Monday, May 26, 2008

Great Smokey Mountain National Park

Update: I returned in May and painted 3 more paintings

Photo of painting next to Juney-Whank Falls...

I had a great week of painting last week (April) in Tennessee at the GSMNP. I had not been down there in mid-April before and it was great to see the masses of Nodding Trilliums, Painted Trilliums, Yellow Trilliums (which I had not seen previously) as well as the other spring ephemerals, dogwoods, redbuds, and other flowering things.

The weather was fantastic. The day we arrived there was snow in the higher elevations of the park - 4000+. It made an interesting scene to see the greening of the lower parts of the hills going up to less green and then to snow.

I created 4 24"x30" over the course of the week. Of waterfalls, primarily. There is a dogwood in one and some rhodedendrons not blooming yet in others. I had been painting the waterfall in McCormick's Creek and it was great to have more falls/rushing water to paint.

Two paintings were "official falls" (the "Sinks" and "Cataract"), 2 others were from near "Roaring Forks" road. I was looking for "The Place of 1000 drips" - but didn't find it until later - and even then it seemed to be designated differently by different entities. I could paint there for months and have all different views.

I went around the Artist's loop road they have. There were a few nice things and a lot of stuff. One thing I noticed were prints of paintings about the size that I was painting for $1400 m/l.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg died May 12th.

'I usually work in a direction until I know how to do it, then I stop,' he said in an interview on Captiva in 2000. 'At the time that I am bored or understand — I use those words interchangeably — another appetite has formed. A lot of people try to think up ideas. I’m not one. I’d rather accept the irresistible possibilities of what I can’t ignore.' R.R.

He was one of my favorites living artists. I saw a show of his in Chelsea last January - and I didn't think it was on par with his other works - but then the article stated that he had a stroke in 2002 - so that would explain some things.

Some snips from the New York Times obit ->

Robert Rauschenberg, the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century, died on Monday night at his home on Captiva Island, Fla. He was 82.

The cause was heart failure, said Arne Glimcher, chairman of PaceWildenstein, the Manhattan gallery that represents Mr. Rauschenberg.

Mr. Rauschenberg’s work gave new meaning to sculpture. “Canyon,” for instance, consisted of a stuffed bald eagle attached to a canvas. “Monogram” was a stuffed goat girdled by a tire atop a painted panel. “Bed” entailed a quilt, sheet and pillow, slathered with paint, as if soaked in blood, framed on the wall. All became icons of postwar modernism.

A painter, photographer, printmaker, choreographer, onstage performer, set designer and, in later years, even a composer, Mr. Rauschenberg defied the traditional idea that an artist stick to one medium or style. He pushed, prodded and sometimes reconceived all the mediums in which he worked...

No American artist, Jasper Johns once said, invented more than Mr. Rauschenberg. Mr. Johns, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Mr. Rauschenberg, without sharing exactly the same point of view, collectively defined this new era of experimentation in American culture.

Apropos of Mr. Rauschenberg, Cage once said, “Beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look.” Cage meant that people had come to see, through Mr. Rauschenberg’s efforts, not just that anything, including junk on the street, could be the stuff of art (this wasn’t itself new), but that it could be the stuff of an art aspiring to be beautiful — that there was a potential poetics even in consumer glut, which Mr. Rauschenberg celebrated.

“I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly,” he once said, “because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”...

The process — an improvisatory, counterintuitive way of doing things — was always what mattered most to him. “Screwing things up is a virtue,” he said when he was 74. “Being correct is never the point. I have an almost fanatically correct assistant, and by the time she re-spells my words and corrects my punctuation, I can’t read what I wrote. Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.”

This attitude also inclined him, as the painter Jack Tworkov once said, “to see beyond what others have decided should be the limits of art.”

He “keeps asking the question — and it’s a terrific question philosophically, whether or not the results are great art,” Mr. Tworkov said, “and his asking it has influenced a whole generation of artists.”

...There were many other images of downtrodden and lonely people, rapt in thought; pictures of ancient frescoes, out of focus as if half remembered; photographs of forlorn, neglected sites; bits and pieces of faraway places conveying a kind of nostalgia or remoteness. In bringing these things together, the art implied consolation...

Milton Ernest Rauschenberg was born on Oct. 22, 1925, in Port Arthur, Tex., a small refinery town where “it was very easy to grow up without ever seeing a painting,” he said. (In adulthood he renamed himself Robert.) His grandfather, a doctor who emigrated from Germany, had settled in Texas and married a Cherokee. His father, Ernest, worked for a local utility company. The family lived so frugally that his mother, Dora, made him shirts out of scraps of fabric. Once she made herself a skirt out of the back of the suit that her younger brother was buried in. She didn’t want the material to go to waste.

For his high school graduation present, Mr. Rauschenberg wanted a ready-made shirt, his first. All this shaped his art eventually. A decade or so later he made history with his own assemblages of scraps and ready-mades: sculptures and music boxes made of packing crates, rocks and rope; and paintings like “Yoicks,” sewn from fabric strips. He loved making something out of nothing...

He attended the Kansas City Art Institute on the G.I. Bill, traveled to Paris and enrolled at the Académie Julian, where he met Susan Weil, a young painter from New York who was to enter Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Having read about and come to admire Josef Albers, then the head of fine arts at Black Mountain, Mr. Rauschenberg saved enough money to join her.

Mr. Albers was a disciplinarian and strict modernist who, shocked by his student, later disavowed ever even knowing Mr. Rauschenberg. He was, on the other hand, recalled by Mr. Rauschenberg as “a beautiful teacher and an impossible person.”

“He wasn’t easy to talk to, and I found his criticism so excruciating and so devastating that I never asked for it,” Mr. Rauschenberg added. “Years later, though, I’m still learning what he taught me.”

Among other things, he learned to maintain an open mind toward materials and new mediums, which Mr. Albers endorsed. Mr. Rauschenberg also gained a respect for the grid as an essential compositional organizing tool...

Around that time (50's) he also met Mr. Johns, then unknown, who had a studio in the same building on Pearl Street where Mr. Rauschenberg had a loft. The intimacy of their relationship over the next years, a consuming subject for later biographers and historians, coincided with the production by the two of them of some of the most groundbreaking works of postwar art.

In Mr. Rauschenberg’s famous words, they gave each other “permission to do what we wanted.” Living together in a series of lofts in Lower Manhattan until the 1960s, they exchanged ideas and supported themselves designing window displays for Tiffany & Company and Bonwit Teller under the collaborative pseudonym Matson Jones.

Along with the combines like “Monogram” and “Canyon” (1959), Mr. Rauschenberg in that period developed a transfer drawing technique, dissolving printed images from newspapers and magazines with a solvent and then rubbing them onto paper with a pencil. The process, used for works like “34 Drawings for Dante’s Inferno,” created the impression of something fugitive, exquisite and secret. Perhaps there was an autobiographical and sensual aspect to this. It let him blend images on a surface to a kind of surreal effect, which became the basis for works he made throughout his later career, when he adapted the transfer method to canvas.

...In 1964 he toured Europe and Asia with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the same year he exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and the Venice Biennale as the United States representative. That sealed his international renown. The Sunday Telegraph in London hailed him as “the most important American artist since Jackson Pollock.” He walked off with the international grand prize in Venice, the first modern American to win it. Mr. Rauschenberg had, almost despite himself, become an institution....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cool Spring

Overall - it's been a cool Spring. Easily the slowest Spring I can remember - slow being good.

Often the trees and plants start blooming, it heats up to 80something - and it looks like summer in a matter of days. Not this year. It seems like the redbuds have been blooming for a month. Around here the flowers are still on a lot of redbuds but the leaves are also coming out.

I noticed that the Sycamores are one of the last types of trees to get leafed out. Their leaves are still light green and barely open.

I have noticed that Willows have been about the first to come out in the Spring - but I never noticed which are the last.

The dogwoods are still blooming, our peonys are out - but others are not.

April 23rd and 25th were over 80 - but that's been it so far.

Today was sunny and about 70 - quite a lovely day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sycamore Land Trust Paint Out

I was painting today at the Sycamore Land Trust Paint Out "Art for all Seasons" at the The Touch the Earth Preserve.

It was a pretty nice place and a beautiful day. As it turned out it was rather a windy day as well.

This has been the longest lasting Spring that I can remember. It's mostly a matter of not getting hot. It seems that often - a normal Spring around here lasts a week at most. The leaves start to bud out and then it gets up to the 80's or so and that brings the leaves out. I always really liked the stage where the leaves are starting to come out and there are many shades of light greens and such. It's also the time of redbuds and dogwoods. It's been great to have this state of nature continue a little while.

Anyway - I went to the paint out. I didn't see anyone else out there painting. I did talk to the lady who lives across the street and saw her lady slippers and such. She showed me the pawpaws in bloom at the SLT property.

I settled on painting in the open field. In the morning I liked the view toward the cedars - which were practically in silhouette with the white-budded bushes (autumn olive?) in front and a few Springy looking trees scattered around in the background.

It went pretty well - I managed to catch the painting more than once as it nearly blew over in wind gusts.

After that one was done - it took about 3 hours - I decided to paint another one since I was out there. I was painting fairly small - 18x24". So I went back and took the opposite view - toward the hill. This time I got the easel anchored better - got through the whole painting - and then as I was trying to position it to take to the car - a wind gust blew it over on my head (fortunately I had a hat on). So I had to try to fix it. I ended up fixing it up a bit more after I got home.