Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Power of Suggestion

Here I return to a series of small Brooklyn paintings, this one of the corner of Nevins and Douglas looking towards Butler. I have a fondness for the power of suggestion when it comes to painting.  6x8 oil on panel.

Monday, January 27, 2020

A Portrait

My neighbor suggested recently that I do more portraits, so I asked if he would pose for me.  He graciously agreed.  This is a drawing of classical music composer Stephen Dankner.  14x11 charcoal on paper.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Yellow Truck In The Snow

Yesterday was a mild sunny day in January so I drove up the last muddy stretch of Hopper Road to paint a portrait of the yellow truck.  Such a quiet and excruciatingly beautiful place.  The only noise was a cow in the barn occasionally striking the wall with a hoof.  9x12 oil on linen.

Friday, January 24, 2020

First Of The Year

My first plein air painting of the year.  I stood in the snow at the top of Sheep Hill looking towards Mount Greylock and the Hopper from a spot I usually visit when the weather is warmer.  I don't know why, I half-expected the paths to be cleared of snow.   Present were footprints of a few intrepid walkers, both human and other creatures. 9x12 oil on linen.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Figure Drawing

From a recent figure drawing session: 16x12 charcoal and white pastel on paper.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Rock And A Hard Place To Draw

The rock has been sitting in my backyard for ages.  I've always wanted to draw it.  The other drawing depicts a path through some high bushes not far away.  It is hard to draw just a bunch of bushes.  Luckily the sun kept popping out.  Another morning in the sixties, but now the temperature is dropping.  9x12, pencil and graphite on paper.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Warm and Windy

To draw I often go to a place.   This time it was the top of the Clark hill, where the trees are pretty beat up from the wind.  Today it was so windy my hat flew off a couple times, but even though it's January 11th, the temperature was 61 degrees F.  I like this spot because of its proximity to so many paintings that I love.  Both 9x12 pencil and graphite on paper.

Friday, January 10, 2020

A Tree Too Blunt

For this drawing I walked up the road this morning.  What I'm trying to do with varying success is get a range of tones, and an assemblage of marks that coalesce into the image, but I want to do it over the whole sheet.  If you get too close, you only see marks.  My instruments are too blunt for the drawing to look like an etching.  12 x 9 pencil and graphite on Bristol paper.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Patch of Snow

There was a patch of snow behind the bush that made the branches stand out.  I think I'll introduce a bit more contrast into the next drawing.  Another view from the empty studio.  12x9 pencil on paper.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Tale of Two Drawings

One drawing I started yesterday looking out the window when there was more snow on the ground, and the other I did this morning with less snow on the ground.  The sunlight appeared briefly both days to light up the bush.  Not much of a tale.  9x12 inches.  Pencil on paper.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Old Selfie

A detail from an ancient self-portrait that dates back to 1968, a date I'm guessing at, since I don't really remember.  It's one of the paintings that was hiding in the back of my now temporarily empty studio.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Grey Outside the Window

Sometimes I just like grey.  The trees in winter all blend into each other forming a mass of grey.  This is a view looking out of the window from the empty studio. 12 x 9 inches.  Pencil on paper.

Renoir told his son Jean that at twenty he "was already aware that a few pencil strokes are worth more than any number of theories..."  This was the explanation he offered to justify why he didn't follow up an invitation to meet again with the landscape painter Diaz in Paris. "We would have exchanged ideas and discussed theories."  His first encounter with Diaz happened when Renoir had started to paint out-of-doors in the Fontainebleau Forest.  Diaz appeared just in time to save him from being beat up by a group of punks.  In this context Renoir's excuse for avoiding Diaz is weak, but his words about pencil strokes are still true.  Pencil strokes can be a way of searching without theorizing.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Drawing, Drawing, Drawing

This morning I read on the @diebenkornfoundation Instagram account that Richard Diebenkorn worked only on paper for two years, 1981-2, before returning to painting on canvas.  I might be wrong about this, but the implication is that this was a transition time for Diebenkorn, who went on to dedicate the final years of his career with the great Ocean Park paintings, a series of paintings that led from one to another if there ever was one.  I think that Philip Guston went through a similar period where he did only drawings prior to his last phase of Klu Klux Klansmen and smoking cigars.  Focusing upon drawing for a while can be a fruitful method to uncover next steps.

Three drawings that I did at Sheep Hill in Williamstown, MA one or a few summers ago.  7x14 inches.  Charcoal on paper.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Emptying The Studio

Years ago I setup a studio in a second floor bedroom, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  I covered the carpet with drop cloths to keep it clean, but now we are replacing all the carpet because it's old and has noticeable wear and tear elsewhere on the same floor.  So I've been taking apart the bedroom studio (as well as the other rooms) for the new carpet installation.  This painful and traumatic emptying naturally leads me to wonder if it's time to re-think not just the studio layout, but everything about what happens there.  Imagine finding a subject that one could keep painting and re-inventing, one painting leading to the next painting.  This happened to Philip Guston when he started doing his crazy cartoonish paintings.  Jean Renoir writes about his father: "He told me one day that he regretted not having painted the same picture--he meant the same subject--all his life.  In that way, he would have been able to devote himself entirely to what constituted 'creation' in painting: the relations between form and color."  Giorgio Morandi is an example of doing this.  In any case, I'm just thinking, but not too hard.

The accompanying painting is not the bedroom studio, but another studio space that I share with two other artists.   I painted it four years ago in January.  16 x 20 oil on panel.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

An Early Painting

On the first day of the new year I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.  On a day of firsts,  I'm posting probably one of the first paintings I did in art school that has survived.  It's probably not the first, since I suspect from the pentimenti that I overpainted something else.   The painting probably dates to 1967-8, when I was a student at the Boston Museum School.  24 x 20 inches, oil on canvas.