Monday, August 29, 2011

Monhegan Coast

Monhegan Coast
Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux

Hurricane Irene passed, tourist are leaving and school is beginning. As summer winds down and fall approaches, it triggers a change in routine. With regards to art, for me it means a different mindset. I kind of lollygag along during the summer months. It's not to say that I don't work hard, rather nothing seems to matter. There aren't any pressing deadlines to meet and it becomes more a time of play or experimenting. I do whatever I want. Paint what I want. Nothing is created with a specific destination in mind and I'm free to take as long on a painting as I choose.

It's a lot like a day at the beach. You know, sit around all day. Take a stroll, pick up a few rocks or shells. Drag your toes in the sand. Watch the waves roll in time after time trying desperately to remember the range of beautiful colors in it's endless dance to a frothy break.

But vacation's over and it's time to buckle down and get serious again.

Do you morph like this in autumn too? I've already begun changing. Papers are rising on my desk. Printed sheets of tasks I want to do, things I want to look into. I've already searched out a bunch of galleries I'd like to approach and a serious pace to prepare packets will soon follow. This is also the time of year I begin seriously painting new work for next year's gallery season.

I spent time taking lots of photos this summer and hope that I have ample references to carry me to next year. Between what I paint on my own time and all my classes, it takes a large amount of good photos. Which leads me to the painting posted, Monhegan Coast.

This is a painting I did with one class. We pulled out our palette knives. Yes I said palette knives! I never do that. To mix paint, yes. But never to apply paint to canvas. So in it I jumped, all the while trying to direct my students without knowing what I was doing. I thought it was the perfect tool for the rugged coast that covered most of our scene.

It turned out to be very freeing. Jags of paint left tiny shadows which created additional cracks in the rocks. Some students who get caught up in too much detail found themselves playing in paint. It was a great exercise for everyone. I suspect I'll be picking up the palette knife to lay down paint again soon.

The ocean was interesting to do. It has a very different appearance when looking at it from high above as oppose to being at the beach. Students wanted to make breaking waves as they know them from the shore. But the shapes flatten out and all that is left is change in values and color.

This was a fun painting to do. I took lots of coast photos on Monhegan. It's hard not to. So perhaps another rugged coast painting will show up before I know it. I remember the day class arrived and saw this scene. No one thought they could paint it. I'm happy to report that they all amazed themselves. I had some real beginner students in it too and they left with something they were very proud of. Great job class!

So now that summer's ending... what kind of changes does that mean for you?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flirting with folds

Original oil painting 24x18"
by Susan Roux

I spent the week away in a rental house with friends and family. It was a few yards from the beach and at low tide you could walk for miles in ankle high water. Conveniently, low tide occurred in the afternoon and a promenade through the crystal clear water was the perfect way to relax after painting all day long. I arrived back home yesterday and already miss those afternoon strolls and evening sunsets...

The household was bubbling with activity. Everyone going in different directions to view the area. I'd been there many times and decided in advance to set my easel inside and paint as if it were my studio. I didn't think I'd spend the entire week on only one painting, but I did. After coffee, people would scatter and my daily activity began. It was so nice to have nothing to do but paint. You could say I was on vacation, but I worked very hard.

I'm posting her a bit incomplete. As I look at her with fresh eyes, I can see a few areas that need touching up. Aren't there always..? My focus was the folds in the fabric. I wanted to capture volume and twists. The more I work on this subject, the more I realize I have a long way to go. Folds are a challenge all their own. My wish is to capture fullness and movement while still keeping everything really soft. For now, rigid keeps creeping in.

It's ok though.

I recently took my model on a photo shoot and I have lots of new material to work with. In time with hard work and long hours behind the easel, I'll probably capture what I set out to achieve. I know I'm pretty tough on myself, but the desire to improve continues to bubble through me. If painstakingly is what it takes, then painstakingly it will be!

Thanks for stopping by. I don't spend nearly enough time thanking all of you for your continued support including the time you take to leave comments. Whether nice, sweet, humorous or critical, I love reading them all. You make my day!

With humble gratitude, I thank you.