Thanks to Plinius I learned about Philippe Jacottet a Swiss born (*1922) French translator and writer (read “Under clouded skies,Beauregard”).
Drawing or painting landscapes is a repetitive tasks and sometimes I ask myself: “why once again,what’ the point.” ?. This question probably comes up more often the older one gets. Last week I picked up the thin booklet with some texts by Jacottet published in German by Ulrich Keicher again, opened it and there it said (excuse my humble translation):
“To believe that everything has been said and that one is too late is for a weak spirit, a spirit the world cannot surprise anymore. Few things namely have been said the way they would deserve it, for the secret truth of the world is a fleeting one and one never must stop to discover, to get close and move away again. Therefore our questions or explorations cannot be delayed; therefore we have to defend ourselves against the inner death that occurs when we believe that all potential surprises have been exhausted”
What or who did surprise you today?
(And, Nonetheless: Selected Prose and Poetry 1990-2009,Phillipe Jacottet, available on amazon)
Lienzingen is a small, picturesque village in our neighbourhood. I have done paintings,monotype prints and drawings of the place, especially of the west view that is fairly unspoiled and shows the traditional, rural organisation of these villages with a belt of houses,barns,shacks and backyard gardens towards the open farm fields. The bell tower of the old church, which is fortified like a small castle, is the landmark you can see from far away.
A bit outside there is a very fine gothic church. The scenery changes over the years. The vegetable gardens, so-called “Krautgärten” are a lot of work to keep in shape. Growing potatoes,beans,cabbage zucchini etc for own demand is less and less popular. I loved to visit thoses places for their summer and autumn flowers such as Cosmea,Hollyhocks,Sunflowers,Dahlias and others. Therefore many of the gardens are left open or change into lawns or parking ground for camping trailers etc. Apart from decaying shacks or barns which are demolished, many small traditional details are lost such as sandstone fence post and wooden fence elements that have to give way to more practical and less serviceable installations.
However it seems there is a slowly growing counter movement, starting from bigger cities for example Munich, where people can rent a patch of land at cheap money for growing their own vegetables and to keep the tradition of the Krautgarden alive.
Some of my earlier drawings of Lienzingen are more than 10 years old already. Sometimes I wish I had put more attention to details for documentary purposes in these works.
See here how the main street of the village Lienzingen looked in 1925. This view has not changed a lot. Although the photograph is a rather boring shot I think it is very valuable today.
The season is changing from summer to autumn. Temperatures dropped considerably over the weekend. The silhouettes of tress looked almost black against the light of pale sun rays breaking through the grey sky here and there.
I stumbled upon a series of astonishingly entertaining and educating videos by a certified forger named John Myatt, a gentleman who spend some time in jail because he got tempted to abuse his obvious talent to emulate other people’s painting style.
I liked this video in particular as I learned something about Hockneys way to achieve a certain look and I find that Mr. Myatt really knows a lot about those artists and has the skill to support and encourage people to try out new, unusual things to develop their own painting skills. Perhaps his method is so interesting because he does not request his workshop attendants to copy rather than to do their own painting, but using a distinct idiom of a famous artist. I did similar exercises in a drawing course which really was interesting and helpful.
In this episode you can see how you can do your own Hockney style pool painting plein air even when the skies are grey. The results are quite baffling.
It was really very chilly on this cold February Sunday morning when I did this small plein air study of bare trees under a grey sky. The rain was drizzling on and off. Each year in February I have enough of the winter season and can’t wait to see the fresh colors of spring. The meadows are so wet that the feet of my chair sank into the clay ground as it was pudding.
Meantime I got a copy of the Kurt Jackson book, which has become my favorite evening read. I regret that the images of the sketchbooks are often cropped and technically refined a bit too much for my taste. But that means nothing compared to the inspiration and motivating energy that the book still can convey to the reader. I love the inventive pencil work and appreciate of course the chapter on trees. Jackson has put some effort in his text which is trying to let the reader take part in the experience of sketching in nature and on his travels. I think that is a major merit of this book and a particular generosity.
I am glad that Jackson’s writing, which accounts for most of the text, is everything else but artsy, which is not natural considered his status in the art world. That helps to get over the introduction essay by art critic Livingston. It has interesting technical information, but also the well-known intellectual praise formulas and art history name dropping that one can usually stand only for 20 minutes on a vernissage.
At the end of the year 2012 I did this plein air study of a neighbour village named Zaisersweiher. The format is mid size ca. 15″X25″ , a bit unusual for me as I prefer small studies for oil pastels. In this case I had in total three sessions sur le motif including some pouring , ice-cold rain and hail mixture which I survived under a big spruce tree and my field umbrella.
It is possible to get that good old impressionistic oil color look with my favorite oil pastel set. It has a range of nice natural greens, browns, red ochres and beautiful greys. I work in several layers to get into the groove towards those muted colours you see in nature.
Below there are some images that show the first steps of the painting on a piece of paper, that was prepared with some old, dried oil color. Later I monotyped over the sketch with a monochrome layer of thinned oil color to mute further down. After that layer had dried I “recovered” the painting slowly step by step.