Saturday, April 23, 2011

concept: studio and plein air

18x18 pastel on Uart

There are two ways I look at my concepts for painting. First, is what happens in the studio and how the ideas grow from the small seeds planted earlier. Second, would be the concepts that I plant into the daily plein air paintings, the challenges I give myself.

I will start with studio concepts. In my studio you will see my many piles of sketchbooks. I keep all my ideas in these books. Inside one you might a description of a nocturne or sunrise, a beautiful line from a poem or story, an idea about color or combinations and, of course, many observed or remembered sketches. All of these ideas may sit on the page until finally the right moment comes when they take root. Sometimes it takes years or just a day or two.
Let me give you an example. Long ago I was reading a children's book. I can't even remember the name of the book right now although I wish I could. I wrote down one line that really struck me. "Dusk slowly pours the syrup of darkness." Oh how I loved that line and still do! It haunted me. Then, when I was in La Conner painting at dusk, in my favorite slough I couldn't help but think..."Wow, that's just how it feels! Deep thick sugary syrup of orange covers the Earth." During that trip I did many plein air works  at dusk and upon returning home created the one that made that feeling so clear. (see above.)
9x11 pastel and watercolor on Uart, plein air
My plein air work does not have that same type of concept. Instead, sometimes it is simply a study of the way clouds move or the desire to explore reflection and its relation to color harmony. While driving to my location I normally have some idea or challenge in my mind. In the painting above I was in southern California during the uncharacteristic "Pineapple Express." I was loving the fog and the way it enveloped everything. I remembered seeing this marvelous hill the day before and feeling obsessed about painting its "disappearance." Disappearance and its relationship to fog was the concept of this small plein air painting. It may one day be fodder for a bigger painting or it may not. Sometimes it's just an exercise.

Whether studio or plein air the common thread is a dedicated focus to an idea.

That's today's thoughts on concept. So far I have covered 3 items on my list...three more to go! Any thoughts?


Caroline said...

It is interesting to read about how you want to capture those fleeting moments of weather and time of day changes. The studio works are similar how I like to work too in that I will also be struck by a sentence in a book be it a story or a poem. Ulrike (from Deborah's painting water online class) who is visiting Scotland was taking a walk with me by the beach yesterday and I was telling her how much I was missing my tree drawing as I had seascape painting commitments to forfill. She paints a small painting each day and I was saying that daily drawing and painting is very much like a journal entry for the day, just like writing a diary but in paints and pencils. Often our vision is different to what potential buyers and gallery owners can appreciate yet our 'journal' is really very important to our artist world. While buyers of our work love the finished painting it is a rare thing for them to see the process of how a painting is brought into being.

Double "D" said...

I hope this comment makes it.

The slough is great. You can see the deeper blue creeping into the back lit bushes and tree's in the front.
The gold of the sunset really sets it off.

Plein air. You really nailed this one. Everything is just right as you reach the crest and then all disappears.
Awesome. You could have fooled me that this was CA.
Looked like the northeast at first view.

OK, here goes the attempt to post.

Nika said...

A marvelous painting, the one of the slough. I can sense it's even more layered and rich in person.It conveys that bittersweet feeling at the end of the day when we watch the sun go down. What a line! "Dusk slowly pours the syrup of darkness", sounds like a mantra:), now I can't get it out my head

Joan Breckwoldt said...

Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and concepts. Both of these paintings are wonderful, they are very strong works.

loriann said...

Hi Caroline,
You are so right, our visions can be very different from what others want. Staying true to your path is so important. I remember reading once that Mark Rothko really suffered with that. The paintings he because very famous with...those bands of stunning vibrating colors seemed to fence him in. People wanted those and he felt trapped. Vision is our identity.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

YAY PB, you did it! Blogger and you are one! I wonder what has been happening all this time. Blogger eats your comments!
Thanks about the two paintings! Would love to hear about your ideation.

loriann said...

Hi Nika! I live by that still haunts me, three years later. Thank you about the slough painting.

Thanks Joan!!

Carole said...

Your use of color and eloquence take my breath away!

Could the quote you remember be from "Twilight Comes Twice" by Ralph Fletcher?

loriann said...

Hi Carol,
Yes, yes, I think you have it there. Great book! Thanks for commenting!

Donna T said...

Thanks Loriann, you give me a lot to think about. Just identifying the concept before putting pastel to paper is a challenge for me. Maybe I would do better to stick with simple concepts for plein air work (just record the light and colors)and leave the more complex things like mood for studio work. It does seem like some ideas need time to incubate.

Anonymous said...

Hi Loriann,
I have been enjoying your writings on the concepts of art from the last few days. They have provided much food for thought. Like you I have become a sketchbook fanatic. The biggest problem for me is that sometimes I cannot read what I have written down! I enjoy going back through them. It amazes me that there are certain themes in my art that have not changed over the years. I find that I am never bored by exploring these themes over the year.You write that,"whether studio or plein air the common theme is a dedicated focus to an idea" I agree with this except that regarding myself I would change the word idea to theme.

Regarding two paintings that you posted, April 20th-and April 22nd-beautiful examples of landscapes. The landscape from April 22 is not a glaring sunset it is a joyful evocation of natures beauty. The pastel that you posted on April 22-you have captured a sense of place. This painting has some wonderful color -the red trees on the left side-so visually rewarding.
Happy Easter!

loriann said...

Ooops Carole, I just noticed the top part of your comment...thank you so much about my use of color!

loriann said...

Hi Donna,
I find that talking to myself about why I am painting this helps.Yes, I look a little crazy..but that in itself is not unusual.Incubate is a good term for what needs to happen for studio work. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

loriann said...

Hi NJ!
Thanks so much for all your kind words.I am delighted that you are enjoying my recent writings and paintings. Writing about these things is another way of helping myself as well. Yes, we do get attracted to certain themes and don't let them go.
I am glad that you do not feel my sunset is glaring..I really like your description. I think i have to keep working on it. I have more ideas. Happy Easter! Loriann

Jala Pfaff said...

Here's a couple of wonderful paintings! Vivid orange, and then muted (rainy day?) neutrals. Yum.

I can't work with UArt at all. I don't seem to understand it. Any hints?