Hiking with painting gear, easels, boards, and supplies challenges muscles and bones. The subject must be promising to encourage painters to take to the trail. And the trail needs to be short. New Hampshire’s White Mountains offer plein air painters opportunities from precipitous rocky cliffs, broad reflective lakes, looming mountains, to intimate streams. This September I held a workshop in those mountains. I was lucky. My artists took risks with their tools and motifs. Here are examples of their adventures in paint.
I begin a workshop day with a demonstration and consideration of how artists have historically approached the subject. I encourage simplification of design, distillation of an idea, experimentation with materials and paint-handling, personal expression and references to art history whether from long ago or contemporary works. My first example at Crawford Notch references the stone textures and waterfall imagery of Courbet but, without a palette knife. My first workshop artist, (example 2 by Debbie Goodman) reacts to the same motif but, she uses a palette knife. Cindi Mullins (example 3) also approaches the rocks and falls but, from a more intimate perspective. Her oil paint is thin and wet which gives a luminance and texture suggestive of a monotype. This study of Cindi’s represents only her first step in the process.
My second example is a watercolor of the basin in Franconia Notch State Park. The watercolor has layered glazes of color, scratching out and opaque notes ( example 4). While wandering with our gear and cameras down the basin trail the artists fanned out finding secluded vignettes. Janine Robertson invoked the spirit of 19th century Hudson River artists with both her composition and palette. She pushed their coloring to more dramatic levels. I begin with photo of one of her views down the stream so that you may appreciate how much re-interpretation Janine applies to her painting. She re-makes the location as her own (example 5 is photo, example 6 painting on easel).
Following up the stream I found Debra McClave and Kathryn Poch. Here are two artists employing expressive gestures, a clean and deliberate feeling for abstraction through reduction, solid designs, and expressive color. Here is Debra’s painting on the easel with her palette mounted in front and her motif in the distance on the upper right (example 7). Kathryn Poch paints nearby. She has two slightly altered views of the same humble falls. Her distilled expressions, like Debra’s, are packed with energy and motion which is amplified by the strong and uninhibited strokes. Kathryn uses both brushes and squeegees to create a generous feeling of a moving cascade. She titles example 8 “Fast and Furious” suggesting her emotive ambitions (examples 8 and 9 by K.Poch). These works are 12×12 on white anodized aluminum.
Another artist, Bob Lenz, found a note of private mystery and subtle stillness along the stream as he worked in oil on example 10. He uses rich red browns to complement blue greens.
Debra McClave begins (usually advisable for all artists) with a drawn sketch to help her construct an arresting design. Example 11 shows Debra looking onto Ammonoosuc Falls, her motif. Example 12 presents her sketch alongside her painting.
Painting and hiking can take a toll. Artists require rest and meditation between bursts of creative effort. The darkened pool and dramatically lit forest have just inspired a flurry of photographs by these artists now invoking another visit by the muse of the mountains (example 13).
The artists in this blogpost represent only a few of the extraordinary artists with me in New Hampshire. They have kindly sent me images for this posting. If I can persuade others then, you will see more.
I again invite you to my one-day “Painting Skies” workshop on November 8, 2014 at Silvermine School of Art (silvermineart.org or call 203 966 6668) and, to invite you to attend my one day Paint-the-city workshop on November 16 at Jerry’s Art of the Carolinas ( contact: artofthecarolinas.com or call 800 827 8478 ext 156).