Saturday, August 2, 2014

Painting in Bennington, Vermont

Oh it was a wonderful week. Immersed in green, 3 students and myself painted the landscape of Bennington College under the tutelage of Frank Meuschke, awesome Brooklyn landscape painter and teacher.  It was the second week of Art New England's summer program through MassArt.  The weather was great, we painted all day, ate very well, attended lectures and slide shows by the faculty in the evening and mostly did our homework reading which was on the meaning of landscape in the contemporary art world.  I hadn't painted outdoors in almost a year and I had forgotten how many factors are involved with the process, but I had fun, mainly resorted to my old tricks but also and tried to pay attention to why I was painting.  I'll admit it's the process foremost for now, though the collage assignment pushed us in a new direction which I found interesting and fun and the readings were very interesting and thought provoking.  Neat to see what my classmates came up with too.  Thanks Frank, for all your help and support.  And special thanks to Melissa for personally delivering a cup of freshly brewed coffee to me every morning  It was an unbelievably sweet thing to do and to which I attribute my meager successes!

Day 1.  Painting near the mansion where the chamber musicians practiced.  Looking across a huge expanse of grass at low buildings and mountains.  "How about eliminating the sky?" said Frank. Done.

Mountains and More
11x14 oil on canvas

Day 2.  Decided I loved this willow near the pond.  Spent most of the day frustrated with the process of finding the right values, colors and composition to do justice to the poor tree.  Melissa was using charcoal so I borrowed a piece and went at it, adding in lines and darkening the values..lots of fun.

Willow Near the Pond
12x16 oil and charcoal on canvas

Day 3.  Determined to portray this willow I drew the composition in charcoal and then painted it, using the charcoal to enhance the values and leave some drawing elements.  

Weeping Willow
10x10 charcoal and oil on board

Day 3 afternoon assignment.  We had been told to bring images, commercial or photos, that we would use to create a landscape.  I found some interesting ones courtesy of magazines from a friend Martha and used them to come up with this unintentionally wacky landscape.  Frank even asked if this was my therapy session!  Maybe :)  The woman is either running from the green monster, or sad she only has half a house or.... 
The assignment then was to paint a picture of the collage. Here's the painting.  I was encouraged to do more of these.

Going, going...
11x14 acrylic on canvas

Day 4.  BJ, a fellow student invited me to paint near her in the field where there was newly baled hay.  A beautiful scene--we were at the top of a hill in a large field that had just been hayed.  Thanks, BJ.

Hay Bales
10x10 oil on board

Day 4 continued.  I returned to the studio with enough time to complete this painting at the suggestion of the teacher.  The light was dramatic and the roof lines/angles were a fun challenge.  All the building in this grouping had different color doors, hence the red door.  

The Red Door
12x12 oil on canvas

Day 5.  Compelled to paint the big view of the "quad" I taped 3 10x10 canvases onto another long canvas and spent the morning looking at this incredible view.  As almost always happens, the first go at the painting captured the scene and I should have stopped there.  As time progressed it got hazier, the values diminished and I finished up.  I'm not displeased with the results but glad I to a pic of the half-done image as a reminder of that fresh start that's so thrilling.  One should follow the advice of the teacher, "You should paint this as if your only have an hour left."  Next time :)


The View
Tryptic-10x30 oil on canvas