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Sunday, October 1, 2017

October Paintings

Copyright 2017, Jim Lane
Central Park in October, 2017, Jim Lane
I don't normally paint landscapes except when they involve commissions, such as family farms and as backgrounds for various other painted content. It's not that I dislike them, I simply don't find them much of a challenge. Except in rare cases, they are little more then camouflage--hiding a white canvas behind loosely applied layers of green, yellow, light-blue, and earth tone pigments in an attempt to replicate the beauty of nature. In this light, even an inexperienced artist will have at least a modest degree of success.
An October Day (also known as Cragsmoor Post Office),
 Edward Lamson Henry
However, when I tried switching mediums for the sake of some free watercolor instruction, I found the painting effort as described above more of a challenge than I'd expected. The stone bridge titled Central Park in October (top) is the result of that effort and marks my newest painting. It is one of a series of eleven painted aboard the Cunard liner Queen Mary 2 during our recent round-trip to and from England earlier this month.
October Morning, 1956, Robert Wood.
If any subject matter will bring the landscape painter out of the proverbial "closet" it's the wildly adventurous prospect of daubing a wide range of colors all over the upper realms of his or her canvas. Add to that a few dabs on the ground representing fallen leaves and landscape painters easily find themselves in foliage heaven. Perhaps one of the most popular such painters, and one who is surprisingly restrained in his subtle fall colors, was Robert Wood, as seen in his October Morning (above).
October Gold, 2013, Mandy Budan
Red and black do not make a
very convincing orange.
In addition to various levels of Realism, the October landscape also lends itself to a multitude of abstract expressions of autumn beauty from the stark simplicity of Mondrian to that of contemporary Utah artist, Mandy Budan, and her October Gold (above), paint-ed in 2013. And what collection of October paintings would be completer without a Nor-man Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover (right), this one dating from October 23, 1920. Back in those days, when color printing was both technically difficult, and thus quite expensive, The Post limited their artist to just two colors, red and black, along with any halftones they could come up with.

La Pinta, La Santa Maria, and La Nina.
There is, of course, much more to October art than colored leaves and Halloween. Inasmuch as everyone loves a three-day weekend, since 1970, Americans have celebrated Columbus day on the second Monday in October (falling on the 9th, this year) unless you happen to be a Native American. Not that it matters much today, but the Bahamian island of Guanahani was first sighted on October 12, 1492. In Burbank, California, and the entire state of Vermont, by the way, it's called Indigenous Peoples Day. South Dakota calls the holiday Native American Day.

To kids, October means only one thing--
Halloween, here depicted by Tammy Layle.

Although it's seldom celebrated
anywhere anymore, this month
is also known for Russia's
October Revolution, now
exactly a hundred years ago.


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