Country Road, 18 x 24 inches, oil on linen
This is a studio painting. At 18 x 24, it's a pretty good size for me. This painting is conceived entirely out of my head. No references. I had an idea about composition and it started out as a very abstract pattern into which I imposed recognizable shapes and perspective.
If you consider the fact that there's really only two buildings that need any attention to linear perspective (the rest are sort of flat-on elevation view) and they're simple one-point perspective, the logistics of creating a convincing environment, in this case, wasn't as complicated as it might seem.
I mean the trees are just blobs, and the cast shadows all go in the same direction. The rows of crops in the foreground, along with the road, share a single vanishing point. It's not difficult to make straight lines all go to the same point, is it?
The difficulty is designing in the abstract. It's not about the recognizable things, but creating interesting abstract patterns that don't betray believable space. Even though I had worked it out on paper with a bunch of sketches, I still needed to spend hours fine tuning it.
A lot of it had to do with my trying to push abstraction and surface work. I have been able to go much further with abstraction in my cityscapes and figures than in my landscapes. I have a real hard time leaving the traditional realm when it comes to painting the landscape. I think it's because I feel comfortable in the familiar territory and I do feel more confidence that I could pull off a pretty good, if conventional, landscape painting. I'm not willing to stay there, but stepping out of that comfort zone is damned hard.
It may not look like it, but this painting has a lot more going on in the way of abstraction than my typical landscapes. It's mostly in the flat shapes of the trees and the fields. I'm finding inspiration from woodblock prints and serigraphs, where flat shapes are really flat but has a lot of textural activity that has nothing to do with the thing its depicting. Does that make sense?
I'll have to do many more of these before I feel like I own the language, but I think I have a good start. This painting will be included in a group show at Anne Irwin Gallery in Atlanta, in September. I'll pass along more information as we get closer, but suffice to say I'll be showing with some heavy hitters and I really feel like I have to step up my game or else I'd look totally out of place in their company!