Sunday, March 22, 2009
Charleston picture, painting the house and trees
Here is the lower right hand corner of the Charleston painting. I have been working that up over the last day or so. If you click on the image you will be able to see it enlarged enough to study the brushwork. Pretty much everything here is painted with a visible brushstroke. The name that describes the various ways this might be done is paint handling or just handling, which sounds cooler . In my work I almost always keep a visible brushstroke. It makes a lot of sense for a landscape painter.
There are no brushstrokes in nature. There is a sort of handwriting in visible brushstrokes and that can give a painting style. Thinking the visible forms into brushstrokes involves practiced decision making. When you are making decisions about nature, rather than just taking orders from it, you are painting with a style.. There are many more things which can contribute to style, I don't mean for you to think that brushstroke is the only way. There are many painters who have no visible brushstroke that have lots of style. Style can be defined as decision making leading to a painting that could only be made by the hand of one particular artist. ( I am making this up as I go along,you know, and I may refine this definition further, but that will do for now, it puts out the essential idea anyway).
There is another reason why a visible brushstroke makes sense in landscape painting. It is a method of simplifying the enormously complex. A brush stroke is a pixel. That is, it is a unit, a sort of brick out of which the painting is made. Nothing smaller than that unit is described. So it enforces a broader look onto a painting. Okay, in practice there are little things you might want, and sometimes you put them in. But if you do too much of that you lose the effect.
In this painting I have different sized brushstrokes, some are like grains of colored rice and others are slabs of paint. When I first lay in a painting outside with a big brush, I will joke to my companions that I am throwing hamburger sized chunks. What I mean is I am making real big marks, each the size of a hamburger. I will refine these chunks with a smaller brush later, but if you are working on a 30x40 outside you have to be able to get the thing on the canvas efficiently. I need to get the entire painting roughed in so I know my big design is working.