Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “in the studio”

In The Studio 5: Reworking Plein Air Landscapes

Something I’ve never been a fan of doing is revisiting older paintings after some time has passed. The process of reconstructing or even merely re-approaching the original mindstate, inspiration, and vision for the painting feels spiritually regurgitative in some unclean way. Like digging up a dead issue in a relationship with your partner. I’ve never been one to want to dwell in the past, favoring the pursuit of new goals and the exploration of new territory over the retread of old ground.

But since embarking on a landscape painting journey over the past few years I’ve seen some of the masters of the genre doing just this–picking up old plein air studies to breath new life into them, perhaps making them more presentable as a truly finished piece to a buying audience–and had stared at some of my early plein air studies long enough to realize how I too could push the sense of drama or atmosphere in them.

View From The Studio, before (L) and after glaze layer.

Not to mention, more hours logged in the practice of landscape painting, more hours logged studying weather and outdoor light with more intention and discernment, has had the natural and inevitable effect of expanding my critique ability of what I’ve previously done as well as eased some of my fears about ruining those original results. This shift is the tangible, or at least quantitative, proof that learning is happening–awesome!

So in a brief fit of discontented boredom lately I pulled a few early landscapes off the wall and put my glazing knowledge learned from many hours of studio still life painting to use on some formerly alla-prima studies that looked a little flat.

Oil glazing truly does replicate the phenomenon of translucent–but not completely transparent–atmosphere that we live in and see through every time we gaze into the distance. Which makes it a perfect tool in the landscape painter’s skillset. For advanced stages of realism in any genre I find it to be absolutely indispensable, and enjoyed the practice of applying it to my new pursuit of landscape painting mastery.

A little 4 x 6 inch study of my former backyard bridge, given a more dramatic late afternoon shadow treatment.

In The Studio 4

After an awkward and disconcerting hiatus from regular painting while my new studio space was being built and furnished, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the past month back at the easel on a regular basis.

I’ve been working on a half-finished painting that was begun after its original spark of inspiration occurred during the early summer months of 2014. It was then picked at sporadically through the fall and left dormant in winter, until finally undergoing the last push toward completion in the past few weeks.

Occasional and intermittent work on a serious and challenging painting is one of my least favorite phenomena. On the contrary, steady and regular progress on a painting keeps the spindly and often ephemeral thread of inspiration intact long enough to keep the nipping dogs of self-doubt and overquestioning at bay. So now I have uncertainties about some of the choices made in the progression of this painting, but done is done. I’d love to carry on the themes and subject matter of this one into future related works, though. We’ll see how that pans out. So many ideas and images in my head…so little of it turns into a physical object in this shared reality.

Here are some progress shots from last year and this month. The completed piece will be unveiled soon, after I hopefully think of a title.

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Grisaille.

Color block-in.

Color block-in.

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Applying splatter texture to the block-in.

 

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Building up rust textures.

Adding fine details and highlights before the final shadow glazes are applied.

Adding fine details and highlights before the final shadow glazes are applied.