Monday, April 6, 2020

A story of two paintings.

Several years ago I was invited to participate in the Westfield NY Plein Air Event, a week of painting at various sites, meeting artists, some get-togethers and dinners and a final public exhibit and sale.

A day was scheduled at Johnson Estate Winery. In the morning I trekked the tractor path up a hill and painted a lovely barn scene surrounded by the vineyards. After lunch I settled my easel under a sour cherry tree in deep shade, so cool on that hot summer day. For several hours I worked on a painting (framed, below). Although it is a lovely memory and a fair painting I continued to have concerns about it-was it too realistic, too hard edged, not painterly, well, just too something to me which I couldn't define clearly. 

With all the studio time we have now (as I am social distancing) I felt I should tackle my problem. It turned out that I probably won't ever change the first painting since the composition is okay and it is a lovely close up of the tree. 

I decided to repaint it as an experiment on an old canvas, a hard edge abstract that I don't remember painting. After sanding the old painting a bit I sketched the cherries a bit closer and oversized. The canvas is twice the size of the original. With some serious planning and evaluation I adjusted leaves, added fruit on the top right and poured on paint with large brushes and bravado, mostly using old paint tubes of odd colors. After all this was an experiment on an expendable surface as well as rejected tubes of colors.

I love the results of this experiment!  Reused canvases, painted over failed pictures, practicing new skills...and coming up with a fine painting on top of a discarded image is a welcome result. I can't actually regret painting on old canvases when the new picture turns out well, because the colors underneath probably influenced the new image. That is one more reason I always prefer to paint onto toned backgrounds.

Sweet Sour Cherries 16x12 oil on birch, © 2016

Sweet Memories 22x18 oil on canvas © 2020