The “Plank Paintings”, more formally known as Summer Lake from Winter Ridge, has long been finished. I wrote about it earlier, under the rubric of The Project from Hell.
I finished the last coats a bit more than a year ago, and I recorded much of the process along the way. Then life intervened and I never got the panels photographed. Finally, however, I finally got the finished paintings lined up for photography is my new studio.
The panorama is 1 foot high by 16 feet long, oil on cedar planks, painted in 2013, 1014. More specifically, the substrate consists of eight 12 x 24 inch planks, harvested, with the help of the talented Rachel Streeter, from old building that sat on the land where the Playa Foundation was built. Playa, the Foundation, is located on Summer Lake, near Paisley, Oregon, in the far southeastern quarter of the state.
A “playa”, as a geologic feature, is a lake which has no outlet to the ocean. The most famous one in the U.S. is perhaps Death Valley. The Amargosa, across a mountain range from Death Valley, where I painted in 2009, is a playa. Summer Lake sits at the northern edge of basin and range country, and forms its own playa, with Winter Ridge rearing above it.
The paintings were something of a challenge, beginning with raw wood that needed to be sanded and primed with an oil medium.
Once the horizon was established on the paintings, according to my physical sense of that sky and earth, I could start painting. Each painting was lined up with the previous one (although I started from the center, of course).
My desire was to capture something of the sweep of the playa as seen from above, on Winter Ridge, during a bright September day.
Here’s a photo of the finished panorama:
Summer Lake from Winter Ridge, the Panorama, 1 foot by 16 feet, oil on cedar plank, 2013/2014
Below are photos of the individual planks:
Below are the two center panels, 4 & 5, plus bits of the ones beside them:
These panels were the culminating work from a short residency at the Playa Foundation, during the fall of 2013. The planks were courtesy of the Foundation, and it was actually Rachel, musician, tile setter, and finder of wood and energy, who provided the ambition and tools to move me along on this rather ambitious project. I used the grain of the raw wood to guide the earth images, allowing any imperfections in the boards to remain. The challenge of finding the nuances within the playa, sand and sky, was almost equal to the challenge of preparing the wood. And of course, I feel in the panorama a kinship with that glorious land of southern Oregon, a place of blazing beauty and tough conditions.
Written in January 2015, from NE 86th Ave,