Last of the Birds

February 18, 2020

 

Almost all of the birds have flown the nest. I am writing of the abstract soft pastel drawings that were based on bird coloration. There are only these two framed pieces remaining from the original series. In addition, there is one framed drawing, Dove + Crow, from a series of larger drawings. This was the only one of that series to be based on birds, and it followed on the group of crow drawings which you can see in an earlier post. Most of the crow drawings are available still, although unframed, and many of the larger drawings are also available unframed. Check back here to see some of the larger pieces later in the week.

 

Making these soft pastel drawings is all about color, the medium, and the process. I am interested in the laying down, layering, and sometimes lifting of the colors, as well as the color relationships. The lush colors and the materiality of the pastels (primarily Schmincke and Sennelier) are very appealing; color becomes both subject and object in these abstract drawings. The pastels, fragile sticks of colored dust, have their own way of behaving, and much of the process involves welcoming in the unexpected and being willing to be out of control. Even if fixed with fixative, the finished pieces are somewhat fragile and will change, however imperceptibly, over time, as particles of color release from the surface. I love that these drawings have a life of their own once I am done with them.

 

Let me know if you would like more information about any of the work…or if you would like to see it in person. You can comment here.

 

Dove V. 2

Dove – soft pastel, 6″ x 6″

 

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Jay – soft pastel, 6″ x 6″

 

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Dove + Crow – soft pastel, 12″ x 21″

 

An Assortment of Abstractions

December 18, 2019

 

In a shift from working with landscapes, I love exploring the color possibilities offered by soft pastel. When working with these pure colors (nothing more than pigment and a bit of binder), reducing the image to abstraction allows the focus to be more simply on the colors and their interaction. When I am working on them, these pieces have a life of their own and require me to be fully engaged with what is happening on the paper.

Here are a few small (4″ x 6″ color studies) done in preparation for larger pieces. If you are interested, you can see them as well as other soft pastels at the Open Studio this Saturday, December 21, 1-5:00. Comment here if you want more information.

 

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Small to Large

December 16, 2019

The newest landscapes are the smallest ones, only 3″ x 3″, oil on paper. Here are three (the first is not available):

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The largest landscapes I have posted before, but I will share them again here. The one below  is  the largest:  22″ x 30″ (image size), oil stick and graphite on paper, framed.

 

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Edge of the Day

 

This one is 18″ x 18″ (image size) also oil stick and graphite on paper, framed.

 

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Still Place

 

If you would like to see these and more in person, stop by the Open Studio on Saturday, December 21 1:00-5:00. Comment here if you need details!

New Flock

January 22, 2019

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Crow #3: How Much Light Do We Need Against the Dark

 

I’m playing a bit of catch up here, posting recent drawings that haven’t yet been out in the world. After a break working in other media, I got back to soft pastels last spring and decided to begin by returning to drawings based on birds and their coloration. As I have written before, I begin the drawing using colors based on a particular bird and also keeping in mind other characteristics of that bird that might be helpful. But the demands of the drawing take priority, and the finished work may not be such an obvious reference to the bird that inspired it. For this new batch I decided, with some initial hesitation, to work with the crow. If you check out crows carefully, you will see that everything about them is black: feathers, beak, eyes, feet. The color comes in with the purple/blue gloss on those shiny black feathers. While this was a bigger interpretive challenge than my other choices, I was curious about what might happen. Black is not a color I use often or much of, but with the first drawing I was immediately hooked on the blacks in my box, the variations, and how I might create subtle shifts and relationships by adding in other darks and, in some instances, even soft graphite. There were six crow drawings that arrived all together in that flock (perhaps more to come). And they led in their own way to the next series that I will begin to post soon.

 

While I was working on these, I picked up my copy of Sean Scully: Resistance and Persistence, Selected Writings, as Scully has been a big influence on these pastels. His thoughts (page 36) on color and darkness resonated with me, so I want to share this bit here:

 

Thinking about the colour in my work, and its darkness…I often think about how the light in my work – the light produced by this colour, which is so emphatically attached to its own body weight, it own gravity – has a tendency to fall back into the painting. The painting has to be opened up.

             The colour, of course, could be opened up. Red could be bright red. Yellow could be the colour of flowers. And green could be leaf green. This would make the painting more immediate, more obviously communicative, more readily available…and less burdened by the issue of interior content.

            My painting, however, is a compression: a compression of form, edge, weight. And colour participates in this density. The painting is immediate since it is painted aggressively, by hand; yet it is difficult because it is compressed. The light in the painting has to be opened up, pulled out.

             And it is exactly this difficulty that gives the work its interior life. It is an incarnation, not an explanation.

 

The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. is showing Sean Scully: Landline until February 3. Hopefully the doors to the museum will be unlocked in time to see this powerful work before then! But, that’s another subject…

 

To wrap this post up, I want to share a more poetic name for a flock of crows that I learned this morning; it can be called a ‘murder of crows.’  Who has heard that before?!

 

Manakintowne Workshop

September 3, 2018

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~~~~~~~
please join us at the farm for the
 
MANAKINTOWNE PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP
 
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 9:30-3:30
(rain date October 6)
 
~~~
 
BRING YOUR FAVORITE MEDIUM
 
or
 
TRY OUR OIL PASTELS ~ ALL SUPPLIES AND BASIC INSTRUCTION PROVIDED
(perfect for beginners)
 
 
TUITION $115 ~ BRING A FRIEND FOR $10 DISCOUNT FOR BOTH OF YOU
(INCLUDES A GOURMET FARM LUNCH)
 
 
Enjoy a restful day working among the fields of Manakintowne Specialty Growers in Powhatan. Instruction for plein air drawing and painting is offered, or you can try oil pastels with beginning instruction and all supplies provided (a great opportunity to try a new medium!). We break mid-day for a delicious lunch and good conversation. Space is limited, so sign up soon! (Contact me here.) 
                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last Nests…Rare Sale

July 18, 2018

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Nest of Possibility  (SOLD)

 

Space is finite in the studio, and there is little room remaining on the walls and boards; so I am reducing the price on the last seven nest images to make room for the new drawings in the works. There are five framed oil stick drawings and two oil paintings on wood panel. Most will be reduced  by half. Let me know if you are interested, and I can send pricing information. Come by the studio to have a look in person! Please note, sizes are the framed sizes, and they are approximate.

The image above is the largest:  oil stick and graphite on paper, 22″ x 25″

 

Terra

Terra   (SOLD)

oil stick on paper, 13″ x 15″

 

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Sure

oil stick on paper, 10″ x 10″

 

Elemental

Elemental   (SOLD)

oil stick and graphite on paper, 18″ x 18″

 

Eclipse

Eclipse

oil stick on paper, 18″ x 18″

 

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Where to Begin   (SOLD)

oil on wood panel, 11″ x 11″

 

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Winter Nest   (SOLD)

oil on wood panel, 11″ x 11″

Landscapes

June 26, 2018

I haven’t posted any landscapes for a while, so here are three relatively new ones. The top one is oil stick and graphite on paper (15″ x 15″), the second is oil pastel on paper (11″ x 9 1/2″), and the last one is a small oil (paint) on paper (6″ x 4″).

 

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