Friday, March 24, 2017

A Sense of Place

What is a sense of place? The term has been used in different ways, but I'm talking about the sense of place that we strive for in landscape painting, a feel for the earth and vegetation, and the architecture and people that makes this place different from others. When I travel to paint, I'm searching for this sense of place, and trying to bring it home on my canvas.

Bahama Clouds
8"x10" oil on Raymar panel

Last month I enjoyed a trip to Grand Bahama with painters Carol L Douglas and Joelle Feldman. We painted with Cali Veillieux, and stayed at her rental cottage in the beautiful and charming German Holiday Park in Freeport.

So what was different about the Bahamas from our New England perspective? It was nice and warm! The next thing that hit us was the beautiful blue green ocean and the big weather that kept floating by above our heads. And of course, the vegetation was different. We needed different colors for the palm and jacaranda trees than we were used to.  And there was still a lot of destruction from hurricane Matthew. The poor jacaranda tree below (my favorite painting from the trip) should have been decked out in wonderful blue blossoms, but it was just happy to be alive.

 Jacaranda Tree
8"x10" oil on linen panel (not quite finished?)

I love the palm trees, and there are so many different kinds! It took a bit of practice to even come close to painting the foliage believably. But it was fun trying. 

8"x6" oil on Raymar panel

I don't think you can truly get a sense of place when you are visiting for a short while. But you can try, and in that trying learn something about the place, it's people, and their struggles and dreams. Cali and her friends do have that sense of place, and for them this is a beloved island. To us it was beautiful and a wonderful respite from our weather at home. More paintings and some new Bahamas friends in another post.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Abstracted but not Abstract

Painting, drawing, making and loving art

There are many abstract paintings that I love, for example, the Elegy to the Spanish Republic paintings of Robert Motherwell and the later paintings of Franz Kline, I'm especially attracted to abstracts that are black and white. It's the bold composition that grabs me.

But what almost intrigues me more is abstraction in representational painting. There are several contemporary artists whose work captivates me in this regard; Maine oil painter, Henry Isaacs, British pastelist Tony Allain, and Scottish mixed media painter Claire Harrigan.

What do they have in common? There's a lot of color, for sure. They're bold. and the abstract shapes are beautiful. But there's also a level of simplification that very much appeals to me.

I'm trying to add a level of abstraction to my representational work. Here's a piece from 2011 where I used a patchwork kind of approach. My current thinking is to let the drawing do more of the talking. Stay tuned.

French Farm
8"x8" oil on canvas panel
Bobbi Heath