten myself into. I took a ride out to the farm tonight, in the rain, about 15 minutes before dark - perfect time to visit a landscape setting.
Here's my first attempt and the photo I used as loose reference material. I took the photo from the car, so you're looking through the grass/weeds on the side of the road to the field. The painting is on the right, just in case you were confused (I'm a comedian tonight).
During my undergraduate studies, I spent a great deal of time in the painting studio working with traditional oils. Teaching middle school art for the past 12 years has taken me away from those roots. This "one a day" project is aimed at re-inspiring that creativity and technique.
Other "one a day" painting blogs to check out:
Kellie Marian Hill
The usual Subjects