Painting by the Phases of the Moon – Part 1

by Alden Cole on April 16, 2017 · 0 comments

Bartram'sLilyPondWP2008: Lily Pond at Bartram’s Garden • oil on linen, 16″ x 12″ • collection of the artist • $100 plus shipping and handling

Years ago a knowing friend suggested that I consider making art by the phases of the Moon; starting new projects after the new moon, and completing older projects after the full moon; a fortnight each of focusing on the new and the old. I’ve dabbled with the concept over the years from time to time without any commitment to testing the strength of the idea by persistent application. Until two months ago, when I decided to put it to the test. And the results have been surprisingly delightful. As an artist there are always new ideas bubbling up, constantly, some demanding at least a quick sketch, others a more thought-out drawing. My files are filled with drawings on paper in various stages of development. Narrowing the multitude of concepts down to one or a few possible projects to pursue is always a fun challenge.

DetailOld&NewWPIn addition, I go through old sketches on a somewhat regular basis, often in springtime, to see if any old idea strikes a resonant chord demanding contemporary expression. In the process I often come across old work that has been put aside uncompleted, just waiting for the right moment for me to take up the correct tool and bring that piece to a level of finish that usually encourages me to sign the work at last. Or sometimes, as with the painting above which I had decided to submit to The Plastic Club’s April show – Community & Point of View – I suddenly see what has been missing in a painting that I thought finished, signed even. With this particular painting, the missing element was depth in the painted lily, which had remained a flat yellow since painting it in 2008. Inspired to bring the painting to true completion, I got out the paints and in less than a minute I had added those touches of orange that you see in the comparison details above which turned an ordinary painting into an extraordinary painting. What a rush of satisfaction!

MississippiFromEagleRidgeFRWP2014-2017: The Mighty Mississippi as seen from Eagle Ridge, Ferryville WI • acrylics on canvas-board, 12″ x 24″ • collection of Lynn & Chris Amundsen, Colorado.

In 2014 while visiting my
LastDay@EagleRidgeWPfirst cousin Marge Cole Thompson at her home in Wisconsin, which features an extraordinary view of the Mississippi from the high bluffs where their extraordinary house is situated overlooking the river, I started a painting with a quick pencil sketch from Sunset Point, where Marge and her husband
3StagesWPDewey often toast the evening on a summer night. The spot has an amazing view, as you can see from an actual wide-angle photograph of the scene, above. My would-be painting remained in the pencil-sketch stage until October 2015 when it received its first coloration; however I failed to bring it to a finish at the time, who knows why? A whole year and a half passed before I committed the time and energy (during the March waning moon I might add) to bring the painting to a state of completion. If I do say so, I think it’s one of the finest landscape paintings I’ve yet produced.

InkedDiamondGS-WP1984-2017: Connectivity • pen & ink drawing on paper, 11.5″ x 11.5″ • collection of the artist • drawn on the reverse side of the drawing Sagittarius, below.

Another waning moon project was to bring two drawings that are back-to-back on a single piece of paper to a finish. The original sketch for the drawing at left was done in non-repro blue pencil, which was so lightly suggested that it was virtually impossible to read the drawing’s details. Started sometime in the 80s, I inked the drawing during March’s waning moon.

Sagittarius-Pencil&InkedWP1984-2017: Sagittarius • pencil plus pen & ink on paper, 11.5″ x 11.5″ • collection of the artist

During the 80s while working for Samuel Weiser Inc. in Cape Neddick Maine,
SagittariusInkedDuoGS-WPI conceived the idea of doing a series of arts depicting the astrological signs. However I didn’t get very far, devoting time only to a drawing of Sagittarius, the centaur. On the left is how developed the original drawing was, using both non-repro blue pencil plus regular graphite pencil. On the right, is the inked art, finished during March’s waning moon after having looked at this particular drawing many times over the years. Once accomplished, I started experimenting with the resultant graphic, seen above; another candidate for the AldenArt Coloring Book.

(to be continued)

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