We critiqued 33 paintings at our monthly painting critique session, which makes the task of choosing which ones to show a joy. Since I can’t show the best (too many would count as) I get to choose the ones I liked most.
There were also eight painters present, so this set of images will take up two or three blogs. Which is good, since I’ve been negligent of late and now have no more excuses. Without further ado —
Hal McCartor has joined the group and brought a goodly batch of paintings, mostly figures, to give us some context for his work.
I fell in love with this fellow. The cock of his left leg just plain grabbed me (and I want no smart remarks about my attraction, either — it was all about the paint). Hal, in all the figurative paintings, kept his backgrounds quite simple, but the figures (with one notable exception which I will show) are totally evocative. They do exactly what figure painting should do, which is grab your attention, even if that attention is drawn to, well, interesting areas other than the face.
Jane, one of our fellow critiquers, noted that in Hal’s paintings you could generally tell what he was in love with. In this provocative painting, it’s the motorcycle, about which he waxed eloquent when we were critiquing, that he doted on. And properly so, of course. This was the exception to his very plain backgrounds — here the background (well, ok, the middle ground), the young woman, is not so plain.
The next painter is Catherine Taylor, whom I thought of as painting subdued, quiet, modulated landscapes. I’m not sure which of her paintings was the best (she had three) but I was very much taken with these two for entirely different reasons. And neither is quiet and subdued.
This painting, done in the gorge, plein air, not reworked, if I’m remembering correctly, feels mysterious, a bit fairy tale-ish, to me. The light is strong and almost overwhelming against the subdued grayed mountains of the Columbia Gorge. The misty mountains play off that yellow and the dark tree trunks, making for a phantom landscape.
This is another on-site painting, and again, it is quite different from anything I have seen of Catherine’s. We didn’t talk much about it at the critique, but I’m a great admirer of human structures mingling with natural scenes. This scene happens to be of the south waterfront in Portland, a waste ground in the midst of development. The bits of growth and foliage that wrap themselves around the remains of rusted industrial structures are evoked so firmly and subtly that I find myself envying Catherine’s skill in presenting both at once.
Finally, Susan Monti, whose landscapes (at least the ones that I’ve seen) have been primarily rural. They are also plein air works. But this time, as she said when she entered with her painting, “I just had to do this — all I could think of was June.” I paraphrase Susan, but I knew what she meant. And in fact, she was at 16th and NW Naito Parkway, a place I’ve painted. It’s where the Fremont Bridge crosses the river and the bit of open ground that one can paint on has a railroad track and the busy parkway on one side, the Willamette River on the other, and the Fremont Interstate 5 Bridge soaring and roaring overhead.
So Susan points herself in the direction I haven’t mentioned, toward the Broadway Bridge, and does a luminescent painting of the parkway:
I’m sure it was the telephone poles that made Susan think of me — or maybe the cars. But I’ve never caught the Portland light so perfectly and gave it such a glow. This kind of light, regularly a part of Portland’s milieu, especially this summer, is really difficult for me to capture and make worth viewing. Susan has done it.
So, as usual, I’ve been put on my mettle and challenged to keep up. With a new hip, I’m ready to roll, if not run. More in a few days. –June