Spring Bluff Paintings


Bird on Spring Bluff Birdhouse

These two came home to me from the gallery in Chicago that represented me for several years.  It was a very enjoyable association.  The owner once told me that she would never carry abstract art, but sadly, she has been forced to as that is what people want to buy.  It is called “wall decoration”, now, not art.  I suspect this comes from HGTV, with every single show selling pretty much the same look.  Stylish, certainly, but also generic.  Paintings, if the designers use them at all, are mere smears of color, as if to actually look at a painting would require entirely too much time and effort.  Well ok.  By contrast I just watched “Monuments Men”, about the effort to save art toward the end of WWII.  Wow! What a beautiful movie.  I found it deeply moving that a group of men would risk their lives to save art.  Granted it was great art.  But I couldn’t help thinking that when Rembrandt was painting his self-portrait, he wasn’t thinking that one day it would be considered a masterpiece worthy of going to war over.  It is an intimidating thought.

unboosted SB

Anyway, when these two came home I studied them and thought they could use some tweaking.  I wanted to blue the grasses on the far side of the water and warm up the vegetation in the forerground.  Both of these were very dark before.  Now I wonder if they aren’t too bright and busy.  Hmmm.  Another thing I notice about both of them, from pretty much the same spot at Spring Bluff, is that they are composed of bands going across the canvas.  When reading a post from Rick Braveheart’s excellent blog, I was reminded that one should lead the eye into the scene.  Here I seem to be saying, “Look, but don’t come in.”

In any event they are off to another gallery tomorrow so I’ll varnish them tomorrow and move on to new canvases, bearing in mind what I’ve learned.

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11 thoughts on “Spring Bluff Paintings

  1. I love the tree swallow with it’s box and environment. While I do understand the concept of leading the viewer into a photograph or painting, I also believe that having lines or layers in an image is good movement and invites the viewer to look around some. Rules are to be broken and if the broken rule works that is what is important. I don’t see a problem with your use of the layers here…it is a way of treating a landscape. I bet your bird box and swallow would look great with a path leading into the painting or even your layers going into the work but I do like it just the way it is.

    On the subject of HGTV….it is a great resource for people, but I have witnessed firsthand in our furniture and window treatment business the trouble a little information can cause when it is taken too literally. Knowledge is good, but there is a reason people study interior design for years.

    • Hello Steve,
      Thank you for your feedback. I was looking forward to your thoughts on the matter. I like what you said about the layers being another way of providing good movement. I guess that is what I had in mind when I painted them, and then began to second-guess myself. Here’s to breaking rules, once you know them.
      Oh, yikes, I bet HGTV has caused you no end of headaches in your business! I must confess, I AM an addict! 🙂

  2. Jim in IA says:

    Having not seen the originals, it is hard to say whether you went too far with the touch ups. I like them both as they are.

    Tweaking a finished painting is not something I would think of doing. I guess it isn’t any different from tweaking a photograph months or even years after it was taken. I’ve done that. Since I don’t paint, it didn’t occur to me to do the same with them.

    I hope their new gallery proves rewarding.

  3. Good morning, Jim! Ha, you are right. It usually isn’t a good practice at all and usually when a painting goes out it is pretty much the way I want it. Sometimes, though, I can’t help myself. Sometimes I paint the whole thing out and make an entirely different painting. One of the fun things of the digital age is that technically, the image still exists, at least in the mind of (my) Minolta!

  4. Bob says:

    Malissa, do you generally paint from photographic medium (your Minolta)? I have a specific idea about this. The few paintings I’ve seen of yours I really like, but they do have an unmistakable ‘photographic’ feel to them…bob

  5. When I am in the field, I am looking at things from an artist’s perspective, so the photos I take are composed about the way I intend to compose the painting. I suppose the two feed each other, in that way.

  6. shoreacres says:

    It took me a while to find one of the photos I was looking for. I wasn’t happy with any of them, actually, and most got deleted, but this one remains. Your painting reminded me of it immediately.

    The fact is, nature occasionally presents herself in “layers.” I’ve never found myself put off by that in the real world, and I can’t imagine being put off by such a painting. Anyone can make up a “rule,” but I think it’s better for us to think of them as guidelines. When I started blogging, 95% of the people who had advice to give said, “Never, ever, EVER write anything more than five hundred words. No one ever will read it.”
    Humph. You see how that worked out.

    • The other day I was not able to open the link you sent, but I just did and I see what you mean. layers, just like mine! You are absolutely right, and I am so glad you ignore the writing advice you got. I LOVE your writing!

  7. Andrew says:

    Well Mrs. Ha and I have just done 4 great galleries in Venice and Madrid and we saw our fair share of abstract art. Some of it I would not give wall space to but some was impressive, at least to me. I am not sure whether you consider Paul Klee, Joan Miro, Kandinsky and the like as abstract but they certainly resonated better with me than Shirley, who stuck with van Gogh, Renoir etc. I would certainly hang these in my home if I had space. I prefer the second though. I had to work out what HGTV is. HK doesn’t really do gardens so its mainly just cooking and property porn. And the property is more about location, view and dodgy construction than decor. I guess I look at things with a photographer’s eye and I don’t mind the layers but each person will respond in their own way. If you are satisfied, that is good. We reprocess and reinterpret photographic files so why not paintings?

    • Well, you are absolutely right, there have been some truly great works done in the abstract genre. I would be delighted to own a Pollock, or a Chagall. The abstract I was sneering at is not any effort to carry forth the torch of Art, but merely slabs of color in the name of commerce.

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