Lessons from Jerome

Jerome is about a half an hour from Sedona. It's a small town nestled up in the hills and is cool enough because of the view of the distant buttes and bluffs across the desert expanse. At sunset the town is in the shadows of the hills but everything else is lit up and you can watch the shadows skitter across the ground until they hit the far vermillion cliffs. But that's not the best part, next to Jerome is a place called Ghost Town, it's one mans vision that's like DisneyWorld 50 years after the apocalypse. It is a painters (and car enthusiasts) wet dream. Cars and weird trucks and motorcycles of all kinds and descriptions in various states of entropy. Probably 200 vehicles in all. And if you have a thing for tools, he has them strewn about everywhere. See for yourself.

A few of the artists from the Sedona event gathered in and around on the day we were assigned to paint there.. I did one painting of Jerome (at the end of this post) but once I saw Ghost Town, that was it for me. I and others painted that place for two days and just wanted to stay and really flesh it out. Truth is, as magnificent as Sedona was, I could have painted this rotting metal town for a month. The lesson from this junket wasn't one of those path altering things, it was more along the lines of seeing how two artists tackle the exact same subject matter and how the style and process that are unique to each come into play.

My version The other woman, 20x20 sold

Colin Pages version

I set up next to Colin Page whose work I like a ton (there's a link to his website, click on his name), it's loose and free and borders on the abstract. I also think the world of this guy for many reasons. He's a great trash talker so in between our friendly painting sesh was a healthy amount of put downs and taunts, makes for a fun day. One of the things I appreciate about him is that he is self-taught. For example, he paints with his canvas in full sun, something that most plein airists say to never do and he does this because he didn't learn someone elses way, he figured it out on his own. Interestingly, the thing that is supposed to happen when one paints in full sun, doesn't in his work. He keeps his color bright and convincing. His drawing is spot on but it's the abstractness he gets in his paintings, well drawn but not a rendering.

I like my painting and was rather proud of it but I like his better. My lesson (which was more of a reminder) is to not over render stuff, less is more. If you look at my version, I'm trying to explain each shape but if you look at his, especially in the shadows, it's much more vague and energetic. It just gives the painting more life and lets the viewer fill in the blanks. In my book, he is one of the few who can successfully straddle the line between representation and abstraction. Plus he's funny and a good smack talker. He won best of show for his labors and I was honored by his request to trade paintings... got another killer painting to add to my wall of fame.

Lil' red riding truck, 11x14 sold

I tried something with this one that really helped. One problem with certain colors, like bright oranges, is that it's really hard to get them to look as intense as they are in actuality. Since my canvases are usually untoned I utilized the trick of washing in a complement to the orange/red truck, it really helped it to pop from the start. You can see some of it peeking through in the foreground grass.

Here's my painting from Jerome. I like it. I think it's 90% successful, Mostly I like the positive/negative shape relationships and, as it was painted over a sanded down piece of crap from earlier, because I allowed more understuff to peek through than usual, it has some nice surface and paint variety in the blue wall, something that otherwise might have been kind of boring.

Late for the sky, 11x14

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