37 minute painting

September 5, 2013

Tanny's fruit bowl  Oil on canvas board

Tanny’s fruit bowl Oil on canvas board

This piece was done today in 37 minutes, inspired by Robert Genn’s ’37 club’.  It is 30 x 40 cm (about 12″ x 16″).

I’ve been receiving Robert Genn’s wonderful artist’s newsletter, ‘Painter’s keys’ for several years now. Even when I was convinced I wouldn’t ever get back to painting seriously, I always read each letter. Robert always addresses central issues to creating art, everything from why inspiration hits some times and not others, and what to do about it to getting a good gallery, to self evaluating your work.

I am sure the support it gives and the community around it have helped pave the way to finding my way back to oil painting.

The 37 club stems from a painting workshop exercise that Robert and his daughter Sara give to their participants. You have to finish a piece in 37  minutes (which just happens to be the time span of their hourglass).  This technique breaks you out of getting fixated on details, and the results certainly surprised me. I didn’t have any idea how I would get all that fruit, the bowl and the cloth even sketched, in that amount of time. But I worked fast and directly with thicker paint than I usually use. The result is another step in the direction I’m moving, which is more painterly, less precise. Like one of those mysterious canvasses which look abstract up close,

Detail from Canadian painter exhibition

Detail from Canadian painter exhibition

and then resolve into a beautiful realistic scene when you move back.

Canadian painter, 20th century

Canadian painter, 20th century

These were taken awhile back at the Groninger Museum, sorry I can’t remember the name of the specific painter, the show was called The Canadian 7, I believe, and showed wonderful outdoor art done by a group of men in working en plein air in the Canadian wilderness.

As to the 37  minutes, before I put the timer on, I did make a pencil sketch to analyse the oval and the negative shapes. I put down an acrylic under-painting in raw sienna and cadmium medium which is why it looks sunny where that shines through the hastily applied paint. And I painted in the contours of the bowl, fruit and cloth roughly in acrylic. I squeezed out my paints, put on the timer and painted like mad, even finishing 5 minutes before time.  I was tempted to do a little touching up, but the whole point of the exercise is to just leave it, for goodness sake!!  So I am.

(From a photo by the way).