Monday, October 24, 2011

Do You See What I See?

Sunlit Sycamore is a plein air oil by Shirley Fachilla that turned into an abstract.

I have several artist friends who are abstract painters. One, Barbara Stokes, does beautiful big “abstracted” landscapes. All, including Barbara, start with a mark; they begin with a stroke or patch of color and work from there. They do not try to paint an abstract of a chair, or a tree or any recognizable form.
Sometimes my friends end with a completely abstract work; sometimes they recognize as they paint the suggestion of a landscape or a figure. When that happens, they work toward that vision.
I have tried to paint using their method and failed miserably. I end up just playing around with no purpose.
I must start with the concrete (that chair or tree!) and dissect what I see. I try to break it down into its parts, lose the non-essential, find the underlying design and extract just what made me want to paint it. Hopefully if I have some success, the viewer of my painting will, indeed, see what I see.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Once in a Blue Moon...

Under an October Sky is an 8x10 plein air oil by Shirley Fachilla.

It’s time for the annual Blue Moon event. Blue Moon is a fundraiser to benefit the Land Trust for Tennessee, an organization that preserves and protects the natural beauties of the state. Each year, Land Trust enthusiasts party at Glen Leven, a historic mansion and farm just minutes from downtown Nashville. And for the past couple of years, the Chestnut Group, Plein Air Painters for the Land, participate as well by painting land trust properties and offering them for sale during the event. Part of each painting sale goes to the Land Trust.

The Blue Moon is Saturday, October 22nd. On Sunday afternoon, October 23, the Land Trust will open Glen Leven for everyone to see. Drop by Glen Leven at 4000 Franklin Road, Nashville, this Sunday, see the mansion and perhaps find a painting to take home!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Playing in the Paint

Cold Forest is a 20x20 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.

When my daughter was small, I was a preschool teacher for two-year olds. Just about every week, the two-year olds and I would have a gloriously messy painting day. Lately, I’ve had some two-year-old envy. I wanted more playing in the paint and less worry about the outcome.
Surprisingly, C.W. Mundy’s workshop gave me a path to playtime. C.W. makes great use of paint manipulation. His marbleizing, requires a sure hand and knowledge of what you’re about; his tissue disruption mainly requires bravery. [I’ve defined C. W.’s marbleizing and tissue paint disruption on the Artful Definition Page.]
Both work because they’re play-based techniques that let the characteristics of the paint itself produce happy painterly “accidents.”
C.W. advised inventing one’s own paint manipulations. I did a bit of that above. The forest background consists of all the colors used in the painting swirled together, thinned with solvent, and applied to canvas. Then with my trusty paper towel, I swiped in tree trunks and branches. It was a good dose of two-year old fun.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Upside Down World of C. W. Mundy

I took a C.W. Mundy workshop last week right here in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a plein air workshop, Locales were both nearby and beautiful. In addition, the weather was unbelievably gorgeous. As you might suspect however, the subject of the above painting is not plein air. Horses rarely pose to be painted from life!
One workshop day, we went to the gardens of Cheekwood and painted from photos… upside down photos.

It's an exercise sometimes given to demonstrate how important it is to paint shape and form rather than a “thing.” I'd never done this particular exercise. Perversely, I selected a photo I thought would be really hard; I did it because I like horses and wanted a break from landscapes. I drew it and painted it upside down.
I had very low expectations so I was happily surprised to find my upside-down shapes resolved themselves into… horses! There are lots of things missing, reins and wheel axles and such, as well as some angles and values that need adjustment. But they indeed look like horses… who would have thought it!
Well, I guess C.W. would have.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Put on Your Red Dress, Baby..."

Put on Your Red Dress, Baby is a 20x10 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.

When we set this pose in open studio, we asked the model to look toward the door as though she had just glimpsed someone entering. This instruction was inspired by Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat.
Actually, there is some question whether Vermeer’s figure is really a girl. It seems that 400 plus years ago, it would have been equally possible for a man to wear such a huge, feathered, red hat. And the face Vermeer painted appears neither definitely male nor female.
But girl or boy doesn’t matter. Vermeer captured a fleeting expression of amazed surprise where gender is beside the point. He managed to do it on a canvas slightly smaller than our standard 8x10 inch ones. He did it with fluid brushstrokes and subtle value changes. And he did it with both big and tiny touches of saturated color. There’s a minuscule dot of bright turquoise in the nearest eye and of course, the red of that amazing hat.

All I can say about my decidedly female figure is that the guy at the door better be ready to dance.

Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...