Sunday, December 30, 2018

Paintings From Mendocino-Journal

These were painting I did at the Mendocino Open Paint Out in Sept. of '2018:
We had a week to wander the local streets and beaches, looking for subject matter. There were artists talks, receptions and prizes; with over 60 artists attending! My focus for the week was to work on brushstroke immediacy. I wanted each painting to have the energy of a sketch, laying the paint in a spontaneous open and unrestrained way. So that the viewer could get a sense of the day and the artist's hand involved in the creative process. After a summer of slow and labored work, it was exciting to have a full week to focus only on painting and a box full of small stretched canvases to fill with whatever the whim of the moment guided me to paint. This isn't my typical way of approaching things, but I was ready for a change, to take some risks and see if I couldn't paint my way out of a creative rut!

In Fact, by the time I had gotten my paintings on the wall before the deadline, I was about ready to take a nap on the spot!

"Incoming Coastal Fog on the Mendocino Headlands"
9" x 12" oil on canvas by Andrew Daniel $300
When I initially arrived at the Headlands, I had a short amount of time to get set up and start painting before the sun set. I found this spot where the rocks in the foreground led the eye into the painting. The foreground rocks were sunlit while the further away ones were becoming obscured in mist. My goal was to paint it all quickly and loosely, using brush work to create motion and move the eye. by the time I was finishing up, I practically needed a headlamp the sun had gone down so far!
One of things I kept doing during this trip was putting too much white into my mixtures, when I was out looking at the seaside air, I tended to want to interpret the haziness as varying amounts of white mixed into the paint. Unfortunately, this sapped the color intensity or saturation out of my paintings. By the end of the week, I started trying to really push the amount of pigment I used in my mixes, which you can see in the bottom sunset and sunrise paintings. All in all, I'm still not sure if the white was the right call tho. The piece that I used the most white in was singled out by one of the judges, Wendy Brayton, for Judges Choice Award. Then later it sold to a fellow painter from Britain who said the piece had subtleties that she typically doesn't see in American painting. I guess I was shooting for a subdued almost introspective mood. It was nice to have these two people recognize my efforts! Guess I was just born in the wrong country!

"Heeser Street and Mendocino Bay"
12" x 16" oil on canvas by Andrew Daniel Sold
This painting was from the first morning. My notion was to play the solid geometry of the road, the house and the strong horizontal lines of the headlands against the organic brushwork of the foreground.

"Kasten Street"
12" x 12" by Andrew Daniel $400
One of the iconic characteristics of Mendocino was the old wood water towers. The Peninsula has water trucked in, so you see these structures standing tall among the cities buildings, a reminder of another time. I liked them for their structural lines and "chunky" (as the Brits say) character. In this piece I used lines to create a compositional network, pulling the eye from side to side and front to back.

"Mendocino Presbyterian"
12" x 9" oil on Canvas by Andrew Daniel $300
For this painting I had been wandering the town at daybreak, looking for something that could show off the beauty of the morning light. This spire with the warm sun reflecting off of intent to the cool sky was the scene that finally grabbed me. I also enjoyed the repeated handicap parking spaces, thought it combined some contemporary elements with the older architectural ones.

"Behind Mendocino Presbyterian"
11" x 14" oil on canvas by Andrew Daniel $450
For this piece, I also wanted to play the loose strokes of the grasses and bushes, (it was fun to try and make the brushwork dance), against the geometry of the background buildings. I was really trying to exploit focal points with this piece, making extra color and value contrast on the blue door.

"Cypress Grove on the Mendocino Headlands"
12" x 16" oil on canvas by Andrew Daniel $575
This was the first in a series of three paintings I did, in which I framed the distant cliffs with the Coastal Cypress trees, creating a focal point painting within a painting effect. I wanted the rhythms of the trunks to play off of each other to create a more dynamic/whimsical dance.

"Couple Admiring the View"
12" x 16" oil on canvas by Andrew Daniel - SOLD
This piece was a bit of an experiment. I had decided that week to try new things with focal points, after the previous painting I thought that a figure might be just the ticket. Then along came a couple that were traveling through on a trip to the coast to escape the heat, I asked if they might sit there a while and let me put them into my painting. I only had enough time to put in their silhouettes but that was enough due to the backlit nature of the light.

"Driftwood Sculpture Garden"
12" x 12" oil on canvas by Andrew Daniel $400
By the time I got to this painting, I had already done two that day and I felt ready for an unusual challenge. The thought of painting this garden made me chuckle, what with all of the peculiar grey and brown shapes, the driftwood horses head and pagoda, the narrow but very tall out house and the stacked up shapes of the buildings in the back... I knew the piece would be more about draftsmanship than colors, so I decided to play up the lines and the whimsicle shapes. The Whole time I felt as if I was in uncharted waters, but the sensation was starting to become addictive! It's really fun now to start paintings that I have no idea how I'm going to pull off. Probably, if I'm feeling that way, than I will get a result that is unlike what I have seen before and that has it's own rush to it!

"Sunset Blues and Yellows"
12" x 12" oil o canvas by Andrew Daniel $400
This painting was really done as fast as possible, chasing the the sunset as it ran for the horizon, I wonder if it was simultaneously sunrising in Japan... probably takes a bit longer than that. I hadn't done many sunset or sunrise paintings before this trip. The colors really grabbed me, making me wonder why I don't do more of them at home? Usually have stuff to do at that time of the day I guess... Anyway, nothing like having the light condition change faster than you can paint it to make you learn to be more econiomical!

"Sunrise Mendocino Headlands"
12' x 12" oil on canvas by Andrew Daniel $400
I found that painting sunrises was a little bit easier, because the light over my canvas didn't disappear on me. Still painting light that changes so quickly makes one have to be very strategic. Decide the look and get down whatever color notes you need, then fill in the rest without getting too distracted by the now changed light in front of yah. That's the best advice I could give at least...

"Evan Paints the Big River Mists" by Andrew Daniel
9" x 12" oil on canvas $300
This painting was from our farewell session, the last morning of the event, about 10 of us met at the Big River parking lot at Sunrise. There was a glowing cream colored mist coming up the river valley, silhouetting the trees and obscuring the distant hillside. Evan Garber set up in the middle of my scene, conveniently providing me with a more interesting focal point then the logs that had been washed up on the shore. For the last couple days I had been trying to gauge whether it is better to use white in my mixtures to create subtle value shifts to capture the seaside atmosphere, or "punch the color saturation to make more exciting paintings. One of the comments that the Judges had passed onto me was that I needed to pay closer to attention to how I dealt with values as they receded off into the distance. So in this piece, I tried to really take special care with that aspect, embracing white, but making sure to be strategic in how I depicted the space with value.

Also, I had been looking at John Hewitt's Watercolor paintings from the show. He often simplified his subject matter down to an essence of color and shape. I thought I might do that too.