Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shaking Loose of Schmid

Cone Flowers, Oils, 15" x 8"
Up till this morning, I couldn't think of anything to paint. I didn't even feel like painting. I was over-read. I felt guilty having not painted. I decided to shake myself loose by painting from life, something I very rarely do and should do more.  I went out to the yard, cut a bunch of cone flowers, made a makeshift still life set up high enough to see eye to eye, and painted with the colors I had on my palette. They were left over from my experiments the last week with Zorn's limited palette of Yellow Ochre, Alizarin, Titanium and Ivory Black plus my own, which were the three primaries. Enough experimentation had gone on. Enough reading Schmid had gone on. It was time to shut the books and just paint.

I should know by now that too much looking at art and reading about art tends to cripple me.  But every now and then I forget. It'll probably happen again, but after today's Cone Flowers, I'm free.

FYI: Cone flowers, out-of-water, die in front of your eyes.  In water, in a vase, they live for weeks.
 

19 comments:

  1. Dear Linda, a beautiful flower arrangements, full of dramatic tension. What you study always gives good results.

      I started to study the composition of complicated watercolor work, where I would not see traces of pencil ,painting direct with brushes .... I think that if I study too much on something, it paralyzes me ... then I do something strange (often in my case is no draw and paint from imagination) and after I heal .... I discovered that painting more often spontaneously other things than the subject that I set in my mind ... it seems to bring closer to the desired result.
    Good painting from life !!!

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    1. I know what you mean! I was sort of paralyzed or I just needed time to mull over what I had read? Painting from life helped reve me up again. The funny thing was when I started this painting, it was with trepidation. I didn't start as I always started--an underpaint drawing. I did what I do with watercolors, I just laid in the colors and sharpened up as I finished up. It was alla prima all the way. I didn't care if I made a mess; my objective was to break the paralysis.

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  2. That's the way, lovely free, spontaneous painting. And so, did you enjoy that? It looks like you did!

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    1. Our talk this morning helped push me down those stairs. I wasn't, however, going face-to-face with a linen canvas. If I was, I'd still be staring at it. :-))

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  3. Hi Linda,
    I feel your pain and had the very same thing happen when I over-read, over-studied and became over-enamored with the talented artists whose paintings and words I so admired. Over the years, it became clear that no matter how desperately I wanted to paint like someone, it would never happen. As a result, all of the failed attempts to be someone I never could be, taught me to be myself--for better or worse. It's also been several years since I purchased any art books. Despite how much I love looking at the paintings reproduced within, boredom soon sets-in and the books would either collect dust on a shelf or be given away. Through twenty years experience and sticking to what I like to see in a painting, I now go to the studio, study whatever is on the easel and go to work. No magical formula, no recently discovered system, now made available to everyone, no attempt to mimic a famous artist's brushstrokes. Nope...just old-fashioned, solitary work, with a good dose of trial-and error thrown-in. The Maestro's best lesson of all was teaching me that determination, miles and miles of canvas and success all came from within.
    Linda, I know you already know all of these things. Your words and experience literally shout it. I'm pleased that you realized it was time to relax and just push some paint around and I'm pretty sure you'll move forward now, with leaps and bounds.
    Sincerely,
    Gary.
    PS Please disregard my Diebenkorn folly. It sort of debunks everything I said above. :)

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    1. Thanks for your wisdom Gary, but I don't want to paint like Schmid; Schmid paints like Schmid. It's how Schmid paints that interests me, the technicalities--the lead primer, right from the tube with no addition of paint medium, with a palette of no more than fifteen colors on it. Stuff like that plus he did open my eyes to the value of painting still life's in spite of how much I hate to do them. Models don't walk through my studio and I'm getting tired of using references exclusively. A still life lets me paint from life without leaving home and I get the practice of painting another dimension. I also like Schmid's idea, you don't have to paint from one corner of the canvas to another, just paint what you found interesting in a subject and go on to the next. I lied about being so overwhelmed by what I had read that I stopped painting. I didn't. I just stopped painting pictures. I did however experiment with washes and seeing if I could be happy with fewer paints on my palette and what would they be? Over last week, I painted the most God-awful landscape because I got bored with washes and testing the capabilities of each brush and went off to make up a landscape. I trashed it, but not after breaking one of my new palette knives, which broke because of poor craftsmanship. It couldn't take my heavy hand. I learned another lesson., Don't buy cheap and clean up those fifty year old palette knives that are made in steel and forged in one continuous piece with no joints to weaken them. Schmid's books were a good investment--as good as any art course I might have signed up for. I do recommend them. They get you excited about going to the studio with a new perspective. And not to worry, I am not going to fool around with lead primer--but linen canvas that's been primed with lead, yes. I have to see how the paints work on a non-porous surface. I've also bought some turpentine. I like the idea that turpentine washes dry faster than washes made with mineral spirits and don't pick up when the next layer of color is scumbled on.

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  4. You've done exactly what you needed to do!!! This painting is GORGEOUS. Simply GORGEOUS!!!
    I shared it on my Facebook page.
    I go between studying what others do and doing my own thing. Always a balance.

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    1. Thank you Pam. That's really above and beyond. Just doing what you have to do and no more is exactly what hooked me on this guy. I am an over-doer and nothing was ever finished. It never occurred to me that finish is when you've captured what interested you and the rest was just fluff. I think we pick up what we need from others--why else is everybody copying Sargent? We absorb the tidbits that strike home with us and we work them according to our own needs. Technically, I love your compositions. I look at them closely for I have a tendency to constantly use diagonals--actually an x formation which always causes a problem where the strong linear forms intersect. I'd like to get away from that. This painting still has the flowers positioned diagonally, but the pots straighten them out by playing up the dark centers of the flowers.. It's really the darks that hold this together. But the two violet flowers bother me. One should be either off the page, eliminated or smeared to just vague shapes. But so it goes and that was yesterday. Flowers under the bridge. Thanks again for the FB mention. I appreciate that. I always forget to forward my blog to FB.

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  5. The brush calligraphy is beautiful in this, Linda.
    I totally understand the need to take a break from an overload of information. It is all in the the old noggin, now though, and you will be surprised how it will emerge subconsciously as well as the deliberate effort. I stress to the artists I teach just how intellectual
    the act of painting can be. A decision has to be made for every single mixture and stroke. Even in the beloved "zone".
    Thats what keeps it stimulating.
    Loving your blog!

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    1. Thanks Julie. I am having a great summer with and now without Schmid. The most amazing thing I got from him is the value of painting from life, which I had always interpreted to mean from the live model. Now, I am delving into still life's. I think I prefer still life rather than landscapes, because objects are involved and they have shapes that must be dealt with with regards to the lighting situation. A landscape is a cakewalk. If you missed a bush or didn't get the shape of a tree right on, who cares. Landscapes don't put the same demand on drawing abilities as still life's do. Weird. I really hated them in art school. No teacher ever told me what made them valuable; I had to wait till I discovered Schmid.

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  6. I really like the unique arrangement, and you can see and feel the freedom in the piece. What we do on canvas ultimately isn't found in books, though we must learn all the time, all the time, and books are a part of that. I'm not as methodical as you, but that may just be because I don't have the luxury of time. What I have is the poverty of time, which is paralyzing in another way - when you have just half an hour you want to do the best you can do, and after 10 minutes of just staring and seeing only twenty minutes left, you just give up and turn to the internet and write a comment or two. Congratulations on your freedom!!

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    1. Thanks Dan. I "borrowed" that from Schmid. I really am not fond of painting flowers because flowers in a vase was all they ever set up in art classes way back then, which was boring. flowers laying around struck me as a brilliant idea. I'm sorry your time poor. I became time rich when the recession/depression forced me into retirement. My art saved me from feeling out of work. That's when I started this blog five years ago today I think? That saved me too. The catch 22 of retirement is, you need a lot more money than you did when you had regular cash flow; art supplies and great books like Schmid's are costly even when bought used. So quit bitching about time poor and collect all the pay checks you've got coming. Lucky for me Ellis is not the retiring kind. He loves work. He loves cash flow. He doesn't paint, take art workshops, buy books or clothes without paint spots. He's my perfect mate; he just brings home the bacon. --I am a sucker for Microsoft XBOX Solitaire. I could spend hours gaming to win coins. I love the sound of money. If it was real, I'd just send it all to Dick Blick. Now there's a job :-))

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  7. I do love the composition...and knowing that the cone flowers are so fragile. It is a fleeting moment, isn't it! You did a lovely job of this!

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    1. Thanks. I was amazed that I was watching such a sturdy, spreading flower die in such a short time. I thought for sure they would last through a couple of painting sessions. It's a good thing, they grow in abundance in my garden.

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  8. Love the flowers Linda! Also love the portrait in another posts! I so love cone flowers! Great work here!
    Michael

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    1. Thanks Michael. For such a rugged, weed-like flower that thrives on the meridian of the highway, they don't live for long once cut unless put in vases with water. But I thought I'd try this set up rather than the normal. So they died for my art. :-))

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  9. Lovely flowers! =) I know what you mean. Haven't painted for 3 weeks, renovated my kitchen and had my living room floor sanded and varnished. Now I am eager to get back painting, but am also nervous about attacking a large white canvas. I know I have to relax and not over-thinking it.
    I hope you had a great summer! =)

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    1. Thanks Roger! Renovations can upset a household, but when they're done, it's so nice. This retired kitchen designer who never did her own kitchen envies you. Enjoy. I still have a lot I don't know with regards to making corrections, but I did need a break from thinking about the technical aspects of oils. As I worked out this last week, I kept thinking about going back to acrylics where I felt comfortable, but I started something and I will finish it. Oils are right for portraits and figurative painting. With Fall around the corner, I've investigating the courses offered at the local association. Drawing and Todd Burrough's very traditional oil painting class appeal to me, but I can't decide to make the commitment; the idea of giving up my free painting time and going to class to paint as directed spooks me. I have had a great summer directing myself. Maybe just the figurative drawing open studios? Make a splash on that white canvas and you'll be back in top form if I know you. You're a professional and your large paintings are great.

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  10. I love it that you're disciplined and free at the same time.

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