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View From the Interstate ~ an experiment

December 7, 2010

View From the Interstate, 9x12, Gouache

 I’ve written occasionally about the importance of influences on one’s art, the need to look and explore the work of others, whether it’s old masters long dead or currently active painters.  Part of this is simply to learn how to do things, part of the painter’s education.  Another reason is for inspiration… to see things a bit differently from what we do every day, to try new approaches and techniques… to explore new possibilities.

I was recently introduced to the work of Jeremy Mann.  As soon as I opened his website and started looking at his “Compositions”, I was completely blown away.  The same thing happened when I first saw the work of watercolorist Joseph Zbukvic.  If I could paint like that, I would.  Of course, I’ve also said that about Kevin McPhearson and my old WetCanvas mentor  William Wray, among a host of others.  The point here is that I’ll never paint like any of them.  So, I learn what I can… and paint like me.  What happened when I looked at Jeremy Mann’s work (after I lifted my jaw back up and got my breath back) was that I immediately understood that I could learn from his work.  His “traditional” landscapes are wonderful as well, but I think what struck me about his “compositions”, along with the drama of the compositions themselves, was the use of a more monochromatic palette.  I’ve tried that a few times over the last few years, but the way Mann portrays the light in his paintings is astounding.

So… as an experiment, I did this little study.  I’m no Jeremy Mann.  I cannot even imagine the years and work it took to reach his level.  But I can learn from him.  And the only way to learn is to look, study, and then paint.  The scene is from a photo I took from the interstate while passing through the city.  My reference photo isn’t labelled, but I occasionally shoot highway signs when shooting on a trip, and the last sign in the series indicates we were coming into Memphis, Tennessee.

The palette was strictly limited: yellow ochre, burnt umbre, white, and maybe a touch of burnt sienna.  (Correction from the original post: no burnt sienna, but I did use black.)  It’s sketchy, but hopefully my intent is evident.  This was a really fun experiment, and possibly a way for me to be inspired to try a few more street scenes.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2010 3:31 am

    Great work!…

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