henry hensche

Cape Cod Exhibits

A Window on Provincetown, 12" x 12", Oil on canvas mounted on panel, © Eric Merrell

Paintings from the recent group trip to Cape Cod and Provincetown will be presented January 15 - February 28, 2011 in  Creative Convergence: Cape Cod, exhibited at the Cape Cod Museum of Art (60 Hope Lane, Dennis, MA 02638) and Addison Art Gallery (43 Route 28, Orleans, MA 02653). A reception will be held on Saturday, February 19, 2011, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the museum. You can read a little bit about the trip in one of my previous posts here. Check out the show online or in person via the gallery website; it should be very interesting to see each artist's approach to painting the small art colony of Provincetown.

This first piece above was painted on one of the rainy days we had. I loved the cool light outside and the (relative) warmth we had painting inside. On most of these days we painted from a model, but on the last rainy day I decided I wanted to do this unique view of the P-Town shoreline.

Moored on a Mirror (Cape Cod Bay), 12" x 12", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Far across the water, past the moored sailboat, you can see the thin sliver of Cape Cod. The title was partly inspired from a conversation I had with local artist and Hensche student Hilda Neily, about how Provincetown light is unique in that it is surrounded on three sides by water.

Shaped by the Sea (Provincetown Dunes), 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

When the sun came back I headed out to the dunes with Ian Factor. As soon as I sketched my thoughts into my sketchbook I knew I was hooked on this composition. Something about the undulating shapes kept my eye moving, stopping occasionally at a spot of color. It became an analogy of sorts for our trip - artists moving restlessly around the peninsula while painting all day, pausing for a bite to eat or a quick cup of coffee, and moving on to the next location.

There Is No Gray in Nature

An idea I hear tossed around fairly often about color is that while the morning and evening are great times to paint, during the middle of the day color "flattens out" or "dies." I would like to suggest something entirely different: the color does not go gray, it merely changes. The middle of the day has beautiful color just like any other time of the day, though it may be more subtle  than a sunset. Same with an overcast day (see Dan Pinkham's painting below). We can still see the relationships (and hence forms) in nature nonetheless, and since we as humans experience the world in full color (there is no such thing as a gray or neutral in nature's color spectrum, only in your paint tubes and color theory classes) I think it is a greater struggle to attempt to find these subtleties of color. Every plane change is a color change.

The issue I have with using terms like "gray," "brown," "neutral," "washed out," etc. is that it starts to get the brain thinking along those lines. Akin to shooting yourself in the foot before starting a race, you need your brain to make a painting - it makes it even harder to find, say, a quiet violet tone (like the top plane of the wrist in Bongart's painting above) if you're thinking of grays. Also, I think this is perpetuated by color being taught too literally, trying to "match" one's paint colors to that of the landscape or your model (see Delacroix quote below).

Here are a few other ideas about color:

- Every color note that is gray, muddy or chalky is a missed opportunity, and - Every missed opportunity detracts or weakens the overall color of a painting (think of an orchestra or band playing - what if the trumpet or guitar player hit just one sour note!); - When you put the final spots of color onto a piece, it should all come together and create the sensation of light.

The general conception of color seems to imply a high saturation or intensity; i.e., when I say "red," you automatically think of an incredibly bright red, like a sports car. But "red" could also mean a pale violet, made to feel like red by placing it next to a colder color. Look at that warmth in the shadow above in Hensche's still life (and how different it is from the red flower). Painting with color doesn't mean intensity at all - it means painting good relationships. Sorolla used a yellowish-orange to paint that little girl's back - but it relates to all the other colors and reads like sunlight. I think color painting in particular highlights how deficient language can be with describing our experiences. Another note about the images here, check out all the color used to convey "white" - they really aren't white at all, but every color under the sun.

Here are a couple of quotes that may help with the idea too:

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” - Aldo Leopold

“Art begins where nature leaves off.” - Oscar Wilde

“Nature serves the artist as a dictionary only, and ‘Realism’ should be defined as the antithesis of art.” - Eugene Delacroix

Painting in Provincetown

 

 

I've just returned from nearly two weeks of painting out on Cape Cod in Provincetown, Massachusetts. A great group of guys with some new faces too. Though we had mostly great weather, there was some wind and rain, so we hired models and painted indoors on those occasions. Provincetown has a great history of artists living and working there : Charles Webster Hawthorne (we were given access to paint in his beautiful old studio), Henry Hensche, Richard Emil Miller, Edwin Dickinson, John Whorf, Edward Hopper, Henry David Thoreau and many many others (Is it a coincidence that so many great towns began as artist colonies? Laguna, Pasadena, Indian Wells, Greenwich, Santa Barbara, P-Town...). After the end of each day of painting we'd gather for dinner and look at everyone's work, back at the houses or at a local "pirate ship" with lots of history and character(s). Lots of conversations about art, music, history, color, food, tequila and other stuff not fit for print (!) And man, some of these guys in the group can cook! Also met some local artists working in the Hensche color tradition - Hilda Neily and John Clayton. If you go to P-Town, be sure to check out the burgers at The Squealing Pig, the Cape Cod Rueben at Tatiana's by the wharf (just like a traditional rueben, but instead of corned beef and sauerkraut they use haddock and coleslaw. Amazing!) and the Egeli Gallery on Commercial Street.

Here is a great article featuring Jerome and the P-Town trip.

Quite an exciting and energizing time! I haven't had a chance to photograph any of my paintings yet, but hope to get some of those online soon. An exhibition of work from the trip will be featured at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, January 15 - February 29, 2011.

Here are links to the artists' individual sites:

Jeff Bonasia, Rick Casali, James Coe, Dan Corey, Ian Factor, Frank Gardner, Jerome Greene, Logan Hagege, Marc Hanson, Ignat Ignatov, Pete Kalill, Stapleton Kearns, Michael Klein, Jeremy LipkingEric MerrellErnesto Nemesio, Colin Page, Paul Schulenberg.

 

 

Cape Cod

Mackerel Dip Net, 12" x 12", Oil on linen, ©Logan Maxwell Hagege

I'm heading out to paint in Provincetown, at the end of Cape Cod, MA, which was home for many years to artists Charles Hawthorne and Henry Hensche, among others. Looking forward to the trip - this will be the third annual assembly of a group of artists from the east and west coasts (and Mexico as well). The first year we all descended on Port Clyde, Maine; last year's target (which I unfortunately missed) was San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I know most of the artists, although there will be some new faces joining us this time, so I'll have to post a complete list of everyone later.

Above is one of Logan Hagege's great pieces of the Northeast coast.

East Coast Ideals/West Coast Concepts*

ramona_s Ramona and I have just returned from a great trip out to Boston and Cape Cod, our first time to Massachusetts. The Cape is a really fascinating place with a long history of art, still going strong today. California could learn a few things about aesthetics from the area.

We flew out for the openings of Painting New England Together at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, MA and Paintapalooza at Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, MA. (Lots of photos are online on Facebook.) I've got to give a big California Thank You to everyone out there for making our stay so hospitable - Paul and Pharr Schulenburg, Peter and Kathleen Kalill, Jeff Bonasia, and Helen Addison along with Domonic Boreffi over at Addison Art Gallery for their huge effort in making this all happen. It was really wonderful meeting everyone at the receptions.

hawthornestudio_s1

We spent some time up in Provincetown (P-Town) and saw the studios of Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) and Henry Hensche (1899 - 1992). We got to check out the small but nice collection at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, and visited the historic Beachcomber's Club too, of which a number of the guys in our exhibition are members of. [Two artists who were members of both the Beachcombers Club as well as the California Art Club: Richard Edward Miller (1875-1943) and Christian von Schneidau (1893-1976).] I made a good effort to seek out work by Hawthorne and Hensche while we were there - they're hard enough to come by on the east coast, and virtually nowhere to be seen out in California. That search led me to Vose Galleries in Boston, which has been a leading gallery in that area for six generations(!). We met Carey Vose, and she and the staff were kind enough to pull out some amazing paintings by Hawthorne, Paul Dougherty (1877-1947), and Childe Hassam (1859-1935) that they had. You definitely need to stop at Vose if you're going to Boston; it's really much more like a museum than a gallery.

 

detail of "Still Life" by Hawthorne

vose_s

 Looking forward to our next trip back east! Who knows, maybe there will be a sequel - Paintapalooza: P-town.

 

*I borrowed this title from a 1997 exhibition that focused on the artistic lineages of the Boston School and the California Impressionists.