Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Still Life again

The weather stays cold---it warms up enough to tantalize but gets cold again the next day. In the summer here it is so hot that it seems it could never be cool again, and in the winter it's so biting cold you can't believe it will ever be warm. This is  the first place I've ever lived where you always get the feeling that it's a permanent temperature.  

This painting is dark. It's meant to be that way. 

Yesterday news came that was very sad. In the town where I used to live there was an artist named Ken Auster, and he was known for painting a variety of subject matter, but in particular his cityscapes received a good deal of attention. His interior scenes of restaurants, with barkeepers and other imagery  were very strong, and the colors attractive and sophisticated.  The times I met him he always seemed to have more energy than most people. I did not ever study with him or paint with him, or get to know him well. He painted thickly, requiring lots of paint, which I noticed right away since I use tons of paint.  (They say that when red-headed people are in a crowd they always notice each other, so maybe this is something similar) So, when I found out he sold the same paint he used (Classic Oil Paints) I began going to his studio to buy my paint, because I wasn't too thrilled with the paint I had been using. His studio was on the same street where I lived. Yesterday I found out he has died. He was not old. I don't think he was 65 yet. That's too young. 

To me he struck me each time I interacted with him as someone who had a healthy, realistic ego, and was happy about working hard. I know he did more than most people do to publicize and elevate plein air painting at a local level,  and in particular encourage paintings that were atypical---street scenes, night views, unusual vantage points---instead of the relentless 'pretty picture' disease that has done such a good job of hobbling the plein air juggernaut that has been rolling fult tilt the last few years. 

When I went to his studio to buy my paint, he was always cheery, and never idle. He taught workshops like mad and painted like mad, and organized other people like mad to do the same thing. It seemed to me that he was doing many things extremely well, which is so much harder than it looks. He died too young. 

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