Friday, December 12, 2008

Maynard Dixon

I am so inspired by American Artists in the early 20th century and Maynard Dixon just slays me. I like how he observes nature so accurately, but he heightens it almost like an illustrator, and it still has so much heart and spirit. There is nothing like being outdoors and painting. There's nothing like being outdoors period. Dixon's paintings feel like being outdoors. The man must have spent a lot of time outside. What a great way of life.

I've noticed in nature that clouds are really big compared to distant mountains. For some reason that's surprising. It must be because the sky is so much bigger, and we look at them in the context of the sky usually and fail to compare them to the landforms.

His tonal range is so tight here, it's gorgeous. Resisting the urge to get too dark is key in landscape painting. Ben, my landscape teacher told me to hold up something really dark to compare to the rest of the values, which helps put things into the right scale.

Why is the sky bluer in the fall? It must have something to do with the angle of the sun - and perhaps there is less dust and stuff in the air????

Maynard Dixon was married to Dorothea Lange, who took this photograph of him. What a great way to spend time, traveling around, painting while your spouse toook photographs. Freedom, being willing to give up the drive to root and have a house and all that. Of course it was the depression for part of it, so perhaps desperate times free us up a little.
One of my dreams is to take a road trip with my family and paint along the way. Tom and Adara could fish or bicycle, or paint and take photographs... The dog could chase rabbits. We'd magically fit into a small, fuel efficient vehicle and we'd stay and humble but clean motels - and camp occaisionally too.
People have opinions, and because I haven't specialized in one area of painting - I paint portraits, still lives, landscapes, figurative work - people are always telling me what they think is my strongest work -and thankfully it's not consistently one area - but anyway, it's often portraiture or figurative work. So what? Anyway, I must say I love the comfort of the studio and the challenge and interaction that comes with portrait/figurative work, but I will never ever give up going outside to a paint landscapes. It's the dearest, best experience I have painting.


Nance said...

That must be why it's called the great outdoors. Anyway, I concur...I especially like being in places that make me feel small compared to what's out there. The sight of the ocean from a cliff; the march of mountains from a high point; ever seen the Alvord Desert from the top of Steens Mountain? Include that in your travel fantasy. We did it with Angel/Flossie...

sarahfburns said...

I'd love it we'd find time to go to the Steen's and relatively speaking it's not that far away.

The Plein Air Painters of Oregon went there on their yearly overnight trip early this fall. I'm a member of the group, but I was unable to go. It would have been fine with them, but it will be best to go with Tom and Adara (and maybe Cody).