Lennart Anderson on Painting from Nature
Still Life with Salami on Red, Plastic Dish w/ Potato and Cherry Tomato by Lennart Anderson (2001, 10 1/2 x 14 inches)
Very interesting read from one of the giants in perceptual painting, Lennart Anderson.
Here is a snip from the article…
For me, painting from nature is akin to playing music. The notes are there. One tries to get them down in the proper proportion to bring out the proper impression. Realizing your palette is limited; it cannot begin to have the richness, the depth from light to dark that nature encompasses or the subtlety of it. Nature seems to strain for its effects and yet it has so much power. One always wants to feel confident that one is painting what one sees but nature is not always what it seems. One seeks to disarm the objects as objects to seek for an agreement of tone that encompasses differences of color that can cross the barriers of object. It is these agreements, these similarities that float in and out that coordinate the work and allow the subject matter to have its eloquence. It amazes me how the same material can be seen in so many different ways all in an honest attempt to see it justly.
Though one is drawn to see more subtly, subtlety often develops as the enemy of the large effect of the motif. The major changes in value are constantly eaten away by the awareness that the darks are being qualified by the pervasive light that is a component of the scene. This is a phenomenon noticed by comparing the motif at a distance of perhaps eight to ten feet. Contrasts are easily seen and darks seem strong but at closer distances it is apparent that light is seeping into them. My effort is to do justice to this problem, to achieve a balance between these opposite effects.
Chardin it is said went over his painting at the end finding unities but I think he also reasserted the strengths in his darks. All things are understood by means of comparison. For in comparison, there lies the power that states that which is more, that which is less and that which is equivalent. It is in the equivalencies that allow the painting to move between and over the objects that constitute the still life.
Still Life with Popcorn Maker by Lennart Anderson (date, dimensions unavailable)
Very interesting read from one of the giants in perceptual painting, Lennart Anderso
Early on, one tries to establish a key for the painting, a key around which one can fashion the scale with which to reach a reasonable facsimile of the tones that exist in the subject. I find this key especially in a painting that is not done quickly can change or better will not find its proper place. I think this has to do with the white ground as it sinks further below the surface transparency resulting from the ground becomes less of a factor and the light emanating from the ground has to be replaced with more solid tones.
It is at this point in my experience, the real key of the picture establishes itself. The white ground, however, has served a purpose. It has kept the key of the painting up, something I am at pains to maintain. Painting from nature is not only copying it but playing on it, going over it, trying it this way or that, suppressing the unnecessary when one realizes what is unnecessary.
… rest of article here
I hope to do another much more engaged post, perhaps interviewing former students, at a later date but having just run across this article I wanted to share it. In the meantime, the Lennart Anderson “web museum” is back on line after being down for awhile and you can see many of his excellent works, some at higher resolution, posted there along with other essays. He also just had a show March 2009 at the Leigh Morse Gallery in NYC
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