Saturday, September 29, 2012

Painting Flemington Racecourse

Recently I mentioned I have been doing some plein air painting, but much of it has been done at some of Victoria's racecourses like Flemington, Caulfield and Mildura. I have had a fascination with empty expanses like football grounds and racecourses ever since I can remember. An arena is like a void where the mind can imagine what might happen. In outdoor painting, space and light are the main subject matter, perhaps more so than the location, but it is like trying to paint something you cannot touch or measure. 

The top photograph shows a work in progress. It takes many sittings to complete these paintings and the weather also determines when I can work. If it is a sunny picture then it is necessary to wait for the next sunny day to continue. 

View of Flemington, 2012, oil on linen, 71.5 x 122 cm
The Straight Six, 2012, oil on wood, 45 x 50 cm

Monday, September 10, 2012

En Plein Air

This is a follow up to my residency at the Art Vault in Mildura in June, 2012. Over the past year and a  half I have been doing a considerable amount of outdoor painting. It can be quite challenging, particularly when the weather is windy! And the paint seems to dry quicker than it does indoors. In the above painting I've added a small figure. Constable often did this; I like the idea of humanity as a subtle presence in the landscape. You don't see too many artists painting en plein air these days, so you can feel a bit self conscious. Not many artists work from the model either, whether it is inside or outside, or as Cezanne said, 'sur le motif '. Frank Auerbach often worked from the motif. You would not think he had a model in the studio when you see his abstracted work, but he once explained why he does:

'The whole point of having a model in front of one is that it continually surprises one. Where one expects the rhythm to be continuous, it's broken, where one expects the grandeur to continue, one suddenly gets a trivial inflection. Where one expects the thing to be trivial, you suddenly see a quite unpredictable rhythm that runs counter to anything you have done before.'

I also like Eugene Boudin's famous saying, 'Everything painted on the spot has a strength, a power, a vividness of touch that one does not find again in the studio'.

Of course, most of the world's great paintings were not done on the spot or with a model present, but I do have a particular liking for pictures that have been done this way.

Perry Sandhills, 2012, oil on linen, 40.5 x 50.5 cm