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Monday, July 16, 2007

Rip-rap on the Lake Ontario Shore

I learned two important things today.

  1. When electronics (like your work camera) go missing, it’s wisest to start by looking in your teen’s bedroom;

  2. It costs $.25 per picture to upload photos from your cell phone.

This is my way of apologizing for not having “in progress” shots of this little sketch of rip-rap on the Lake Ontario shore. This was an extremely quick study, done in a few hours. The most memorable part was the surf rising and spraying my easel, my palette, and my feet.

These big rocks appear to be white marble and something else hard—gneiss? The prevailing stone here is Medina sandstone, which is soft and tints the soil pinkish. These big, hard white boulders look alien here. Although they are weathering beautifully, I hesitate to paint them in detail because they aren’t part of my essential Lake Ontario.


Paul said...

Wow! Now I have a lot of catching up to do! Great to watch you BLOG and PAINT, Carol. Give me some time to READ and WATCH, but I think you are enriching the blogosphere with your beautiful paintings. And you better think of a cheaper way to upload pics here...

Carol Douglas said...

I did: I got my camera back from Mary. Now if I can just find the memory card...

John said...

Just to let you know I'm checking in. again. Glad you found the camera. How funny that you can't find the memory card. Sometimes I can't remember things either ;-)!

Carol Douglas said...

My husband just ordered four memory cards for me. When I asked him why, he said, "By getting four of them, you can say 'thanks for the memories' with grammatical impunity."

Thanks for stopping by.

Gwendolyn said...

Carol tells me that she wants this blog to become a discussion about painting. Not that I'm qualified to discuss painting, but ...

I like painting of rip-rap on Lake Ontario.

When I look at one of Carol's paintings, I never know where she is in the painting process: even her rough drafts seem 'finished' to me. So part of this is about the story she wants the painting to tell.

She expressed some dissatisfaction with this painting... and I just don't 'get' it.

I like the way the negative space between the boulders points up at a very slight diagonal towards the base of the tree. And that the diagonal is mirrored by the dark greens on the left side of the rocks.

I like the way the light colors of the boulders and the lake (upper left) resonate with the light colors of the negative spaces in the trees.

I like the sense of depth given by the tree leaning over the water.

I like the way the green-blue of the water plays against the lower-key greens of the trees.

Yesterday in class I saw the change in M's picture from the beginning of class to the end. All the changes Carol suggested were subtle and so were the results, but the changes were good.

- Maybe break up the diagonal lie of the left hand series of boulders a bit.
- Maybe reduce the strength of the two small rocks as secondary 'focal points' of the diagonals?
- Explain the pale mass moving down from the right (is it sand?)...
- Explain what is happening in the center of that tree...

So, Carol, please add some technical info to your blog.
- Is this oil? (I think so.)
- What story does the picture try to tell?
- Where are you in the painting process?
- What do you think will be the fate of this painting?

Carol Douglas said...

Thanks, Gwendolyn, for your insightful comments. Everyone has the right to comment on art. A painting is a public statement which makes it fair game for public comment.

But clearly you have a brilliant painting teacher, based on your observations. I think you’re right about reducing the impact of the two distant boulders and more careful consideration of the outer line of boulders.

What I dislike about this painting is that it runs counter to my conception of Lake Ontario, which is flat and massive, but in no way monumental. The issue of painting Lake Ontario to me boils down to one line—the horizon. The rest is abstraction. Maybe my problem is that I try to hard to add concrete detail to that.

I would really like to know if there’s anywhere on the south shore of Lake Ontario with rock bluffs. I know some places like that on Lake Erie but my knowledge of Lake Ontario is from Youngstown to Pultneyville and then spotty farther east. The chimney bluffs at Sodus are made of mud (okay, clay). Maybe they’d be worth taking a second look.

The color of the rocks and their placement in this picture seem jarring to me, even if they create an interesting composition. They are a manmade barrier but you have no concept of that from this painting.

I have no idea of the fate of this painting or even if I’ll work on it again. It is, BTW, done on location in oil and something like 9X12.

Gwendolyn said...

Carol refuses to answer my questions unless I post them here!

So, quoting Carol's last entry:

"What I dislike about this painting is that it runs counter to my conception of Lake Ontario, ...

I would really like to know if there's anywhere on the south shore of Lake Ontario with rock bluffs. ...

The color of the rocks and their placement in this picture seem jarring to me, even if they create an interesting composition. They are a manmade barrier but you have no concept of that from this painting."

1) OK, oh-my-Russian-child whose paintings must always be photographic in their accuracy, why does it matter that these particular rocks aren't native to the Lake Ontario shoreline?

2) What about the painterly art of editing what goes on paper so that it expresses the artist's view? In or out, if it makes good painting, why do you care? Or at least that's what I think I heard my teacher say yesterday... (As long as one isn't on commission to paint a particular scene...)

3) It took me a while, but I finally remembered that Fairhaven Beach State Park has a rocky shoreline. Really rocky. Not really bluffs, but rocky.

Carol Douglas said...

If you believe (as I do) that the point of painting is to say something, then the content is important. Of course I advocate editing but I hope my editing reinforces my message.

Lake Ontario is enormous and flat and generally pretty contained. There is almost always a decent wind out of the west but even in riotous weather the lake is pretty well-behaved. That is different from Lake Erie, which spits all over itself. Lake Ontario has no towering surf or rocky promontories. It never rolls onto the land like the North Sea or Gulf of Mexico. Dynamism just isn’t in its nature, so the emphasis probably has to be on its stillness.

(Yes, I know it can be treacherous for sailing but compared to places like Schoodic Point in Maine, it’s a puppy.)

It’s not that I don’t like the manmade landscape, and I have painted features of the lake like docks and the Hojack Swing Bridge. It’s just that none of these shore views capture what is so delightful about the lake.

I am going to try for an abstraction next time. It’s the only way.