Saturday, October 7, 2017

Matters of Scale

                                                       River Shore watermedia on Yupo 6x20

 Could you imagine this watercolor 10 feet long? Would that be interesting or too loud? The issue of how large my paintings should be has plagued me since I was young. I`ve tried hard to have a career with integrity yet this one issue has compromised my practice since early on. Practical concerns have mostly won out. Like many young people I moved more often than was desirable and the transportation and storage of big paintings was always a problem. I wanted to work large but they didn`t sell very well. The impulse to do them wasn`t pure either. Was I just clamoring for attention with their scale? Was that OK? There are so many logistical matters to think about in the life of a painter! Do they give the students any help with this in art school? Because I didn`t go, I`ve had to figure out most everything myself. In several periods of my career I just said to hell with it, I`m going to go big. Some of those 30 year old paintings are stacked fifteen feet away from where I`m sitting now writing this. The inability to find homes for the large canvases would then cause an over-correction. Nothing that isn`t comfortable to carry. Or later, nothing that won`t fit in my car. Then the pressure builds again and I have a new brood of bigguns. Now I have a bigger car too! One might think the answer is within me but it`s not! Not yet anyway. This isn`t a fatal dilemma, I`m not tortured by it. The primary thing is I`ve painted consistently for forty years.
Though my studio is large, the ceiling is low. There is a real limit to what I can get past my stairwell. And as I`ve gotten older, it`s certainly easier to manage the moderately scaled pieces. Sometimes I think I could be happy painting tiny botanical studies at a desk and at other times I want to do 20 foot long watercolor scrolls. So on it goes, round and round.
Maybe it`s mature to be practical, I greatly admire Thomas Nozkowski, and all of his stuff would fit on my back seat.

The painting above comes from a small patch of grasses and trees along the Tualatin River backed by a steep hill. It`s in a park in West Linn, close to the baseball diamond and is just spectacular to me. Somehow the light on this spot is always dramatic. The paintings below all derive from this same magical corner on the river;

                                                               Riverlight Study wm 12x9

                                                           Riverbank Study 2 wm 14x11

                                                                 Riverlight 1 oil 20x20

                                                                  Riverlight 2 oil 20x20

                                                             Riverbank Study wm 14x11

Hugh Hefner

 Allow me some words of gratitude for the life of Hugh Hefner.
I`m a feminist, I understand the arguments and controversies his life and business provoked. And I`ve always found him creepy. But he did the world a great favor in his effort to legitimize sexual desire. The Playboy 'sex friendly' attitude helped liberate a lot of compressed and suppressed feelings about sex. In doing this, I believe he helped women have more understanding and control of their choices and roles in life. He and the advice columnist Ann Landers were also among the first public figures to say the obvious; homosexual people are born and part of nature. I appreciate that.

 Now for some pure bragging. Watch my tremendously gifted cousin, Anya Cloud, in some contact improvisation here, with the great dancer Matan Levkowich. Exquisitely beautiful.

                                                                       Prince Harry

 I used to rail against the idea of monarchy. The notion of superiority by birthright was deeply offensive, undemocratic and racist! 
I hadn`t done my research. 
When I read of Queen Elizabeth`s active role in WW2, my beliefs began to shift. Now I understand the British monarchy at least, to be an example of moral courage, a model of service to the common good and boosters of the best Britain has to offer the world. Look through these pictures of Prince Harry at the Invictus Games. What a lovely humane young man! 
We used to have such a leader too.

 OK, my big Pinterest discovery is Heli Huotala, a Finn of great sensitivity to nature and of the properties of paint. I could live in one of her paintings.

                                                                  Heli Huotala

                                                                    Heli Huotala

                                                                  Heli Huotala

She is doing everything I hope to do.

                                                                High Summer-Sauvie Island

 My watercolor demo from two weeks ago on the coast turned into an oil painting. Things change!

 Last week to see my show at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach OR!


Libby Fife said...


Some of the better insights I have gained have come from examining things that I found to be offensive or unpleasant or just downright scary. Your comments about Hugh Hefner and Prince Harry remind me to keep an open mind so thank you.

The idea of scale in art is really a psychological thing isn't it? To me, working large takes some real ego. It feels very exposed, like you need some serious conviction about your idea and don't care if people like it or not. Have you seen any of Nicholas Wilton's videos where he paints on un-stretched canvas? Seems like you could just roll those babies up and stick them in the corner.

The 2nd and 5th pieces are my favorite. What a sense of place:)


E.M. Corsa said...

There's always so much to respond to in your posts. First of all, I think Heli should hope to be as good as you. That work is too heavy, lacking light; my feelings only.

LOVE your panoramic. If you can afford to not worry about sales, go big; you do it so well. I'm remaining at the table with my minis for now. I think working in a certain size fulfills me at a certain point in my life. I will do bigger again I'm sure but for now, small works bring me great satisfaction. And to be practical, where I have to support myself, these are the perfect answer.

I'm with you about Hugh and the Monarchy. Good insights. Remember, no one forced the bunnies to hop...they did so because they wanted to and were rewarded for it.

Mitch said...

Your Riverlight studies are absolutely brilliant, and convey the emotion and the wetness of the river in a way that would make water proud. I never tire of admiring Nature, observing the subtleties of color and light, but I also never tire of looking at your work like this, where you have captured something of what is most remarkable in Nature.

As for Hugh Hefner, I read his magazine for the articles and interviews, see?

RH Carpenter said...

Well, no one would expect an artist to be practical and you are getting your paintings out there, no matter what size - but, yes, I could see any of your paintings in a grand scale = large enough to cover a wall and one could live in it that way! I do like the work of the Finnish artist very much - much like your work and similar color choices, too, but I have to say, I like your work better (not buttering you up but just the truth). Have a wonderful weekend. Perhaps do a series of small paintings and see where they lead you - then do a series of large paintings? Our days are full of opportunity!!