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An Extraordinary Week - Part One

en plein air oil painting travel sketching Jul 17, 2021

Forest Path (Route en sous-bois) by Cézanne c. 1890 - Watercolor on paper private collection: Courtesy Jill Newhouse

Had I orchestrated my recent road trip I could not possibly have imagined and created the interweaving of past influences and current explorations ... with the added bonus of amazing companionship and stimulating conversation. My visit to MOMA in New York City to attend the exhibit Cézanne Drawing provided fertile soil for what was to transpire beginning the next morning when I headed north.

Study of Trees (La Route tournante) by Cézanne c. 1904 Oil on canvas Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Lois Orswell Collection

Portrait of a Woman (Madame Cézanne?) 1902-06 by Cézanne - Oil on canvas Collection Stephen Mazoh and Martin Kline

The exhibition was comprised of Cézanne's drawings and watercolor sketches from sketchbook pages and assorted loose paper, including papers that had previously been printed on for commercial purposes. It also included sketches using oil on canvas. Seeing these, especially the oil on canvas, reinforced my belief in the value of sketching daily, using whatever materials are at hand and focusing on individual elements rather than a resolved composition. I almost laughed aloud while watching a video of three framed oil paintings that, when rotated, fit together perfectly, proving that the unique studies (sold as separate paintings) originated on a single canvas as well as having been painted in different orientations.  The cropping and framing was done, not by Cézanne, but by the gallery representing his work.

"Defying convention, his drawings - whether vibrant still lifes, prismatic landscapes, or carefully choreographed bathers - record not only what the artist saw but also the experience of seeing, reflecting the ever-changing nature of perception."

MOMA passage from introduction to the exhibit

The way an artist uses sketchbooks is unique to each artist.  There are no right or wrong ways to use a sketchbook.  It might be a think pad; illustrated journal; idea catcher; a way to test design, composition, shapes, values or colors.  Likewise, loose sheets of paper, cardboard and canvas may be used in the same fashion. Whether the materials are archival or not is of no concern to me when capturing ideas, thoughts and images.  Obviously, it was of no concern to Cézanne either.  

After viewing the exhibit I left the museum and caught the first train back to New Jersey.  I wanted to digest all I'd seen and read. Arriving home before the sun set, I grabbed my oils and a sheet of corrugated cardboard. From the shelter of the garage, I painted a quick sketch of trees being drenched by falling rain.

Drenched Trees - Day 67 #100DaysEnPleinAir - oil on corrugated cardboard

Next morning I drove north to my brother's in New Hampshire to spend a couple of days before heading to South Portland, Maine. The video above is a brief presentation of the plein air paintings created during my seven day road trip.

An Extraordinary Week - Part Two ... will follow in a week or so.  I'll be writing about reconnecting to the influence of the Group of Seven Canadian artists, and to the writing of Emily Carr.


Exciting News

Two live workshop sessions are now scheduled for Oct 4th, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales!

My online courses will be available on two new platforms in the VERY near future!

I leave for Paris on August 1st ... SOOOO happy to be taking to the air again.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Chris Carter

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