Sunday, October 23, 2011

Painting the Night

I've always loved the dark. Perhaps it began while growing up in a secluded hollow with no electricity. I dream of being able to get away from the city lights that surround my current home; there is no true darkness where I can enjoy the beauty of the night. I regret that my grandson never knew the thrill of playing hide and seek in the dark and that millions of city dwellers will never be able to see the Milky Way or appreciate starlight. And so I compensate these days by doing night time paintings from time to time.

I've already mentioned the recent workshop I took from Marc Hanson. One of the things I admire about Marc is that he loves the dark as much as I do. He actually spent a month doing two small paintings each night in the dark. Marc also has the artistic capability to create night time paintings from daytime scenes, something I was determined to learn while he was here.

The painting you see above was done in one morning. Its inspiration was a photograph taken on a late afternoon when sunlight was streaming over the hill in summer time; everything was mostly green. Marc declared it a successful painting and commented that I might consider adding just a few stars but only if I wanted to. Mission accomplished. Although I can't often enjoy true darkness, I can always do paintings that will take me there.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why Take A Workshop?

As someone who has been painting for many years, I sometimes wonder why I continue to take workshops - not that I take that many; usually just one every year or two.

But sometimes an artist comes to town whom I greatly admire and I just can't resist. Last summer it was Marc Hanson who lives in Taylors Falls, Minnesota. Not only does he use the muted subtle colors that I love but he also paints beautiful nocturnal paintings. This was my chance to learn from a master.

Featured today is one of the paintings I completed during the workshop. No one will ever say it looks like a photograph but that wasn't my goal. It was about 5:30 on an October afternoon and a golden light was streaming over the hill when I took the picture. My workshop goal was to capture the peaceful feeling I felt that day while standing on the banks of 13-Mile Creek that flows past the farm where I grew up.

Those of you who attend art workshops know that students should never expect to produce outstanding paintings while trying to learn techniques that are foreign to them. With that thought in mind, I simply threw myself into trying to learn as much as I could in a short three days. Is this painting a masterpiece? Of course not. I can see things that I will change if I ever paint the same scene again. But I do sense that feeling of peace and calm I was trying so hard to capture. Mission accomplished.