If you can’t make it to the sea this summer, follow me as I paint it.

The Cape Ann Seacoast, the inspiration for the painting.

Like many of us, I am drawn to the primodial pull of the sea. For me, it is not just any seashore, but the north Atlantic, with its harsh terrain, ice cold water, and thunderous crashing waves. Here, rocks are thrown to the shore by an unrelenting tide.  The rocks are stronger than the water, but the water can be fiercer and can move the rocks at will. This is for me the metaphor for our own lives: we long for smoothness of the water, but we are shaped by the steeliness of the rocks.  
Using an array of textures and colors to illustrate this metaphor, I will depict in my painting this emotional pull of the sea and tell my story much like a poet would use words. 
As you move with me through this creative process, feel free to chime in and ask questions. I have been sharing my process on Instagram live. For updates on live sessions, follow me at https://www.instagram.com/megblackstudios/
And as always, thank you for your support.
Meg


The Genesis of the painting: preparing the background drawing.

The yet to be titled painting at the end of the first week of work.
A black and white print of the image is laid out on the surface of the poured sheet. A sheet of carbon paper is sandwiched underneath. I use a bone folder to trace the image onto the poured sheet as a guide.
The painting in its early stages of completion.

Next week, the painting will be adhered to the frame. The final size will be 40 x 40 x 4 inches.

Applying over-beaten abaca to the surface of the painting.

In this short video, I demonstrate how I apply abaca, that has been beaten for 20+ hours, to the surface of the rock and water painting, to give the illusion of pebbled rocks.

Sale of River Road Prints meets 1000.00 goal for Tri-Town Council.

Writing a check for 1000.00 to the Tri-Town Council. Photo: Jonah Rehak
A group effort to make this moment happen. Photo: Jonah Rehak
Pulling the five winners of the paper making workshop out of a hat. If your name wasn’t called, it was returned back to the bag for next year. Photo: Jonah Rehak

It was a pleasure to present a check on January 6, 2020, to members of the Tri-Town Council for 1000.00 from sales of River Road prints.

The prints are reproductions of the painting in the Topsfield Town Hall that was commissioned in 2018 by the Panella family in memory of their mother, Joan Panella. Per request of the family, proceeds from print sales benefit the work the council does on behalf of the Tri-town community. A video I created of the commission tells this story in detail.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who purchased a print from me and supported the council. I also want to thank council members who included information about the print sale on their web site and in social media posts in a herculean effort to promote the sale. Without this team effort, it would not have been as successful.

Best of all, five people who had purchased a print this year were entered to win a paper making workshop at my studio on Saturday, February 8, 2020. I’ll be sure to post photos of the workshop in future posts so we can celebrate the creative efforts of our community members. If you would like to purchase a print, support the council, and be entered to win a slot in a paper making workshop for 2021, please click on this link. Free shipping or in-person delivery to Boxford, Middleton, and Topsfield.

Thank you to all for supporting Meg Black Studios. What a great community we live in and call home.

Dear Claude Monet, you won’t believe what your painting just sold for!

Claude Monet, Meules, 1890.

Claude Monet is famous for painting many subjects, water lilies, cathedral facades, footbridges, and of course, hay stacks. It is his hay stack painting, Meules,  that captured a huge sum of money at auction recently 110 million dollars to be exact.   What makes these paintings so captivating?  Two ideas: they are all painted in multiples, and the the subject is light as metaphor.  Monet captures the light as it plays off of natural objects.  In fact, he is more interested in light than the subject itself.  Think about it: Monet is at his most prolific during the height of the industrial revolution when change is constant-much like our world today. Light changes at great speed, thus his focus on light as a metaphor for constant change.  By painting in multiples, he revisits the same subject but in a different light.  Years later, Hollywood directs such as Martin Scorsese will create similar effects using film and stage lighting.

I have been thinking of Monet as I have been painting this series of River Road, Topsfield.  To be sure, it is a beautiful place-tree lined winding road, open fields, wild flowers, gorgeous architecture. But, much like the great Impressionist artist himself, I have been focusing on the natural sunlight as it moves through the day, through the seasons, and through all sorts of weather conditions-something New England is famous for!  And, in keeping with his idea of multiples, I am painting in a series, five paintings to be exact, two of which are featured here.

 

 

Meg Black, Morning light, River Road, Topsfield. 2019. In progress.

Two River Road paintings in progress, showing different light effects.

 

Chiaroscuro, River Road, and Caravaggio: a painterly connection.

This is a photo I took of River Road, Topsfield in the early morning. The light coming in from the left creates a strong shadow on the road.

I was lucky to see the original painting by Caravaggio in Rome this past spring. It is still in its original location in the Contarelli Chapel in San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.

Early morning, River Road, Topsfield. The light in this photo has a dramatic quality that reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Caravaggio. Caravaggio placed light colors against dark to create a dramatic effect in his work, known as chiaroscuro in Latin. The early morning light plays against the dark shadows giving off a similar quality. Caravaggio does this in his painting of The Calling of Mathew.

Rocks and Water: Art historical inspirations.

I am often asked “what influences you as an artist?” The answer depends on the subject I am working on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For this Rock and Water as self-portrait painting, I considered the sculpture of Doryphoros (the spear barer) by Polykleitus.
In this classical Greek work, Polycletus does an outstanding job with the zigzagging lines that flow up the sculpture. Notice how the feet are going in one direction, the knees in the opposite direction from the feet, the hips follow the knees and are contrasted with direction of the chest, etc., all the way up to the head, which follows the direction of the feet-where the sculpture begins. Brilliant. I tried to do something similar with this painting: the rocks are rough, the tide pool smooth; the next set of rocks is rough again, the shoreline is smooth; the waves are rough, the ocean water is smooth, the sky is rough again-same as when the painting begins with the rough rocks. Thank you Polycletus for being such a great composition teacher.

 

 

 

The other artist I was influenced by as I worked on this painting was Winslow Homer. His seascapes are churning, rough, jagged. I love the blue/greens he uses. He gives seascape painting a good name. I love anything he does where it concerns water. I tried to make my waves the same blue/green color and make them churn as he does.

 

 

 

Finally, I have to say JMW Turner’s Slave Ship with its boiling water and death defying waves is just awe inspiring. The way he makes a yellow sun appear angry and how the ship is tossing in the wind is one of my favorite moments in art history. Very happy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston owns this famous painting so I can visit it often.

Day Seven: Rocks and Water as Self Portrait.

Day seven. The water section needs a lot of work-more energy, increase the crashing waves. This is the part of the creative process that is difficult. The painting feels to me that it is going nowhere. Faith in the process is crucial at this point. #megblackstudios

Day Six: Rocks and Water as Self Portrait, applying the foreground.

Rocks and water as metaphor for self portrait, day 6. I see the pool of water in the foreground-quiet, cool, reflective (literally), as the quietness of life-cell phone free! The waves , however, represent the endless activity of life-crashing through our reverie when we least expect it. #seascape #megblackstudios.

Rocks and Water as Self Portrait: Day five

End of day five: sides of painting are glued down to the armature and pulp is added to the surface.

Day Four: Applying the background colors.

Day four: Today I applied the background colors and reconfigured the palette. The sides of the painting are as of yet not glued to the back of the armature. That will happen sometime next week. My goal today is to shore up the details in the rock areas and add more motion to the waves.