"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Painting to learn, not to hang

"Sunset at Ranchos," 8 x 10 oil
Maybe it'll look better in a frame.
After weeks of 'learning" a lot about oil painting, I think this small piece, which is large in learning, is "finished."
Whew. It's taken me a few steps at a time, filled with  lots of paint mixing, lots of "piddling," lots of patience, on the back porch. 
First steps were the easiest, getting the basic shapes and shadows, but then came the ordeals of trying to make it look like the image in my head.
Virtually every artist who has come to New Mexico has painted, typically  horizontally,  the iconic church at Ranchos de Taos, usually from the graceful, sensuous adobe buttresses at the rear.  Georgia O'Keefe did, My Dad did. I have, mostly watercolor, and can probably do so from memory.
But this as an 8 x 10 on canvas panel was not exactly an ordeal, but certainly at lot of work, thinking, and revising. That means I'm learning, I hope,  but it may also mean I've learned that oils was just not for me.
"Paint to learn, not to hang," said G. Russell Case, the terrific Western landscape painter who conducted the oil workshop at the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum June.  
Maybe it'll look better in a frame. But I still see flaws, beginner's flaws. We'll see. I'll hang in in the room where I paint as a lesson in how much I don't know.

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