Though painting detail for many years...there was something about that first time at the Chicago Art Institute around spring of 1979 that I saw my first Frans Hals painting up close and personal.
Hals, the Dutch painter known for his rip roaring celebrating townsfolk lifting up a glass of wine and cheer with the big broad dutch hats and silk clothing.
I saw from about 20 steps away the most perfectly anatomically painted hand at rest, the other holding up the glass.
Now if you've painted portraits before, you know how the hand is one of the most difficult to get right without much toil, but there it was the most perfect hand, and I had to get closer to investigate. However, when I got closer it suddenly became apparent that Hals had crafted the hand with about a dozen well placed buttery strokes of paint.
My mouth dropped, my head no doubt shaking disbelief and awe at the same time. Many were the realistic paintings to be seen in the museum, painstakingly laboriously painted, but here for me was REAL mastery and genuis. To suggest so much having deceptively done so very little.
That hand, that alla prima style of Frans Hals never quite left my mind.
Its with that impression that I am haunted by the potential of a mark. A mark seen from paces back working as one part of a greater whole; seen as a very lovely painting. Its getting closer and seeing the audacity, the boldness, the nerve to let a stroke of paint sit there unabashedly, unashamed...well, its that thing that I experiment with in many of my larger instudio works made from plein airs.
This painting is nowhere near done yet...but, I thought without sharing the closeups of the strokes and butteryness of the paint I'm attempting to orchestrate in a Hals-like'ness, no one would quite understand what I'm trying to do. ITs not just copying a small one over to sell at a larger price, but to engage a painter's game here. Much...with less, seen from afar to appear one way....seen from up close a form of chaos.
Here is one of water up close....thick dabs of paint applied as intended, left with purpose-
the top rail of the old steel hull row boat-
water up just ahead of the bow...
and finally, that jutting point of distant pines-
now...I'm nowhere claiming the mastery belonging rightly to Frans Hals status, but am hoping that by assigning myself the task to approximate this alla prima manner of applying the paint I am attempting to learn control, immediacy, and learn to trust in viewer interaction/participation.