Friday, March 4, 2011

Ancient Architecture - new series

Chaco #1
12x9 inches
pastel on Strathmore Artagain (black)

Here we go again with a new series!  I think this will be an on-going one, just like the Miniseries Quartets, since there will no doubt be a steady source of new references from which to work from.

A few days ago, I was looking through my photos taken of the various Anasazi (or Ancestral Puebloans, if you prefer) ruins we've visited, and marveling in the wonderful abstracted shapes they form, along with the impressive degree of detail and masonry skill.  Some readers may remember my original post and photos from our visit to Chaco Canyon last fall.

I am always on an exploratory quest with my work, and color and palette harmony is one area that I always feel could be better in my pastels, especially since I find myself constantly falling back into the trap of representational colors [although that is not necessarily a bad thing].  I'm also trying to head in the direction of simplifying my work and losing unnecessary detail, particularly in my landscapes, and to expand my use of color beyond the local.  Recently, I was able to replace some of my beloved copies of the Pastel Journal that the USPS lost last year, and they arrived earlier this week.  In the June '08 issue, the simple landscapes of New Mexico artist Mary Silverwood are featured, including some of her very colorful and simple depictions of Chaco ruins.  I loved the concept immediately, especially since I had photos in that similar format.  As much as I enjoy her style, I don't want to copy it - just borrow an idea.

Wolf Khan's use of color and line in his minimalist landscapes of barns has appealed to me for years, and I often pull out my copy of Wolf Khan Pastels when I want to refresh my vision.  Recently, Casey Klahn  posted a series of links to video interviews with Mr. Khan regarding some of his older work, and I'm working through those.  I've admired Casey's use of color and ability to distill down his landscapes ever since I discovered his blog, and then there is the series by blogger friend Jala Pfaff has been doing with her abstract Strata series where she has been exploring color.  So, between all of these sources of inspiration, I hopefully now have something that is somewhat unique.

My goal with this series is really to focus on the simple shapes and design of the ruins in combination with experimentation of various color palettes.  And, of course, to pay homage to the original inhabitants and masons that were responsible for creating these enigmatic dwellings and cities of stone, mud and wood.


  1. I too was most impressed with the Wolf Kahn interviews, even though I've not finished them all. And I'm a real sucker for architectural subjects. Great painting! Great idea! I love those warm tones peeking out from behind the cools. You're going to be busy for a while.

  2. Hi William - thanks so much for your comments. I don't have much personal experience painting or drawing architectural subjects, so this will be a good start. It helps that I just finished reading Philip Metzger's book on perspective.

    This will be a fun series, if for nothing else than the color experimentation. I hope others enjoy it as well.

  3. Great painting. I love all these cold rich blue colors.

  4. Love this and the top one too, can't wait to see more. Glad I read all the way through--I was about to send you a link to Mary Silverwood. :)

  5. Thanks, Irina.

    Thanks Jala - you're a constant source of new ideas for me - ha! Oh, I now want to get your permission to paint some of your animolecules as well.


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