preparations and musings by Philip Tarlow

5:55 PM: today was one of those preparation days. preparation for a 2 day trip to boulder for critical actionlab meetings, and stretching of a new 38x38" portrait linen canvas, which will allow me to dive back into work on friday morning. generally, a short break such as this allows me to re-group and begin conjuring a new painting. 

SITE-view towards aerides, 1974.jpg

what's new in this process is the feeling i have, similar to the state i was in before going into my studio to create a new collage-based painting. like my gaze series, which were all collage based, shifting in unexpected ways hourly. 

now, however, i'm not using collage and am working on portrait linen, usually reserved for detailed, realist oil paintings such as this one: the view from my athens studio towards the tower of the winds, painted in 1974, now in a private collection.

using portrait linen in this new way, employing crayon, graphite stick in addition to oil paint, and scraping into the still wet paint, gives me that same feeling of anything goes. calligraphic strokes with graphite or crayon take the painting to a very different place and allow me to employ my well honed skills at painting, for example, the details of a branch while at the same time cutting loose with full body engagement.

landscape series 2 by Philip Tarlow

6:03 PM: i wasn't sure this painting was resolved after working on it this morning. it sold before i had a chance to intervene, and the paint hadn't even dried. one of my weaknesses has been adding to a painting that didn't really need it.

so, in a sense, this sale saved me, and the painting. it represents a coming together of more than a decade of plein air paintings and collages, some in oil; others in gouache and mixed media.

it may be the start of something......

starting to work on "landscape series 2" and musings on jacob van ruisdale by Philip Tarlow

2:04 pm: stopping a bit early so we can walk up the trail. here's how it looks; i'll continue tomorrow.










12:53 PM: this morning i began work on landscape series 2, which i made the drawing for yesterday. using oil, crayon & graphite stick, i moved slowly, not wanting to overdo it.

as i continue work, here's the current state of the painting.








BELOW: 2 paintings by 17th c. dutch painter jacob van ruisdale. the details of each of these landscapes reveal   small figures easy to miss at first glance, when looking at the entire painting. i love this understated inclusion of figures in the vast dutch landscape. for me they hold far more interest and mystery than similar landscapes of the period by other artists, who have made the figures more prominent. without these little human presences, ruisdale's landscapes would be less compelling, i believe.

stretching the canvas for the next painting in this landscape series by Philip Tarlow

drawing for landscape series 2, 36x38" colored pencil on portrait linen.

2 PM: the completed drawing.i think i'll wait until tomorrow morning, when i'm fresh, to start applying color.




1:17 PM: stage 1 of the drawing






12:05 pm:  i'm just now stretching the 38x36" portrait linen & hoping to begin the new painting shortly. pics as they become available. always exciting to start a new painting, and possible directions are swirling in my body.

the source of the imagery will likely be a photograph i shot recently of the icy creek, on our walk up to the stupa one afternoon.

preparing a new creek painting in oil on portrait linen, 38x36" by Philip Tarlow

today i made preparations for a new creek inspired painting, which will likely commence tomorrow morning. i haven't yet settled on an image to draw from, but i'm considering one of the photos below, all recently shot at north crestone creek.

on the other hand, it may not be any of these 6 shots, or some combination.

more work today on "woman in landscape" by Philip Tarlow

SITE-12-5-17 Woman in Landscape CROP 3 pm.jpg

3:10 PM: after looking at woman in landscape in the house yesterday, i saw where more work was needed. i almost entirely re-painted the figure, which needed to pop more, as well as integrate more with the rock formations behind her. then i did more work on the water reflections. in both cases, i see marked improvement when i walk back 10-12 feet. the entire painting jells more . and the greater clarity of the figure adds an emotional kick. as well, i think the raison d'être for the grey gris showing through and, in the upper left, moving into abstraction, has become clear.

BELOW left: yesterday, right: today

tweaks to woman in landscape by Philip Tarlow

1:22 PM: the modifications to woman in landscape are, thus far, subtle. you should be able to discern them in the comparative images BELOW.  the most obvious change is to the beige mountain side just above the figure, which has been softened, as have the reflections in the water.

11:32 am: yesterday was devoted to meetings, so now that i'm back in the studio, i can see some minor tweaks that need to happen on woman in landscape. i'm a little tired since we got to bed unusually late, so i'll take my time with the tweaks.

day 3: woman in landscape, 38x36" oil on portrait linen by Philip Tarlow

woman in landscape 1 38x36"  oil, graphite & crayon on linen

2:14 PM: i'm stopping for the day. i'll know better in the morning where i need to go with it, or rather it with me! this is an experiment of sorts. it couldn't happen in this way without the exquisite surface provided by this quadruple primed french portrait linen; as responsive as a lover to every touch.


















12:30 PM: continuing work on woman on landscape,  i drew a grid, then began breaking up what i did yesterday, introducing graphite, crayon and oil pastel into the mix.

i'll continue working as long as i have juice. everything i learned during the most recent round of plein air gouaches as well as the recent series of collages is coming into play. i'm searching/not searching for a new form, simultaneously letting the viewer know this is not your traditional landscape while using my skills at realist depiction of the landscape.

back to work, and i'll post updates as they occur. in the mean time, BELOW is a comparative view of the painting yesterday and today.

day 2, woman in landscape by Philip Tarlow

woman in landscape,  38x36" as it looked at 2pm today

2:09 PM: today i started painting woman in landscape, 38x36" in oil on portrait linen. it was indescribably electric to begin painting in oil again, after a very long hiatus. oil on portrait linen is a very special experience, as the linen takes the colors in a unique way., responding with extreme sensitivity to your every stroke, taking even the most diluted wash of color in a way that inspires and promotes the painterly.

DETAIL of woman in landscape

right now i've got to clean my brushes so we can go for a creek walk on this balmy (52F) first day of december. i'll resume work tomorrow.

woman in landscape / a matisse we saw at the barnes collection by Philip Tarlow

Henri Matisse. Three Sisters with an African Sculpture (Les Trois sœurs à la sculpture africaine), between May and mid-July 1917. Oil on canvas, Overall: 77 1/8 x 38 1/4 in. (195.9 x 97.2 cm). BF363. In Copyright. ©2017 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse. Three Sisters with an African Sculpture (Les Trois sœurs à la sculpture africaine), between May and mid-July 1917. Oil on canvas, Overall: 77 1/8 x 38 1/4 in. (195.9 x 97.2 cm). BF363. In Copyright. ©2017 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

4:55 PM: this is one of the magnificent matisse paintings we saw recently at the barnes collection in philadelphia.










2:46 PM: i began the drawing for a new 36x38" painting titled woman in landscape. this will be a much longer process than the collages i've been working on the past few weeks. i have always been enamored of the figure in the landscape and have looked again and again, over the decades, at how the great masters approached it. from courbet to manet, corot and matisse. a small figure in a large landscape can create mystery.

here you see a drawing of the figure i'll be including. it originates in a 2005 painitng i made in gouache on paper on thecycladic  island of andros, where i've spent much time.

she is dwarfed by the large rocks, which are actually from a photo i shot at north crestone creek recently.