Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Feature in American Painting Video Magazine!

I am very happy to say that my work and the Lennox Woods project in particular are featured in the fall issue of American Painting Video Magazine! APVM is a quarterly video publication founded and curated by artist Michael Klein. It features realist artists and their work. The  fall issue includes features on many wonderful artists such as Julio Reyes, John Morra, ACOPAL's exhibit in Beijing, Douglas Fryer, and others. I am honored to be included!

The issue is available on the APVM website  and can be viewed for free online or downloaded for $12.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Work in Progress

This is a painting I have had on the easel since early this year. It is the first of the larger works I am completing for my Lennox Woods solo show in 2014. At 48 x 64 it is the smallest of the six or seven large paintings I have planned to anchor the 50 piece exhibition. I completed the underpainting on this one early in the spring, but other things kept me from making any more progress on it until recently.

All of these images can be clicked for a larger view.

This is one of the value studies I did when working out the idea of the piece. This is graphite. At this point I am working out the design in the proportion I plan to use for the large canvas.

After deciding on a design, I did a monochromatic study in oil .  Not a great image, a little glare.

Here is a grid on tracing paper. I laid the tracing paper over the oil study and drew a simple grid. This gave me some measuring points for placing the horizon and main forms on the larger canvas. I didn't draw a grid on the larger canvas because I really didn't need it but also because parts of my canvas will remain transparent in the final piece and I didn't want the grid to show. So, I just used the distances indicated by the grid (each 3" square would translate to a 8" square on the larger canvas) eyeballed it and measured using the proportions from the smaller study.

Here are the grid and the study on the easel next to the larger canvas.
Here is one days work on the larger canvas. 48 x 64. I lightly indicated where the horizon line was, the main tree shapes. Then I started using a wipe out method in the background using transparent paint (Vasari Shale) which was applied with a rag. The trunks will eventually be darker but at this stage I just wanted to get the placement organized. I started on the dry brush in the foreground before I stopped for the day. The toned triangular area in the foreground will eventually be covered with some opaque paint, then glazed (suggestions of leaf litter and forest floor clutter).

Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph the progress on the underpainting, but here it is completed. At this point I was beginning to change the direction of the light. Initially I had planned to have the light coming from the left and illuminating the main tree trunk. While I was working on the underpainting, I decided to change that plan and create a softer backlit scene. I also decided I wanted to open up the woods a bit more, creating more distance between the trees in the foreground and the trees in the distance. The underpainting is really the last opportunity to make those sorts of changes so I take my time and try to pay attention rather than just slavishly following my studies. 

Here is the piece after I have put a first layer of paint on the tree trunks in the foreground, a couple of layers of paint on the foreground, and also put in a first layer of paint in the sky and carved out some negative spaces in the distant trees

A detail of the near trees on the left side. These are American Hornbeams which abound in Lennox Woods. They have a distinctive fluted sort of trunk and are part of the understory trees throughout the Woods. This is just a first layer of paint. Many more to come.

Here is a detail of the sky and distant trees.

A detail of the main tree trunk, a white oak, in the foreground. Again, just the first layer of paint.

This is the foreground area depicting the forest duff- which is sometimes several feet deep in Lennox Woods!

I hope to have this piece finished by year end. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Methods & Mystery

This past month, we put together  a video about my methods and process for landscape painting in general and the Lennox Woods work in particular. Hope you enjoy! If you do, please consider sharing it with the share buttons at the bottom of the post. Thanks for watching!

Lennox Woods- The Ancient Forest- Process from Deborah Paris on Vimeo.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Video

This month we did an interview in the studio. Allen put together this video which tells a bit more about Lennox Woods, my thoughts on the project and the exhibition.  If you enjoy it, please consider sharing it via the share buttons at the bottom of the post!

The Ancient Forest-desktop from Deborah Paris on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Work

Autumn Arrangement
20 x 16

As I have mentioned, I have resigned myself to painting at least a season behind what is actually happening in the Woods. My field work- drawings and color sketches- keep me busy gathering reference and ideas for finished work. As I work, I also am working on studio paintings from previous seasons. In this particular case, I am two seasons behind!

Here is the underpainting for this piece. I use a dry brush technique and keep the paint transparent at this stage. I use a cloth to wipe out lights and create the drawing of the foreground elements. This particular one was done in the studio but for a small painting like this I may do the underpainting onsite.

The challenge in this piece was to retain the atmosphere and mood, while creating more detail and drawing in the foreground elements.

Here are a few details. I used opaque mixtures to define the foliage in the foreground, keeping the shadow areas transparent.

The trees in the distance were scumbled numerous times and sky color dragged over their edges too.

The trunk of the foreground tree was done with opaque mixtures laid on in discreet strokes to mimic the bark of this hickory tree.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Luna Moth Hunt!

(photo credit: Steve Whalen)

It is spring in Lennox Woods. That means many things, among them, luna moths! Luna moths are glorious large pale green moths which inhabit woodlands of deciduous trees. As caterpillars, they especially like hickory and sweet gum, which we have an abundance of at Lennox Woods. The moths emerge in the spring for about one week to mate, lay eggs and then die. So the opportunity to see them is quite limited.

This past Wednesday evening Dr. William Godwin, an entomologist and curator of the East Texas Natural History Collection in Frost Hall at Jarvis Christian College at Hawkins, Texas , and our friend B.F. Hicks from Mt Vernon, TX, an amateur naturalist, came out to the Woods for a luna moth "hunt". Other friends from Clarksville and Mt Vernon joined us, and of course Allen Phillips was there to capture it all on film. (Photo credits below: Allen Phillips)

Dr. Godwin set up a mercury vapor light and several sheets to reflect the light. He explained that we would attract all sorts of interesting insects (which we did) but that the moths generally come out after about 9:00 PM.

It just so happened that an almost full moon framed by beautifully illuminated clouds kept us entertained while we waited for the moths to arrive. And when they did, they came in droves! We had as many as forty or fifty fluttering around the light and in the woods nearby. It was magical!

I plan to do a series of drawings, dry points and etchings of the flora and fauna of the Woods as part of the exhibition, so the luna moths will certainly make an appearance in my work. Allen is preparing a film clip of the evening's activities which I'll post soon.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Studio Visit & Interview With Paula Tillman

In late February Paula Kornye Tillman, owner of Galerie Kornye West, and gallery assistant Kelli Cotten traveled to northeast Texas for a studio visit and to see Lennox Woods. The following video is an excerpt of an interview filmed by Allen Phillips. Paula discusses the project and why she feels it is important.

Paula Kornye Tillman interview from Deborah Paris on Vimeo.

Paula and Kelli visited the studio to see work in progress, a few finished pieces and talk about the project.

After a delicious lunch in the studio provided by Steve, we headed out to the Woods for a few hours.

Later that evening, Steve and I hosted a sit down dinner at the historic Lennox House in Clarksville. It was a festive evening with several paintings on display and Allen's Ancient Forest video playing on a flat screen in the sitting room of the house. Steve and our "foodie" friend Anne Evetts cooked a delicious meal for 15 guests including presidents of the Historical Societies for Clarksville and Mt. Vernon, a trustee of the Lennox Foundation, Paula and Kelli and other guests from Clarksville.

It was a wonderful kick off for the project and a good opportunity for Paula to see the Woods and to understand my passion for this project.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bare Trees

Edge of the Woods - Dusk
18 x 24

Spring is coming to Lennox Woods. A light haze of budding out branches envelops the Woods in a shear whisper of pale greens and reds. But, I am still painting autumn and winter. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be painting at least a season behind for the next 18 months or so. Of course, I am gathering reference in the form of drawings and studies with the season, but finished studio work moves at a slower pace.

So even though the trees in the Woods are budding out, those in my studio are bare. Or, they are autumn trees losing their leaves rather than leafing out. One of the challenges I worried about was how to depict nearer bare trees without noodling them to death and perhaps spoiling the mood and look I am after. The answer was found in drawing them (like the answer to so many other things!).

All images can be clicked on for a larger view.

Well, not just drawing, but it starts with drawing. The treatment of the nearer trees really is more of a drawing issue. You want to show the roundness of the tree by making sure your limbs and branches come out from the trunk in all directions. You have to think carefully about the smaller limbs and twigs and really design them as well. I will usually leave that until I have painted the sky a couple of times and I am getting toward the end. I will also then, scumble back over them to keep them soft but not obliterate them. And the edges, while soft, aren't completely lost.

What I found was that drawing them really helped because I got comfortable with the form and their gesture, then when I needed to simplify and edit out all the clutter I had a much better idea of how to do that.

As you go back into the picture plane and you are massing the trees, then the solution becomes more of a painting issue. In that case I will often have to come back in and put the tree tops back in after painting the sky, then glaze and scumble over the whole thing once its dry.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming to the Woods

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

When I first went to Lennox Woods although I was entranced with the beauty of the place, I could not have then anticipated its effect on me. After all, I spend a lot of time in woods and fields, outdoors, looking. But, within the forest there is something new to be learned. So I returned, and will continue for all the reasons Thoreau did and for some of my own.

Nothing happens there of any importance, at least by the standards of the world. It is quiet, but not silent, and within that quiet is a constant hum of energy and life. You just have to listen and look.

That's what I did at first, to the exclusion of everything else. It took a while to hear the sounds and actually see what was there. Slowly, the Woods started to reveal themselves to me. This took some time. At that point I began to sketch and look for motifs to paint. But, still mostly just looking. The season was changing from summer to fall and every visit offered new ways to look at the Woods and new color harmonies. Even the sound of the Woods changed with the season. So I kept looking and listening.

value study, graphite

pen and ink

sweetgum trunk study, pen and ink

Then I started to draw. Drawing is the way I introduce myself to a place. It's the way I study it and try to understand it. And because it slows me down, I always learn a lot about not only what I draw, but the place, and what I want to say in paint about it.

oil study

The drawings have a life of their own as works of art, but of course they also form the basis of paintings- ideas for paintings and reference for individual elements. I hope to have them and the ideas they represent stacked up like cordwood, keeping me warm and productive in the studio for a long time to come.

Autumn Sunrise, Lennox Woods
18 x 24

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snow at Lennox Woods!

All winter I have been hoping we would get snow this year. It usually snows each winter once or twice. But not always, and it doesn't last long. So when the forecast called for snow Sunday night, I went on alert. I woke about 4 AM Monday and sure enough, there were a couple of inches on the ground. I intended to wake Steve around 6 so we could get to the Woods by dawn, but he was up before then and we headed out about 6:30. It was about 35 degrees and still lightly snowing.

As luck would have it, Allen Phillips (the filmmaker for the project) was out of town! I texted him on the way and just before we lost the signal, he texted back "No way!". So, the video you see here is just a few minutes of the roughly one hour of video we took. Hopefully Allen can turn it into something a bit more artistic!

It looked just the way I had imagined it would. And it was so quiet. It always is, but the snow and heavy atmosphere muffled all the usual forest sounds.

Untitled from Deborah Paris on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lennox Woods-The Ancient Forest Video

Untitled from Deborah Paris on Vimeo.

The Lennox Woods Project

Autumn Sunrise- Lennox Woods
18 x 24

I am so excited to announce the Lennox Woods Project. Over the next 18 months or so, we will explore and record the pristine beauty and magnificence of the Lennox Woods Preserve in northeast Texas. Underwritten and sponsored by Galerie Kornye West of Ft. Worth, Texas, the project will encompass over fifty works of art- including paintings, drawings, etchings and drypoints-to be be exhibited in multiple venues during 2014 and beyond. A film documenting the project will be shown at the exhibitions and film clips from throughout the project will appear on this blog over the course of the next year. A full color catalog will be produced which will include a DVD of the project film and other content. This blog will chronicle the course of the project, recording what happens in the Woods, in the studio and elsewhere in connection with this unique multi disciplinary project.

Although the Lennox Woods Preserve is only about 10 miles from my home/studio I visited it for the first time in late summer 2011. Northeast Texas is full of beautiful woods, huge trees, and streams, and I had spent the last five years painting mostly what could be explored within a few miles of my studio. My husband Steve visited the Preserve with friends one weekend in late summer. He thought it would be the perfect subject for a large body of work and a major exhibition. I was skeptical. But, when I stepped into Lennox Woods I knew I had come to a place that is unique and special.

As an old growth forest Lennox Woods presents an opportunity to step through a door to an earlier time. Unlike other old growth or ancient forests like the redwoods, Lennox Woods represents not what is unusal but rather what was common, and is now rare.

Honestly, I have a difficult time describing the effect of the Woods on me. When I first went to the Woods I began to consider what I might have to say about them in paint. I worried at first that there might not be enough material for a large series of work, and then I worried that there was too much. For the first month, I simply observed, walking, listening, closely looking at every little thing. The more I did that, the more I noticed, the more I understood, and the more I fell in love.

Slowly, I began to draw and then to paint. I took these first attempts and other treasures, like pine cones and leaves, rocks and pine needles back to my studio. I went back again and again, waking early as late fall approached, knowing that fog might envelop the Woods. I wanted to miss nothing. I wanted to see each leaf fall.

Steve encouraged me to dream big about what was possible. We drove to the Woods in fog and rain and he waited patiently at the truck while I wandered around exploring. He shot some of the original footage we took at the Woods and acted as lookout and bodyguard for wild pigs that happen to cross our path. He has come up with wonderful ideas for how to promote the project and expand its reach.

When Paula Kornye Tillman and I first began to discuss this project, I honestly wondered if I could convey to her what I saw and how compelling this place is to me. After all, at that point, I had only drawings and a few field sketches to show for months of intense observation and study. But, Paula understood immediately and embraced my vision for a large exhibition and desire to bring in other artistic disciplines to document and enrich the project.

Soon after, Steve recruited Allen Phillips to document the project. Allen's creative and unique talent and his deep roots in the northeast Texas soil make him the perfect partner in this endeavor.

I hope you will join us in the journey!

Deborah Paris
February 2012
"In our current culture, all too often, we think that everything that needs exploration and examination in nature has been discovered. It is true that our natural areas in the United States have been mapped and explored, but that should really be the first chapter in our book of appreciating, understanding, and preserving our natural surroundings. That is why Deborah Paris’ Lennox Woods project is so worthy of our attention. Deborah is continuing the 19th century tradition of artist/explorer that was so essential in bringing to the attention of the American public the value of nature in our own back yards. I invite you to join us in a year long journey, as seen through the artist’s eyes, as she interprets this ancient forest in our own Texas. Let’s take the time to watch, listen, and learn about Lennox Woods and in turn be the recipients of the bountiful gifts these ancient woods hold for us. "

Paula Kornye Tillman
Art Historian/ Gallery Owner
February 5, 2012