a new painting commences...hey, not so fast, tarlow! by Philip Tarlow

2:34: woman in landscape following a few tweaks in the past hour. if you compare the upper central region, you will notice a yellow ochre/tan addition, which adds needed warmth, and a slight reduction in intensity of some of the red marks, which were a bit too dominant, and drew the eye to them at the expense of the whole composition, which now, in person at least, reads as one coherent whole. rocks and water are still clearly the main characters in this story. so, is this an abstract painting? lyrical abstraction is one term that might fit.

1 PM: upon entering the studio, my first glance at the revised and re-revised woman in landscape told me that it was, well....blah! no chi.

DETAIL of woman in landscape

so i scrapped my plan for starting a new painting and continued work on this one. the very first thing i did, and i'll admit there was some anger in my passionate movements, was to scratch and scrape the surface of this poor, delicate portrait linen until i practically made a tear in it. but that created movement, and a few deKooning-esque passages. they remind me somewhat of one of my heroes: dekooning because they have that drawing in motion feel of some of his woman series paintings, which by the way also have some level of anger. but, unlike dekooning, i wasn't feeling anger at women; rather a kind of frustration at the process, and how, no matter how much you think you know what's what, you most certainly don't! so you just keep pressing in, pressing into it, until it sings. or so you think....and the process continues.

and, if successful, you look at it a few weeks or months later and say to yourself, "did i do that? how the fuck did i do that?"

well, you didn't! and that's the whole point, isn't it?





BELOW: detail of one of dekooning's women series paintings:

SITE-deKooning detail.jpg










BELOW: the evolution of woman in landscape, arranged chronologically starting on the upper left (december 2, 2017)



8:15 AM:  a few hours i'll be back in the studio starting the process of creting a new painting in my 2017-18 landscape series. that will mean un-stretching one of the 38x36" paintings i feel can be sidelined and cutting & stretching a new piece of portrait linen. 

in the mean time, as i complete my coffee shenanigans, i shot this pic of a 1999 gouache on paper, which sits comfortably protected from the sun, on our kitchen counter.

updates on the new painting will be posted as the day progresses.

woman in landscape re-re-revisited! by Philip Tarlow

              woman in landscape  at 2 pm

2 PM: as soon as i walked in the door to my studio this morning, i began revising what i did yesterday. i decided to use a different plein air oil painting (which you see below) as a reference; the other one was a bit too spare for what i had in mind.

i think i'll stop here for the day and prepare a new canvas for the next painting in this series. i'm flooded with ideas after seeing such great art in nyc & dc. when i say ideas, i really mean sensations. how do you feel when you see a lot of great art in a short space of time? i'm planning a post containing some of the most beautiful of the many works we saw and photographed. it should be ready soon.


renewed energy/revising "woman in landscape" by Philip Tarlow

2:36 PM: woman in landscape was the first in the 2017 landscapes series, painted on december 2, 2107. it hung in our living room for a period of time, but never grew on either of us. finally today, after returning from our 2 week trip to nyc & dc, i decided it should be radically revised.

8/10/11 plein air  16x16"

as i sometimes do when i'm re-working an older image, i turned it upside down on my work table. i scraped, rubbed and then went over a good part of the canvas with a warm white. i was referring to a 16x16" plein air oil painted at the creek on august 10, 2011, which you see on the RIGHT.

traces of the underlying painting peek through in the current phase, creating a play of lines and colors hinting at the vibrance and aliveness of the creek. as i rubbed over the original woman in landscape, areas that had been drawn in colored pencil, crayon and oil pastel smeared into the white pigment, resulting in a warm glow suffusing the entire image. early philip guston comes to mind, as do certain twombly images. lets see where it wants to go tomorrow. thus far, a constant in this series seems to be a painterly, layered picture plane, conjuring the sensual, roiling vivaciousness of the creek.

BELOW: on the LEFT: woman in landscape as it looked before todays intervention. RIGHT: the painting at 3 pm.


9:38 AM: got a great nights sleep & am ready for a productive day in the studio. here is one of the matisse paintings we saw in the permanent collection of the national gallery, washington, d.c.

this painting represents a lifetime of drawing & painting distilled down to the simplest, most elegant combination of forms in space, color and beautiful marks.

back in the studio; revision of "rain" by Philip Tarlow

2:07 PM: after returning last night from our 2 week trip to nyc & washington, d.c., i returned to my studio. i feel out of it and very achy & tired. we drove form nyc to d.c. in an intense, constant rain storm that made it quite stressful. then we visited the vermeer show at the national gallery 2 days running. then a 7 hour flight, including a stop in kansas city, back to denver, followed yesterday by a 4 hour drive in blowing snow back to crestone. so i shouldn't be surprised by how i'm feeling.

as i was attempting to orient myself back to the reality of my studio space, i came across this painting, which is from my 2017 late summer series. i felt good about the painting, and made a few small additions. below left is the painting before todays intervention, and on the right, how it looks following the changes. they were, as you will observe, minor. but i do think they made a difference.

landscape series 6, painted over landscape series 3 by Philip Tarlow

SITE-1-1-18 Landscape Series 6 1-30pm.jpg

1:41 PM: landscape series 3 did not pass the hang in in the house test. after a few weeks, i was just not compelling enough. so i brought it over to my studio this morning, rubbed it about with gamsol  & launched back in, using the 11/1/12 plein air oil as my guide.

as with landscape series 5, the underlying image provided a rich counterpoint to the new image, which i believe actually surpasses the 16x16" plein air oil.it has quite a powerful presence, and we'll see when we're back from visiting with dimitri & our 2 grandkids how it strikes me.

BELOW:  on the left is the 11/1/12 plein air oil

...and the few all-important final tweaks before 2018! by Philip Tarlow

12:41 PM: as often happens, after 24 hours of gazing on and off at landscape series 5 hanging on the east wall of our living room, a few areas caught my eye and held it too long, indicating that something needed to shift in service to the harmony and balance of the whole. made those subtle but important updates this morning and am ready to declare this painting officially resolved, only 12 hours before our transition into 2018. Happy New Year my friends!

BELOW is a comparative view of the painting as it looked before this mornings intervention, left, and after, right. can you discern what what done?

and BELOW are 2 details of the painting

landscape series 5 revisioned by Philip Tarlow

1:22 PM: landscape series 5 was becoming too pretty, plus the composition sucked, so i did a major wipe-down using gamsol, which is far healthier than turpentine. the image looked ghost-like when i was done. then i worked into it, using the 10/29/12 plein air oil you see below as a reference. it was a huge relief, going from that picky, detailed namby-pamby style of working to my familiar whole body sweeping gestural strokes. just when i thought i was finding my note, it switched to something more gut level, primal i could say, which is the feeling i get when i'm out by the creek. i don't know if i have the energy to resume painting plein air in oil this spring. but it's a tempting thought.

getting a handle on my handle....more work on landscape series 5 by Philip Tarlow

5:23 PM: after bringing this painting to the house & hanging it, it immediately became clear that there's a problem with the composition. tricky to deal with, but that will be my focus tomorrow. it may require a radical intervention, which i love.

2:13 PM: following my morning musings (below), as noted below, i did more work on the painting. it's progressing slowly, but in a good direction; see what you think. 







                           YESTERDAY                                                                 TODAY


8:04 AM: in gazing around our house & surveying recent work, i've made several observations. on the lower right you see a plein air gouache painted on 9/27/17. the other 3; a detail of landscape series 4 on the upper left; we found a way on upper right and 1-26-17 collage on lower left, have all emerged from the discoveries i made while doing the plein air gouaches.

my feeling is that, in the landscape current series, i am edging closer to my "handle," by which i mean my unique way of translating what i see into paintings. can they match the immediacy of the plein air prototypes? likely not. but they can gain in richness and complexity resulting from the slow evolution of each piece over time.

landscape series 5 by Philip Tarlow

1:38 PM: i did a bit more work on the painting, lightening the upper left, which was too heavy relative to the subtle tones of the remainder of the painting.






12:31 PM: this morning when i entered the studio, i knew that moment had arrived for whole-body, bolder strokes. so that's what happened, mostly with the painting lying flat on my work table. That allows me more freedom and greater capacity to work the entire surface, sometimes with a very thin, diluted layer of oils, without the paint dripping or running. i frequently put it up on the wall to evaluate, possibly do a bit of work while it's hanging, then back to the table. in front of me on one of my 2 easels are a selection of plein air gouaches, which inspire and direct me, reminding me of solutions i came up with in the heat of the moment while sitting by the creek.

right now, it's in a sweet place and i think i'll let it be.

continuing landscape series 5, 38x36" slowly-slowly........ by Philip Tarlow

2 PM: this is the end of my day in the studio. early today so i can go to the post office & we can walk up to the stupa before our dinner guest arrives. as i said, i'm going very slowly. as of yet there is now explosive moment of flying chi, but it will come. maybe tomorrow.






11:56 AM: this morning i've been continuing work on landscape series 5, taking it very slow while listening to my gut, or my guidance, or whatever you choose to call it. at a ceretain point, it said, "use a little oil paint to define the rocks, like you did in some of your recent plein air gouaches." at another point, it suggested i use some oil pastel instead of colored pencils.