What have been my inspirations to paint? I was fortunate to have an art instructor during my last two high school years who was supportive and encouraged his students to carry out their ideas to see what could develop. His lack of restriction helped me to see the possibilities. But I was lucky to attend the Univ. of New Mexico when they had one of the best Fine Art staffs in the U.S. at that time- the late 1950’s through mid-1960’s. My instructors included Robert Mallory, an abstract expressionist from New York and Walter Kuhlman, a west coast abstract expressionist from San Francisco. We also had Elaine DeKooning of New York as a painting instructor. She was great in getting us to break out of our restrictive small-scale ways of drawing and to take on larger canvas sizes. We painted on large formats with big house painting brushes to loosen up. There was a cheap paint store in Albuquerque where we could go to pick up discontinued gallons of paint- various colors that any fine arts student on a low budget could appreciate ! The more representative instructors included Sam Smith, a watercolorist of some renown and Kenneth Adams, the last surviving member of the Taos School (at that time). Kenneth had this fantastic style of layering transparent watercolor, but he was also a great life drawing instructor. During my years in the West Pacific, another influence was a Philippino watercolorist named Salvación. He had studied at the University of Manila and had developed a style that was very convincing. But like many, I was also influenced by the great watercolorist Winslow Homer and some of the painters of the American Wilderness School.
The Southwestern U.S. because of the contrast, color and dynamic aspect of the landscape. Where old villages and cities exist, I like the sense of history layered over the landscape, where a certain amount of ethnic solidarity is still in evidence. Also the Caribbean because it’s got to be the ultimate watercolorist’s palette- in particular along the island coasts, where the culture is rich and colorful and folks still hang their laundry out to dry on a clothes line- providing the painter with extra colors in the composition.
JMTibbets_watercolor_theforgottenfarmlascrucesnewmexico, a photo by JMTibbets on Flickr.
This is a scanned slide of a painting I did in the 70’s. The slide has not aged well, and the color balance is off, but this is still a nice picture. This is a site around Las Cruces, NM and the building probably doesn’t exist anymore.
I first noticed adobe by trying to paint it. I found that to get that authentic adobe tint, a certain amount of white tempera was necessary along with the earth tones, even in a watercolor of mostly transparent washes. It’s almost impossible to be a landscape painter in New Mexico without noticing the sculptural presence of the earth- in all shapes and colors. At the village level, the painter notes that the natural pigments in the clays and sands are echoed in the hues and tints of local adobe plasters and blocks. Sit long enough and you might observe someone applying an earth plaster in a tone different than that of the adobes beneath. It isn’t long before color and texture in the two worlds of painting work and adobe work meld together. And once the adobe dweller’s curiosity leads outside for a look at the painting, the artist may end up inside, hearing the stories about how the family had built that house in 1790 and see, here are some handprints in the adobes from that time. Of course, artists are always thinking about studios, and adobe is the perfect sculptural, forgiving answer, something you can do yourself while allowing room for experimentation, another characteristic of artists. I’m talking the 1960’s and 70’s when most painters and musicians in the greater Southwest were adobe conscious in one way or another. Around Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Las Cruces, if you rented or purchased a place in the valley, adobe was always preferred. I remember that adobe was always associated with great parties and art- I don’t think that has changed much!
My goals with this blog are to discus my watercolors – their inspirations, process and outcomes. As with most artists, I don’t spend as much time as I would like with my artwork – it seems most of my time is devoted to AdobeBuilder and other Adobe related activities. Hopefully, this blog will encourage me to be more rigorous about promoting my art.
In Adobe, there are many physical rules and codes. But it has also been said that architecture is the mother of the Arts, so perhaps the way to look at it is that Adobe is a sculptural form that makes it appropriate as a shelter for many fine arts and crafts.
And there are other similarities between Adobe and painting. The hues and tints of different soil pigments are also present in the landscape painter’s color tubes, only more finely ground and with a different binder. Textures are shared across the surfaces of watercolor paper as well as the walls themselves. But in the painting world there are few absolute rules as the objective is often to reveal a certain truth by the way things are presented to the viewer, and the artist is free to pursue this without many restrictions on a flat surface. The objective is not a sound structure but a revelation. As Picasso said, “Art is a lie that tells the truth”.
This blog will share my thoughts and opinions about painting and some short discussions of individual artworks. I’ll be posting approximately every two weeks – stop by again!