It was below freezing this morning; there is no water and no heat in my apartment building (they’re replacing some pipes). Brrr. It’s cold. So, of course, I’m still painting winter scenes.
An earlier Winter painting had some intractible problems that were too complicated to fix (this is only a 6×6 canvas, afterall). So I painted over it. This is really just winter colors … too abstracted to look like anything specific. But painting with a palette knife is a joy. No pressure to perform, just the fun of seeing what happens when I do … this.
Well, I won’t be able to paint winter landscapes when we’re in the middle of spring and it’s hot outside. So I’m kinda happy that we’ve got more wintry weather coming. Because, for some reason, I’m still in a wintry mood.
So my winter series continues, albeit with slightly larger canvases: 10×10. That’s still pretty small as paintings go, but it’s a good size for me to continue my experiment painting winter (snowy) scenes with a palette knife on gessoed canvases. I’ve now painted 12, if you count the ones I’ve painted over. So far I’ve painted over two, because I didn’t like the way they turned out and I didn’t know how to fix them. If I can fix whatever bothers me, then I simply post the final version under “Experiments.” What you are seeing in this blog is the initial version, before whatever corrections might be needed. Sometimes only a minor fix is needed, but I have to live with them for awhile, before I’m sure.
What I love about winter is how stark everything is, how extreme. And a minimalist composition and using a palette knife make it happen.
For some reason, the snow looks a lot more beigey here than in the actual painting (it is white). Guess I’ll have to take another picture before loading up to “Experiments.” But I like the composition.
Winter 11 has already had a lot of changes. So I think this one is done. But, of course, I could change my mind next week before I put it into “Experiments.”
With Winter 12, I wanted a darker sky with a little of the ground showing through the snow. It’s going to have to grow on me though. Not sure what to do with it, if anything. Again, the snow doesn’t look as white here as it does in the painting. I’m going to have to really rethink the way I photograph these.
To be continued… I’m still in a wintry mood and more winter weather is coming.
The weather has warmed up (positively balmy lately), but I’m still painting Winter. Something about the stark contrasts of winter lends itself to experiments. The composition is an experiment. Applying acrylic with a palette knife on mini (6×6) gessoed canvas is certainly an experiment (for me). And experiments are fun. No impossible to meet expectations, just “let’s see what this will look like.”
And if you don’t like it, you just gesso over it and start again. Waste not want not. Now Winter 3 is Winter 8. The snow is dirtier but it’s definitely still winter.
The weather outside has mellowed a little, but I continue to paint these simplified winter scenes on mini (6×6) canvases with a palette knife. In my head it’s still winter.
Winter 5 is fascinating to me. Seen up close it’s just a mess of pale colors and raised paint ridges. When you pull back a little it becomes an abstracted winter scene. There are bands of clouds in the sky, trees and even a path or two. At the time I painted it, my nose was about a foot from the painting and yet I was painting the scene you can only really “see” from a distance.
In Winter 6, I simplified the colors, modified one of my favorite trees a little and placed the land at an angle. I’m starting to like the way my shaky hands and the palette knife create the texture.
I brought back the yellow oxide for the clouds just over the top of the hill, but now that I re-examine it, Winter 7 doesn’t look like much of anything real. It’s the most abstracted of these mini paintings so far. For years, I struggled to abstract from the model, or from a real scene. Here it just happened.
And last but not least, Winter 8 is a little more representational, but still pretty abstract.
So with all of these Winter minis, I couldn’t create what I was trying to (smooth expanses of snow with muted, vague shapes). The palette knife made that unrealistic. Instead, I’ve created mini abstract paintings with a lot of texture. And I like them — some more than others — but I like them.
But in my head, it’s still winter, so I think I’ll try to recreate these scenes using my preferred acrylic on raw canvas. To be continued…
Well, it’s cold … and bleak … and the colors have disappeared (like New Jersey, normally seen from my window). Winter is here, and my attempts last month to dispell some of the gloom by painting summer colors just didn’t last. So this time I’m just going to wallow in it, paint winter scenes, some from childhood memories, some from photos. I am experimenting with Winter, using a pallette knife (instead of a brush), on mini (6×6) canvases, gessoed (not raw canvas) and with a very limited color pallette (white, blue, brown and varying shades of gray).
It’s been a challenge, but that’s what I needed. I’ve never used a palette knife before and I admit it’s been hard to get the effect I want. These canvases are small, so the compositions are very simple. Since these are all experiments, I haven’t given them names…
Not that it matters, but the hill is based on a childhood park hill I used to ski down, and the tree is based on an old NYT photo. The more I look at it, the more I think it could be a summer beach scene (wishful thinking?) the snow is more beige than white. City snow does tend to get dirty fast, but …
Well, the snow is still beigey, but it is smoother. Maybe the pallette knife was the wrong choice for the look I’m trying to achieve.
This is clearly not a beach scene and it reminds me of the view I had in Patagonia from the top of the chair lift. I did a very different painting on raw canvas right after that trip. That was in the summer, of course, so it’s interesting I used that memory for this winter scene.
This makes me think of a fairy tale. I think I still need to soften the path leading up to the little house in the trees. Not sure where this one came from.
I have four more litttle mini canvases so there will be a sequel to this post. It’s still winter, but the weather is not bothering me so much now.
One piece of good news: I and my husband have gotten our second Moderna doses (we are both over 75). Halleluia! But it’s still not a free pass to visit our new grandchild in California. We’ll have to see what the CDC and Dr. Fauci say about whether we can shed the virus…
In the meantime, it’s been snowing in NY and I’ve been trying to paint what I am remembering (rather than focusing on the news I am seeing on TV). So two of my snow scenes…
Clearly these are both idealized winter scenes, vaguely remembered from my childhood in Canada: wide open spaces, lots of snow, some trees and a beautiful sunset.
Unfortunately, all of this is not completely distracting me from what is happening in the impeachment trial on TV. And really unfortunately, although the House Impeachment managers did an amazingly convincing job, Trump’s defense attorneys were anything but convincing (we all saw the whole thing unfold on TV) and we all know Donald Trump is guilty, he was acquitted. Mitch McConnell tried to have it both ways: Trump is guilty as sin, but I (Mitch) voted for acquittal. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out!
But I’ve been called the eternal optimist (among other things), so …
My snow scenes, I think, are peaceful, calm … rather than bleak.
Well, things haven’t gotten any better since my last post: the pandemic is raging more out of control than ever, and the more we learn about the break-in and riot in the US Capitol the worse it looks. To try and cheer myself up, I have been painting “happy” paintings. If life can be grim, paintings can be happy.
I’ve actually made some small improvements to the two paintings I posted on Dec. 16, 2020 and added a new one showing where I’d like to be (rather than in my NYC apartment with a TV set showing all the grim news).
So, the latest happy painting where people don’t get sick and democratically elected Presidents don’t reveal themselves to be autocrats:
And the two earlier paintings with some minor improvements:
All of these paintings are acrylic on raw canvas which allows me to be as misty and atmospheric as I want, without worrying about hard edges (realities) and specific details (often depressing).
In these paintings I am where I want to be: in a warm, colorful, happy place.
I’ve just been listening to Trump’s hour-long phone call asking the Georgia Secretary of State to find votes so he can overturn the November election in that state. Although as a New Yorker I have had no illusions regarding Trump’s narcissism and blatant disregard for anyone other than himself, this is nonetheless appalling. I can’t tell whether he is sicker than I thought and actually believes his nonsense (in the face of judicial decisions to the contrary and correcting statements from the Georgia official) or is so self-involved and arrogant that he thinks he will get away with it. Clearly, the lesson Susan Collins thought he had learned after his impeachment wasn’t what she thought it was.
But in addition to Trump’s criminality, the craven sycophancy of most of the Republican senators and congresspeople is equally appalling. The cynical lying of these people on TV turns my stomach. The damage to our democracy includes the millions of people who believe this nonsense because they don’t hear the truth … not from their elected representatives, and not from their chosen news or social media outlets.
Today’s explanation from a state official describing in detail Georgia’s election process and his resulting rebuttal of each phony claim was really impressive.
Thank goodness Georgia elected officials know right from wrong and how to say no to pressure that appears to be blatant criminality.
It’s just started to snow so, of course, I’m compensating for the gray weather by painting bright colorful paintings.
First: a sunset. I’m not sure it’s finished so you can still see the staples holding the canvas flat.
Next: some Fall foliage (strictly from my immagination, since it doesn’t exist out there anymore … at least not anywhere near me in New York City).
Actually, I’m not sure either one is finished, but they are definitely making me feel happy. What would I do if I couldn’t paint?
Just when I thought the wildfires on the West Coast were over for the year, a house caught fire and started another wildfire. And I wake up in the night thinking about how I will paint it. Skies at noon looking like sunsets. My son and his family living in their two rooms that have air purifiers. Wildfires: horrible yet beautiful.
Blazing is acrylic on raw canvas which allowed me to blend the red and yellow of the fires and show how the colors blur over the hills. Beautiful, though deadly.
On Fire is the raging inferno blazing across a lot of the West Coast. Intense and horrible. Destroying everything in its path.