O For a Big Canvas
Yesterday I had that happy thing happen where I just started driving to find a painting spot, took a right on Canyon Rd (just seemed like the right thing to do in Sedona) and drove for a short while to find a dry creek bed with back lit trees. There was even a little turn off for parking. I did a 12×12″ there, the whole while checking to make sure there were no snakes creeping up on me. See my previous post if your curious as to why.
Once I was well into the painting I realized that I had chosen a subject that was somewhat similar to historical woman plein air painter Lucie Hartrath’s painting “The Creek” (circa 1917) painted in Brown County Indiana. Mine was even in a square format that Hartrath seemed to employ often. But hers was 5 or more times the size of mine. I have to tell you it is really impressive in person. I recently recorded an audio clip for this painting because it was included in Lakeview Museum’s “Skirting Convention: Illinois Women Artists from 1840-1940.”
I promise you it will be informative and entertaining (hey, it’s me we are talking about, I come from entertaining stock). My guess is she took at least a few days maybe more to complete it. Oh, what I would give for a few days and a mammoth sized canvas. But when I come to these events, I am bound by the pressures of getting as many high quality paintings done as possible, making them affordable (ie smaller), and having to ship all my frames here. Mammoth is not a cheap to ship. So I work with the canvas sizes I have.
10 Kinds of Moxie
I was thinking about Hartrath because I had mentioned her to Plein Air Magazine’s editor Steve Doherty. I respectfully suggested more female artists be featured in the mag and Steve was sympathetic, but encouraged us all to do google searches on women artist, mention them in our biography’s as being influential, recommend women artists to our website visitors and add links to women artists’ websites. This will heighten their “Google Visability,” and thereby be perceived as interesting to Plein Air’s readers.
So now, I have a wild hair and want you all to think past Sargent and Payne. There were trail blazing women who had 10 kinds of moxie to be doing what they did when the world thought they should be home popping out babies. If we can get past our bias, we would see that they were great painters. So what about today? There are so many of us, and a lot of us are really good, even great. Thomas Eakins said that there will never be any great women artists, and I think the perception that a great artist is a male artist is still there in our world, quietly asserting itself without our knowledge.
I periodically do an unscientific survey to see how many magazine articles are about women artists, the ratio of awards given to male vs. female artists, etc. It is always disheartening. It is about nothing more than perception, but perception drives the world. Sometimes this realization gets into my head and plays over and over again while I am painting. I can’t believe I would actually let that stuff in, but I guess I am not made of Teflon. The human psyche is, at once, both fragile and resilient. I think it is best to do like the Buddhist’s and empty your rice bowl. Wax on, wax off grasshopper. Besides, Hartrath is part of my artistic heritage, and I am I am gonna embrace that. Here is a question for both our male and female readers: What female artists, living or dead, inspire you?
So, a little ADELE on my ipod and I am ready for my next brush stroke…I went on to paint three paintings on a residential roof top with a three sixty view of all the mountains in Sedona. SHHWEET! I did two super quick sunsets and moved on to my master plan: a 16×20″ of the Sedona lights by night. Sexy! Today I did creek paintings all day. Wow, Hartrath has gotten under my skin!