Bruce Marsh

Painting: Images and Thoughts.


“Airport” Oil/Panel 8″ X 24″

Back outside to paint yesterday at a small grass strip airport. An 8″ X 24″panel…just about right for an afternoon. It’s been a few weeks, and there is always some struggle to get back into it.  I’m going back this afternoon, to work from another vantage point. I’d like to work from the idea of somehow making the passage of time more an obvious issue…to make it more episodic, more of a narrative. Perhaps abrupt changes of light, focus, etc….I’m also reluctant to commit to a definite ‘program’…I enjoy a meandering trip across the panel. The grass is a challenge; in addition to the swatches of green and red there are the patterns of the mower, and the subtle gradations of shadows from the undulating terrain…. layers of information that  are so obvious in looking, but so difficult to achieve in quick painting.

It’s also a great pleasure being out there, watching the small planes bumping along and getting airborne, and landing.

The other note today is the curiosity of the iPhone as a painting tablet. The cover of this week’s NewYorker (June 1, 2009) was made on an iPhone, with an app called ‘Brushes’. I’m wondering if this will get numbers of people into drawing! Better than standing around playing Sudoku! I see the next cover of the New Yorker as 30+ people in Monet’s garden, painting the waterlilies. Take a look at the images…

This edition of the New Yorker also has some outstanding articles on Bruce Nauman and Frances Bacon, by Calvin Tomkins and Peter Schyeldahl respectively. Both insightful and addressing the repective work in some depth; historical context, influence, etc. Bacon has a retrospective at the Met and Nauman is a major presence in the current Venice Biennale. Food for thought about two very major figures, operating from opposite positions….to put it mildly. Playful irony versus almost Wagnerian expressionist drama. Duchamp vs. Munch, both on steroids.

More soon on the color of Light….maybe I need to think about that today.

Another stab at the airport yesterday..the grass still a huge problem. I want the patterns across it to ‘lie down’…be subtle, and to describe the undulating field.

It was good conditioning…the sun was blazing, and I need to get in shape for Utah in August.


“Airport2″ Oil/Panel  8″ X 24”

I thought about simply doing a grass study today, but I found a place in complete shade (!) under the US 41 bridge, looking at the river through some complex pilings.

A FOOTNOTE: I always shoot photos of the painting on the easel… sometines the combination is fortuitous:

Painting as an odd lens...

Painting as an odd lens...

Painting as mirror...

Painting as mirror...

5 Responses to “Back Outside…”

  1. agm

    The easel shots are really interesting. Windows in windows. What a great perspective. I’ll have to talk to you about seeing more of these.

  2. brucemarsh

    I’ve made a shot of almost every onsite painting set-up….the easel and panel, in some state of completion, as it sits in the site. Maybe I’ll put together a slide show and post it. Thanks for the comment Adam; I think I have about 3 readers!

  3. Tom

    Interesting color palette (yours). Obviously effective. I met a gentleman in Dallas who used cad yellow, cad red, lamp black, and zinc white for portraits, the lamp black and the yellow offering an acidic green when needed. Personally I think I prefer eight of everything!

  4. brucemarsh

    Hey Tom;
    I know some of the addicted plein aire painters have numerous palettes….I saw one where the whole gamut was Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, Pthalo Blue, and white. The results were VERY heavy landscapes. I’ve also heard reference to summer and winter palettes, mid day and late afternoon palettes, etc…

    I know my color gets in a rut…perhaps a strange palette would be a shot in the arm. I remember in grad school having some discount paints, in cans, without labels….when I got stuck I’d choose a color, with a pre-determined place in the painting, at random. Needless to say I was working in a much more open fashion then….hot on the trail of Diebenkorn and Natahn Olivera and the other Calif. Figurative folks. I’ve begun to suspect I might come full circle…back to those alienated figures in strange places….


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