Monday, July 25, 2011

Of Time and the River and the Color Green...


Of Time and the River is a 6x8 plein air by Shirley Fachilla.

As I see it, painting green is really about a painter’s grasp of values (value definition here). Now before my readers who aren’t painters stop reading because this sounds technical and directed only toward artists, being able to paint green well is very much about the vision a painter wants to convey.
Knowing how to paint a spring green, a serene green, a hot summer green convincingly is essential for those of us who use landscape as the vehicle for… well, what we want to say in a painting.
With my little canvas, I was trying for a serene vale of green so I used a lot of cool blue/greens while the river flows deep and warm.
On the technical side, I find two different tube blues rather essential in creating greens; I just can’t make the range of greens I want with less. Lots of painters can, however, including many of my painter friends who live and work and paint right here in Middle Tennessee. If you follow the links above, you'll see paintings by two of them, Dawn Whitelaw and Kevin Menck.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Not Easy "Painting" Green!


Alone in Her Garden is a plein air 8x8 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

Kermit, the Frog, knows being green is hard; I know that painting green in a Tennessee summer isn’t easy either!
There is simply so much of it. Keeping it straight in value (see this post for a painter's definition of value) and hue so that you don’t end with a blanket of indeterminate greenery is difficult. It makes me envy plein air painters with beaches, oceans, deserts and/or mountains at their disposal. Of course, there are strategies around the greenery, some more straightforward than others.
The method employed here is one of the more direct. I found some things outside to paint that weren’t green. My focal point is a little statue who serves as a fountain. Her garden was deserted; her water source unavailable. But her surrounds were warm orange soil, backlit shrubbery, and, what, I think, were blooming wisteria vines. She seemed so exuberant in her aloneness and so very non-green I simply had to paint her.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Look Homeward"


Look Homeward is a 20x20 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

I wanted my painting to clearly be one of a cemetery, but I also wanted it to seem a beautiful place and to exude a mood of… well, cheer.

The canvas depicts the cemetery at Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee. Carnton’s owners, the McGavocks, donated the property to serve as a burial place for the hundreds of Confederate soldiers who died in the extremely bloody Battle of Franklin during the American Civil War. [To read a bit more about that battle, see my prior post, here.]
Carnton Plantation has a fascinating history. It was a major player in the fight and in its aftermath. A best-selling novel Widow of the South was written about it. A novel that I found even more interesting and moving, Howard Bahr’s Black Flower also describes the battle and the part Carnton played in it.
The cemetery itself is long, rather narrow strip of land housing row after row of small stone markers, each denoting a grave. The men and boys in those graves were buried far, far from home.

Carnton is hosting an art show and sale to benefit the Battle of Franklin Trust. The Chestnuts, Plein Air Painters for the Land, will have paintings there. My painting Look Homeward will be among them. If you’re in the area, I hope you can come by. The dates and times are: Friday and Saturday, July 15 and 16, 10 to 7 and Sunday, July 17, 12 to 5.
The place is Carnton Plantation, 1345 Carnton Lane, Franklin, Tennessee 37064.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Band of Brothers


Band of Brothers, a 12x24 oil by Shirley Fachilla.


The small town of Franklin, Tennessee was the location for one of the last great battles of the American Civil War. The Battle of Franklin was a horrible defeat for the Confederacy. In five hours of fighting, it sustained 6,252 casualties among them, 14 generals.
During the battle, Southern forces launched wave after wave of frontal assaults upon an entrenched Union line that held the higher ground. First-hand reports say that bodies were stacked like cordwood in front of the Union breastworks.
I find it amazing that the soldiers continued such a hopeless attack. The only explanation I can imagine is that they were indeed a “band of brothers” just as Shakespeare described in his great play Henry V, as Tom Hanks later commemorated in his World War II series of the same name and as go the lyrics of the Confederate anthem Bonnie Blue Flag.
The men who made up the Army of Tennessee were battled-hardened veterans. That day, they fought not for a cause or even for those back home instead they fought for one another. Their loyalties lay with the men to their left and right. They fought for their brothers.
My painting is done from a photo reference of a reenactment at Carnton Plantation in Franklin earlier this year. I used the photo and the place to reconnect with the men and boys who fought so long ago.

Carnton is hosting an art show and sale to benefit the Battle of Franklin Trust. The Chestnuts, Plein Air Painters for the Land, will have a collection of paintings for the event. My painting Band of Brothers will be among them. If you’re in the area, I hope you can come by. The dates and times are: Friday and Saturday, July 15 and 16, 10 to 7 and Sunday, July 17, 12 to 5.
The place is Carnton Plantation, 1345 Carnton Lane, Franklin, Tennessee 37064.