Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Meetinghouse Road Pond - Dove

Meetinghouse Road Pond
painting at Plein Air Brandywine 2018
along Meetinghouse Road in West Chester, PA on Oct 30, 2018
10" x 7" (w x h), Daniel Smith, Schmincke Horadam, and
Winsor & Newton watercolors, selected for light fastness and
permanence, and Uniball waterproof fade proof ink on 140 lb.
Arches cold press fine grain 100% cotton watercolor paper
exhibited at Plein Air Brandywine 2018 at Winterthur
framed, including sales tax + shipping $155.00

It was the afternoon. I'd just finished a panoramic watercolor up the road at Worth Farm. I had less than an hour at the next Plein Air Brandywine site before I was due to paint at the Quick Draw. I took in the scene alongside the road and set up. I painted a pictorial watercolor as a quick twenty-five minute sketch, figuring out the scene. With only fifteen to twenty minutes left, I painted the final work, simplifying the elements, seeing the shadowed hay rolls as shapes, design, the pond as a colorful anchoring elliptical, the hills dressed in autumn colors departing, all of this as I looked into the sun, catching the shape of a partial highlight reflection in the pond. The lack of time, the required speed, kept my brush strokes to a productive minimum, as seen above. I packed up and dashed off, everyone else, long gone.

I'm often amused and bemused by comments on my art, comparing it to certain known masters, what we're familiar with. It's a complimentary comparison, yet one's work is always one's own style. Notable examples of comments are:

Billy Bauer, commenting on my painting and my use of line with watercolor during his Montpelier, Vermont figure group, in 2016, said, "Got a little Matisse thing going here." -Billy Brauer, Warren Vermont, Web Site HERE, Article HERE

David Dewey, commenting on my paintings, having previously compared one to the English painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, said, "That's your Turner," and later during the wrap up to his workshop, on three paintings, August 12, 2017, having previously compared my watercolors to John Marin's work, now said, "These are wonderful ideas, the spirit of the color, the swirling, the dancing, the theater in the round, they have spirit, the whole movement, less John Marin, more Arthur Dove." -David Dewey, Owls Head, ME, Artist's Web Site HERE

And the other day in an email response on November 14 to Meetinghouse Road Pond PM, artist-illustrator Julie Brillhart wrote, "Love this painting. Looks like Arthur Dove!" -Julie Brillhart, New Castle, NH artist, illustrator, books on amazon HERE

With the Dove comments, I was curious. So, I looked at the work of...

Arthur Garfield Dove (American, 1880-1946).

Square on the Pond
Arthur Garfield Dove (1880-1946)
Wax-based paint on canvas, 28" x 20" (w x h), 1942

Museum of Fine Arts Boston, on view
Arthur Dove was a central member of Alfred Stieglitz's group, the first moderns in American art. The collective broke away from representational and narrative art, created works that were innovative and often abstract in terms of their style, color, composition, and forms.

Sun on the Lake
Arthur Garfield Dove (1880-1946)
Transparent and opaque watercolor, pen and
black ink on paper, 8" x 6" (w x h), 1938
Medium or Technique
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

MFA notes:
Dove painted Sun on the Lake, the watercolor study (above) and the oil (below), in 1938, the last year he lived in Geneva, New York. His composition was likely inspired by nearby Seneca Lake, but the exact location is unimportant. The elements of the scene were those that Dove had worked with frequently throughout his career: the sun or the moon as a subject, often with water. These provided him with the tools to explore infinite variations of color and shape. The Sun on the Lake art looks forward to Dove's last decade of work when his paintings were powerful, densely colored, and spare.

In the late 1930s Dove based many of his compositions on small watercolors which he sketched out of doors Sun on the Lake was used as a study for his oil. The images are closely related, but Dove used to advantage the qualities of each medium. In the watercolor, the white of the paper evokes the sun's rays dancing on the water's surface, whereas in the oil painting, Dove employed lighter blues to suggest light on the lake.

Sun on the Lake
Arthur Garfield Dove (1880-1946)
Oil, wax, and resin on canvas, 36" x 21" (w x h), 1938
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, on view
MFA notes:
In his images of nature, Dove sought out underlying formal and color relationships and his compositions often bordered on the completely abstract. In Sun on the Lake, however, his subject is simplified but recognizable. Bands of limited hues subtly play off each other in the rhythms of water, sky, and sun. Closer scrutiny reveals the artist's careful, sophisticated study of pure color as light, especially in the blues of the sky and the undulating waves of the lake.

Dove investigated different media throughout his career. He often combined different materials-metal, oil paint, gauze, sand-but by the mid-1930s, he had changed the physical make-up of his paint. His experiments began after he read a 1934 translation of Max Doerner's The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting, in which the author described the "misty, pleasingly dull and mat appearance, and great brightness and clarity" an artist could achieve by mixing oil, wax, and resin together. The effect of these mixed ingredients can be seen in Sun on the Lake, where they serve to enrich the tones of each band of color, while creating the feeling of the overall brilliance of the light.

Arthur Garfield Dove (1880-1946)
Pastel on composition board mounted
on wood panel, 22" x 18" (w x h), 1911-12
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago

Having invented his own visual language by melding organic shapes, natural hues and radiant light, Dove moved his family to Westport, Connecticut., where his success as a painter was evenly matched by his failure as a chicken farmer. By 1918, he was forced back to New York to earn a living as a commercial artist. In 1921, he left wife Florence to live with artist Helen "Reds" Torr, whom he would marry in 1932, maintaining a devoted, if impoverished, relationship until his death. The couple lived on a 42-foot yawl that they docked at various ports on Long Island Sound until, in 1929, they moored at the Ketewomoke Yacht Club in Halesite, where they lived in the custodian's quarters in exchange for upkeep until 1933. -Los Angeles Times

Naples Yellow Morning
Arthur Garfield Dove (1880-1946)
Oil on canvas, 35" x 25" (w x h), 1935
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia

Naples Yellow Morning derives its title from the color used by the old masters, Naples Yellow. By placing short, thinned, almost translucent brushstrokes over underlying hues of different intensity, Dove discovered that he could create the impression that the thick warmth of the sun was literally impregnating the forms in his composition. He's acknowledged as one of the first artists to work in this modern manner.

Like his friends John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe, Dove revitalized American landscape painting by transcribing his responses to natural motifs through increasingly personal, simplified, and witty paintings and drawings.

Red Sun
Arthur Garfield Dove (1880-1946)

In Red Sun, Arthur Dove created a visual contrast that shows nature's balance in cycles of light and dark. Dove attempted to penetrate outward appearances to reveal the secretive interior of nature. Like other works during this period, undulating lines and shapes of earth and sky symbolize forces of nature, a theme that became most apparent in Dove's work during the 1930s.

Arthur Garfield Dove (1880-1946)
Wax emulsion on canvas, 32" x 24" (w x h), 1943
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington

The sale of the family properties in 1938, along with the end of the Depression, left the Doves with barely enough money to buy their final home and studio, an abandoned post office near a tidal pool in Centerport, Long Island. The following year, at age 59, he suffered his first heart attack and was diagnosed with Bright's disease, a kidney condition exacerbated by years of heavy drinking. Despite his illnesses, he continued to paint, often inspired by the seasonal effect on the willows and water outside. The simplified, geometric shapes of his last paintings reflect his desire "to clarify" as he said, "the point where abstraction and reality meet." -Los Angeles Times

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