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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
  new painting

I finished Red Cliff (74"x30") last week, or thought I did--I took photos for my gallery, entered the information and jpeg into my inventory list, and moved the painting to my "done" pile in readiness for my show in July in Santa Fe.

But since then I've gone back into the large red panel and worked on it quite a bit. In fact I spent most of a day involved in that! I began to see it as too smooth and uniform and so did a number of things to enhance the texture. And now, yes, I believe this one is done. I like the scale of it--quite large--and the color relationships between the panels which are quite subtle.
Monday, April 28, 2008
  a lovely April morning

This is Wisconsin...what can I say??
Friday, April 25, 2008
  mud season
A pitfall of the way I paint--layers and layers built up and eroded back through--is that it's quite easy to make mud. One layer of color or type of texture cancels out another, and freshness and spontaneity are eventually lost.

Perhaps in reflection of the rainy world around me, I have made quite a lot of mud in the past week--some of it quite ugly, but also some that was actually really nice-- subtle, painterly, beautiful even--but mud nonetheless ( to me, not strong enough to hold up as good painting.) Today I managed to pull out of the mud (and once you're in it, it can have a tenacious hold!) This required a few radical color additions and in one case, washing out an entire panel with turps, which left an outstanding textural residue. It's a relief, and quite energizing, to look once again at fresh work.

The close up shots below are from my previously posted painting, Rough Strata.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
  new painting
Here is another recently finished painting--the title I have for it right now is Rough Strata--rough because the surface texture is quite pronounced and it's overall a bit more "raw" than some of my work (Strata is just a name I sometimes use with these paintings of stacked panels.)

I figure I'm now past the half-way point to my show in Santa Fe in July (I started working towards this in mid-January.) There is a shift my thinking as I approach a show--in addition to considering each painting on its own, I also start to think more about the body of work, how various paintings will relate to each other and interact. I like to have a range of ideas in evidence--everything related, but also showing the energy of experimentation and exploration.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
  detail of recent painting

An ongoing frustration with photos of my work is that so much surface texture and detail is lost when shooting a large painting. I try to remember to take a few details shots when I'm photographing, and here are two from my most recently posted painting, Spring.
Friday, April 18, 2008
  ...and it's gone
The painting I posted yesterday was sold today...a collector who had seen my work at Wilde Meyer Gallery in Arizona asked the gallery to contact me to arrange the purchase after visiting my blog. The amazing internet at work!! My thanks to the new owner, and I will get Spring (yes, I named it) on its way early in the week.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
  new painting
This one, as yet untitled, is 54" x 36" and just recently finished. In painting it I came across a couple of new ideas that I've carried forth into current works in progress. One is the palette of pale green and gold, and rusty browns and reds. The other is the panel arrangement in which there is a squeezed or compressed effect with the narrow panels being between the wider ones. Overall, a quiet painting, with a sense of contained energy--it evokes for me this time of year, at least here in Wisconsin--when there is only the most subtle greening of the landscape.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
  Centre D'Art i Natura
Now that we have our tickets, it seems more real. My painter friend Marina Broere and I will spend three weeks in September at the Centre D'Art I Natura, in the remote Catalan village of Farrera. This wonderful facility in the Pyrenees outside of Barcelona was established to provide a setting for those in the arts and the natural and social sciences to find common ground. Any person with a project or need for retreat/work time in one of these fields can apply for a residency. It is a time to enjoy quiet, productive work time, take long hikes in the beautiful mountains and fields, meet people from around the world, and feast on incredible dinners.

I took this photo during my previous stay there, in September of 2001, while out walking on one of the small gravel roads that lead off into the surrounding countryside. I'm extremely happy to be going back--it is a place that glows in my memory with a special magic. This time, I look forward to sharing the adventure with Marina--she will be a wonderful travel companion and I know we'll have a lot to talk about during our studio days there. As for that, I have an interesting project in mind--something that may be quite different from my usual work--but I'll say no more for now!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
  studio view
The studio is crowded these days, with a lot of work underway as I prepare for my solo show at Darnell Fine Art in Santa Fe in July. Here are three new ones propped up in a part of the studio that is usually open (there is a work table behind the painting on the right.) The two on the left are close to finished. These three happen to be closely related in their warm color (oh and look, they match the dog!)...there are others in blues, greens, purples and neutral colors, as well as lots of unattached panels stacked around.

Actually I think that "full" or "dense" gives a better sense of how it seems to me than crowded. I'm feeling really excited about my work--it's never far from my mind, and sometimes I lie awake at night, painting in my head--or wake up knowing I've been dreaming about it.

In the past I've worried (maybe even on this blog) that the need to produce a lot of work might mean that it would become somehow diluted or begin to feel mass-produced. But I don't find that to be true. Instead I find a deeper involvement, and more energy to work. I am really enjoying this stretch of time, when I have so many paintings here. There seems to be a cumulative effect, so much work, so many thoughts and ideas about it churning around.
Monday, April 07, 2008
It's a recurring topic on this and other art blogs--influences and how to regard them--what in our work is truly our "own" and what do we absorb and remix from other sources? The following quote is from British writer Jeanette Winterson's book, Art Objects. After a perhaps overly cynical introduction to the topic, she goes on in the second paragraph to address it in what seems to me a fresh and supportive manner.

We are an odd people. We make it as difficult as possible for our artists to work honestly while they are alive; either we refuse them money or we ruin them with money; either we flatter them with unhelpful praise or wound them with unhelpful blame, and when they are too old, or too dead, or too beyond dispute to hinder any more, we canonize them, so that what was wild is tamed, what was objecting, becomes Authority. Canonizing pictures is one way of killing them. When the sense of familiarity becomes too great, history, popularity, association, all crowd in between the viewer and the picture and block it out. Not only pictures suffer like this, all the arts suffer like this.

That is one reason why the calling of the artist, in any medium, is to make it new. I do not mean that in new work the past is repudiated; quite the opposite, the past is reclaimed. It is not last to authority, it is not absorbed at a level of familiarity. It is re-stated and re-instated in its original vigour. Leonardo is present in Cezanne, Michelangelo flows through Picasso and on into Hockney. This is not ancestor worship, it is the lineage of art. It is not so much influence as connection.

I do not want to argue here about great artists. I want to concentrate on true artists, major or minor, who are connected to the past and who themselves make a connection to the future. The true artist is connected. The true artist studies the past, not as a copyist or pasticheur will study the past, those people are interested only in the final product, the art object, signed, sealed and delivered to a public drugged on reproduction. The true artist is interested in the art object as an art process, the thing in being, the being of the thing, the struggle, the excitement, the energy, that have found expression in a particular way. The true artist is after the problem. The false artist wants it solved (by somebody else.)

If the true artist is connected, then he or she has much to give us because it is connection that we seek. Connection to the past, to one another, to the physical world, still compelling, in spite of the ravages of technology...

I love her line about "It is not so much influence as connection." (!)
Saturday, April 05, 2008
  favorite paints
This photo relates to the previous post--because my paint tubes end up so grubby, I usually can't read the label when I run out of something and may wonder exactly what it was. And I use so many colors and brands of paint, it's not easy to ID everything by sight. I started this little chart as a sort of checklist, so I could be sure of keeping certain ones on hand.

I have favorites made by a number of different companies (all are oils, and all professional grade.) Williamsburg earth colors, Sennelier Chinese Orange and Antique Red, many paints by Old Holland, and Holbein (especially the transparent paints, and various gray combinations) all play big roles on my palette.

I know and respect some wonderful painters who use a very limited range of paints, even staying with one brand. At the other end of the spectrum (so to speak) are painters like me who can't resist a beautiful color no matter who made it or how closely it resembles something else already on the paint table...paint purists may (correctly) point out that you can replicate many of the specialized colors on the market yourself using a limited and basic selection of paints. There is a beauty to this disciplined approach, not to mention the deep knowledge of color that it shows.

But I'm not one of these disciplined types, I'm afraid--I happily give in to the lush, sensuous beautiful colors ready for purchase, and then further mix these already-mixed colors with each other for endless variations. Whatever the approach, for all of us painters, the play of color as our work evolves is surely one of the most basic and satisfying pleasures in what we do.


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       Rebecca Crowell