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View Full Version : Is there room for color "subtlety" ie "Naturalism"with block studies?


LarrySeiler
01-15-2002, 12:00 PM
I thought it might be appropriate to start a new thread aside from the "Mud" color discussions to broaden some of the later commentary.

I am appreciative of Hawthorne and Hensche, but also leary of some of the power of disciplines to cause the eye to interpret stereotypically.

I have seen the block color studies done outdoors in a couple books...which I think are instrumental, yet..I can't help but wonder if the discipline and drills of painting the blocks day in and day out isn't similar to the metal guitarist that goes for flawless blinding speed on his guitar's fretboard and is enabled due to his constant daily drilling of appegios and scales. Yet, when it comes time to freshly play the guitar in the genre of blues which requires the guitarist to clear his mind of preconceptions and allow the instrument to be a soloing "voice" that emits mood, feeling, etc., many of these learn by rote metal heads suddenly are lost. "How do you play like that?" asked my former guitar prodigy of a metal/rock player in a band I was in.

I'm curious if the studies don't set a course whereby the painter anticipates what he'd like nature to be saying to the viewer via his/her method of colorism...rather than stand humbly before nature and just respond to the truth of what is there. That truth can be the many subtle moments of the quiet sublime. There too, exists a certain spirit which requires a particular attentiveness not prone to inclination.

So...if I were a student of the block painted studies and the bold use of color I've seen from a number of the students now of the Cape Cod school, how would I have done the following two examples differently? The days were overcast, yet the sky held much illuminating diffused lighting. The greys and neutrals were prevalent, yet a "beauty" was definitely sensed which caused me to set up and paint.

I am wondering if such painters feel their job is to alter nature to adhere to the school's "system" and feel that painters that simply "copy" nature are approaching painting wrong?

I think there is room for both...and I certainly think when the sun is out in full bloom there is something to be learned by this intensity of color and pure chroma that Hawthorne and Hensche used. I love a good deal of their work, but some of it and of their students work does not appear accurate or real as serves the dictates of nature. Care to respond? -Larry

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Jan-2002/elkcreek.JPG

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Jan-2002/loyhead.JPG

llis
01-15-2002, 12:58 PM
First painting:

Season: Early Fall
Atmosphere: Overcast, dry, still warm (75 -80)
Time: around 1:00 pm

Second painting:

Season: Late Summer
Atmosphere: collecting moisture, slight breeze, cooling down
(70-75)
Time: around 5:00 pm

LOL, Larry... just wanted to share with you my first impression of your paintings. I just went back and re-read your post and see you stated that these two painting were done on an overcast day. Good for me...at least I could tell that. :)


About your question, "I am wondering if such painters feel their job is to alter nature to adhere to the school's "system" and feel that painters that simply "copy" nature are approaching painting wrong? " , I don't think that the Cape Cod group would look down on approaching painting as nature presents itself. I just think they are seeking to "See More" and in the process trying to express the excitement of their experience.

As a mere student I can only tell you what I am experiencing in my quest. Here is my basic question list that I stuggle with.



How can I develop the ability not only to respond to and enjoy the visual world , but also to analyze and understand it.
What can I do to see more, understand more and reach my goals.
What special skill will I need to make sense of the way light affects and determines what I see?
How can I capture the effects I am seeing with my paint?


I think this is probably the same questions every painter has and it is thru this quest each painter develops his/her own style. I don't think any one group should say their way is the only way. I also think that each painter goes thru stages and flirts with many different methods, materials and techniques. It's a shame we all can't live to be 500. Just think of what we could learn and do. :cat:

LarrySeiler
01-15-2002, 01:12 PM
Originally posted by llis
I don't think that the Cape Cod group would look down on approaching painting as nature presents itself. I just think they are seeking to "See More" and in the process trying to express the excitement of their experience.

Oh yes, I understand that, and I think all plein air painters sense that is what happens the moment we step out of the studio.

Is there such a thing though, in attempting to see "more" that we project more than what is really there? You know, like officer Friday from Dragnet, "just the facts maam, just the facts!" And, do we not risk creating a reality that does not exist and could not exist? Its one thing for the eyes to develop and become more accute to see what more there is to see over other's eyes that have not studied, but another if that "more" is not really there...but exists only in one's fancy.

Not saying this is what the Cape Cod painters are doing...as I have said, or the record...that I like at least half if not more of the results. However, some appear as too fantastical to be believable.

Aesthetically and arguably of course, one can create any fantasy one wishes and be called art, however...we are talking about "seeing" and seeing color that is supposedly there with greater empowerment.

If the "vision" is so advanced that even other artists are unable to identify, then the viewer even more so. This was part of the problem with the abstract/modernist movement. It really was an artist's art form, because artists were best equipped to "get it."



How can I develop the ability not only to respond to and enjoy the visual world , but also to analyze and understand it.
What can I do to see more, understand more and reach my goals.
What special skill will I need to make sense of the way light affects and determines what I see?
How can I capture the effects I am seeing with my paint?


I think this is probably the same questions every painter has and it is thru this quest each painter develops his/her own style. I don't think any one group should say their way is the only way.[b]

...and I don't want to suggest that the Cape Cod school is saying such, still Hawthornes and Hensches estimation of the trends after Impressionism was to have made an error...in forsaking the fresh way of seeing that Monet provided. In a sense then, such might be accused to be said.

[b]I also think that each painter goes thru stages and flirts with many different methods, materials and techniques. It's a shame we all can't live to be 500. Just think of what we could learn and do. :cat:

unfortunately, some are so stuck on having finally achieved one end that they are paralyzed from experimentation and the new doors that might open for them...
Reputation also is a hard thing to earn, and to walk away from the developments that brought such accolade on is difficult.

Larry

blondheim12
01-15-2002, 01:14 PM
Larry,
Your thoughts about musicians ring true with me. My daughter is a classically trained trumpet player. She struggles in Jazz with improvisation, finding it to be almost impossible. She is a fine Symphonic musician and fine on ensemble jazz music but improv, no way. I think it relates tospending so many years playing scales and technical studies, she just can't loosen up.
I relate that to alot of painters who are masterful technicians of realist painting but have difficulty with painterly work.
Love,
Linda

LarrySeiler
01-15-2002, 01:24 PM
Well Linda, I'm glad you piped in here with your example...affirming that my metaphor did make some sense.

I think as an aesthetic, the similarity holds true.

How many times now have I coached and been sideline cheerleader for artists wishing to paint painterly but too afraid to try. Telling them to just think of it like another sport to try. Golfers have different parameters and goals than do tennis players. It doesn't make one less a golfer to play tennis once in awhile! Set some parameters to assure spontaneity...and give it a shot.

They think they're tight!!! Many have got a long way to go to put out work that was as tight and bent on photo-realism as many of my former works AND I had the reputation many think they would covet and find satisfying!

Arguing for the changes sounds easy and reasonable, but...as you point out about your daughter...I have friends that would nearly give their eye teeth to be able to show up at a gig like I do without the slightest concern in the world about what will be played. I don't need to practice ahead of time. Don't bother making extra copies of songsheets for me. I'll hear it. I'll feel it. Then I'll play.

So, while disciplines open one door to understanding...becoming comfortable and over confident with them can at the same time be debilitating and paralyzing...or, so I'm theorizing.

Larry

llis
01-15-2002, 01:59 PM
Originally posted by lseiler

Is there such a thing though, in attempting to see "more" that we project more than what is really there? You know, like officer Friday from Dragnet, "just the facts maam, just the facts!" And, do we not risk creating a reality that does not exist and could not exist? Its one thing for the eyes to develop and become more accute to see what more there is to see over other's eyes that have not studied, but another if that "more" is not really there...but exists only in one's fancy.


Larry

Okay, the answer, in my humble student opinion is YES. That is exactly what I tried to say in the other thread that started out about mud. I do think that some go over the top with color and that is the very thing that I don't like about much of the work of Susan Sarbuck, Lois Griffel, and others that subscribe to the "full color seeing" technique they teach. It's this very thing that makes me tense when I view their works. :( I understand what they are striving for, but I just don't care to look at such intense paintings.

Many times, in Susan's book, reference is made to do practice exercises much like musicians do. As a matter of fact, the blocks exercise is there too. I see the value, just don't like the noise it makes. :)

At the same time..... I absolutely love some of the works of those that have come out from this school of thought. It's a matter of taking nature and embellishing just a tad to make people SEE what you know is already there in nature. For my taste, please keep the embellishments on the tad side. :) I think we are saying the same thing, only you are so much more skilled than I.

llis
01-15-2002, 02:05 PM
Hey, Larry....

Carly will be taking a workshop this summer with Susan Sarback. Carly already has a good handle on seeing color and it will be interesting to listen to her comments that she will share when she gets back. I am envious of her opportunity, but understand that there is a long waiting list for this workshop as well as any workshop she teaches.