Monday, November 27, 2017

Thaulow Painting in Snow

Fritz (or Frits) Thaulow (Norwegian 1847-1906) was best known for his paintings of the calm surface of ponds and streams. 

He painted directly from nature, both in the warm months and in the winter. Here he is in the snow with a wooden stool and a tripod easel. 

This sketch in oil shows a snow-covered cottage by a stream.

Probably after returning to the studio, he translated the information of the sketch into a pastel called "Norwegian Winter Landscape." He removed the stump of a tree in the upper right and made the fence a little clearer. 
Previously I did a similar pairing of a sketch and finish by Isaac Levitan in the post: "Plein Air and Poetry"
The blog Lines and Colors has information about Fritz Thaulow with an update that includes a lot of links and resources if you want to find out more.


Sheridan said...

In my observations, sketches, and paintings done on location always have more life and vibrance, than studio works. Probably due in some part because you are capturing what is actually before you, in sight and sense. I noticed in the first work that the fence, and especially the branches on the foreground tree, gave the work a lot of life, and movement that the studio work lacks. I thought it was wise to change out the stump for a tree, but wonder why the decision to do so wasn't made doing the first piece. There always seems to be a delicate balance between what to leave in , and what to leave out, and balancing this with the spontaneous feeling of being in the moment we wish to achieve.

bernicky said...

I prefer the sketch to the studio piece, but it doesn't convey the same coldness as the studio piece. The sketch feels like spring - especially the light - the studio piece feels like January. Wish I had a better vocabulary to say what I'm feeling from them.

Charley Parker said...

Thaulow is one of my favorite painters. No one does small streams better. I think each version has its strengths. The field study is more immediate and visceral, and I like the warmer tree trunk and warm reflection of the building in the water, but the composition of the studio painting is stronger. This is particularly evident in the upper third of the painting, which is a bit congested in the plein air piece and elegantly simplified in the studio work. My choice, though, would be the field sketch.

Bug said...

Thaulow is a superb painter of watercourses...and almost everything else. I suggest that reader of GJ do a search for paintings under his name. They will be amazed by some of those meandering streams.

Leo Mancini-Hresko said...

Ah yes, the age old question of outdoor painting. Finish versus immediacy and urgency, brevity versus extended technique. I am not entirely sure I will ever wrap my head around it- one thing I have observed though is that often artists will prefer a sketch for its freshness, though often a studio piece is sold more readily.

I did a blog post on a levitan where I tracked down pencil sketches, oil sketches and finished studio piece. One lesson I took away from that is to let each thing be its own animal- to not copy literally a sketch on large scale, but to redesign and rethink at each pass.

Strikes me thats what Thaulow has done here, each are successful in their own right -though if I had to own one it might be the sketch ;-)

Sheridan said...

I agree with you Leo that both sketches, and studio works can be successful in their own right. I think the biggest take-away (for me) is that if you do both; is maintaining the "life" for want of a better word, that the sketch so often has. It's kind of like the looser
versus tighter struggle so many of us have. I have yet to hear an artist say, "I need to get tighter". The sketch usually only portrays the basics, because of the time/light/weather constraints. In the studio you can "noodle" on a work until every last detail is rendered to perfection. I think the life that I see in the sketch comes from the fact that not all the visual problems have been solved. The viewer solves some of the visual questions for themselves, which (I think) makes them more involved, and also more interested.

Nice to have this discussion. Thanks for the post James.

Steve said...

The line of footprints in the sketch seem more vivid, a touch I like. They help give a sense of stronger light.

Charley Parker said...

I have some resources for Frits Thaulow on Lines and Colors: There is a fairly long list of image resources at the end of this article:

James Gurney said...

Thanks for the reminder, Charley. In my haste I forgot to check your wonderful blog. I've added those links to the end of the post.

I also added a link to a previous post I did comparing a Levitan sketch with the finish. Thanks for the reminder, Leo.