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New Mexico I’ve Never Been

November 11, 2019

“New Mexico, I’ve Never Been” 16×16″ Oil on Panel

Actually I have been to Grants New Mexico. But I’ve never been to this particular place. I’m not even sure where it is. This is painted from one of Laurel’s photos. She was out driving around while I was in class. I ran into this view on the hard drives and selected it for a small painting.

So why bring it up? I don’t know – it’s kind of a landmark for me. This is one more step past the line where I’m not a plein air painter anymore.

I used to be so religious about the idea that I had to paint from life. For very good reasons. It really is the best way to learn about painting.

I used to think the actual experience of color was the most important thing. But frankly cameras have surpassed the human eye in twenty years I’ve been an artist.

Today I would say it’s the inherent time limits that painting plein air imposes. That’s probably the best teacher. The motivation instilled by all the obstacles you have to overcome – finding the place, transporting yourself and your gear, and then trying to work in moderate comfort (or not). All these things effectively put you on a ticking clock.

Learning to paint *decisively*. Learning to mix color and put it in the right spot the first time. Those are key.

But, as artists, we must progress. Like the shark, you suffocate if you stop moving. The process of painting in the studio in oils is so dramatically different than working on location in watercolor – by switching modes so drastically I’ve been able to push my picture making so much further.

But the other thing about this piece. It may mark the point where I’ve painted everything I have ‘in the archives’. That is, all the photos that I’ve filed away as ‘you should paint this some day’.

Now, of course there are thousands more. Laurel has been a passionate photographer for this whole time. So I should never say never.

But for this set of work – I’m starting to feel – it might be done in five or ten more paintings.

I still want to do some really big ones :)

What does that mean for the next body of work? – I’m not sure! I’m taking some time off this November to focus on writing. (Thanks to Nanowrimo).

Then I’m not likely to do anything serious in Dec.

So it looks like 2020 will be an a year for a fresh start!

I’d be pleased if you clicked over to my Instagram where I’ve been presenting these impasto oil paintings, and had a look at the entire series.

Let me know what you think!

~Thanks, Marc


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Carmela Sunnyvale permalink
    November 11, 2019 12:15 PM

    Marc–what a spectacular series. It looks like you are really enjoying the process…thanks for sharing it with us (and thanks to your wife who has inspired you with her photographs).

  2. Judy Sopher permalink
    November 11, 2019 1:49 PM

    This is wonderful work. Having lived in New Mexico for over 20 years, I understand the beauty of the colors there .

    But I also appreciate your honesty as to using photographs. While I have painted from life for many years, I now paint mainly from photographs. I have been told and have read that one should only paint from life and have had this guilt for some time. Then I learned that many great artists, like Degas for instance, used a camera.

    I also am enjoying your growth as an artist by changing media and technique. An artist should grow. And your work continues to be excellent. Thanks for this post,

  3. November 11, 2019 2:44 PM

    Beautiful painting, Marc! Just hopped over to your Instagram… brilliant work!!!!!! :-)

  4. November 11, 2019 3:34 PM

    A bit off the subject, but I know from reading your emails that you want to write novels, stories, and other stuff. Might I suggest that you get your site hosted by where you can continue your blog and also sell products, paintings, digital publications, and real books.

    Or, you can dovetail a shopify account to this one. I am very very impressed with it. I’ve been involved online since the 1980, and developed for the Internet (as well as programmed) since 1995, and I’ve never seen any platform as robust as this one.

    I am still building my site ( based on the shopify engine. Should anyone look, you’ll be seeing changes over the next few days, but my blogs are stable and I’m enjoying doing them since I started this subject about a month ago.

    I mean — when I see your stunning pictures, I think maybe you could package them in some way, too, in addition to just displaying them. There are POD companies that do canvases and posters, plus you can just sell your original work.

    I’ve had a blog for many years and I gotta say being able to package my own work for sale along with blog postings (I’m a writer and illustrator and love blogging) is much more satisfying than just posting blogs.

  5. November 12, 2019 1:14 PM

    I competed the November challenge a few years ago, cant imagine trying to do much art at the same time.

    What you said about painting from plien air and now not so much resonates. I was getting frustrated, looking for someplace to sketch, and not always finding something. Preaching to others that a sketch is not a photo so it does not have to be exact, yet when doing a sketch almost feeling compelled and limited to “make it look right.” Like you, recently I am painting, in acrylic on canvas, what looks good to me, inspired by real scenes, often from photos, but with no intention of reproducing.

    Just today i returned from two weeks in Tokyo and Seoul, i bout Sumi-e brushes and paper. Dabbled with them a bit over there and am completely entranced by this whole new style. So that is how the new direction for growth That you talk about is taking me now. Thanks as always for your insights.

  6. November 17, 2019 12:12 PM

    I really appreciate your candor with regard to process and your thinking w/r/t your work, especially as it’s going through changes and you’re in flux.

  7. Cora Brown permalink
    December 16, 2019 9:34 AM

    Thanks for saying, “It’s OK.” OK to get interested in a different medium. OK to paint in the studio from photos. Ok to enjoy more than one way to make a picture. I can’t wait to follow your journey through writing more. I recently watched your online classes on travel sketching and people sketching. You are so good at explaining and demonstrating your process for successful mixed media sketching.

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