Stacked Landscapes

reb carlson stacked landscape 2015

In the fall of 2015, I took a Continuing Studies course at SVA focused on contemporary painting with artist Emily Weiner. The class helped me expand my painting knowledge beyond the formal education I had during undergrad in terms of materials and techniques, and also introduced me to oil painting for the first time. I remember vividly one class where she taught us how to achieve a gradient effect by hand. I used that for the assignment that week, which was to develop a painting based off a combination of found images. There were two I was drawing to: a menu card from some Japanese restaurant I went to on a date, and the second a photo of a desertscape I ripped from a magazine. The exercise was a fun one because of the juxtaposition of grayscale and color, gradient (measured brushstrokes) and spray (I may have used a toothbrush), sea and land. This idea of stacking landscapes on top of one another was compelling to me. While they might be different environments and climates, they still had same feeling of endless space, which resonated with me, and is something I'm still meandering over today.

Maybe a year or so ago, I started trying new techniques to plan out paintings. I'm really not much of a sketcher, so I wanted to experiment with using Photoshop. I selected a number of photos I've taken on various trips (Paris, Seattle, South Dakota) and some I've taken in my own backyard of Brooklyn (one day I'll actually have my own backyard) and played around with "stacking" them in combinations. The original intention was to use these as inspiration for paintings and they are certainly not a shining example of photo editing, but even as they are I like them.

Earlier this year, I decided to work on a series inspired by my travels and photos captured in South Dakota. I am literally this close to finishing the third and final painting of the series and just need to break out of a holding pattern of second guessing myself. However, below is the first painting I completed, inspired by the idea of a stacked landscape. The prairie in The Great Plains always reminds me of the ocean and I always think about my dad growing up in South Dakota, and then moving to Delaware for work as an adult and immediately buying a boat.

My goal is to finally finish the third painting of this "South Dakota Series", work on a few paintings for my new nephews (one is overdue as that he already arrived), and then potentially think about playing around with the idea of the stacked landscapes again, albeit with much larger canvases, therefore requiring a rearrangement of my 100 sq. foot she-cave studio. It's going to be a busy summer for sure.