trail walk followed by "Aspen Study" by Philip Tarlow

7:11 PM: here's a panorama of my late summer series reference paintings, collages & photos. new are the two photos on the far right, which were shot on our trail walk this morning.

3:46 PM: this morning we went on another beautiful trail walk. i brought back a fantastic small "dead" branch with some lichen growing on it. the color was scarlet/vermillion but by the time i got it back to my studio, it had lost it's color. so now i'm spraying it with water periodically, and it seems to be coming back!

i was too tired and not in the right space to continue work on the new chia, (see yesterdays post) so i made a small gouache painting, 35.5x9.5cm/14x3.75", which is a study of some aspen bark i photographed today, which will be valuable once i re-commence work on chia. the more i study the patterns of nature, the more i am amazed by the richness. nothing new, right? but for me, a painter who has been painting plein air my whole adult life, it's a revelation. it just seems to be my moment of recognition, so i'm pursuing it like a private eye, hot on the trail. yes, private eye

a demain, mes amis.

starting "chia," 38x38" by Philip Tarlow

chia, 38x38"  as it looked moments ago

DETAIL of chia at 2:30pm

2:36 PM: i started work on chia this morning. thus far, i'm taking it very slow.there are 3 collaged elements and, something i haven't yet done in this series, a kind of still life within the composition. i brought 2 crestone conglomerate rocks in from outside my studio and painted them into the as yet spare composition. when i finished for the day and photographed what i had done, it became very obvious that the bit on the right resembles a penis. it was completely unconscious. it's kind of a cool looking penis, which looks like it's wearing a blue wig. you can see it in this detail on the right. very curious i am to see how this evolves tomorrow.







11:53 AM: yesterday afternoon i unstretched the failed dōwd and re-stretched a new blank canvas. a while ago i prepared a tinted ground, which you see here in the foreground, and will soon begin work on the new painting titled chia. in the background are an array of plein air drawings & paintings as well as a few of my 2014 collage series, all of which i glance at while working on the late summer series. click on late summer, below to visit that page.

this image, minus the canvas in the foreground, has just been added to my late summer page. if you scroll down, you'll see it.

dōwd undone by Philip Tarlow

3:45 PM: i attempted to tweak this painting today. there was a moment when it was OK (bottom left) and just needed a bit of work on top. it was all downhill from there until finally, i completely fucked it up. those two stage are shown below. doesn't happen often, but today was one of those rare days when it did. i'm in the process of unstretching it, after which it will go into the trash and i'll stretch a new one and start fresh tomorrow.

starting a rework of dōwd by Philip Tarlow

DETAIL of dōwd moments ago

3:38 PM: dōwd was the first in the late summer series of paintings. it always stood out as not fitting in with it's siblings. so today i began a radical rework, which is still in process. it bears no resemblance to the august 22nd version. right now, there's too much going on, so i'll see what happens tomorrow morning when i see it with fresh eyes.

BELOW: the painting before revisions (left) and moments ago

plein air this morning and turtle creek revised yesterday afternoon by Philip Tarlow

9-14-17 plein air 1  19.3x20.2cm gouache on watercolor paper

1:30 PM: this morning i went to paint plein air at the creek. i discovered an excellent location! as well, i was able to test out my new, very light weight travel stool, which proved to be a huge blessing.

9-14-17 plein air 2  9.3x35cm.

ABOVE: the important changes i made to turtle island yesterday just as i was about to leave the studio. i realized something had to shift in order for this painting to become coherent as a composition; right now, it seems i was right!

increasingly, these plein air gouaches are feeding into my late summer series of paintings. the patterning which is rapidly emerging, after so many years of studying and painting the landscape is like watching a new language being born right in front of me. the late summer weather conditions at the creek could not be more perfect, and i am transported into another realm the moment i sit down in front of the landscape, remaining in that state the entire time.

revisiting "turtle island" by Philip Tarlow

4:56 PM: just as i was about to leave the studio, i cast a glance at the painting and it just seemed too busy. so i put all my stuff down and got to work! i surrounded the central areas with warm grey acrylic, so that when i completed my mini-rework, i could look at it & not have that gnawing feeling that it just wasn't right. i quickly photographed it with my iphone, since there was no time to doit properly with my big nikon. and here's ho wit looks now. you can compare with the image below to see the difference.

DETAIL of the lower right portion of the painting

3 PM: a did another hour of work on turtle island, most noticeably on the lower right portion of the painting. that green shape at the bottom right was looking separate form the rest of the painting and needed to be broken up. in addition, the green in the middle right portion was too strong, and was pulling the eye away form the rest of the composition, so that got pushed back. i'll see how i feel about it tomorrow. it's possible i may go to the creek tomorrow morning to paint plein air, and if so, i'll encounter turtle island once i'm back, around noon.

BELOW: before (left) and after the changes

12:54 PM: as i mentioned in yesterdays post, when i looked at turtle island hanging next to a few of the other late summer paintings, it wasn't cutting it. so this morning, and admittedly with some trepidation, i went back into it, trying not to be attached to any of its more beautiful passages.

it's become a very different painting, and the turtle like image that gave the painting it's name is gone. as i gaze at it now, i can see there's more to be done. so after posting this i may resume work on it. but i do like where it's headed. the forms are more clearly defined; the colors warmer, almost tropical, which is unusual considering my normally earth toned palette. while the turtle has left, other images suggest themselves. there are clear references to trees, tree trunks, rocks and water. i have an array of plein air paintings i've made recently, plus a few older collages on paper that i'm looking at as i work. 

BELOW, turtle island before the changes (left) and how it looked moments ago.

trail walk/ drawing this morning, followed by prep for "turtle island" revision by Philip Tarlow

4:49 PM: this morning was trail walk morning....once every 2-3 mornings.the only thing predictable about our walks is that they are always gorgeous and inspiring. i try to make at least one drawing each time in my tiny black moleskine notebook, which is always in my breast pocket.








over time, these little drawings, together with the larger gouache and oil studies i've been making at the creek for years, are informing-fueling my new late summer series of collage/paintings. these new paintings are a natural vehicle for the expression of my passion for the landscape and for biomorphic forms in general. rather late in life, i'm finding my note. developing my vocabulary. rocks like these have been there every time we walk up the trail, over many years. it's only now that i'm paying close attention to details like the ones you see here.




patterns such as these have been present and available on the trail for eons. i never really noticed them until i began experimenting with collaged and painted shapes clearly and intentionally drawn from rocks/water/trees. are dead trees really dead? are rocks living or dead? questions beside the point, really. the point is, they are all equally reflections of a larger order, which is true as well for our tiny, primitive brains.  when we manage to mimic or evoke patterns like the ones you see here on this rock, we think we've created something so special. and perhaps we have. 

enough of that! this afternoon i re-stretched turtle island once again on a board covered stretcher so that i can go back into it tomorrow morning. hanging on my studio wall since it was completed, it just wasn't cutting it. so tomorrow morning i'll launch in and see what happens.

BELOW is what it looks like currently. it was completed august 27, and i must admit, it reproduces pretty well in this image you're looking at. in person however, it just doesn't hold up next to, for example, red orange, on the right,which was completed september 4th. notice, in contrast with turtle island, how it has it's own logic of forms, space and colors. it's a discreet event, even though we can't identify exactly what these shapes and the space surrounding them represent. but we're inclined, or at least i'm inclined, to make stuff up. oh, that's definitely a breast said one studio visitor, pointing to the semi circular form in the lower center. and so on. that's the idea! you make stuff up about these forms precisely because they are indirectly based upon natural forms: rocks, water, trees. ever looked at a rock that reminded you of a hawk? Or a tree bark that reminded you strongly of a rhino's hide?

plein air this morning by Philip Tarlow

9-11-17 plein air gouache 1

6:35 PM: this morning i felt moved to sally forth to n. crestone creek. i knew there were thunderstorms predicted this afternoon, and i learned from out trail walk 2 days ago that mid-morning could be an ideal time in terms of temperature and light. 

9-11-17 plein air gouache 2

following my coffee brewing and morning meditation, i had an unusual experience. at the end of my meditation a go through a little affirmation-like internal monologue. aprt of it touches on a concept i first experienced in tm: unity consciousness. right after i meditate, i lie down on the couch to integrate. i looked up unity consciousness. i maintained the fleeting feeling of being connected to all things always now as i went to my studio & prepared to go to the creek.i maintained it as i set up my little table & chair, knocked my water glass into the creek where it broke, squeezed the colors onto the palette and began painting. i maintained it while sitting and painting, while being careful not to make any sudden moves, which might knock everything flying into the water. it's happened before. and as i gathered it all up, fished the glass shards from the creek and walked back down the trail to my parked car, it lasted. everthing connected. everything equally alive. 

then the mind rushes back in, terrified it has missed something, attempting to rebuild partitioned reality. 

a day off by Philip Tarlow

6:46 PM: this morning friends came for a breakfast of walnut/blueberry pancakes with fresh peach compote. the conversation was stimulating, funny, inspiring. then we just hung out, watched the tennis finals, relaxed. this is new for us. we never take days off. 

i hung the just completed irma in the house today, next to the drawing tsarouchis gave me. i wanted to see what it looked like in a setting other than the studio. first impression, it looks good! as i said yesterday, looking at this one in the studio hanging next to turtle island, on the LEFTit became clear that turtle island needs more work. too fuzzy. yhe forms are not as clearly defined as they need to be. so that may be what i'm up to tomorrow.