Newberry, Nature’s Castle, pastel

Is the ground in a painting anti-surface?

Newberry, Nature's Castle, 2020, pastel
Newberry, Nature’s Castle, 2020, pastel

I kept having the feeling that this was a castle and had to remind myself that it was nature. The geological curving line, are some kind of lighter stone., and gave me a sense of an ascending rampart. If this were Greece, there would be a little white church on top, if it were France, perhaps a monastery? But it is somewhere near the New Mexico and Texas border.

There are tons of half-hues that go well with the dark earthy slate-gray paper. There is a soft beige haze from the rising from the dusty earth. There are green and peach highlights on stone band and horizontal accents of orange and lemon on the ground. My description reminds me of a wine label and of a wonderful book by Australian author Eric Rolls, Celebration of the Senses. Hard to find.

A weird problem and surprisingly difficult to do in landscape painting is to pull the ground towards us. The reason it is tough to do is that ground surface is perpendicular to the paper, in a way the ground, or something like a table top, is anti-surface. Fun puzzle. And this drawing feels right to me.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 10/21/2020

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