Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Zorn Palette

I just got in from trying something I have been wanting to do for a while but never made the effort.
The Zorn Palette.
For those of you who may not know, the painter Anders Zorn apparently used a palette that consisted of Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black, and Red, I chose a Cad Red. I am sure for some of his paintings he had many colors involved but I assume a lot of his landscape work was with this palette. If there is anyone out there who knows how to tell a painting with only these colors, let me know. I have looked and I am not able to discern by looking. That statement alone is an indication of how good he was.
When you see a painter's work who is truly a master painter there is an appreciation for their abilities as a painter. But when you actually try to do some of these things, your admiration is magnified a thousand times over. By struggling with the palette of his, my admiration was magnified. A lot. It seems the more I paint, the more I appreciate what these master painters did and are doing. When I say master painters I am not sure how you acquire the designation. I am not talking about the artist who attaches it to their name to pad a resume or make a long impressive bio and can't paint their way out of a wet paper sack. I am talking about the guys who were and are truly masters. You know em' when you see em'.
Before I painted I was a big fan of Sargent. Then I started plein air painting and it took on a whole new level of genius. I can remember standing at the Frist Center here in Nashville in front of a Sargent that had been painted of a figure in the landscape that had been painted outdoors. The technical precision of every value and color and brushstroke may have been lost on me before I became a plein air painter. On this day, it wasn't. The mental capacity necessary to do what I had just seen, to me, made the moon landing look like a trip to the grocery store.
As far as the Zorn Palette, if there is anyone out there who has tips, secrets, or a little history on it, share. It has a very moody, fall-ish/winter look to it that I am sure I will use again. I just don't know how to produce anything that resembles the greens that I am used to here in Middle Tennessee.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home Again, Home Again.....

I know I have said it before but it bears repeating.......nothing beats a road trip.
Got back from Door County Sunday evening. For the past three days I have felt jet lagged. I know, I drove, but still, there is an exhaustion there that I can't shake. It may be the fact that I am not used to painting that hard for that many days. I averaged four a day for a week and some of the others did better than that.
We found out that Door County is a big onion that you have to peel the layers off. When we came in we had just passed through Sheboygan. Sheboygan was awesome. Big, giant dairy farms everywhere with these huge gorgeous barns about every 100 acres. It is a painters dream so we knew Door County had to really step it up. At first it didn't.
With help from Dawn Whitelaw, who had been before, we started finding these little tucked away places and these century old barns and farms. If you peel the onion and get back in the cracks and crevices of Door County it is beautiful. As you can tell we spent a large portion of time in the interior painting the barns and farms. Met some fantastic people who gave us a bit of history on it all. Had one lady come out to talk to us and she had been born and lived in the same house for 72 years. She is what you would picture Mother Nature looking like at 72. She insisted we take some beets and onions with us so we relented and said yes. Apparently she walked around the house, pulled them out of the dirt and just handed them to us. There was still dirt falling off them when she threw them in the truck. Later that evening we met two couples in Peninsula Park and were able to barter those beets for Mike's Hard Lemonade. Not a bad swap.
The folks in Door County have done a very good job of restricting unchecked development and have kept the area "quaint". It's small little fishing villages and parks along the coast and rural in the interior. For a painting trip there is plenty to keep someone very busy. Also the area around Algoma and Keewaunee is beautiful. We spent a little time down there and we could have spent the whole week and not run out of things to paint from barns and farms to bays and docks and fishing boats and little towns. If you ever get to the area I would suggest going down there at least a day or two. It would be worth it.The art school they have in the top floor of Barnsite gallery would be worth the trip. If you're anywhere near it ask Dick Bell to give you the guided tour. It's impressive.
I guess now, for the next few days, I have to get out of "post trip funk". After a trip like that it's hard to get motivated around here. I usually remind myself I have a mortgage to pay and that generally snaps me right out of it.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Leaving in the morning for Door County, Wisconsin. Traveling with the rest of the Cumberland Society and a few guests to paint for a week on the little peninsula that is Door County. I have been told by other artists that have been there that it is fabulous with a wide diversity of things to paint.
I will post when I get back in a week.

Frantic Plein Air

I left last night around 5:00 to go painting and rode for two hours looking without getting "motivated" by anything. It was hot and the light seemed flat and blown out so I kept riding. I finally got frustrated and at 7:00 just hit the brakes and jumped out where I happened to be and forced myself to paint.
Not half bad!
I am pleased with this because of the fact I made a painting where I didn't really see one and I did it in about 30 minutes which for me is unbelievable. It's always frantic painting for me at that time of the day due to the speed of the changing light. You can tell by looking at the edges and some of the passages are a bit rough. I started around 7:10 and was cleaned up and back in the truck by 10 till eight so I am guessing around 30-40 minutes paint time and by the time I got back in the truck it was almost dark. It's also a 9x12. Typically because of the speed of the sun at that time of the day I usually paint 8x10 or less because I know I can get it done quicker.
Now I just have to pick out the knats and find a good frame.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Riding Backroads

Painted with Plein Air Nashville on Saturday and with Jason Saunders Sunday. We took a road trip to places I had never been in Tennessee. I really didn't know there were many left but he found a few, mostly west along the TN AL line. There is nothing better than riding backroads and killing a day looking.
We stopped in God knows where and painted the barn with the faded red sides and the yellow flowers in the field you see above. That barn is actually sided with pieces of tin. Old faded tin. To try and make that read as tin, old faded tin, about made me quit painting altogether. What a struggle. All I kept thinking about was,"how would Richard Schmid do this, how would Richard Schmid do this?" Well, I don't know how Richard Schmid would do this. That's why it looks like it does. I think I have mentioned it before but if Richard Schmid would have painted this tin it would not only have looked like it but you would know what it feels like. I think he is the absolute best at taking paint pigment and applying it to a two dimensional surface and visually describing something so well you actually know what that object would feel like or weigh if you could touch it or hold it. I always have a great appreciation for an artist who takes the the time, makes the effort and has the ability to do that.