Another highly abstracted Interior Alaska landscape, dominated by dramatic sky. Though this painting is of the Tanana River and sky above it in summer, it came about largely as a result of watching similarly torn, ragged, brightly colored skies above the Fairbanks landscape in the past few weeks. Our days are short this time of year, but the twilights are as filled with light and color as they are in any season, and I have been knocked out day after day by the brilliant light at the horizon that seems to set the deeper colored clouds above on fire.
These bright-colored, heavily worked images seem to be turning into a series, in the way things tend to happen in my studio. Seldom setting out to do a series, I work away for a month, two months, or more, and look up to find my walls filled with works that take a particular direction. I am especially pleased that I have found ways, in these recent paintings, to do these heightened-color, heavily textured images on a reasonable scale. I've found it much easier in the past to make them work on a very large scale--4'x 5', 5' x 7', or even larger, and I'm delighted to feel in these recent paintings that I've been able to accomodate the image and the handling to make dramatic images of a more modest size. As is so often the case for me, early in what I realize is becoming a series, I am overwhelmed with the possibilities that seem to stretch out before me, ready to explore.
As I struggle to bring heavily scraped, textured, worked-up canvases like the one above to life, it is a relief and a joy between those bouts to tackle the equally challenging but totally different demands of transparent watercolor. Unlike the canvases, in which I put an image down and then attack it again and again, changing and enriching it in a search for a mysterious painterly solution I can't foresee at the outset, the watercolors demand a sure, decisive, light touch--putting down skeins of pure color confidently and leaving them alone. This image, like most of my watercolors, is about two very different things. It's about a very straightforward celebration of the wonder of my immediate surroundings. But it's also about the challenge of sorting out the myriad shapes and forms that have to dance together abstractly to represent the winter forest of Interior Alaska.