17 February, 2009

Charcoal Jetty

4" x 6"
Casey Klahn

I made an unexpected trip to the coast this weekend. See my painting set-up and how I handled the image that this sketch begins at Pastel.

In response to requests to reveal my lessons learned from another artwork, the Kahn copy, here is what I wrote:

(In short-hand)
  1. Atmospheric.
  2. Plastic, with a blue-black element that pulls one in.
  3. Black trunks on blue-white.
  4. Divided perspectives, like in Stan Miller's Venice "gate, canal and court" image.
  5. High key ultra-marine "highlight" behind center of focus.
  6. Gestural willow trunks.
  7. Gray paper shows through as lane or roadway.
  8. Cool paper tone/warm foreground is enough to counter-act this.
  9. Back-light, but no cast shadows.
  10. Apply this technique to new snow scenes?
  11. "Winter Towpath, After Wolf Kahn".
  12. Window-pane effect.
  13. On sanded ground, not cold press.
Others have written to urge me to move on from WK, and I appreciate the input more than can be told. The thing about blogging is, an artist reveals much of his back story. Does it harm one's professional appearance?

If you think about it, we all have influences and artist mentors. I make no attempt to hide mine, but the flip side of artist blogging is that a public in-depth record is being revealed of the artist's methods and growth.


Jala Pfaff said...

Wow, nice simplicity in this sketch with wide range of values.

Thanks for sharing your observations. They are so obviously well thought out that I am going to need to go through them one by one while looking at your painting. Great stuff, thanks.

Jala Pfaff said...

P.S. Is that dark value brownish area in front of the gray-green "fat" tree form not meant to represent cast shadow?

Casey Klahn said...

The brown area just ranges in values, but no shadow "shape" develops. The blue gray mass of trees is a shadow side of the trees, but no linear shadows proceed.

Many are wondering what the big deal is about this no cast shadow thing. Go back to your Matisse and see how he un-hinged modernism from reality by dismantling form in his paintings. A tenant of Modernism is full intensity colors, and often a lack of light source.

This has meaning for me as a coastie, because we had very diffuse light, and lots of gray. Limited shadows, or perhaps all in shadows. Think: Twilight.

Robyn Sinclair said...

This sketch is very good, Casey when one strips away the colour there is still great composition to be enjoyed.

I've run out of time to study your process, so I'll have to come back. I'm sure there is a valuable lesson in there.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks, Robyn. Remember the process list refers to the WK artwork from last week.

Brian McGurgan said...

I like this sketch of the jetty very much, Casey. The composition is compelling and strong and your handling of the charcoal lends an atmospheric feel that is both fresh and familiar.

I enjoyed reading your lessons learned and they touch on most of the qualities of the work that I admire too. To them I would also note the effectiveness of the repeated willow trunk verticals stepping back on a diagonal that leads your eye towards the center of focus. The rhythm this creates is very satisfying, especially with the contrast against the light blue snow that you mention.

I appreciate the candidness in your blog posts of your reflections on your process, the business aspects of producing and selling art, qualities you aspire towards, etc. I suppose this is what distinguishes a blog-as-journal from a portfolio site intended to showcase your best work for sale. Ultimately, most artists will probably need the portfolio-type site and for those that also want to share and learn from others, the blog is a great communication tool for this. With the candidness comes courage and confidence - that people will appreciate your work on its merits and enjoy learning about your exploration as well - that learning more about your thoughts and about you as a painter will enhance understanding and appreciation of what you strive for in your work. I was surprised by the comment on "moving on" from WK - to me it seems perfectly natural to explore and discuss works that provide such rich inspiration and opportunity for learning.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Brian. I see what you mean about the verticals and repetition. I was writing new things and things that satisfy me right now. I guess I have the vertical, repetitive rhythm part of Kahn's trees down to a "t". I'm searching to get past that, actually! Go figure!

I do very much love the almost black willows, and their wispy feel, and the directionality is great, too. The window pane effect against the almost white - it defines for me what Matisse was saying when he said that a painting should generate its own light.

I want to write more about the plastic qualities of these
"eye sumps", like the blue-black area that pulls one in. I am very interested in this, now.

The fantastic thing is that I have been writing about my influences being the coastal rain forests, and then I took a sudden road trip there and am now working up some paintings of the Hoquiam River. The chance to appropriate these lessons into my own tree and water images is awesome, and I am happy as a pig in mud about it.

loriann signori said...

Casey, Both the WK copy and this sketch are beautiful in different ways. This has a sensitive simplicity about it. The other "copy" is WK, but it is also you too. Your choices. I am not quite sure why someone would advise you to move on from WK. Learning from another artist is time honored tradition. Enjoy your journey with WK.Your heart will direct you.
PS sorry to hear about your sudden loss.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks very much, Loriann.

I was happy with the little sketch, and clamped it to the ThumBox tripod and then produced the ocean piece. I am convinced the strong elements there made the plein air piece work.

I am thinking about you getting better from your dental surgery, too. Take care.

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