Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oh, By the Way...

Today I am also over at Peter's, participating in the Word Doodlepalooza - fun!

Pastel Guy pastel paintings jewelry store

What Good is Your Memory, Anyway?

Today, I received an email from my gallery to let me know that I had sold another painting! Although it's only an 8 x 10, I'm pleased, ...and so is my credit card company. *grin!*

This particular painting is titled "Bitterroot Aspens" and although it is not an actual place in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, it could be. Every summer, my family and I fly up to Missoula to visit extended family there. Having grown up in the most beautiful part of the country I've ever seen, it's always like going home. This particular scene was painted back here in Illinois from memory of no particular place. During our vacation, we had taken a drive down the Bitterroot Valley, and had seen many hills like this covered with grass turned golden by the end of June. This is one of those paintings that really clicked for me, perhaps just because it was from memory. I think it was finished in about an hour on a day when I completed four paintings.

Over the weekend, I was reading in Edgar Payne's Composition of Outdoor Painting (first copyrighted in 1941!) about how he would have his students construct a field study one day, and then the next day, they would actually paint the piece from memory. His assertion was that painting a scene from memory brought to the painting what was emotionally important to the artist, rather than making the painting a recording of every detail seen outdoors. Taking Payne's opinion and reflecting on my own work, I can see how drawing/painting from memory would be allow you to simplify your composition, since we don't remember every single detail - and it's those little details that can really make painting en plein aire challenging.

In Bitterroot Aspens, the sky and the hills were a snap, as were the fields. I remember the trees being pretty easy, too, I think because I wasn't trying to copy a particular grove of aspens. Rather, I was painting for the composition, and that made all the difference in the world. The biggest decision was deciding which color I should sign it with! HA!

Tell us what you do - do you paint strictly from memory? Are you a strict plein aire artist? Are you a studio artist who uses photographs as reference material?

Keep painting!

Pastel Guy pastel website jewelry store

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Black Swan / Order from Chaos

Today was a day of restoring order.

My mother used to have this sign hanging on the refrigerator. It had the word order at the top, and chaos at the bottom. In between were two words that were hybrids of the two - a sort of picture of how order comes from chaos.

As I vacuumed the house today, I thought about how the house just seems to naturally revert back to chaos. There's dust and dog hair, and kids' toys and junk left over from the work week. I, then, as Order Master, have to go through and revert everything back to the way it should be. Because I am the Master. Naturally.

As I was chainsawing apart a downed tree in the 'back 40', I though about fungus and how they would eventually clean up the tree if I weren't so impatient. (Maybe I really am a fun-guy after all! - badumbum - sorry, couldn't resist! *wink!*) Are they Order Masters, too?

As I folded laundry, I thought about humanity before soap. Eeww. But are we really any closer to being ordered than we were in the Bronze Age? (I know there are exceptions to every rule. *grimace* I'm talking about society as a whole here, not just those of us who have clearly evolved. Naturally.)

As I hammered silver wire to make these earrings, I thought about all those poor little molecules inside the wire. First they were in the earth, they they were dug out, the silver molecules separated by smelting, after which they were combined with foreign metals, remelted, then pulled into wire, cut, bent, and hammered, which forces them to align funny so that the whole becomes harder. The final insult was the polish - as if they hadn't been through enough! (Wait! I think I just summarized my life's story!) Did I create order out of all that, or are those earrings actually the penultimate of chaos?

Whatever the case, it was fun to come up with a totally new design. I call them the Black Swan Earrings becaue their shape reminds me of that most graceful of birds. The bead accent could be any color. Actually, in retrospect, I think they looked best of all without the wrapping and the onyx bead. They'll be in my Etsy site soon for about $24.

Here's to your week being full of ugly ducklings maturing to beautiful swans.

Pastel (and whatever) Guy