Today I’m sharing the seventh painting in my series of 3 x 5 “Index Card” landscapes. It’s part of my on-going project centering around my study of tonalism. Today’s scene was inspired by “Home at Montclair” by George Inness.
The Clark Art Institute describes the painting as a visual meditation and points out its emphasis on isolation, silence, and spiritual contemplation.
In some ways, I think I saw this painting a bit differently. Instead of feeling the bitter cold of winter, I focused on the feelings of warmth emanting from the sky and from the little cottage. Yes, I actually painted buildings… one complete with a chimney and a bit of smoke.
Here’s my little 3 x 5 oil painting on the themes I saw in Home at Montclair.
This was challenging for me. You might be able to tell that I wiped away and re-painted the upper right area, not once, but twice. I never did resolve it quite the way I wanted. As with the other paintings I’ve done in this series, I’ve simplified the scene to what I considered the most essential elements — that fence, the snowy yard, distant trees, two buildings, a single lone tree in the middle ground.
Inness included much more in his painting. HIs shows a lone figure — although it’s very indistinct — and a few birds. His painting has an old tree stump where mine shows only a darker bit of gray.
Again, though, the biggest difference lies in our thoughts about the scene and our approach to painting it. Of course, I can only presume here that Inness was indeed seeking to show isolation, silence, and spiritual contemplation, as the Clark Art Institute suggests. Perhaps as I continue my studies, I will learn more about this particular painting.
Yesterday as I put together a “tonalist” word cloud, I thought a lot about evocation and what that word means in the visual arts. “To evoke” means to draw something out — thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories — so that was where I began my exploration of Home at Montclair.
For me, the warm glow of the sky suggested warmth and comfort. The smoke from the chimney made me think of a family gathering around a cozy fire on a winter’s day. I thought of times when I’ve been “snowed in”, happy to stay inside, bake bread, and curl up with a book of poetry.
So where Inness showed loneliness and isolation, I tried to show warmth and comfort. I softened my grays with a touch of burnt umber, and tried to suggest a little light falling onto the scene. I’m still working to get lights and shadows correct in these tiny 3 x 5 paintings,
When you look at my painting, what thoughts and feelings — if any — come to mind? Does the painting bring back any memories? As I’ve learned from working with Home at Montclair, what a viewer sees may be much different from what an artist might intend. I’d love to know what my Winter Memories painting evokes for you.