Sunday, February 14, 2016

Windowsill Works

Some years ago, Duane Keiser started a blog called A Painting a Day and began posting (and selling) small oil paintings that he usually finished in a relatively brief painting session. Keiser's example spurred quite a number of other artists to paint and post a daily piece, so that the "painting a day" movement was born.

The practice and discipline of trying to do one painting every morning, generally in less than 30 to 60 minutes, appealed to me too, as a way to work every day and potentially study new ideas and to stay fresh. My studio faces northwest and morning light is indirect and soft, so I was able to simply lay a small gessoed panel (3x5, 4x6, or 6x8 mostly) alongside my mixing palette and paint an object resting on the windowsill before me. Furthermore, depending on whatever caught my interest, I could study color, value, composition, and so on. So it was a way to learn more about all sorts of other issues as well as a way to discipline myself. Over the course of a couple of years I painted perhaps 200 of these small paintings, generally one a day although sometimes more. Alas, after the usual burst of enthusiasm though, the daily paintings that I began calling Windowsill Works dwindled in quantity and probably in quality. Inevitably I suppose, after a year or so daily paintings gave way to daily drawings although I do still produce small finished pieces.

Here are a few Windowsill Works from that couple of years. It's pretty easy to see that in most of these the color selection was limited. Further, most were done in under 60 minutes--often under 30--which paradoxically meant spending considerable time looking and less time painting. To an observer it would likely look odd to see me standing motionless for minutes at a time, but to me looking very very carefully means mastering form and color and all sorts of other considerations about the object before ever touching brush to paint. The other discipline I tried hard to follow when doing Windowsill Works was the single touch--premier coup--method mentioned in another post. The idea was to set up  big shapes, making vigorous brushwork providing good information, using careful draftsmanship. As is always the case, some hit the mark and some fell very wide of it.

The first of what became the Windowsill Works series is the plastic water bottle in the painting below. It is quite small and took only about half an hour. The remainder are all 6x8 on gessoed hardboard. The objects in several are laying on a drawing board, on the studio table, or actually on the windowsill. In all of these I was interested in a limited palette as well.
Water bottle Oct. 18, 2010, 4x6

Table top Jan 28, 2011, 6x8
Apple & scissors Feb 11 2011 6x8
Breakfast banana March 5 2011 6x8
Oignon June 11 2011 6x8

Magnifier Nov 25 2010 6x8
In the coming few weeks I'll be setting up a separate website specifically to display and auction these small paintings, so check back as your time permits.
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