Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hoosick


On Monday, I visited a delightful pond in Hoosick, New York.  This 9x12 oil on panel is the first of what I hope are more plein air paintings at this site.  There was no breeze, just some ducks that disturbed the water to keep it interesting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Looking Across to Eastport


Thursday morning at Campobello Island I walked down the front lawn at the Hubbard Cottage where I set up and made this 12x16 oil on panel.  It's a view across Friars Bay towards Eastport, Maine, the first place the sun shines each day in the United States.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

Floating Wharf at Welshpool


This 9x12 oil on panel is the third painting I did last Wednesday, this time at Welshpool, on Campobello Island.  It represents a floating dock/warehouse, which appears to be connected to the salmon farm out in the bay.  Located in the bay were several large, flat, round cages, which we were told were for raising salmon.  This painting was done late in the afternoon at high tide.  My wife and I were on Campobello Island attending a Road Scholar program on Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, wonderfully presented by Linda and Robert Godfrey.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Herring Cove


A 12x16 oil on panel view from the high point at Herring Cove on Campobello Island.  I learned later that I was standing near the spot where Eleanor Roosevelt sat against a tree in 1962 for the last photo taken of her before she died.  She loved this location, and I can understand why.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wilson's Beach at Campobello Island


Wednesday this week there were no clouds or rain in the weather forecast at Campobello Island, but the day still started with heavy fog.  I drove to Wilson's Beach, set up to paint and waited for the fog to dissipate.  As you can see, it was low tide.  The owner of the largest boat, called "The Godsend," came by to chat, as did several other people from the area.  This is a 12x16 oil on panel.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sheep Hill, and Corot Again


This morning I spent a couple hours painting at Sheep Hill with Valeri Larko and her students.  One person said that my painting's parts were moving.  Maybe because everything is topsy-turvy, which is not all my fault since the splendid barns are topsy-turvy.

One more Corot anecdote:  Corot spent six years, from the age of 19 until 25, working in different cloth merchant shops.  His father was trying to get him trained in the family business, but Corot was indifferent to the idea for a long time.  Awareness of cloth and textiles would later show up in the various costumes he acquired for his models to wear.  But, according to the story, he chanced to see a work by the English painter Richard Parkes Bonington in a Paris shop window, and, as a consequence, became determined to pursue a career as a painter.  The story is considered 'apocryphal' but something did happen to Corot at the age of 25.  When he went to Italy a couple years later to paint plein-air, he was older than most of his fellow artists, and his maturity helped him considerably to assume the role of a budding master.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sheep Hill with Valeri Larko



Here's an 11x14 oil on panel that I did this afternoon, while painting at Sheep Hill alongside Valeri Larko and her enthusiastic students.  Valeri Larko is a tremendous urban painter.  You can see her work at www.valerilarko.com.  But I discovered that she's also a great teacher and can paint anything like a master.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Walk Down Fifth Avenue and the Death of Corot


A large 26x32 oil on canvas of a view down Fifth Avenue near The Met and Central Park.

Believe it or not, I have another Corot anecdote, from the Michael Clarke book: "Viollet-le-Duc's account of the event [Corot's funeral service] in the Journal des Debats reveals that the service, at which the requiem was sung by the celebrated baritone and collector of Corot's work, Jean-Baptiste Faure, was somewhat spoiled by the excessive complaints of the officiating cleric that the press had not sufficiently reported that Corot, a devout man, had died a Christian.  These rantings were cut short by an unfortunate young madwoman who stood up amongst the packed congregation and let out a series of piercing cries."

Maybe she was his Muse.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Corot Weekend


This painting, a 20x28 oil on canvas, represents the view down Bergen Street as one approaches Washington Avenue after having gone past Grand Avenue in Brooklyn.  One can't miss the triangular shaped building on the corner of Bergen and Washington.

From Corot and The Art of Landscape by Michael Clarke, the best short book on Corot that I've found, comes another Corot anecdote:  "...Corot suffered an official rebuff from the art establishment when in 1865 the final choice for the Grand Medal of Honour at the Salon rested between one of his landscapes and a portrait of Emperor Napoleon III by Alexandre Cabanal (1824-89), an artist whose sanitized nudes, such as the famous Birth of Venus (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) of 1863, represented the height of fashionable taste at the time.  The verdict eventually went in Cabanal's favour after the twenty-sixth walk-through by the jury!"

This past weekend I visited the Corot gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The room contains twenty-two (22) Corot paintings from all periods of his life, and most are masterpieces.  In addition two nearby rooms contained dozens of late 18th and early 19th century plein-air paintings done in Italy by Corot's colleagues, including two more Corots.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Perils of Painting


The corner of Nelson Street and Hamilton Avenue in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn: a 14x14 oil on panel painting.

Though I recently said I was offering a final Corot anecdote, here's another:  In 1833, Corot painted two views for the owner of a cloth factory in Soissons, one of the factory itself, a major painting now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  For both paintings, Corot received nothing.  One Corot scholar wrote, "Corot was considered an amateur; does one offer money to such people?"

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Figure Drawing


Here's a pencil drawing that I made recently.  It's approximately 14x17 inches.

It's Hard to See


A 12x12 oil on panel of the corner of Smith Street and Hamilton Avenue next to the Gowanus Expressway in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.

Here's something to think about, a line from the Robert Hass poem "Consciousness,"


It's hard to see what you're seeing with, to see what being is as an

activity through the instrument of whatever-it-is we have being in.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Tree in Brooklyn and Expectations


A 12x12 oil on canvas of a sycamore tree on Coles Street looking toward Sebring Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

In a short, perceptive essay on Corot, S. Lane Faison, Jr. wrote, "He did not not sell a picture until he was fifty-six, a fact which should remind us how little his work conformed to the academic expectations of his day."  This may seem hard to believe today.  But the real lesson about "expectations" affecting and interfering with one's vision is not restricted to the 19th century.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Gowanus Expressway and How to Judge a Book


Facing north this time, we present a 12x12 oil on canvas view of Hamilton Avenue under the Gowanus Expressway.

One final anecdote from the Corot catalog: Corot painted several pictures of women reading.  "According to Theophile Silvestre, a contemporary of Corot, the artist hardly ever read, but he bought books along the quays, 'exclusively for their shapes and colors,' in order to put them into the hands of his models."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Site Sublime


Another corner off Hamilton Avenue, Hicks Street and Luquer, near the Gowanus Expressway in Red Hook, early in the morning.  This is a 12x12 oil on canvas.

Maybe apropos to this site in Brooklyn, I read in the Corot catalog another story about him: one time he was visiting friends in a small French village.  There he encountered a "... site so sublime that he fell on his knees before it, arms raised to the sky."