Thursday, June 25, 2015

SUGGESTION AND INTERPRETATION

I'm usually a daylight painter.  Mostly because I haven't arranged to get out and paint at night.    We've had so much rain, recently, and I've had this idea for over a year that I'd like to try painting downtown Austin.  Just looks like a lot of fun whenever I've seen wet nights treated by some of my friends and favorite painters.  So, I drove into town hoping to catch the evening light and wet streets.  

I discovered that controlling values was imperative to pull off the effect I was after.  This was finished in the studio as I tried to get things into balance.  I like the mysterious quality of the dark shapes played against the effects of direct and reflected light.  There's also a kind of romantic feeling that moves my sense of interpretation.  Interpretation is what fascinates me in painting.  The desire to pull something out that has little to do with description, but a lot to do with the design and paint handling.

Oddly enough, this night time painting experience is teaching me what I should be doing with daytime subjects.  It's more difficult to make the shift to painter's vision in the daytime, because it's so easy to get caught painting things and details.  You can't see so much detail at night, so you have to work with the shapes, and forego seeing exactly what's what.  Suggestion and interpretation are far more fun than description.

A MISTY MONDAY'S EVE
©Jimmy Longacre 2015
16X20 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Mustang Island Art Gallery Port Aransas TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Saturday, June 20, 2015

TUNE-UPS!

People tell me we shouldn't fiddle with our plein air paintings after we've left the field.  I've watched this topic be endlessly argued on Facebook and blogs.  Some say it's no longer a plein air piece if you do anything to it later.  First of all, let me say, I've been in many plein air competitions and I can tell you, as a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority of pieces done in the heat of the field are turned in after they have been tuned-up in the cool of the motel room.

The practice doesn't bother me a bit, as long as we're not talking about a cold re-do from photo-reference.  And those who resort to such tactics are kidding themselves about the importance of winning the fleeting recognition of some event.  Even if you win, you lose because you know you've stooped to violate your own conscience, and this makes you a smaller person.

If you've read here before, you know I'm not a plein air "purist", who thinks that plein air is an ideal inviolable.  Some seem actually to believe that a flawed work done alla prima, in the field, has some mystical quality that makes it superior to a painting finished in the studio.  To me, plein air painting is a tremendous means of learning by painting directly from life, not showing-off.  I really don't see the value in leaving a painting less than it could be when you strongly feel it can be made better.  I enjoy going back through my field studies to see what jumps out at me that could be improved.

I've included a sample of such a "tune-up here, so you can see what I'm talking about.  The top painting includes the "tune-ups" done weeks after the painting done in the field (shown below).  See if you can discover what I've done.  You may feel its worse, now, but I've done what I feel needed to be done to make the best painting I could from the information I gathered en plein air.

APRIL COLORS
©Jimmy Longacre 2015
9X12 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Mustang Island Art Gallery Port Aransas TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

THE TIME AWAY EFFECT

It seems that after a prolonged period of focused creative work, in which we're trying to improve or develop certain skills, we often reach a kind of impasse.  Sometimes, we may even doubt that we're meant to be painting at all.  It's a common byproduct born out of dissatisfaction with our lack of improvement.

Yes, the answer is to persevere, and there are things we can do to assist in breaking through to a new level.  But, there is also something I call "The Time Away Effect".  You can't really plan this out, but it often occurs when something temporarily distracts us from our usual painting routine.  I recently was stopped from painting for over a week, while we took care of the passing of a close family member, and another one's wedding.  We were completely absorbed in all the things that go along with such events.  I gave no time at all to my painting during this period.

When I was able to return to my studio, I found that I had a perceptible hunger to paint something…anything!  I prepared my palette and went at it, creating this painting from a field study I had done over a year ago.  As I worked my way through the stages of the process, I found myself spontaneously doing things with the design and the paint-handling that were the answer to my previous blockage.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process, and felt that I was gaining a natural charge over creating and taking advantage of the "happy accidents" that accompany moments when we're painting with freedom and confidence. A real delight, and a motivator to push on.

I think that our amazing brain understands on a deep unconscious level what we want and are struggling with. If we sustain a focused state of effort and experimentation with what we want to achieve we prepare our mind to "discover" the solution.  Sometimes a night's sleep will yield the results, but other times an extended period of "time away" allows all kinds of unconscious connections to be made.  This is the natural creative cycle I find at work in my painting:  desire to create; intense study to raise conscious awareness; extended focused experimentation and effort; a period of saturation and dissatisfaction; and then …a break from the frustrating dilemma that allows the assimilation of needed awareness and skill to percolate and surface.  The joy and release that comes with the breakthrough is predicated on the sustained focused desire and effort.  The cycle begins anew.  Work hard, but don't discount taking some "time away" when you hit the frustration and discouragement point.

UP IN MY HILLS
©Jimmy Longacre 2015

12X16 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Mustang Island Art Gallery Port Aransas TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX