Friday, September 2, 2011

Landcape Again

"Your style has changed," she said. "It has gotten softer." That softness isn't really me, I think; or, at least, it was not really my intent to soften up. The "soft" quality of that particular landscape is the result of several things. The landscape itself has a soft quality about it. Light is part of the subject, and I had gotten away from such environmental concerns. My older paintings had been more about composition and thought and painting. They were more formal. This one was more subjective and contained more of my emotional response to the landscape. There is a softness about light pouring onto trees and vines, changing the edges of an organic form. Then there are my old brushes, they're getting kind of worn. They've lost their "point," and efforts to re-point them are in vain. And this time, I was less concerned about the final surface, the overall composition, and more concerned with just painting the landscape as I saw it and felt it. Or is it that I just got lazier and sloppier about it? The whole thing was less formal than my old painting.

I was happy with that last landscape, in spite of the "soft" quality. Even though it was only the second painting out from my long hiatus of not painting, it was successful enough. It turned out pretty much the way I wanted (or better than I expected, anyway, and easier to do); though not exactly as I'd seen it in my mind's eye. (There's always a loss in translation from there to canvas). I'm not too thrilled with the landscape that's happening right now, though. So far, it has that simplified tonal look of western U.S. landscapes (not a favorite genre of mine, and I'm not painting a Rocky Mountain scene). That's because I picked a fall or winter photo to work from. But is it also because of an inherent way that acrylic tends to go on the canvas, that sort of flat plastic quality, and an overly brightness of color that I've had to work around to overcome it? Is it the fact that my brushes have deteriorated, from my having used them too hard and cleaned them too carelessly over the years? The missing control and "snap" that I miss, in general, from having used real red sable many years ago, when I painted in oils? Is that what makes the brushstrokes seem so flat, the brush so nonresponsive? And then ~ there's always a disappointment in working from a photo anyway, and maybe I didn't pick the best one to start with ~ not a lot of contrast in it.

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