Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mohawk Trail

A third version of the Cold River at the same location in the Mohawk Trail State Forest.  I did wander up and down the river, and stopped at several places along the river on Route 2 to see what was there to paint.  One spot had a sign asking fishermen to release all salmon caught.  I never would have expected salmon to be there.  What is there along a several mile stretch are deep gorges, steep mountains, dense forest, and the Cold River.  I wonder why it's called the Cold River.

Monday, April 20, 2015


This 12x12 oil on panel oil I did a few days ago when the weather was nicer,  in the early afternoon when the building was backlit.  That's Mount Greylock in the background.  It's a composition I'll return to in a larger format soon.

The Cold River

Yesterday, a nice sunny day, I visited the Cold River at the Mohawk Trail State Forest.  It's not that far away, but the terrain is quite rugged and wild in appearance, and very challenging to paint.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Old Barn and New Grass

Yesterday's old barn effort, a 9x12 oil on panel.  The newly minted spring grass with the blue sky is very appealing at this time of the year.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Same Old Barn

One painting I did on site in about an hour the day before yesterday, the second I did in the studio yesterday, and took more time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Risky Business

Yesterday, I left the Green River for some old barns.  Painting outdoors and quickly forces risk taking.  If the initial conception and realization is good, then the only problem is when to stop.  If the start is difficult, there's seldom time to recover.  The risk is painting a failed picture.  You trust your first idea and then learn from what follows, to improve those first ideas, and accept the failures as a normal part of the process.  For example, baseball players seem to accept failure as part of their work.  As batters, they will fail seven out of ten times even though they want to get a hit every time up.  It's the three out of ten that makes them who they are, but they can't get the three without the seven.

Yesterday I did four paintings.  They were all of compositions I had conceived the day before to improve my chances.  I'm still pondering the results.  A painting is all about the execution, not the conception.  However, even if the first realization is not successful, it can lead to a second more successful version, which is what I am going to try next.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It Happens So Fast

Yesterday morning I was at the Green River again: a 9x12 oil on panel.  Rivers are tough to paint.  Not only does the water surface keep changing (and quickly), but the sunlight changes as well (more slowly so that you don't realize it).  Some artists claim that they remember what it was like when they started to paint.  How can they remember when the changes are staring them in the face, and may be more appealing?  Work fast? I think (and I hope) we end up with a fast moving painting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rushing By

A 12x24 oil on canvas of the Green River rapids at the Hopper Road bridge at Mount Hope Park.  All the rocks seem like liquid also since either water or light runs over them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Need to Rediscover

The poet Charles Simic writes, "Emerson asks in his famous essay 'Nature' why Americans should not also enjoy an original relation to the universe and have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition.  This notion that the truth has to be rediscovered time and time again makes sense in a country with a population of diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, and his call for self-reliance has continued to inspire whatever originality our literature and arts have accomplished to date."

The 12x9 oil on panel I did the other day at Sheep Hill trying to rediscover something.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rapidly and Calmly

Yesterday morning I went back to Mount Hope Park to draw the  Green River from one particular spot where the water shoots by.   I was sitting there quietly and still next to the river, except I was probably drawing as furiously as the water was jumping, so the image I just conjured up, of being passive next to an active fury, maybe is not right, since this pen and ink image that I first conjured up is quite feverish.  The day before when I made the other drawing, I saw an otter or marten, a sleek black animal larger than a cat with a long tail, jump into the river and with spurts quickly move through the rapids to the other bank.  The animal moved against the water quite calmly, as if the rapids weren't there.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Imagining Spring

Maybe today is the first day of spring.  It wasn't yesterday.  All I could manage is this drawing of the Green River.   It shows the bend at the Hopper Road Bridge.

I've been trying to catch up on my reading.  In an essay in the NYRB the poet Charles Simic wrote last summer, "I live between two worlds, the one I see with my eyes open and the one I see with my eyes closed.  Unlike other people, I regard the two as equals and trust my eyes as much as my imagination...  Poetry is not just a record of things seen and remembered but a deeper reading of them with the aid of the imagination."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Green River on the Rocks

Another version of the Green River at the Hopper Road bridge, a 12x12 oil on canvas.  After looking carefully at the bridge, which appears to be disintegrating, I wonder about it every time I drive over it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Green River Boil

A 9x12 oil on canvas of the boiling waters of the Green River at the Hopper Road bridge.  Several large boulders squeeze the water into narrow channels as it passes the bridge and makes a left.  In the summertime this location is a calmer swimming hole.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Drawing Green River Water

From the calm waters of Josiah's Pond to the boiling cauldron of the Green River at the entrance to Hopper Road is but a short distance.  I started with some drawings the day before and yesterday, two of which are here, though I had to depart yesterday morning when it started to rain, and it hasn't stopped yet.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Josiah's Pond at Sheep Hill

An 18x24 oil on canvas of Josiah's Pond, the gazebo and the shed at Sheep Hill.  I tried to maintain that low sun effect from yesterday's drawing, provide an interesting composition, vary the brushstrokes, and keep the painting relatively simple.