"From the Bluff" 12x24, oil
I remember visiting Albert Handell in his Santa Fe studio a few years ago. He was telling me how he gets ready for an exhibition. This prolific painter has a vast selection to pull from. He goes through it carefully, choosing the pieces that will work together best. A great deal of thought goes into making a show that is cohesive and unified.
That's one approach. Another approach is to paint "to" the show. It's riskier, because you never know how a work-in-progress will turn out. This is what I'm doing now, for a show at Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre in St Andrews, New Brunswick. (The show opens August 12 and runs until September 7; I'm sharing the show space with Canadian photographer David Ogilvie.) Normally, I have a good deal of inventory on hand, though maybe not as much as Albert, but this summer I have many pieces over in Lubec at the Laughing Raven Gallery. So I have to paint. And I'm enjoying it, as I have a very definite deadline for some larger pieces, and this makes for a fun challenge.
So, how am I painting "to" the show? I have a quartet of large paintings of apple trees - what I consider the centerpiece of the show - that I painted back in June. These apple trees, as I've mentioned in another blog post, are feral. Once they were pruned each winter, but now they have returned to the wild. They are a good example of how Man's influence on nature is still visible after he is long gone. Even with Campobello Island's superb natural scenery, there is scarcely any painting spot that doesn't show the hand of Man. Things once pruned and tamed have broken free, gone wild - but if you look closely, you'll still see the evidence. I can't guarantee that all of my paintings will address this theme, but I'm working toward it!
The painting above shows a subtle intrusion - a fence. Raccoon Beach, part of the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, occupies a bluff overlooking the sea. The bluff is being continually eaten away by strong winter storms, and the fence is there to keep you from toppling over the edge. It's not much of a fence, so be careful!
By the way, I still have room in my St Andrews, New Brunswick, plein air painting workshop. The workshop runs August 8-12. The price is CA$ 335 for five full days. If you're interested, contact Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Center: 506-529-3386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.