Monday, October 30, 2017

Richard Diebenkorn holds a special place in my mind. He was an expressionist painter that moved to figures and landscapes and finally to the abstracts like the Ocean Park #79, 1975 show below.

The CBS Morning broadcast mentioned below is illuminating and revealing. Diebenkorn was not only a great artist, but a genuinely good man.

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #79, 1975 (Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and with funds contributed by private donors, 1977, 1977-28-1. © 2016 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation)
View the broadcast:
CBS Sunday Morning broadcast, 1988

"A master of contemporary American art, Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) was noted for landscape paintings, thoughtful figure studies, and geometric abstracts.

In this report for "Sunday Morning," which originally aired on December 27, 1988, correspondent David Browning visited Diebenkorn's studio in California's Sonoma County, to discuss the artist's "trial and error" approach; and New York's Museum of Modern Art, where Diebenkorn was being celebrated by a one-man show of his drawings."

Here is another good resource for all things Diebenkorn: Richard Diebenkorn, Painter's Table

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Grateful Notices: Autumn Cascade I and II, oils on canvas, 32 x 32 inches

Autumn Cascade I, oil on canvas, 32 x 32 inches
Private collection

Autumn Cascade II, oil on canvas, 32 x 32 inches
Private collection
I have always had a soft spot for these two oils so I was delighted when they were purchased together for a private collection.

There is a great deal of paint texture on these and it is evidence of the many changes that these two oils went through. The big take away from these two works came about when I realized the artworks were in good shape but they weren't fresh enough. I certainly didn't want to do another round of adding more layers of paint and making small tweaks. So I just loaded up the brush and quickly painted what was needed in bold strokes. 

Well that worked nicely with the red trees in the background and after doing the same to the yellow trees, the painting came to life. All of the previous work wasn't wasted though. All of that layering produced a thick, rich texture for the last strokes to dance over. It was reminiscent of those Monets I saw on the museum walls. "How did he get that texture?"  

Now I know. He was constantly adding layers to his work with his long bristle brushes... thousands of moves, dabbing and dabbing. He said that he never really finished a canvas, indicating that he could always find another place to dab on more color to achieve perfection. 

I know the feeling!

My sincere thanks to the collector that purchased these two works.

New Work: Edge of the Forest, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Edge of the Forest, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches  $5100 framed

This canvas was finished three times. There are two previous oils painted over here, each version being very different from the others but all three were variations of this line of trees. Each time the work improved with complexity and color and I was happy with the process. In this final, final, final version I made larger, strategic moves to arrive at this point.

In the previous versions the trees stood as one band of color with the light coming in directly from the left. It was a fine look, but after a month in the studio, I wanted the painting to go further. More drama would be helpful, so I aggressively painted in those dark trees on the right. I had a friend watching at the time and after the initial shock of the sudden darks, we both agreed that that move had opened up some exciting and new possibilities.

Now the single band or trees was broken up and to my surprise, it dictated that the light source was now coming in from behind the trees. 

Well that changed things and it also created an opportunity to make the entire painting much brighter.  So straight away, very bright hues were added to the background trees, saturating with an iridescent light. Glowing mauves were added to the trees front / left and the ground below was worked in a way to respond to all of that light coming through.

This last version has set the stage for brighter works to come - an exciting prospect!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Grateful Notices: All the Reds In, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

All the Reds In, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

I just love working with red paint. Red on red. Red on orange, Red on blue...on and on. With this work the reds dictated the show. Here is a line of trees bounded by yellow at the bottom and sky at the top, but it is all about how the reds will flow through the scene in a believable way.

The trees went through a lot of changes - it looks simple now, but the trees and light required considerable rearranging and tuning. Once those blues and pinks were added, the composition came together gracefully and powerfully.

My grateful thanks to the private collector that purchased this for her home.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grateful Notices: Sunset over the Hilltop oil on canvas, 36 x 72 inches

Sunset over the Hilltop  oil on canvas, 36  72 inches  sold, private collection

Large canvases allow you a lot of room to work and explore. This canvas was all about that sun and how the light and color changes across this 6 foot space.

Some of the original sketch work is visible in the sky. Since there was a lot of area to cover, I used a number of arbitrary colors for the sky just to keep it interesting. Then I left it alone and kept working on the rest of the oil, purposely avoiding the impulse to add something to the sky in the early stages.

Once the rest of the painting evolved, the sky just got better all by itself. Last, I concentrated on creating more light and glow over the entire surface.

Monday, October 9, 2017

New Work: Red Progression, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches

Red Progressions, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches  Private collection, Dallas, TX
Purchased from Dominique Boisjoli Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM

3 minute video of this work with Ken narrating

My first desire when beginning this oil was to create a forest scene that didn't have a high finish. That is, the brushstrokes and even the physical surface of the oil would be rough. Forests are not even, polished places and I wanted this large oil to convey a bit of that experience.

In the first session when I applied all the variations of reds and oranges, it wasn't satisfactory to me. The plan was to put in a lot of complexity right away, creating variables in color but sticking to the idea of a single sweep of red trees and make it believable. I did that, and I was underwhelmed.

Peeking above the trees was an outline of far blue hills and it was lacking as well. I was too predictable. Everyday is not a happy one in the studio, but I did step up and block in a 4 x 6 foot oil, a worthy accomplishment, so I left it at that.

Looking back, what did I expect? That I would have created a really nice oil in one session?

In the second session I came back fresh and simply thought about what the painting needed: Contrast.

Once the dark tree trunks went in, the painting came to life. The background colors began to sing and suddenly the painting was calling out for improvements in a number of places. I drastically cut back the amount of the blue hill that was visible and in turn, it gave the trees more prominence.

Over the next few sessions, it was a pleasure to attend to those needs and take the oil to new places. A number of 'mistakes' were made - attempts that hit a dead end, but those moves opened up new opportunities for other, better solutions.

It all came down to making a good start and continuing forward in a way that would not diminish the power and spontaneity that existed at the beginning. I was committed to this single line of trees without gaps or interruptions. This idea created a series of  difficult problems across a 6 foot surface, so a lot of small strategies came into play.

A considerable number of changes were made along the way but always with the idea of creating a large and compelling forest presence that is interesting across the entire canvas.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

To benefit the Breast Cancer Research Research Foundation

Corals Emerging
From an original pastel: Limited edition giclee in three sizes and prices:
17 x 12 5/8 inches $300. 23 x 17 $575. 27 1/2 x 20 1/2, $790.
Total edition of 195, plus 15 artist proofs.

The Artful Home online gallery is offering a large number of pink-themed artworks with 15% of proceeds going to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Research Foundation.

This is a wonderful opportunity to purchase artwords from a large number of artists and support breast cancer research. Thank you, Artful Home for making this possible.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Making it Fine Art Workshop: September 2017, Denver, CO

We had a fabulous Making it Fine Art Workshop where we launched new directions, had artistic thrills, great conversations and new friends were made! Thank you all for coming and I’m very appreciative that you took these photos, Maureen.
Some of the canvases begun during the Workshop

Art critique
Art critique

Art demo on a work in progress, Red Progression, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches

To benefit the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, Houston

Ken Elliott  Afterglow
Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, $4400 framed
Donated to the Relief Fund website      Contact Arden's Gallery, Houston

Recently I noticed a trend in almost every cloudscape I paint. Rather than paint the perfect, puffy-white clouds, I opt for the darker ones. The darker clouds have more color and variation, giving more opportunities for a colorist painter.

I spent half of my life in Houston and now live in a Colorado landscape that is depicted here. Everyday I see the long lines of foothills with the cloud patterns in constant movement above the landscape.

The dark clouds in my work always have a counterpoint, a source of light. I realized that I am painting hope in these scenes. Although the cloud form is overpowering, it is a necessary part of the scene. Without that added drama, the soft glow in the landscape would look ordinary and uninteresting.

In the end, is the light, the hope that illuminates the scene and brings it beauty.

Thanks to the Relief Fund for the opportunity to give something back to my dear home town.