Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Different View

Once Upon the South is a 12x9 oil painted from life by Shirley Fachilla.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may know that I belong to The Chestnuts, plein air painters for the land. It’s a local organization dedicated to the preservation of the natural and historic beauties of Tennessee.
The Chestnuts help preserve and commemorate with their paintings. This is the second time we’ve used our art to help the Battle ofFranklin Trust.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Franklin (a town in the next county from Nashville) was the scene of a horrific Civil War battle. Thousands were killed; and an army virtually destroyed, all in the small village of Franklin. The battle was a pivotal factor in ending the war less than a year later.
The Trust was created to gather and preserve that original battlefield; it has made great strides in the endeavor and Chestnut art has helped.
I find painting for The Trust an emotional experience; quite literally one is standing on dark and bloody ground. This year, I painted mostly inside the Lotz House, a family home located smack dab in the middle of that conflict 150 years ago.
Johann Lotz was not slave owner. He was a cabinetmaker from Germany who came to America seeking a better life. His daughter Matilda Lotz later became a very successful painter (a rarity for a woman of that time). I find it fitting that painters should come back to the Lotz house to reimagine and preserve on canvas the times and lives of its former inhabitants.
Matilda’s Tea Party is an 8x10 oil painted from life by Shirley Fachilla.

Our art will be on sale at The Carnton Plantation, 1345 Eastern Flank Circle, Franklin, Tennessee. The exhibit will be Friday, March 28th, through Sunday, March 30th. The hours are 9 to 5 on Friday and Saturday, 12 to 5 on Sunday.

Hope you can make it. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Abstract Beneath

The Blonde at the Window is an 18x14 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

A month or so ago I went to a wonderful art lecture given by Maggie Siner. She’s a very accomplished artist, one who has thought deeply about her art. She'd come to Nashville to give one of her rare workshops.
I didn’t manage to get into the workshop, but I did make it to the lecture. I’m so glad I did. 
It was not set up as the typical artist demo. Instead she showed the audience a series of paintings by some of the greats of the past. Her primary point: that within every successful representational painting is an abstract and the power of the painting derives from that abstract play of dark and light.
For truly great paintings, the power and the meaning of the representational subject is also reinforced and magnified by the abstract design that lies beneath.
She used work by Degas more than once to prove her point. Degas is one of my favorite painters; I think his compositions (his abstract designs) are some of the most innovative, interesting and edgy of any artist alive or dead.

When I painted my The Blonde at the Window, I was thinking of the lecture and of Degas. I was thinking of the abstract beneath.       

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Lies Beneath...

Troubadour is a 24x18 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

There’s a very well-known painter who advocates repainting canvases. By this, I mean he suggests painting over failed works with another. And he isn’t adverse to letting a bit of the past peek through.
A branch of a tree there, an arm or a leg here… hmm, hope you get the idea.
In fact, I believe he suggests that the painting lurking beneath the surface can add depth, character, interest to the new painting on top.
I’ve followed his recommendation several times and found replacing the failed with the new very satisfying.
Troubadour is one of those paint-overs; underneath there’s the partial wipe-out of a very sad fellow in a golfing tam. The quality of the above image just captures the remainder of the golfer’s face; it’s now just a bit of glowy pink in the light coming through the window, the golfing green is just a slightly darker hazy neutral in that same light.
I once followed another painter whose process incorporated the paint-over in her every work. She would paint a figure, wipe it off, repaint over the ghost image, wipe it off, and paint it again until she was satisfied with the result. Her work had a real richness and depth derived from that very process.
Her art proved that what lies beneath can sometimes inform the visible in a quite meaningful way.  


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 ...