January Sky, the Painting

We are going off tomorrow to join with our Meet, Greet, Eat and Crit group. I will, of course, be taking some of the Petrified Forest paintings along, because the group hasn’t met since we returned from Arizona. But I have a new painting to unveil — and you get to see it first (provided you tune in before noon Pacific Time Sunday.)

January Sky, approximately 30 x 36″ (I haven’t measured it yet), acrylic on canvas, 2011.

This is not a plein air painting. It was inspired by a walk up Salmon Street, late one afternoon a few weeks ago. The clouds were gray, but somehow a light was pouring through them, straight down the street in front of me. It was, as Jan puts it, an ethereal moment. I had to paint it, back in the studio, with only my visual memory as reference.

I was also inspired by the pentatonic flute, which requires repetition to be really effective. The almost monochromatic palette echoes the six notes of the flute, and the houses, lined up along the geometries of linear perspective, make me think of the notes of the flute, repeating, with variations, and then swelling with under and overtones.

Well, the conceit sounded good in my head <snort>

I have switched to my winter, stuck-in-the-studio acrylic-painting mode, trying to keep the worst of oil toxicity out of the space. Acrylics blend differently, pigment somewhat differently, and are just plain ornery in my hands. But they dry fast and don’t cause my body to protest. So I keep working, hoping to learn to use them well.

Wish me luck in the critique. –June

This entry was posted in acrylic painting, Art, critique group, landscape, painting, Portland, southeast Portland and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to January Sky, the Painting

  1. June says:

    Thanks, Tani.

    It feels like an outlier to me, something that doesn’t fit with whatever else I’m doing. More landscape than city-scape, although clearly urban. Hmm. I would do more, but I’m not seeing what I would do. But I’d like to continue in this vein.

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  2. Tani says:

    Am liking this one . . . lots.

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  3. June says:

    Sheila, you are quite right that it was my voice I was hearing — I see that I misquoted you. You said “definitely” and I read “certainly” and that was the voice in my head, expressing doubt. Ah, those voices in our heads….

    By the way, the crit group said the shadows were weird but fine. I specifically asked them if something should be done about them, and they said nope. So I’m declaring this painting, if not this subject, complete.

    And Shawn, I think I was influenced by your wet streets paintings. I was tempted to throw in a headlight or two, but resisted the temptation. I still need to play (practice, I mean) with wet streets and reflections. It’s my next assignment for myself.

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  4. This is really interesting (in a good way!). I love that you painted from memory – I bet you were able to really pull out what drew you to the scene in the first place. Cool!

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  5. Sheila says:

    Ah, June, you worry too much – reading too much into my choice of words. No tone intended there, really just an affirmation of your comment about it almost painting itself, which would mean no overworking – I’ve had those moments myself and swear it is my best work.

    As for the offset – It jumped out at me because of the similarity in overall form to my Lights of Las Vegas, 4 triangles, view straight on and nearly symmetrical. I rather like this veering off – gives it a different energy.

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  6. June says:

    Wow, what a great set of comments. I learn so much by listening to interested (and interesting) people talk about what they see; it sets all kinds of thoughts and ideas whirling about in my head.

    Carla, thanks for checking in.

    Sheila, I’m taking your comment as a compliment, since I think I sometimes overwork (although I do worry about that “certainly” — I can hear a tone of voice, there). The off-setness was intentional; I worried that it wasn’t quite enough to appear to be intentional. So I’m glad you caught it and approve.

    Kathy and Marni, the shadows were a constant dither in my working. Kathy, part of what I am interested in in movement, a particular kind of expressiveness that’s not necessarily photographic realism, particularly in my cityscapes. So your comment is encouraging. And Marni, it will be very interesting to see what the crit group today has to say this afternoon. They tend to be formalists (very different from my evening group) and likely to agree with you, so once they’ve expressed their first impressions, I’ll present them with both comments (from Kathy and Marni) and let them have at it. In the end, of course, I will do as I do do, but it will be fascinating to see what the group says.

    The evening group, last Tuesday, provided two insights that I actually used — one was that the 4 triangles — the geometries that come out from the sides were too stiff, too obvious. The other was that the street needed greater visual interest. That’s what I worked on before this version appeared. As it turned out, nullifying some of the geometry and enlivening the street, which had much more white and was much “blanker”, were both done by working the shadows. So it’s an ongoing debate.

    I’m ready now for the next round. Or maybe the next painting — we’ll see:-)

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  7. Carla says:

    I am very much liking this painting.

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  8. Kathy Hodge says:

    I like this! The shadows are not realistic, in fact probably the opposite of what they “should” be but that’s what I like about it. It’s as if the trees were shimmering in the winter light, spreading their own image beneath them and spinning their arms to wave the viewer on and down the street.

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  9. I really like this painting, June. It definitely has the feel of that wintery sky. The only thing that doesn’t quite work for me is the shadows of the trees in the street. I’m not sure why, but something feels a bit off in them.
    Marni

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  10. Sheila says:

    Well it definitely has the look of not being forced, overworked. I too really like this, immediately sensed what you were capturing with the light. Definitely feels like January. Like the balance, like the way the whole scene offsets slightly to the right.

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  11. june says:

    Thank you, Cynthia. This was one of those that just came out — little tweaking needed. It needed to be painted and practically painted itself — right in the midst of working the bright painted desert scenes. Maybe that’s one of the reasons — my brain needed a change:-)

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  12. Wow. June, I *love* the limited palette in this piece.

    I really like the linear aspects of the buildings juxtaposed with the round, fluid, organic shapes of the sky, the trees, and the light and shadows on the street.

    Well done.

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