Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Artist and His Muse - Dutch Ridge, Cedar Lake





I paint what I see as I find it in nature, mostly. I never paint it exactly, I pick and choose elements I like, move a tree here or there, add more interest to the clouds. Do some rearranging and compose some harmony out of all the chaos to make visual sense to me.

What I always strive to do is stay true to the original idea, in it is the source of inspiration.

Without inspiration you are just making marks. No matter what embellishments I may add or take away in a painting, they must support the original concept. What is the painting about, is it the sky? If that is the inspiration, then everything supports that idea. When you know what to emphasize in a scene you understand what elements to manipulate to better communicate the feelings you have about a particular place or time. When its about the mood or feeling of a place then your choices should speak to that connection. That relation is certainly the hardest concept to focus on and express in a painting.




Dutch Ridge, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches, ©Jim Serrett

This becomes the artist-muse relationship, that goal to capture something illusive, intuitive, private, visceral or complex. It becomes a creative force of its own having the power of moving the intellect or emotions.

I am not certain how many sketches and paintings from Cedar Lake I have done; I just know I am not finished.

“I'm not in control of my muse. My muse does all the work.” Ray Bradbury








Muse; noun: Muse; plural noun: Muses; noun: muse; plural noun: muses
1. (in Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
2. a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

synonyms:
inspiration, creative influence, stimulusformal afflatus "the poet's muse"





Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 




Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings






Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Even in Front of Nature One Must Compose.






Nearly all of my work begins with some type of preliminary sketch, either a thumbnail drawing in a sketchbook or oil study in my Pochade Box. Lately I have been spending a great deal of time sketching, gathering information outdoors and drawing from my imagination. Creating small rough abstract sketches to work out composition and design elements. 






Mainly I am using pen and ink with watercolor. I like the ink because you don’t fiddle with it as much as say a pencil sketch, you just have to lay it down with some speed and confidence. It is very permanent mark making and you simply/humbly live with what you put down and move along. Over that I wash in some color, do some crosshatching and try to capture the value and mass pattern. I call them my scribbles; and that is what they are, quick notations of design ideas based on nature.


They are exercises in capturing what I see in front of me from direct observation (the Art of Seeing) but also it is about the simple pleasure of drawing.







I look for a strong arrangement of dark and light patterns, the Japanese use the word Notan which means the "dark-light" harmony.  But a notan is also as much about shape/form, positive/negative, figure/ground relationships. It is why it is such a strong abstract design tool. I like to think of it as being the ying-yang of composition. Ever walk into a gallery full of art and be instantly attracted to a particular piece, drawn to it from across the room? Our eyes are drawn to the strong arrangements of shapes and patterns. As you learn to use this design tool you will recognize it in paintings and drawings of master artists.







Slow down mentally and take a long look at your subject, carefully choose the center of interest or theme of the piece, what it is about, what has drawn you to this motif and design outwards from that point. Simplify and edit down the elements by making them subordinate to that central idea. That is the key to good composition.







It is fun working out compositions and concepts, playing with the elements and ideas based on the anatomy of the landscape. Let them evolve and "brainstorm" many studies, before you know it you will have sketchbooks full of Composition Thumbnails which are a library of knowledge and imagination to work from.

“Even in front of nature one must compose.” ~ Edgar Degas



Color Studies:
Last Light, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in, Jim Serrett

Over the Horizon, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in, Jim Serrett




Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 



Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings



Links:

Notan is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark as they are placed next to the other in art and imagery.





Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thanks for Listening 2016







How very grateful I am for you.

To my dear friends, colleagues, collectors, bloggers and loved ones who made 2016 such a wonderful year, you will never know how much your support is appreciated.

This Blog has been an amazing thing and has served multiple purposes. It has created a creative community of which I am a part and given me a voice to speak about the art I create. It has allowed me to think deeply about my work, art in general and its importance in the world. It has given me a window into the making of my art and by others, and a wealth of information to share and digest. I admit it has been mostly about me, for I benefit the most. But it would not exist without you.

Thank you. Thank you all for your continuing support.


“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”     ---Friedrich Nietzsche






Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Jim



For my loving wife Linda, I know that no words can express how grateful I am for you.
I am a lucky man. 
My goal and promise in life to show you every day how much I love you, appreciate you and cherish you.
All my love, and Happy Anniversary!




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Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 



Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings








Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Studio Paintings - 3 Landscapes






I find trees to be one of the most interesting and complex things to draw and paint, there is just so much variety, from the different species and through the changing seasons they always present a new challenge. I see them as peaceful and contemplative; almost a meditation.

Autumn Shore, oil on panel, 9 x 12 in Jim Serrett







Daytime Moon, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in Jim Serrett

I had read that daytime moon was called a “children’s moon because their eyes were sharp enough to pick it out, where the old folks, with fading vision, could not tell it from the clouds.”

Turns out the prime time for a Daytime Moon is when the Moon gets close to its quarter phases that is the ideal conditions for it to be seen during the day. That is, it is bright enough, far enough away from the Sun to be seen, and rises or sets during daylight hours. When all of these conditions come together, and when the sky is clear enough, the Moon becomes visible during the daytime.


Keep an eye up to the sky, you never know what you might see.








Clouds Over Cedar Lake, oil on panel, 8 x 13 in Jim Serrett

I can spend endless hours watching the ripple rhythm and shadows sail across the lake.

These studio works are created from my Pochade studies, field sketches and my visual memory of an experience. In the studio I hope to let a concept evolve and speak with a little more information and clarity. In these works, I can explore my observations about nature in a more control environment and inject my personal vision and interpretations.

One of the characteristics of oil painting I enjoy most is the ability to create transparent, semi-transparent and opaque layers of paint. Manipulating those qualities can give an image a lot of texture and depth. I like the variation of greens you get with glazes and scumbling effects. You start playing around with the color green differently when you work in thin layers and use it to unify passages. Building up paint in layers of glazes and scumbles provides a arsenal of effects that can create atmosphere in a landscape painting.

I truly enjoy working through an idea with the process of creating thumbnails and roughs. Relying on observations made over time and my memory of the place, it becomes layers of thought, that for me, reach a higher level of understanding and refinement.



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 



Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Four New Pochades





The sky was filled with colors.
The Light of the Sun, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches, Jim Serrett






The sky on the way to the concert……
Tangled Up in Blue, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches, Jim Serrett






At Paul Ice Recreation Area, I did not paint them into this little study but two little ducks were working this cove, diving under water and paddling around. Fun to watch as I painted.
By the Lakeside, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches, Jim Serrett






Quiet moments on the lake - where the only sounds are lapping water on the shore and the whisper of the wind through the trees.
Whispering Cedar, oil on panel, 5 x7 inches, Jim Serrett







Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 



Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings





Thursday, November 10, 2016

Impressions from a Lake





We are having an unusual autumn as the weather seems to be unable to make up its mind, cool then hot sunny days, then gray days without much rain. I think we have had them all. The nice thing is that we have been able to get out on the lakes in the kayaks a bit later this season and enjoy some of the color change.






The Fall color is a bit muted and I have read that this can be blamed on the very dry conditions. We still have quite a few pockets of green with a scattering of rust and earth colors. All of which makes for an interesting contrast of colors on the lakes.





This kind of scenery is perfect for my color choices, I mainly use a earth palette which tends to be more about tones and values than saturation. Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, French Ultramarine is really about all I used on these pieces. These low key earth palettes will make you look closely at building color relationships and thinking about color saturation.




My pochade studies both on location and in the studio, are essential to my artistic development and process. They are where I gain that all important canvas mileage and experiment with color, composition and ideas. I try not to get too caught up if they are good or presentable, but if they answered those basic questions of how and why. How do I paint this to look like that and why am I painting that? 

My oil sketches start very simply with the big patterns of color and shape, looking for the abstract quality that unifies the scene before me. Nature is a highly accomplished organizer and she can be very complex, often it takes careful study to see her design. This is the challenge that keeps us engaged in the creative process. The exploration of light, form, space, and color interpreted through strokes and dabs of paint which communicate a sensual vision of the world. 

And then there is this thought; leave at least some hours in each day to enjoy the nature around you. Tune out from the daily chaos of life, and observe, draw or paint from nature.

Man-made noise is muzzled by nature's silence...









Kinkaid Lake Reflections
Evening Ripples
Johnson Creek
Lake Clouds
All pochades are 5 x 7 inches oil on panel, © Jim Serrett



More information on my color palette here.

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 




Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings




Sunday, October 23, 2016

Silent Clouds – Floating Shadows






I cannot think of a time when I did not find clouds fascinating, as a kid I could spend hours finding images in them. Many lazy summer days were spent laying on the backyard lawn looking for a triceratops or a pirate ship. Today, I admit they still occupy hours of my imagination.

Now I am a bit more analytical about clouds, certainly more interested in their formation and pattern then what animal or thing I see in them.  The type of cloud is important, I make an attempt to name them cumulus, stratus or cirrus. I feel that if the naturalistic observation is truthful, then it is easier to express what you see, think and feel about what is in front of you.

If I study the clouds with that intent - the personality of them tends to come forward. It’s funny how they can be like lead actors in a drama, for they set the mood and temperament. They can be broody or cheerful, dramatic or calm, the entire passing attitude of a day or painting can be changed by a cloud.

These particular clouds had a stillness and mesmerizing silence to them, their shadows moved across the lake in a medley of patterns like a liquid kaleidoscope.  Time seemed to slow or even move backwards somehow, I became closer to that little boy laying in the lawn looking for a triceratops or a pirate ship.


"What amazes me about landscape, landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence where you can truly receive time." - John O'Donohue







Silent Clouds – Floating Shadows, oil on board, 9 x 12 inches © jim serrett







Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 


Links:
Pareidolia ( parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something where none actually exists




Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Perfect Day





The weather this summer has been a bear, just too wet and too dang hot. So my long list of projects only has a few items checked off. The old fence will have to hang on one more winter. We did get in some kayaking and some plein air painting but mostly I did a great deal of sketching. Floating and bobbing around in my kayak with a watercolor kit is a pretty interesting thing to do and a fun way to spend a day.

The piece above was done in the studio based on a series of sketches from the lake. We have probably kayaked around this point a couple of dozen times and have I sketched it undoubtedly as many. So I started this painting with a particular image in mind about this place and the feeling I wanted it to convey.

To help create a sense of depth and light I worked into glazes of oil color. Pushing and pulling the light effect and hopefully captured the end of a perfect day.

Perfect Day oil on panel 9 x 12 inches ©jimserrett




Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 




Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Further on Down the Road II



This is a pastoral scene I trek through several times a month. During the summer there always seems to be a flotilla of clouds sailing slowly across the sky. When I think of the dog days of summer this image always comes to my mind.
   
I really wanted to capture that summer atmosphere and felt that a studio piece was the best way to do that. I created the painting from a pochade study, some watercolor sketches and my memories of this place. 

Further on Down the Road II, oil on panel 9 x 12 inches © Jim Serrett




Oil color alla-prima study 5 x 7 inches


One of the characteristics of oil painting I enjoy most is the ability to create transparent, semi-transparent and opaque layers of paint. Manipulating those qualities can give an image a lot of texture and depth. I like the variation of greens you get with glazes and scumbling effects. You start playing around with the color green differently when you work in thin layers and use it to unify passages. Building up paint in layers of glazes and scumbles provides a arsenal of effects that can create atmosphere in a landscape painting.



Sketchbook watercolor study.




Sketchbook thumbnails.



I truly enjoy working through an idea with the process of creating thumbnails and roughs. Relying on observations made over time and my memory of the place, it becomes layers of thought, that for me, reach a higher level of understanding and refinement.



Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim 




Website - jimserrett.com 
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings




Monday, July 4, 2016

The Fourth of July by Childe Hassam






The Fourth of July by Childe Hassam, 1916, oil on canvas, 36 x 26 inches


This patriotic flag painting was painted by the American Impressionist Childe Hassam (1859-1935).
I believe it to be a street in NY city, one of several pieces he produced in this genre. These are some of the most distinctive and famous works by the artist. There were around thirty painting in his "Flag series". (Notice the flag in the foreground and how it has only 48 stars as Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states in 1916.)  Always an inspiration and one of my favorite artists.


Happy 4th of July!




To learn more about Childe Hassam click this link.




Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 



Website - jimserrett.com
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com 
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings