Thursday, June 20, 2013

Is This A New Direction?

I have talked about moving from a series of floral paintings (4 cactus paintings in a row) with a side trip of an old truck painting when I started painting a Chinese landscape from an old ancient area of China west of Shanghai. A close friend spent some time there as a child and it had good and bad memories. When I saw the image, I was completely arrested by it and felt that I had to paint it.

However, at the same time, I also felt that this was completely out of my league. This was a subject of water and buildings and trees, something I had never mastered. I certainly gave it a try in Las Vegas with a class taught by Bill Bayer, a wonderful teacher who works in oils. In my first class with him I finally got my breakthrough in both oils and landscapes with a class he taught of an old tree on a path.

 Here, I picked up where I left off last week and quickly started to add the foliage. My teacher made a comment about how I seemed to work from front to back. However, the background was already in place and I didn't want to mess with that in any way. It was dreamy, almost surreal enough and to do anything else would, well, contaminate the piece.

In my mind, it was that background of trees and sky and water wandering off in the distance that gave this painting exactly the depth I wanted. It made the buildings and water in the foreground grounded in time and place.
Chinese Dreamscape by Alan Krug

 The one thing I didn't want to do though was add the woman washing on the steps. I resisted because I felt she would become the focus of the painting and detract from the overall dreaminess of the piece. Adding her though, even before I was done, gave the painting focus, something it didn't have until I added her at the last minute. Without a doubt, though minor and almost a sidebar, the entire painting fell into place. The reflections in the water made sense, the steps had a reason to be there. It was suddenly whole.

The addition of a true orange to highlight bricks and wood, dying leaves and branches in the trees, on the steps and bridge, if anything it added richness to the greens and buildings. Leaves went from black green to avocado and finally a citrus green. Highlights on the tiles were a country blue that gave dimension to the roof and water.

I'm not sure if the painting is done. I wrote earlier about knowing when to stop. I guess I could add some deep lavender highlights in the shadows, I could fan brush the trees with "leaves" or, I could just leave it alone. It could be considered finished. It sits on the easel in the garage for me to see the 100 times I walk outdoors into the back yard. Already though, I view it and can't believe that this was something I created.

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