Covers August 5th when I arrived in Jiagenba to August 15th, the last day of painting.
August 5th, 2013
Tomorrow’s plan is to go out walking in the morning, come back and rest a bit nad then go out to have lunch and start painting. I still need to work on digesting [what I see] and drawing technique. Canvas is stretched, painting bag is prepared. Feeling is strong.
August 6th, 2013
Slight cold coming on. The weather changes fast so I have to take my jacket out and wear my sweater vest just in case.
I painted two paintings—3 that is—and the two larger ones, one of a group of large trees with dark shadows and one with a group of small slender trees.
I don’t feel at all in control of the paint, the drawing or the color. Really I am back where I started in 2007 in Korea—only I have more painnting experience.
It is clear to me that what is normally tought of as skill or technique is reduced without practice…but equally reduced is instinct. The sensitivity to coolor, composition, drawing—all of the importan decisions that need to be made while painting are redued. So the best ting to do is accept and embrace this fact and be thankful that one’s skills are reduced to something more basic—more instinctual, more base. And let good come from this. If you don’t have the ability to draw, then skip it until it eventually returns, work on color—light effects, emotion and feeling.
And be thankful that you aren’t in a mode of painting but can let every painting be its own experiment.
It is clear to me that previous ways of working are dead and I have not agreed to settle with what I really feel like doing. But it started to come through today. The color, the expressiveness—the wrecklessness. The not being concerned with anything while painting. Yes. It is a struggle.
August 7, 2013
Steady rain still falling. First time I’ve seen a dog jump onto a wall and walk the perameter. Saw first pretty pair of eyes, face covered by a black dust mask, but oh, those eyes. Feeling good about painting—feeling bold, brave, letting the painting go where it wants. The oil mixture has changed things a lot—paint is sloppier—thicker—a bit juicy. Each painting is different, something that I like—says that each one is a different place—a different mood. Still trying to figure out how to use the smaller canvases, might not. 28 paintings would be fine with me.
If the sun comes out tomorrow, I’ll climb that ridge. That’s a good place to do small paintings from. And then that big tree again. Day after tomorrow two canvases over to the large mill by the creek. More trees and then there’s that water—another smaller canvas.
August 8th, 2013
Last night slept horribly. Chest pain or aching that I think was my stomach. Anyway, up all night. So I came out earlier to sit in front of the little shops. There aren’t many people out just lots of dogs. The sky is a blanket that reaches down into the lower hills here and there. The forecast is for rain, but if the sun comes out I’ll take two small canvases up on the hill that looks down over the fields. I feel like something flat and geometric.
After four days I am beginning to feel painting as an experimental process again—I have left the series behind. I have regressed in many ways but it’s a healthy regression. When I see each painting coming out in a different style—a different temperament, then I know that I have freed myself so that I am open to the moment.
August 9th, 2013
Sun is blazing right across the village as high in the sky as the nearest roof, radiant, white light making it hard to see details across the street. Will today be this glorious?
Clouds above me are cotton balls giving way to a strange dark cerelium sky. Near where the sun shines through a sea of low clouds the sky shows through grey. I think only my mind knows it is blue and so I’ll call it blue. But it isn’t at all. Like so many things, trees included, which aren’t green except that we touh its leaves and know they are green. So the tree is green, but it isn’t. It’s a mixture of so many colors—always illusive. I should be painting now, but who would have thought there would be this much sensation on this early morning. I’ll prepare for tomorrow. Small sketches of these phenomenon. Powerful.
I am having fun. My eye is picking up on nuances that it couldn’t when I arrived. It is like being reintroduced to a language. At first you don’t know what your eyes are suppose to see—you can’t hear what the forms around you are saying. Now a slope, a repetition, a curve, an angle all hold something.
Walked around later this afternoon and discovered several broad scenes. Try tomorrow to record them. One thing that illudes me is clean color. I want color that is almost comical in its brilliance. Artificial but believable—maybe I am observing too closely. I should go for effect rather than imitation.
August 10th, 2013
Another cloud covered morning, nobody out on the street yet. I have a bit of a cold, but still there’s a lot of work lined out today. I twoudl be nice to get some sunshine. There goes the trash truck headed to the river to dump its load.
August 11th, 2013
I have painted 14 paintings, exactly 1/3 the canvases that I brought. 28 left and at 2 a day I am out in 14 days. That’s the 25th. Probably cutting it close since I also need to let the last paintings dry—or cover them in plastic. Anyway I’m not concerned too much. Just painting.
I don’t think the paintings so far very good, but I also realize that my standards for very good are based in preconceptions and expectation and comparison and it is very likely that once I view these more objectively—which means letting a bit of time pass and getting away from the subject then I might find that they are some of the more interesting works so far. Currently I feel that I am in a bit of a drunkin state not really sure what I am doing.
Only painting the large canvases [50x70cm].
--big tree again
--5 small trees again
-vieiw east towards mountains
--new view of trees
--cluster of thick trees by creek
Tomorrow use less oil—or whenever I paint next. Rain keeps coming. Very frustrating.
Today painted one very poor painting influenced by things external to the problem of painting. For some unexplained reason I chose to try to paint people harveseting barley instead of going out and painting what I should be painting—namely that large tree and the group of small slender trees or the birch trees. After going over to the woodswithe the large trees [not related to the large tree just mentioned] again I realised that they are great but they are not to be painted. And I have made a list of what is to be painted and will follow it. If it grows, that’s great If not, I may leave once the list is finished. This afternoon the sun came out and during a walk up to the ridge I discovered another painting of brush and have a good idea of how to paint it.
I think that painting illudes me more than ever now—I have a lot to learn.
--big tree again painted similar to last time but with brighter colros, more reds, blues, primary greens, oranges. Darker darks.
--birch trees similar to previous birch paintings, cubistic fragmented style but indroducing more primary colors.
--five slender trees trying for more accurate drawing and fairly conventional, naturalistic feel, something impressionistic.
--view east needs to be stared about 4:30—5:00 pm, similar to other smaller views like this.
--new view of trees by birches should be painted as a big area of folliage that all blends together, very impressionistic. Just not sure how to paint the rocks in the foreground. Maybe each one individually outlined but not colored. Purple base.
Augst 12th, 2013
Everything very normal. Feel very much in the groove. Was happy to find compressed biscuits and peanuts that can keep me in the field longer—two bowls of zanba (tibetan barley powder, butter, tea, sugar mixed into a paste) helped with energy and no need for nasty noodles.
My diagnosis of the problem was correct—lack of focus—recklessness—uncertainty about what I should be doing with paint. The oil mad ethe canvas sloppy with undefined edges. Now with my list of things to get done everyday I feel in control, confident, at ease.
The paintings are falling into two categories,--structured tree compositions with a fragmented quality and then impressionistic pastoral scenes that are much softer and about ambience.
To come are two of each kind. Another birch, the large spread out tree that I painted in a rush due to rain are both this cubistic feel. Then another pastoral with cloudy skies not far fromt eh cherry tree line and the five slender trees that I painte don the first day rather crudely.
Each depends on weather, particularly the pastorals that need blue sky.
August 15th, 2013
It looks like I have four more days of painting. That will take me up to the 18th with 2 days drying time leaving on the 20th. The time here has been splendid and I am very interested in returning in November for some fall colors—maybe all 40x50 cm paintings about 30 would be great. I was looking at the birch woods on the hillside and wondering what all this would look like if you stripped away the green—and green I have dealt with well enough this time I think. Lots of white and good use of cadmium orange to tone it all down.
Permanent red violet makes a great color base I have found—either strait or mixed with cadmium red light.
Now off to the birch forest for a day. My goal is two paintings.
Today painted a birch grove and succeeded in bringing much more primary colors into it by starting with the white highlights on the trees and then letting everything else bounce off of that. I think finally I am starting to paint from the heart rather from the head.