This is the final installment of my series of posts following the progression of a painting I started at the beginning of January – a “paysage planétaire” inspired in part by the work of Ferdinand Hodler and other painters from that era. So, in my last post, described the overpainting. Earlier this week, I put the final touches on this and completed the piece. It was a little touch and go there for a while, but I think it’s come out pretty well:
So here it is, complete. Took about a month. Part of the time was waiting for the layers to dry. Lately I’ve been experimenting with a more traditional medium (stand oil and oil of Spike Lavender) which works great but dries slowly. These were the only additives (besides mineral spirits and a little linseed oil) used in this painting.
I’m getting a bit behind in my blogging. The month is fast rolling to its completion, I’ve got what feels like a hundred pots in the fire.
Among those, the “paysage planétaire” I started several weeks ago continues to evolve. Last week, the underpainting was complete and I worked on the blue areas – sky and water. This evening I worked on everything else.
The painting is fast approaching completion.
As I said before, every painting is an experiment, an exploration. I cannot yet say if this one is a happy experiment. I also cannot say whether it is finished. It could be. Any thoughts on this?
This week’s featured painting is a piece I created back in 2010 for a special exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Calamus edition of Walt Whitman’s celebrated Leaves of Grass. The title of the piece, “I will plant companionship thick as trees” is a quote from one of Whitman’s Calamus poems, which are remarkable for their frank celebration of same-sex love. The painting debuted at the special Calamus exhibition at the Hudson Guild (Manhattan) in spring 2010. This piece turned out to be the first of several Calamus inspired paintings I created that year. The painting was also included in my solo exhibition at Thoughtworks in Manhattan 2013.
I’m offering it for sale now through my online Square shop. If you are interested in owning this singular work of art and are in New York City, you’re more than welcome to visit me in Brooklyn to see the piece.
As a sort of journalistic experiment, I’m going to follow the development of my recently started Paysage planétaire painting through several blog posts. This should be interesting, and maybe disastrous, since I don’t know how the painting is going to turn out. For me, creating is perhaps like giving birth to something — that something has a unique and independent existence. (Or, to put a humorous spin on it, sometimes I feel like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein — “It’s alive!”) Yes, I have a lot do with how it turns out, but ultimately the work takes on a life of its own. If things go well, it’s almost as if the painting paints itself. So far, I think it’s going well.
So recall where I left it the other day:
Essentially this what is classically referred to as the “cartoon” – just the outline. I also added a little texture and shading in blacks, whites and grays. Today I started filling in the underpainting:
First blue sky. Then I started adding some greens:
Essentially I’m taking a layered approach, or a semi-layered approach. I could have done it all alla prima, wet-on-wet, in one big session. My plan is to finish the underpainting in this fashion, and then do a big alla prima overpainting to finish it off. That will either complete the piece — or ruin it.
Here’s where I’ve left it tonight:
The underpainting is not quite done. I’ll finish that up soon. And I’m going to find the reference to “paysage planétaire” and report back here.
Oh, in case you’re wondering the reference for this piece is a photograph I took in the Adirondacks (upstate New York) a few summers ago. I’m not going to show that photo here since it is only a point of reference, an inspiration for the work, and not the work itself. I don’t want to invite comparisons between this inspiration and the painting, which is definitely it’s own thing. I’m not a fan of the concept of “representation” in art (at least as I currently understand it). But I’ll save that topic for another day.
I’m featuring a different painting each week. To start this series off, I present to you Magnolia, an oil painting I created in May 2014. This painting was inspired by photos I took of some lovely Magnolia trees in a city park in Manhattan. The color palette is very simple: white, black, green, pink and blue. The painting is 12 inches square and the composition is very much about the square (the square being a favorite motif of mine over the past several years).
This painting is for sale and is listed on my Etsy Shop! Check it out there!
I spent some time in the studio this afternoon, stretching canvas and beginning a new painting in my “paysages planétaires” series. A big inspiration for this series is the work of Swiss symbolist and proto-expressionist (my designation) Ferdinand Hodler. (Occasionally I reblog Hodler images on my tumblr.) I believe I came across the term “paysage planétaire” in some essays about his work. Alas, I can’t find the reference now.
Maybe it came to me in a dream.
In any case, this one is started. Each painting is an experiment. Who knows how it will turn out!