Archive for March 26th, 2011

The class is called “Impressions of Landscape.”   In late spring, all summer and early fall, when the weather invites, we hold class outside.  In winter we work either from collages or from photos and always with a big dollop of imagination.

Danielle G. brought in this photo to work from,  a magazine clipping.  She worked in oil and started by mixing blues, partly on her palette but also directly on the canvas. (16 x 20, about)  When the blues and violets created the mood suggested by the photo, she felt she was ready to add the trees.  But first we looked at the painting in this preliminary state from across the room.  It’s very important to do this, to stand way back so that you can see the work as it is in its present state,  instead of as a work in progress.  It turned out that in its present “preliminary” state the painting already had such atmospheric depth and feeling, that we responded to it as a finished work.  Whereas the photo presented a flat stretch of land with trees in the foreground, the painting suggested a view into a valley.  Trees in the foreground would have made no sense.  The painting took Danielle in a different direction, away from her photo.  This work is never about copying, and instead demands that the artist/student always respond to the painting as it develops.

À propos  de blue, in the late 50’s and early 60’s, a French artist named Yves Klein (1928-1962) painted large canvases with an even coat of blue paint.  He produced many such canvases and became famous for them.  So famous, that the blue he used came to be called Yves Klein Blue.  It was actually ultramarine and not mysterious or magical at all.  But at the time, an all blue canvas attracted notoriety at a time of daring experimentation among young artists.   Klein was a pioneer in the development of Performance art and a forerunner of Minimal art and Pop Art.

Danielle’s painting not only provided a teachable moment about Yves Klein, but it also reminded me of the mysterious landscape in Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.  For company, not bad at all.


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