Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The ' End of the Tracks '

I call. "Where are you? It's nine."
I open the garage and Tim is backing in to load up my painting equipment.

He's getting to be a regular "Johnny on the Spot." Not his past record but we're retired now, so who cares? We head for the watering hole for breakfast. It's in the air, like Monday, change!  I'm sure of it . "Let's try somewhere else today, Tim asks."  "Sure." We pass by the End of the Tracks a local diner which is no longer at the end of the tracks because it has moved to the edge of town. The original End of the Tracks was literally at the end of the tracks for the N&W R.R. It was also called the "Dorm" because layovers, guys who couldn't work anymore until they had slept 8hrs stayed overnight. So the new place was affectionately called the End of the Tracks and they still serve meals. It has a place for railroaders to "layover" although it doesn't seem like there are too many of them these days, railroaders.
Breakfast is good but more expensive by a few bucks but there's no smoke. So this might be a regular here on in. The place is clean and white like a Steak and Shake but even whiter and cleaner. The food is plentiful and shiny. Shiny means the bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and onions are liberally oiled.
After breakfast we head out of town west. Tim wants to know where, I want to go. "Hey, your driving it's your call." So we meander here and there and snake our way back to US31. However, just before we get onto the maindrag we spot a farm with pines planted as wind breaks in the 40's. "That'll do."
Tim sits down about five feet away from me and briskly gets to work taping paper down and sketching his composition. "Orange, I'll use orange paper because of all the green.",Tim comments.
I have to squeeze out a palette of paint in the oversize snap lid tupperware. I also have to gesso the cotton paper  I am working on, a good quality Canson printmaking paper,140lb.

 This the place we are working from today. I shot this when we were done. This was a hard subject I guess from the stand point is that it is standard type of scenery. It is difficult to put a different twist on it so that it's not just another "barn painting." Our conversation runs into what makes great artists leave the conventional. What is it that gives them the spark to try a different approach. What is that magic something? Monet's father was in the grocery business and wanted him to take over. Monet drew all the time and had plenty of sketch books denoting his rather keen ability of observation. Mostly landscapes filled his books. His mentor another painter suggested he stick with landscapes because he had an affinity for them. Monet accepted his advice and focused on landscapes. He was also a follower of Jongkind another artist. Jongkind was using bright color, light and spotty colored landscapes more towards pointilism. Monet picked up on that idea and used his brush dabbing color as if he were pushing colored lights into his canvas. His virtuosity in this techniques and his ability to derive the lighting essence of the scene put his name on the map of Whose Who in the Arts.
 So we are back to the question, "What is it that makes an artist step out of the mainstream and try "______ ____ , new?" What is the catalyst? Tim is finishing up as I feel I could work another hour. But I am just fussing, a mortal sin for artists to fuss over their work. I'm done.
Friday we'll try again. I'm going to look at Monet's work between then and now. Maybe I will be able to put a name to the magic substance he possessed. Talent? No.  Luck? No. Duh, he was Monet! We're not. Yet.

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