Monday, August 24, 2009

Elk:Call of the Wild, Seeing the light with Richard Schmid

"Call of the Wild"©2009C.L.Burgess 6x8" oil on panel sold

As I prepare to return to Colorado, I remembered how struck I was with how close the Elk came to us, when out there last Fall. This image was of the bull elk coralling his women in the valley of Estes park mountains. Lucky guy.
The day was rainy, the light muted and the colors subdued.This was done alla prima. While I referred to photos taken that day, I did no sketch or preplanning. I pretended I was there again, seeing them up close, feeling the wildness of the mountains, the strangeness to me, of the environment and its inhabitants. I timed myself to an hour or less and began the small painting.( I will submit this to Michelle Burnett's FTM site also.)

Speaking of which, I must recommend one of my favorite living masters, Richard Schmid and his book, Alla Prima. I love this man's work, his conversational tone, his advice on painting in the tradition of the Impressionist painters, their 'direct' method.
To paint alla prima, according to Schmid, is not so much a way to use a technique than it is a way of seeing. He is an artist who shares his struggles and triumphs in a genial, passionate manner. I particularly liked his analogy of achieving a harmonious painting with that of "a dance, like the tango- without rules..." Schmid says,"Harmony involves a complex interplay between the behavior of light and the mind of the perceiver."

So, out with preparing a bazillion array of colors, out with premixed values to get more wasted paint!
This is my mantra, each time I face a blank canvas. On the spot decision making, using a keen sense of sight and a brave attitude, move forward, wielding a brush to describe the moment you are in, "one color at a time throughout the entire course of a painting."
It is a good feeling when you can paint like this.
I have...maybe not as consistently as Schmid, but with his help and patience through practice, I did and continue to do, a slow but deliberate dance, one step at a time.( I love to dance as much as to paint.)

If you have not yet bought his book and you wish to learn more about the direct method of painting, then you must get your painterly hands on it.
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