Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “oil”

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.

Summer Plein Air Adventures

This summer marked my first serious foray into true outdoor (plein air) landscape painting, in an effort to deepen my knowledge on the visual effects of atmosphere and natural light. This endeavor also conveniently bridged a longstanding divide between my love for exploring the outdoors and my love of painting.

Until this year the two had been almost always mutually exclusive, routinely prompting an internal conflict on beautiful days over whether to satisfy the urge to paint in the studio or the urge to go outside. But I finally confronted my fear of alla prima painting and began the difficult process of learning this completely contradictory painting technique to the one I’ve trained in for over a decade.

muddy creek session

Although discouraging at times, I couldn’t be happier with my experience so far; it feels like a whole new artistic world has opened up to me…the proverbial kid in the candy store phenomenon. I feel reinvigorated creatively, which any artist knows is a joyous feeling, and I’m excited to see how this new painting discipline evolves my artistic vision.

For now I’m still entrenched in the learning curve, looking forward to each new (and challenging)

outing, where I’m slowly gaining the experience needed to bring this vast new body of knowledge back into the studio for larger and more ambitous works in my usual indirect layering technique (ala the Hudson River School methods).

So here are my favorite plein air studies from this summer, a few of them completed at an incredibly fun workshop taught by Thomas Kegler in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. All are oil on panel and sized either 8 x 10 or 9 x 12 inches.

 

purple trail-lowres

“Purple Trail”, Sleeping Giant State Park, CT

"Muddy Creek", Lockhart State Park, TX

“Muddy Creek”, Lockhart State Park, TX

"White Mountains Sunset", North Conway, NH

“White Mountains Sunset”, North Conway, NH

"Cathedral Ledge After A Storm", North Conway, NH

“Cathedral Ledge After A Storm”, North Conway, NH

bridge and creek 8-15-lowres

“Bridge To The Studio”, Lockhart, TX

"The Hill Country From Mt. Bonnell", Austin, TX

“Hill Country Sunset From Mt. Bonnell”, Austin, TX

Perception of Being Recap

Last night was the opening reception at Mindzai Creative for my new painting series, and so today I’ve posted all 20 pieces to my gallery. Several of the originals sold at the opening (thanks to those collectors!) and are marked accordingly in the image gallery, as are the ones still available (email to inquire on those).

If you’d like to display all 20 paintings, I have an 18 x 24 poster featuring the entire series, limited to an edition of 100. These are printed on standard semi-gloss poster paper, and are priced at $20.00 each, plus $10 domestic shipping to cover a mailing tube and postage. Email me through the contact link in the upper right corner to order one.

pobposter1-lowres

I’ve also printed archival giclees of 4 of my favorite pieces on thick watercolor paper at actual size (9 x 12 inches), limited to editions of only 10 each (signed and numbered). These are priced at $80.00 apiece, plus $10 domestic shipping to cover a mailing tube and postage. Email me through the contact link in the upper right corner to order one.

POBprints

Giclee prints of images 5, 6, 7, and 19 from the series.

Thanks to everyone who’s bought posters and prints so far, and to all who came out to the opening last night, the support is truly appreciated!

 

For more insight into the series, here’s my artist statement about the work:

“Perception of Being”

New works by Nicholas Baxter

 

“The heart has a natural capacity to find the eachness of things, to experience an intimacy with each particular event. The ancient Greeks called this capacity ‘aithesis.’ Developing the capacity for aithesis allows the unique living essence that is present in all things to flow into the human through the organ of perception that is designed to receive it—the heart.”

–Stephen Harrod Buhner

 

The heart has been regarded throughout history and across many cultures as the emotional and feeling center of the human—an intelligent organ of perception. Modern science has corroborated this ancient understanding by measuring emotion-based changes in the electromagnetic fields generated by the heart, with researchers going so far as to conclude that the heart’s own nervous system is so complex and intricate that it qualifies as a second brain.

Phenomenologist author David Abram writes, “We are organs of this world, flesh of its flesh” to describe the inverse of our mainstream logic: that the world we are embedded in, indeed the entire universe, is experiencing itself through us, via our own feelings and perceptions. And so universal feelings like joy, anger, and sadness find individual expression through the unique interfaces of our own consciousnesses, completing the interdependence of the individual and the whole, the merging of finite and infinite, micro and macro, an illustration that each of us are miniature holographic reproductions of the cosmos we inhabit and are made from.

We are thus immersed in an infinitely complex yet subtle energetic field from conception until death. Under the dominant material-reductionist paradigm of modern civilization, however, this aspect of existence is often ignored and denigrated. Esoteric feeling states are what language and hard science still, after many generations, struggle to describe and convey; indeed, words often drown out the delicate perceptions of the heart, and measurements merely quantify.

Where words and numbers fail, images and symbols may begin to succeed in describing and conveying the rich ether of our interior experience, the directly felt human condition, an ephemeral shifting myriad of momentary perceptions and feelings. There comes a time in many lives when exploration and recognition of these are necessary to reconnect the individual with a sense of purpose, meaning, or simply an appreciation of their own humanity. In describing and documenting these feeling states—through whatever medium or means necessary—we move toward the truth of self-knowledge and the integration of wisdom. This state of increased awareness comprises the path towards embodiment of our fullest human potential.

This collection of paintings is not definitive nor complete, merely an attempt to portray a portion of the vast internal experience of being human, through the visual manipulation of a simple and universally recognized symbol. Each heart is situated within a field of pure white, which represents the clear, unfettered and undisturbed awareness that resides beyond the level of ego and emotion. Our consciousness and its tendencies, perceptions, feelings, and emotions are the splashes of color, pattern, and form that populate this great expanse of unconditioned possibility.