Friday, January 27, 2017

Snow Pile

Snow pile, gouache, 5 x 8 inches. 
The old pile of snow crouches at the edge of the parking lot, gritty at the edges, slowly melting toward a drain, and dusted with the whiteness of yesterday's fresh snowfall.

I choose to paint it for a practical reason: it's visible from my car in the parking lot where I'm waiting for Jeanette to do the hunting and gathering.

But I also like it because it's an overlooked subject, something artists don't usually paint. Unlike an "artistic" subject like a Venetian canal or a Maine seascape, there are no artistic precedents here. It's virgin territory.

It speaks to me for other reasons, too. Anything in nature that is white—such as a cloud, a breaking wave, or snow—reflects the dynamic light conditions of the scene. The sun is coming partially through high clouds from the right. The up-facing planes on the left side of the pile are cooler and a little darker.

I'm also fascinated by the contrast between the fractal-organic forms of the snow and the rectilinear lines of the parking lot. I greatly simplify the background to put the focus on this contrast.

Finally, the infinite complexity of the surface suggests the passage of time. The shape of it even changes a lot during the 45 minutes I'm sitting here. It speaks to the dynamic interplay of elemental forces and the impermanence of all external forms.
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Two artists who I admire who paint similar kinds of scenes of the built environment.
Andrew Haines and Scott Lloyd Anderson

11 comments:

Pilgrim said...

Interesting, like Andy Goldsworthy's work.....

Steve said...

Great practice for those icebergs you may someday paint. Frederic Church would be proud, as would Rockwell Kent.

I think I've mentioned this before, but it's good to know others use the term "hunting and gathering" for store expeditions.

Once again, you've shown us the potential in an overlooked subject. Thank you.

Sheridan said...

You have a great eye for picking the mundane things that many of us would overlook. It's a good composition too, and especially like the small patches of bright accent in the lot striping and stop sign.

Rick Majors said...

It looks like a model of the mountains as they look right now here in sothern California. There has been so much snow that the rocky features do not show at all.

Ethan Davison said...

Beautiful painting!

I wanted to make you aware of something, awhile ago you talked about a fantastic book by The Illustrated Press on Dean Cornwell. I was among those that missed the chance to get the book. Because of high demand though The Illustrated Press has begun a Kickstarter page for a chance to have another 1,000 copies printed. They have 9,153 out of the 10,000 they're looking for. Maybe you could mention this on your blog to draw attention to this opportunity? I'm not affiliated with The Illustrared Press, just hoping for the chance to get the book :)

Ruth Squitieri said...

"overlooked subject" - you ain't kidding! You got the light spot on! It looks absolutely fabulous.

WW said...

This wonderful little study and your accompanying text speaks volumes. Great post.

My Pen Name said...

reminds me of Duher's clump of turf in the sense that 99% of less observant artists would pass it over and sigh 'there's' nothing interesting to paint.

Great artists find and see the beauty in things other people can't

Adar Darnov said...

How many artists could paint a clump of snow and get so many great comments? :)

James Gurney said...

Adar, the wonderful comments on this blog is more a tribute to this blog's followers more than to my paintings. Anyhow, I'm grateful for them, even if I don't always chime in.

My Pen, I love the fact that Durer put his attention on something so lowly as a clump of turf. I was thinking of Adolph Menzel, too, who drew a muddy road, an unmade bed, and even his own foot. There are many recent artists such as Antonio Garcia Lopez who often paint commonplace or "ugly" subjects, too, and their view fascinates me too. But largely our ordinary world is mostly untouched by artists.

Thanks, Walter.

Ethan, thanks for reminding me. I'll do something about the project tomorrow, because at the moment it's so close and yet so far...

Rick, yes, I love snow piles when they erode a bit and take on the same forms of larger mountains. Sometime I might do a stop motion movie where a little character climbs a snow pile like it was Everest.

Pilgrim, I love AG's work, but it's been a while since I checked it out.

Steve, Freddie Church was the ultimate. I love the way he hired a ship to take him on a painting expedition!

Ethan Davison said...

Thank you so much for the reply and taking an interest! I've been following this blog for years and this was the first time I commented, I think I may comment more often ;)