Having finished with my week’s obsessive plein air painting of trees in Mt. Tabor Park, I decided I needed to find out what Emily Carr might have done with the scenes.
But first, here’s one of my last-mid-week’s exasperation paintings — the kind of thing one does when all else fails. It’s a substitute for throwing the palette against the wall — although come to think of it, there might be similarities of result:
Not an Emily Carr Forest, Oil on scabby board, about 10 x 12″, 2009
The choice of supports was dictated by the discarded and ragged-edged board I tripped over. I’ve trimmed the edges in Photoshop; in reality, they are a mess. But it felt good to do this and seemed somehow important to add to my collection of efforts.
So tonight, I copied an Emily Carr painting found here and elsewhere on the web:
Emily Carr, post- 1930: (I can’t find a title nor date to this painting, but I’m sure it postdates 1930)
Here’s my copy, done freehand, not with a grid.
Attempted Copy of Emily Carr’s painting, about 20 x 20, oil on really scabby board, 2009
My point in “copying” the Carr was to try to get a sense of what she was doing with her forms. The colors weren’t important to me — I wasn’t using a reproduction that could be counted on to have decent color (and I’m not sure of the color of the web image presented here either). But the way she handles her shapes and values — that I could trust and that was what I was after. It was odd to be copying because as I did so, I didn’t know what I was picturing. It was like drawing the fellow in the chair upside down, as one does in Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the right side of the brain. After a while, I got a better sense of the scene that she must have been dealing with, but the abstracting quality of the exercise felt right to me.
Then I turned both the reproduction and my painting to the wall and painted the scene again, trying not to peek to see what she had done differently. I stepped away from the painting toward the end and gave over Carr and tried to make sense of it as a painting in itself.
June’s version of the Emily Carr Scene. Oil on canvas, 16 x 16, 2009
This is such a tame version of Carr’s original that it’s almost embarrassing. Her’s has more mystery because of its darker hues and the odd viewpoint, almost looking down and through the forest. The shape of the opening in her painting is wonderful and in mine, well, it’s a bit boring. And hers has a greater sense of movement.
I think tomorrow I’ll go back and redo this painting with the Carr reproduction in front of me. That might teach me yet more about how she achieves her ends. And I’ll be fresher and have had the experience of writing and analyzing here on southeastmain.
So these next few weeks will be devoted to trying to grab hold of what Carr does in order that I can more fully understand what June wants to do. How’s that for ambition? –June