starting work on "yellow creek," 18x18" for space gallery annex opening, may 9 by Philip Tarlow

stage 1 of yellow creek 18x18” oil on linen

the under-drawing for yellow creek

2 PM: this morning i began work on an 18x18” painting for the new space gallery annex opening, taking place may 9, reception starting 6:00 pm. at 95 south cherokee in denver. all the gallery artists were provided with a beautiful custom 18x18” stretcher bar, so that all the paintings in the show will be exactly the same size.

yellow creek is in the spirit of the more recent motion series paintings i’ve been doing over the past few months. it suggests but does not describe the elements found at one of our local creeks where, about 5-6 months out of the year, i venture out a few times each week to make plein air studies in gouache on paper.

all the motion series paintings have an initial under-drawing, like the one you see here on the right, which appears, more or less, under some of the scraped areas of paint covering it.

the new work is characterized by layers of paint thinly applied, drawn into with oil sticks, scraped down and painted over again and again until the surface and the balance of marks drawn with oil sticks; scraped off oil paint and color is where i want it. while the suggestive, fugitive marks derive from rocks, branches and water, each painting in the series ideally gains an identity and a presence that transcends description. these works are inspired not only by the beauty of the creek environment, but by the painterly tradition in art, from hals to deKooning.

more work on iced creek, 32x36" by Philip Tarlow

iced creek before todays changes

although i like what happened with iced creek, it wasn’t in the flow of what’s been happening with this series. since i want this new work to be like one gesture, if you know what i mean. so i painted over it this morning and made it into a next step in this emerging series. it was a bit of a struggle because, as i worked on it and began approaching what i envisioned, it got darker & darker until it began snowing and i had to stop working for a while & wait until the skies brightened. i prefer whenever possible to work under natural lighting. so i had a bite to eat and read some interesting stuff about bonnard in one of my books about him, resuming when it brightened up. i’ve evolved a way of working that allows the pieces to have a similar but distinct look, feel & energy, as well as a strong coloristic relationship.

funky rocks revision #2 by Philip Tarlow

funky rocks, 38x38” as it looked following todays revisions.

12:59 PM: upon entering my studio & casting the FIRST GLANCE, it wasn’t working. way better than the 2018 version, but the image itself was too large & didn’t quite work compositionally. so i went over it with a tan-yellow mix of oil paint, scraped & worked back into it, using as a reference new photos of the creek shot on our stupa walk yesterday. the addition of a turquoise blue oil stick i just got a few days ago is exciting, but may need toning down. other than that, i think it works….

revisiting funky rocks, 38x38" by Philip Tarlow

funky rocks, 38x38” after todays revisions

3:28 PM: i’ve been reviewing older works in the motion series of paintings, and selecting ones that now, in my present state of mind, seem too busy. they are mainly paintings that have been done on a white-ish ground, where there is really no main event; rather a series of minor events which are meant to form a coherent whole.

funky rocks on 8/18/18, the last time i worked on it.

well, in funky rocks, they just didn’t do that. while i can appreciate it’s merits, it just doesn’t work for me. doesn’t pass the first glance test, where complexity must remain subservient to the BAM factor. does it go BAM? does it hit you right off the bat? and then, of course, does it have staying power. does it haunt you after you look away?

signs & symbols by Philip Tarlow

in the most recent 3 paintings. the marks i’ve been exploring over the past decade or so have crystalized and become signs & symbols. they harken back to early indigenous marks on the the walls of caves, where natural phenomena were depicted using the most economical means. missing, of course, is the awe of the mark makers; their sense of ceremony; how they felt they were communicating with the natural world.

work on ice in motion & meandering creek by Philip Tarlow

5:33 PM: my mentee, k., cam over today & started a painting based upon a photo i shot years ago of the napa valley vinyards. it’s spring break, so next week he can come over any time he feels like. that works for me; i do some of my best work when he’s in the studio. we don’t say much…we just work on our individual paintings & then i might give him some feedback.

today i worked on meandering creek, a painting i hadn’t touched since december 5th. it was an interesting start, but the more i looked at it, the more i saw how unresolved it was. i turned it on it’s side and began working over it and then into it. so at the end of my painting day it looked like what you see below.

meandering creek 32x36” oil & oil stick on linen

i switched off between meandering creek and motion 16, which i’ve been working on for the past few days. as you see below, today it took a similar path to the other recent paintings in this series; one of utter simplicity.

less yellow by Philip Tarlow

singing creek 38x78”, as it looked a few moments ago

12:19 PM: i knew yesterday at the end of the day that singing creek was far too yellow. so i went over it with a more tanish yellow, scraped into that and am now in the process of drawing into it with oil sticks. it may still need some toning down of the yellow, but it’s definitely better. i’m going to keep working & will update later in the afternoon.

plein air season is fast approaching. my first sortie, which will likely be before the end of the month. this was shot 8/28/17.

starting "singing creek," 38 x 78" by Philip Tarlow

singing creek 38x78” as it looked today at 2pm

today upon entering the studio i went straight for a 38x78” collaged canvas, which i last worked on a couple of yesrs ago and has been sitting in the studio. i felt the juice so i dove in, first making some marks in crayon, colored pencil, oil sticks and red chinese ink, then covering the entire canvas with yellow, in keeping with yesterdays yollowmania. then i scraped into it, revealing some of the marks i made today along with the ones i made 2 years ago.

then i cut loose with my brown oil stick and made the drawing you see. at the last minute i added the areas of white oil paint. then i looked at it and asked myself “did i really just do this yellow painting?” it seems way too much, but i’ll know in the morning.

yellow by Philip Tarlow

ice in motion 16 oil and oil stick on linen, 36x38”

as i opened the door to my studio this morning, on a stormy, snowy day, i immediately entered a different rhythm. different than yesterday. for the first time in a long time, i felt like putting on music. i have thoudands of songs on an old beat up ipod, form opera to blues & hip hop. i like to put it on shuffle, in keeping with my distaste for predictability. especially since reading the article you see below. here’s the link:

so as i was listening to the music, i got into a groove. it was a yellow groove. i opened my drawer of tubes of yellow oil paint and immediately went for the jeaune brilliant foncé. bored with the tan grounds i’ve been using, it was with great relish, delight and a modicum of mischieviousness that i squeezed the yellow paint onto my palette. what followed may well disappear yet again tomorrow. these 2 paintings seem, for the moment, to like walking together. the one you see below came first and has that first burst of energy and discovery.

iced creek 32x36” collage, oil & oil stick on linen

changes to both the paintings i worked on yesterday by Philip Tarlow

iced creek 32x36” oil on linen

today started earlier than usual. we were up at 5 so mikela could leave for a series of meetings in alamosa. when she left it was snowing heavily with very low visibility. once i made sure she was safely on her way, i was able to get to the studio much earlier than usual at 8am. there’s a rain & snowstorm happening today & tomorrow, and the wet snow downed on of the power lines, cutting our electricity. it was very dark in the studio, so i decided to spend the day stretching canvases. then the lights flickered back on & off again for an hour, eventually remaining on. so i switched plans & started working on the 2 paintings i had been painting yesterday. i love diving into a painting i don’t especially love; it allows me to go anywhere and with an air of abandon sparked by my delight at making the image totally different. today, i think this may have been the more successful of the two. i may make more changes to ice in motion 16, BELOW, tomorrow.

ice in motion 16 36x38” oil on linen