The River Runs Through It — Battenkill Inspired

The River Runs Through It — Battenkill Inspired

 

Several years ago The Crandall Library in Glens Falls, New York had an exhibition called. “Battenkill Inspired”. This year Hannah deGarmo started filming the people in that exhibition. All of us live on or near the river. I traverse it every day on my way to work. Finding how to  convey both the look and feeling of this river has preoccupied me for years.

 

"Battenkill Tapestry", 48 inches x 48 inches, © Leslie Parke 2006

“Battenkill Tapestry”, 48 inches x 48 inches, © Leslie Parke 2006

 

"Battenkill in Fall", 50 inches x 44 inches, oil on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2006, Private Collection, Houston.

“Battenkill in Fall”, 50 inches x 44 inches, oil on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2006, Private Collection, Houston.

 

 

"Light on Battenkill", 69 inches x 48 inches, Oil on Canvas, © Leslie Parke 2009, Private Collection, Houston, Texas

“Light on Battenkill”, 69 inches x 48 inches, Oil on Canvas, © Leslie Parke 2009, Private Collection, Houston, Texas

 

Morning Battenkill, 46 inches x 82 inches, oil on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2014

Morning Battenkill, 46 inches x 82 inches, oil on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2014

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Abstract or Representational — Depends on the Source of the Light

Abstract or Representational — Depends on the Source of the Light

"Flying Saucers", 48 inches x 58 inches, oil on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2012

“Flying Saucers”, 48 inches x 58 inches, oil on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2012 Courtesy of Gremillion and Company, Fine Arts, Inc.

My painitngs are about  light. When I paint representationally and I am about the business of rendering light, I often choose a subject that is back lit. It seems to offer the most extensive and complex  qualities of light — light on a surface, passing through a surface, reflecting off of a surface, often highlighting transparency, translucency, reflection, or glitter. The most complete expression of this can be seen in my china paintings, although it occurs in most of my work.

Light on Battenkill, 69 inches x 48 inches, Oil on Canvas, © Leslie Parke 2009

“Light on Battenkill”, 69 inches x 48 inches, Oil on Canvas, © Leslie Parke 2009, Private Collection, Houston, Texas

But how do you get these qualities when you work abstractly? It’s not something I figured out all at once. It started when I was trying to paint the light that glitters off the surface of water. I used white paint, but it felt dull and did not leap off the surface of the canvas. Then I scapped the silver off of a CD and applied that, and that didn’t work either. As I drove home one rainy night I noticed how the stripe on the road reflected the light off my headlights and I thought — that’s what I need. I called the highway department and asked them if I could buy some reflective road paint. It’s not the paint that is reflective, he told me, its the beads of glass that we put in it, and with that he gave me the address of their supplier.

Later I came upon diamond dust, which is even better than highway glass for reflecting light, but I was unable to find a supplier. I used the highway glass to good effect in the river painting.

Almond Tree, Biot, by Leslie Parke

“Almond Tree, Biot”, 60 inches x 70 inches, oil on canvas, 2008 ©Leslie Parke 2008, Private Collection, Houston

Then I was working on a series of almond tree paintings, which at first I rendered quite realistically. But after taking a workshop with Vincent di Siderio, a well-known representational painter, who mentioned that he often started a painting by throwing tar on it or rustoleum, I thought, why not approoach this work that way. Apply the paint differently and why not use mettalic paint, after all, Jackson Pollock did.

"Tree in Twilight", 67 inches x 96 inches, oil, enamel, metallic paint on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2015

“Tree in Twilight”, 67 inches x 96 inches, oil, enamel, metallic paint on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2015

When I finished “Tree in Twilight” and hung it on my west facing wall, I observed how the light reflected off the surface of the painting and changed every time you moved. It also took on different qualities of light at different times of the day. Immeditately I saw that instead of showing the light of the moment, it was creating a different light each moment. With Monet’ s paintings of the Epte River, he shows you how the light changes moment to moment. With “Tree in Twilight”, the painting itself changes each moment.

"Plated LIght", 72 inches x 30 inches, oil and metallic paint on canvas, ©Leslie Parke 2017

“Plated LIght”, 72 inches x 30 inches, oil and metallic paint on canvas, ©Leslie Parke 2017

From there the work became more and more abstract, but the quality of light and sensation of light remained the subject. Whether I paint representationally or abstractly, I still want the painting to have light emanating from the surface.

 

The Start of “The Grid Project”

The Start of “The Grid Project”

All projects have their precedents, and The Grid Project is no exception. For many years I used photography as an aid to my painting. I kept looking for subjects that were more and more abstract. I want the image to take on a new meaning as an abstract construct that has nothing to do with the subject.  But I also want to retain in the image some of the things I explored in my painitngs: transparencies, translucencies, reflections,  and qualities of light.

Here are some samples:

Blue Column, 34 inches x 25.5 inches, archival ink-jet print, photograph, © Leslie Parke 2015

Blue Column, 34 inches x 25.5 inches, archival ink-jet print, photograph, © Leslie Parke 2015

 

"Tutti Fruiti", 34 inches x 24.5 inches, archival ink-jet print, photograph, © Leslie Parke 2015

“Tutti Fruiti”, 34 inches x 24.5 inches, archival ink-jet print, photograph, © Leslie Parke 2015

 

"Taut", 27.5 inches x 34 inches, archival ink-jet print of photograph, edition of 6, © Leslie Parke 2016

“Taut”, 27.5 inches x 34 inches, archival ink-jet print of photograph, edition of 6, © Leslie Parke 2016

I am also interested in structure:

Particle Wave, 25.5 inches x 34 inches, archival ink-jet print, photograph, © Leslie Parke 2016

Particle Wave, 25.5 inches x 34 inches, archival ink-jet print, photograph, © Leslie Parke 2016

 

"Green Fence", 25.5 inches x 34 inches, photograph, archival inkjet print, ©Leslie Parke 2017

“Green Fence”, 25.5 inches x 34 inches, photograph, archival inkjet print, ©Leslie Parke 2017

The question is, “Where do I go from here?” [to be continued]

On the Nature of Abstraction: Sean Scully

“My paintings talk of relationships. How bodies come together. How they touch. How they separate. How they live together, in harmony and disharmony. The character of bodies changes constantly through my work. According to color. The opacity and transparency of how the surface is made. This gives it its character and its nature. Its edge defines its relationship to its neighbor and how it exists in context. My paintings want to tell stories that are an abstracted equivalent of how the world of human relationships is made and unmade. How it is possible to evolve as a human being, in this.”  Sean Scully

Sean Scully, "Red Sky"

Sean Scully, “Red Sky”

When I first saw Scully’s paintings I was struck by their physicality. These are big objects. Frequently the stretchers are quite deep.   Not only does he paint blocks of color that are stacked one on top of the other, but he also physically builds paintings into paintings. One stretched canvas is inserted into a hole in another canvas. A completely seperate entity inserted into the picture plane. The paint is viseral, thick, lucious, complex, layered, Like nature itself. But then, the big surprise: These paintings are filled with light. So, when you look at these blocks of color you think about what kind of light and even what kind of weather they exist in.

Sean Scully, "Moorland"

Sean Scully, “Moorland”

Sean Scully

Sean Scully

Looking at some of Scully’s photos, you do get a sense that this notion of place, light and atmosphere is not foreign to him.

Sean Scully, "Inis Oirr Vl" , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6 cm

Sean Scully, “Inis Oirr Vl” , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6 cm

Sean Scully, Inis Oirr Vl , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6

Sean Scully, Inis Oirr Vl , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Cubed, 2007, granite, Aix en Provence, France

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Cubed, 2007, granite, Aix en Provence, France

They are not just paintings about how things look in nature, but about how they behave — body next to body, stone next to stone.

Sean Scully, "End of Day"

Sean Scully, “End of Day”

Sean Scully, 1.1.08, 2008, pastel on paper, 56.8 x 76.6 cm

Sean Scully, 1.1.08, 2008, pastel on paper, 56.8 x 76.6 cm

 

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