Deuterbeanermann Farm, 2015, oil on panel, 10 x 12 inches, Private Collection
Two months ago I was given a commission by a friend, one that would be presented as a Christmas gift to his lovely husband. Since October I have been working on this small painting, and keeping it a secret, not being able to post anything about either here or on Instagram was very difficult. As the painting developed I knew that I was doing something special, something I had not done in my work before. The commission was to paint their home which is located in the Hudson Valley, a place full of beautiful views that inspired, and still does, a great number of painters. What is it about the Hudson Valley that painters are attracted to? I think that's an easy answer, it's the light! This became the main focus of the painting and I wanted to fill the small panel with it. I had an idea of what this might look like in the end, but as the painting evolved it took on a live of it's own. Things started happening, I was handling paint and color differently and for the first time in a long time I sensed growth in my skill. For a painter to see this sort of thing happen before their eyes is major because we are our worst critic.
For the painting to feel airy and full of light the use of glazing was necessary. I haven't worked with glazes for some time since most of my landscapes now are more immediate. I knew that I needed to go back to lead white, and to be honest I forget how beautiful this color can be! Not sure why I stopped using it in the first place, but I'm glad it's back on my palette. From the beginning I kept telling myself "think Vermeer, think Vermeer," I began chasing Vermeer's clouds on his View of Delft, and to get more into that frame of mind I even watched a recent documentary on his work which was breathtaking. If Vermeer inspired the clouds and light, then Inness was there for the reds and greens of the trees. Both painters have inspired me greatly in the past, and this is the first time I was able to put what I learned from both into one painting. Vermeer and Inness were not the only ones though, add to the mix another great painter, a man I had as a teacher once. Stephen Pat Brown was incredible with what he could do with paint, and since I moved to NY and went back to representational painting I have always had his work in mind. I can always hear him say to play with my warms and cools, and to glaze some blue here or there.
This commission came at the right time. This year something was lost, I was no longer motivated to paint, I felt stuck. The funny thing is that when I look back at the number of pieces I completed , this has been my most productive year, yet I can't shake the feeling that I could have done more! Working on this painting presented a challenge. I had to create something new and different from the photos I was given as reference. I had to complete it under a certain timeline. I had to pull myself out of my rut and force myself to paint almost every night. In the end this was the antidote I needed, I feel renewed again and my excitement for painting is at a new high and I'm back to my old self again. What a great way to go into the new year don't you think?