Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Re-thinking Studio Painting


Painted in the studio today. Weather is a bit foul so I stayed in and painted a 14x18 of cows. I bought a big pack of 14x18's and 16x20's to try and motivate myself to paint a tad larger but so far they have just sat in my storage closet mocking me.
This afternoon I took a break and had a massive bowl of ice cream and went through the John Singer Sargent book "Sargent Abroad." Ya'know, sometimes I get lazer focused on what's being done out there in the market, right now, by the artists who I admire and would someday love to emulate and I forget to "go back" and look. It was the first time I had picked up a Sargent book in a while and just looked. And yes, it floored me.
Most artists you can watch paint and figure out what they are doing, how they do it. Even if you can't yet, you can see the way they paint and work at it until you can do it. I think watching Sargent paint would have been like watching magic. Even after you had seen him do it, you would stand there scratching your head in amazement not having a clue as to how it started with blank canvas and now looks like that. There is a description in the book by a lady who describes how he painted a plate of flowers. She said the watercolor was just one big pool of pigment and when it dried it was this wonderful little painting of flowers on a plate. Sounds like magic to me.
I don't know if it was the Sargent book or the ice cream this afternoon but this studio painting thing is starting to grow on me.

7 comments:

C. Ousley said...

Cows can be a pain to draw as are horses. I guess need to draw more livestock.
Ol Sarge is awesome! I remember reading about Zorn water coloring a fox fur and how it all just "appeared"... like Sargent's painting did. Magic!

Marc R. Hanson said...

Kevin I have read that Sargent would not 'correct' anything that he'd painted. Instead he'd scrape or wipe it out completely, preferring to start again from the beginning. He believed that if you had to correct something in a painting that meant that the basic structure of that part of the painting was wrong from the start. Better to scrape it out and start fresh than to try to 'fix' it. This is the reason that his paintings have that fluent, easy, fresh look to them.

Jeremy Elder said...

The nice thing about cows is you can really see the warm/cool relationships in the whites - it really anchors the piece.

When you do studio stuff are you working from just photos, or do you employ plein aire sketches for color reference?

Kevin Menck said...

Marc,
Man,if that was how I did it I'd never get one done. I'd be sitting around scrapin' and startin', scrapin' and startin'...

Jeremy,
Wish I could dazzle you with my knowledge of color theory and tell you it is all from my vast mental resources but actually I'm faking it. Painting outside has made a world of difference in my ability to paint in the studio and helps tremendously when I have to compensate for photos. They are horrible to paint from. Ideally I try to get a photo and painting to paint from but when the sketch is not available I wing it.

Jeremy Elder said...

Sweet - thanks for the insight.

Carol DeMumbrum said...

Brings back the good old days of showing holstein cows in 4-H. Well come to think of it they were not very nice— I think it was more like they showed me.

I do love the painting!

Kevin Menck said...

4H!! Apparently there's a lot about Carol DeMumbrum I don't know.