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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Still Learning... asking if a Naturalist Sketch is now labeled Plein Air?

 Paintings Painted while Twachtman Studied in France, over 130 years ago, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and viewed for the first time by this Artist over 35 years ago while studying at Parson School of Design,  reconnected their inspiration this past May 2016 while demoing to a first time Plein Air Painter as an Ambassador at the Forgotten Coast Plein Air event in Apalachicola, Florida. The little 6x8 painting a key tool that made the inspiration for the 30x40" oil painting possible, completed in the studio.  Amazingly, as I read the story behind Twachtmans monumental canvas the realization of how history does indeed repeat itself continues for all of us painters. 


John Henry Twachtman; ca. 1884-Oil on canvas-18 1/4 x 25 7/8in
During the summer of 1884 Twachtman—then a student at the Académie Julian in Paris—rented a château with his family at Arques-la-Bataille, Normandy, near the port of Dieppe, and focused on painting unpretentious views of the Arques River valley. In this work, he portrayed the edge of the Béthune, a tributary of the Arques, bordered by a fringe of reeds and meadow flowers. In his Paris studio the following winter, he reconsidered the naturalistic sketch and created his monumental canvas "Arques-la-Bataille"(Metropolitan Museum Of Art notes on paintings)

Arques-la-Bataille John Henry Twachtman; 1885 Oil on canvas 60 x 78 7/8 in. 

Studying as an artist in Munich in the mid-1870s, Twachtman had painted with a dark palette and lively brushwork, both of which he abandoned when he moved to Paris to enroll at the Académie Julian in 1883. This painting is one of several large landscapes he created during his two years in France. Based on a preliminary oil study (pictured above) also in the Museum's collection (not on display), it depicts a scene at Arques-la-Bataille, a town four miles southeast of Dieppe, in Normandy, where the Béthune and two other streams flow together to form the Arques River. Its emphasis on formal design recalls both Japanese woodblock prints and James McNeill Whistler’s nocturnes.(MMA notes)
From the first time viewing this painting, it has inspired and influenced me.  This past May, real life brought these Twachtman paintings back to the forefront of inspirations. While doing the  demo this was also shared with the student, as an Ambassador at the Forgotten Coast Plein Air Event.  The coincidences continue to reveal themselves today too.  The scene up in Apalachicola are at the dock of Mill Pond, which is fed by the Apalachicola River.  Mill Pond is where many of the working boats of the area dock, and the river leads them to their catch in the gulf.  All a very still, and brackage water area, lined with rivers of grass.  The Plein Air Study painted that day, a 6x8 oil on linen, had to be kept simplified as demonstrating how to capture a plein air scene to a first time painter that signed up for this community event, Paint Stations with An Artist.  So the goal in instructing the how to's for this beginner, was to keep the scene very simplistic, and what better model than these Twachtman's.
All learned from studying Twachtman's exercise, to applying it
myself from the plein air field study to the studio, seems the perfect reply to this mission to grow as an artist to meet the next season in life. The journey is indeed the destination and it continues. From my first ticket bought to attend the Plein Air Convention & Expo in 2013 to going again this year as faculty.  The honor of being a part of
the Forgotten Coast team last year as an Ambassador, and this year as an artist in residence supporting the "Save The Shotguns" PEARL  Hope to see you out and about.  Packing my bags to HITT the Road, where the journey IS the destination!  Next Stop #PACE17. Can NOT wait to see what I learn this year!