Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Blogs are for exhibitionists! In the past, in my studio, I would have been wary and a little unsettled, as tho there would be a jinx, maybe even slightly embarassed, to have someone walk in and see a half-finished painting like this one, but now I could hardly wait to expose it. Maybe it's partly that I'm so glad to be painting again.

So what you see is about halfway through the process, what I could do in a couple of hours, including one spent stretching the canvas. (This one is 36" by 42".) The tree is a winesap apple, heavily laden this year with delicious fruit.

Last spring we had a horrific late freeze that killed some trees, and blasted every apple blossom black. This spring the trees must have been determined to make up for lost time & made so many apples that many limbs broke off under the weight.
We all overcorrect at times, swinging a bit wildly on life's pendulum.

I decided I'd paint without my glasses. They don't really help anyway, since there's no one field of focus in the sort of paintings I do, and besides they're annoying and painting, for me, is a great pleasure, even when it is difficult. Here's my palette, an old dinner plate, and the brush I used - hog bristle, just one. I'll let this dry for a day and finish it up in another session later this week.


Kim said...

I've just got to say that I'm so happy to see you creating! That tree reminds me of you. It got wiped out for an entire season, now it's overflowing with fruit. I like this style you're using - very appealing.

Dan Dutton said...

The style is called "not wearing glasses" Ha!
I decided to just trust my brush & let things happen.

Kim said...

Ha! I've often thought about trying that. In fact... maybe I will... hmmmmm. Could make for some interesting abstract art.

Dan Dutton said...

Not to minimize the importance of vision, but a lot of what happens in painting is, like handwriting, comes about because of a long practice in which the particular movements of the body translate into a certain quality of mark. Learning to mix colors is a bit like that too, once you go beyond the simple part of the theory (blue + yellow = green, etc) and have a feeling for how the purple-bronze cast of ultramarine blue will react in combination with the complex brownish gold in yellow ochre - then a kind of confidence comes thru in mixing colors & a greater sensitivity to "wrong mixes" - ones that do not work with the resonance you're aiming for - then "seeing" the color isn't exactly the main thing either. I usually work out the formulas for all the colors in a painting before I ever start & a lot of times that IS the idea for the painting.... so that - (expressed as a question: " wouldn't a painting that had a large amount of pale yellow made by mixing Naples Yellow with Flake White and "breaking" the hue with a tiny bit of Cobalt Violet - contrasted with an area that had dark golds made by breaking Yellow Ochre with Manganese Violet look good?"
THEN figuring out shapes that would help - like painting a gold & violet faun with a pale yellow atmosphere around him. I think that does make the art kindof abstract, in one sense - often what I paint is backwards, as a process, from the more usual order.

Dan Dutton said...

Just to make this even more ridiculously complicated ~ what finally sealed the deal on painting this apple tree, which I'd been observing & thinking about painting for years, was the accident of the heavy crop bending & breaking the branches. The bent branches made the kind of curves that work well for my particular way of handling the brush - maybe because since they look good to me, I've worked for a long time to make those kind of curves naturally. & the broken off limbs keep it from looking too loopty-lou. & also because it brings a story into the picture - you said the tree reminded you of my situation & I did see myself sharing an experience in common with the tree (just a projection - but that is one way of finding meaning in what we see.) - but more especially that the tree becomes a kind of short hand for something we've all experienced - THEN it's like a whole bunch of things converge for a party & that kind of "power cluster" is really appealing to me as something to paint. It's memorable & it's about something more than "my vision" - that way I can learn from it too.

(Oh dear - I knew there was a reason that I used paint to do it instead of words!)