Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Painting at Pemaquid Point

I had resolved to avoid the familiar subjects here in Maine—things like lighthouses, fishing boats, and waves crashing on rocks. But I was beguiled by the power of the waves at Pemaquid Point, and couldn't resist painting it in gouache.

In the video, I thought I'd try a slightly different kind of voiceover, sort of a video essay that considers the relationship between abstraction and realism. (Link to video on YouTube).


Tom Hart said...

This post is nothing short of beautiful poetry, visually and lyrically.

Daroo said...

This is great -- both the painting and the filmmaking.

Tom Hart said...

The realistic paintings that impress me and influence me the most include passages that are abstract. Sargent's brushwork is one obvious, if sometimes subtle, example. A clearer case would be Leyendecker's work: the slashes of color that make up his fabrics and skin tones. For me, abstract art on its own is, at best, pleasant to view and contemplate. Abstraction in the service of realism offers deeper and more complex layers of interest.

Unknown said...

What a lovely, thoughtful post. My middle schoolers argue about abstraction and realism, and this video will be great at bridging that divide!

Roberto Quintana said...

Very good, James!
The voice over essay is quite effective because, like a good painting, it functions on several levels.
It is descriptive of the action, yet it is able to tell a deeper story which expands the content, both as instruction as to technique, but also philosophically.
I am always fascinated by the disdain and almost hostile attitude so many realist painters have towards abstraction: explorations of shapes and form, materials and mediums, value studies, line quality and textures, color-field explorations, even explorations of alternate perspectives for exploring emotional states and capturing a sense of experience.
Each of these elements, and more, contribute to a successful illustration of reality.
The most successful realistic paintings (inmho) transcend the ‘camera’s view’ and incorporate and explore these abstractions which add poetry and depth to the art. -RQ

Unknown said...

I recently moved to Maine and visited Pemaquid Point a few weeks ago--the rocks there are very beautiful. I'd have been so surprised if I ran into one of my favorite artists there!

James Gurney said...

Tom, well said. I agree. I love the abstractions in Sargent and Leyendecker, particularly when you look at details. I think there's a way of painting (or drawing) realistically where you revel in pure abstraction to the point that the image doesn't even read at first, all make sense. People who do this include J.C. Coll and Jose Segrelles.

Roberto, yes, there should be a bridge of understanding between abstract and naturalist painters, as we have so much in common and can benefit each other. I respect the aims of the early explorer's of abstract painting to find in art something in art resembling the music of Bach or Mozart: pure formal aesthetics. For me there's a strange joy in listening to music with fractal-inspired music visualizers, which would have blown Walt Disney's mind. It's interesting to see those experiments explored in the work of the Fantasia artists, and in sci fi masters like Moebius, Frazetta, and Berkey.

Bryce, I was fascinated by those upthrust metamorphic layers and the light gray cap rock. Would love to know the geologic history of the place.

Thanks, Daroo!

Michael, thanks for sharing with your middle schoolers.

scottT said...

That was wonderful. And cliche or not, you have to admit there is nothing like painting in front of the sea!