Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Broadway Belle - A Beauty Still

Go To Louise Sackett Fine Art

I finally got around to painting a little old lady I met.
She’s a lovely old Victorian house on Broadway, at the top of the hill, below the old County Admin offices in Silver City.  I have wanted to paint her since I first saw her. She is a designated historical building, one that has a for real name. But I call her ‘Broadway Belle”. She’s been on Broadway a long, long time. But she still retains some of her allure.
She has had her porch removed and rebuilt and has survived a whole lot of upgrades since she was first constructed. Right now she is for sale and needs a coat of paint. I was trying to figure out when the light would be most advantageous to her, and finally said ‘to heck with it’, and painted her yesterday morning.

This is the beginning, where I block in the darks, planning
the shapes.
Perfect light is not worth trying to plan. The light never takes a painter’s needs into account. I can paint a location all morning and never have that shaft of light happen that Richard Robinson says is God’s finger saying “PAINT THIS”. So why wait? You might as well do it when you can, and forget the desirable light. In any case this house was fairly well lit, off and on, with a cool light in the early a.m. that made for a lot of interesting angles with that complex Victorian roof line. I learned a lot painting this piece, like why I don’t paint buildings very well. I guess I get lost in the puzzle-like character of the shapes. People like Lori Putnam, Shelby Keefe and Greg LaRock make it look so easy. I wish that it were. It’s not for me. So I trudge on, painting buildings in the hope that they sooner or later will start to look more plausible. At least not look like they are on borrowed time, unless they actually are.

At this stage I am playing with the colors and determining the foreground.
 I was playing with a burnt red oxide and ultramarine violet this time. I actually thought that the ultra violet couldn’t be that far off the mixing properties of ultramarine blue. Man can pre-conceived notions be wrong. I really liked the softening qualities of the violet, how it subdues strident chroma when using it in a mix. It’s very different from the blue. And I tried their crimson. It’s a softer more controllable color than alizarin crimson, yet it has deepening attributes when combined with a Cad red light. It’s actually a lot like a carmine pigment. Actual color matching was not what I was mostly concerned with in this painting. I was actually more into getting the light and architecture right, than the color accuracy. With all the downed leaves, the only real natural color, other than the sky, was the yellowed grass and the evergreen spruce. There were no flowers, and the bushes all had that 1920s dun and beige color thing going on.

Broadway Belle
11x14 Oil on board
The good thing about getting out there to paint regardless of the conditions,  is that sooner or later you will find something that is stunning. Like the alley I ran across at 9a.m., downtown. I mean to go back there and see if I can find that light again. Lots of trashcans, lots of kitties, cars, and lots of light. I need practice with cars too. If I remember correctly, it was just down the street from the Broadway painting site.
Maybe that finger of God was there after all.

Favorite quote:
"Don't be afraid to let a good painting go in the pursuit of a great painting."
Rick Howell

To learn about a plein air competition for the benefit of the Wounded Warrior Project, and to win cash prizes and a chance for a two person show,  click here and go to Downloads. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Changes Are Coming - And Not Just The Weather

Those of you who do follow this blog may have noticed a change in its format. You are correct. The format HAS changed. I did this in response to my blog having issues with the interactivity disappearing and re-appearing at will.  Nothing I did caused it and it was intermittent.  I was frustrated. So I can only imagine what it was like on the reader side. Now people should find it easier to comment and otherwise send me an electronic raspberry if you don’t like what I posted, either verbal or visual.

As anyone who has troubleshot a computer or a program knows, an intermittent problem is the worse kind to find and fix. So I opted to not try and to throw in the towel. I have other things on the burner that are for me more important. I have actually traded in a car rather than try and find a computer/electrical problem in an otherwise just fine car. Life is too short to be frustrated. (And I paint???)

On the painting side, I find I am that way about my problem paintings en plein air too. I will take them in the house, especially if something is hiding about the edges of my consciousness, telling me something needs fixed. Especially if I do not know what the heck that thing is that needs fixing. I live with them a while until the goblin pops out at me. And I do know that goblins were for last month, but they hang around here some times, way beyond their welcome date.

Hillsboro Arroyo
6x5 oil linen on board

That was the case with this little painting. I did it a few weeks ago and something really bothered me about it. So it sat in the living room, a 6x6 itch I couldn’t figure out how to scratch. Every time I turned on the TV, sat down with a cup of coffee, tried to catch up on my phone missives, there it sat, staring back at me.

When I read something said by Harley Brown, in a recent interview, the light went on. Harley said (not quoting here) that you should never put the same amount of detail in the background as in the foreground. Imagine that simple a solution! I had gotten to the point where I knew that it was the background that haunted me. I had painted this tiny thing with smaller brushes. I should have kept the bigger ones handy. Once I simplified the background, a few judicious lights were added and suddenly it bordered on the acceptable. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still in the living room. Is it a still plein air? You betcha. I figure it only needed about 5-10% modifications, so according to my criteria, it’s still a plein air. But those pesky goblins are gone for a bit. They were probably afraid I’d mistake them for the turkey. 


Favorite quote:
·“The painting is finished before the artist knows it is.”
Harley Brown

To learn about a plein air competition for the benefit of the Wounded Warrior Project, and to win cash prizes and a chance for a two person show,  click here and go to Downloads. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Glow Before the Snow

Some mornings are just blessed from the beginning. The sun is shining, the breeze is gentle and the colors will blow your mind. The bees are curious, the horses are wary and you experience a morning like no other. That is why I like painting in the outdoors. It reminds me how small I am in the scheme of things, and how all of it will go on long after I am gone. So while I am here, I want to leave my impression of it all. That is a small part of why I paint ‘en plein air’. To show how it is in my eyes, and to give thanks for the existence of it, me and all.
Wow. Heavy for so early in the day. But being in the outdoors is somehow more spiritual to me than being in a church. Everybody has their affinities. Being outside, painting is mine. This is a typical plan and layin stage.

The cottonwoods are passing peak, losing their leaves, and the breeze does have a bite to it, when it blows. The sun is still warm, but soon the colors will fade, the leaves will fall, and winter will descend. So while it is still a riot of color, I drove to Arenas Valley, parked my car, upset the deer in the field and set up my paints. I only painted two small studies. Only 6 x 6 in size. I tried to capture the lights and darks, the brightness of the yellows, the temporary quality of it all.

This tree is massive. It dominates the road. Its color lit up the sky. How could I not paint it? I could have panted that tree all day if I had not gotten cold standing there. Time for layers when I go out, I think. The shadows were great and really defined the solidity of that tree.
This is ‘Colors of Cottonwood’. It is only a 6x6 oil on board.  Tiny, but its impact is massive.

The other painting I did that yesterday, is of a tree lined gully, filled with bushes, trees and golden leaves. I tried to paint the scene, the sun spilling down between the limbs, but it was an ambitious undertaking. This painting is somehow way more abstract than the first one I did. I do not know if I succeeded. I shall have to live with it for a while. But this little 6x6 oil is called ‘And the Deer Hide Here’.

You really couldn’t see them once they got into the thicket. Smart little buggers. It’s still hunting season here. I am sure they came out in the sunshine once I left.
Can you tell I love a fall palette?

Favorite Quote:
Art begins with resistance - at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.                                 (Andre Gide)

To learn about a plein air competition for the benefit of the Wounded Warrior Project, and to win cash prizes and a chance for a two person show,  click here and go to Downloads. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

An Open Gate To Opportunity

Go To My Website
So do you go in a gate that is left ajar? Do you NOT go in? I mean it wasn’t closed, or barred. There was a gate; it was open. But it is hunting season, and who knows who left it open. The owner, or the hunters?
I gathered up my nerve (OK, so this isn’t out of character to those of you who know me) and drove on in, right up to the house. Then a kindly lady in her housecoat came up out of her house with a friendly “May I help you?” Which is how I met a very nice friendly lady who let me paint on her property in Hillsboro, New Mexico. As early as it was, Patty was even excited that we (my friend Gay and I) were there to paint her arroyo. She drove by twice to take a peek. And she said she liked the colors we were using. They are not as vibrant as New England in the fall, but they are pretty, very gold and even orange. The dried grasses go from pink-tinged to russet in their depths. So it runs a pretty good competition to many places in the states. But Patty did warn us not to go too far from the road as it is still hunting season here, and there were hunters on her property who had asked to use it too. I guess she feels they can tell a cow from a deer. But could they tell a painter??? I thought it best to not test their discernment skills. We stayed close to the driveway.
My friend Gay Painting in the arroyo - Hillsboro, NM
We painted in the arroyo, with running water, serenaded by the mooing cows that were in the river bed. They stayed on their part, we stayed on ours. We never even got a visit from them. Apparently we were not so very interesting as the grasses on the banks. And that was fine by both of us. It’s one thing to fend off wild burros, snakes and skunks. But a bovine intent on tasting terre vert outweighs me by a few pounds, so I was glad they were in a Greta Garbo frame of mind.
Hillsboro Arroyo - Block In
Oil on board.
 This oil painting is a 10x10 on board. I tried a new format, square. It’s also a bit smaller than my usual size, and so it’s cheaper. Real cheap if I don’t have to frame it. “Hillsboro Arroyo” was actually fun to paint because the river bed was so rock-strewn, that we were constantly losing our balance, which made us look like painting drunks. I did some funny two steps out there! And that wasn’t even around the cow presents.

Hillsboro Arroyo
Oil on board finished
Favorite Quote: unknown
"Step by step, a path,
Stroke by stroke, a painting"