Sunday, November 11, 2012

Genre to General

After the race meet ends, Saratogians express little to no interest in equine art, especially horse racing. Either they've had their fill of it during the summer, aren't particularly inclined toward the sport, or it reminds them of huge crowds, insane traffic and the hopelessness of obtaining a dinner reservation.

So, what's an equine artist to do? Many of my peers are expanding their artistic repertoire in the wake of the stifling recession that put the kabosh on more than a few thriving careers. Experimentation's necessary course of action has produced these recent inventions:

Islands of Lake George, oil on canvas, 8"x10"

Simplify has become my new mantra and the word loops over and over in my head. Here, I'm playing with atmosphere and pushing the color expression. I feel like I want to re-work the value of islands to bring it closer to the air and water.

Lobsterman, oil on canvas, 11"x14
From my now infamous Maine vacation, I awoke early on the shore to observe the laborious hauling and inspection of lobster pots. The canvas ground is a cool, light yellow mixture of cadmium light and yellow ochre. The background was a wash of  pthalo blue and white. I was going to work in some water action behind the boat but decided to simplify and left it as is with the yellow showing through. It may not work but it was an interesting decision for me.

Sherman Farm, oil on canvas, 8"x10"
This plein air piece is a feel-good stretch. It was rendered quickly and simplified as it was only in the upper 30's outside. I've been studying landscape painting and pining to be good at it! It may be a matter of practice, practice, practice - or not. I've got a long way to go before I make friends with the greens. Whatever, it's good to get out and paint directly from life. A great help has been Landscape Painting by Mitchell Albala.

Untitled (as yet), oil on canvas, 22"x24"
I simplified these brushstrokes with a deliberate unsure back and forth blending like I caught myself doing in the landscape pieces. It has an abstract feel to it and I'm especially pleased with the composition. Thrusting, powerful bodies in space...gee, that's familiar.

I feel like I'm starting over in some respects. It's uncomfortable and although it's interesting to try new subjects, I'm not very secure regarding my motives and direction as an artist. After a couple of decades of branding myself as a "dynamic equine artist", where am I going with this? Will I still be able to apply an aesthetic of striving for excellence, a dialog of visual communication and convincingly convey my ideas in paint that will translate    

It's good to step out of the box (I guess),

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