Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summertime Tomatillos

"Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer"  by Nat king Cole

I don't know about you, but my summer is far from lazy - squeezing in all the family visits that we can while prepping for the many art opportunities available during the season. And please don't' mention the gardens!

Add to that an upcoming solo exhibit in September (Muscoot Farm Manor House Gallery) and I'm painting all the time. The classic artist's conflict ensues - so many ideas and so little time.

One of the benefits of summer is the luscious, fresh produce. With it's short shelf-life the only option is to paint faster, so that helps with the time crunch! I'm easing into it with tomatillos which are slightly less fragile. They are a fascinating subject: smooth, glossy fruit surrounded by a papery husk. All green, with such subtle variations of texture, hue and value.

Setting up the still life, I thought of a quote by Henri Matisse, that quite honestly is often on my mind while painting,
"I don't paint things. I only paint the difference between things." 
painting set up, work in progress, wip
Work in progress, tomatillos set up with pottery

To a line up of three round, green things I added a Mexican plate, which just happens to be another round, green thing. So the differences took on a greater significance, making a tougher challenge!

Recently, on the Savvy Painter podcast, I heard the artist Ann Gale say that she likes to focus on how similar things are. It's the other side of the same coin and well worth noting as a representational painter. In the same vein, my painting coach, Todd Casey often talks about wedging another small shift between two values to create a softer transition. Observing how similar and how different. It's the thing that happens in a beautiful portrait with smooth, glowing skin. It's always on my mind, but I'm not there yet.

So I paint tomatillos. And, of course, listen to Latin music for atmosphere. (Hey, Gregorian chants were playing while Monk's Mead was on the easel. Painting is lonely, I have to entertain myself.) Thanks to Pandora's thumbs up option, one song has been in my head: "El Perdón" by Nicky Jam and Enrique Iglesias. Latin, rap and... reggaeton?! Who knew.

Here's the problem - the refrain "Esto no me gusta" means "I don't like it."
The phrase being repeated while I paint is, "I don't like it"! 

Seems sort of counterproductive.
On the other hand, the title is "El Perdón" which means "forgiveness" so maybe that's the message. Plus the beat is wonderfully relentless!

still life, mexican pottery, oil paintng
Tomatillo Trio ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze

So, it's not Nat King Cole's 1963 summer classic that kept me company, but Nicky Jam of rap and reggaeton fame. Go figure. It kept me going and I finished this painting in just over two days. Pretty speedy for me! Thank you Nicky and Enrique. Here's a link, have a listen.

The line "yo sin ti, y tu sin mi" (me without you, and you without me) also resonates, because I couldn't do this without all of you who enjoy my work. Thank you!

Thanks for supporting me on my art journey.

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