Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Luce Road

I had a few minutes available today so I made this quick pastel sketch of melting snow on Luce Road in Williamstown, MA.  I hope all the snow is melted now.  There's a small farmstand in the middle ground, and the Taconic Mountains are in the background.  I love walking up this road.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grandma's House and a Red Barn

This pastel is a larger version of the red barn and yellow house in Williamstown, MA, that I did a few weeks back.

This pastel is the first in a series that I call memory paintings. It's based on an old photo of my grandmother's house, which has a mythic presence in my remembrance of things past. I am not completely pleased with it, but more will come, and hopefully they will improve. My sister has compiled a group of old photos showing relatives posing for posterity, which she put on a cd for me. I am as much if not more so interested in the backgrounds of the photos. Little did I imagine years ago when I first saw the photos how important the backgrounds would become. This image is mainly the house with one of my aunts with the bicycle.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Early One Morning at the Canal

This is a view of the D&R canal looking north towards Lambertville from the Grant Street bridge in Titusville, NJ.  The sun has just come over the edge of the trees from behind on the right.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Early Morning View at the End of the Street

This is a more extended variation on the pastel sketch I did yesterday: placing the background in the foreground, and the foreground in the background.  The low rising sun strikes the other side of Delaware River in Pennsylvania first, giving the background the warm glow so it comes forward, leaving the New Jersey side, the foreground, in the cooler shadows, so it recedes.  It's more obvious if you view the image with your monitor upside down.  (Just kidding.)  I found this concept in a book on Bonnard, and realized I was looking at it at the end of the street.  So I wanted to try it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The End of the Street

This view faces west southwest at the end of my street towards the Delaware River and Pennsylvania.  New Jersey is still in the cold shadows, while the rising sun is hitting and warming the east coast of Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Water Break at Daybreak

I planned on being in the park at this place, where the roads intersect, just when the sun rises over the distant treetops on the right.  The sunlight hits the trees, and they seem this bright for just a few minutes.  I will return to the water tomorrow. 5x7 pastel on Canson paper.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Canal View at Bridge Intersections

Looking into the canal at the bridge leading to the main bridge over the Delaware river next to Faherty's pub on the left and the footbridge on the right.  Footpath at the top of the image.  There are submerged stone blocks at the bottom edge of the canal.  I like how this moves into and out of abstraction.  Very bright and sunny moment.  A 5x7 pastel sketch on Canson paper.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It came to me today that I am on a water course.  I will continue to ride it while it lasts.  This is the flooded entrance of a stream into the Delaware River at Washington Crossing Park on the New Jersey side.   When the river is very low,  a shelf appears on which one can walk out into the river.  I painted outdoors there last summer about fifty feet beyond the submerged tree.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Delaware River Early Morning

This morning it was still cold with rime in the shadows. This is next to the spot where Washington lands every year on Christmas day when he crosses over from Pennsylvania. There's an old cement wall on the right and a wall of water on the left. This one is 8x10 on colourfix paper.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Canal from Grant Street

Standing on the Grant Street bridge facing south, one can see the original tow path on the left, and the railroad bed on the right.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Canal, River, and Sky

This view looks across the canal, from the original tow path, over the railroad bed, which most people refer to as the towpath, towards the river.   I wasn't too sure about this symmetrical, horizontal, vertical composition, but I think, at least tonight, that it works.  This is a 5x7 pastel on Canson paper.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Delaware River with Setting Sun

The river, the river, the river.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Delaware River at Early Evening

It's probably time to pay more attention to the river, which is located at the west end of my street running parallel to the canal, which is at the east end of my street.  They call the place where I live "the island."  I tell people that I live on the west coast of New Jersey.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Old Park Ranger House

This unoccupied house is on the back side of the park.   Nearby there's evidence of other houses that have essentially disappeared.   This is a 5x7 pastel sketch on Canson paper.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Discoveries on the Road to the Nature Center

This is the way to the Nature Center, but going in the opposite direction from yesterday's pastel.

The discoveries were not found on the road, but while browsing the Internet this morning. I found a reference to color photos made in Russia between 1909 and 1915. The dates are correct. They are fabulous. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Mikhailovich_Prokudin-Gorskii. Then I did a search at commons.wikimedia.org on "pastel paintings," just for the heck of it, and found a fascinating artist with the great name of Lesser Ury who did pastels. His dates are 1861 to 1931. He was a German expressionist. Check out his work at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Lesser_Ury .

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Road to the Nature Center

This is a view actually walking in the direction away from the Nature Center going slightly downhill.  Sunny morning. 8x10 on colourfix paper.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Park Back Side on A Sunny Morning

This is a view of Washington Crossing Park on the back side near the small pond, a seldom visited area.   It is 5x7 on Canson paper.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Williamstown Sketch

Saturday it was warm enough to go out for a walk.  This old garage is tucked away in a small residential neighborhood.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Face to Forget

Soon I will move away from portraiture back to landscape.  But self-portraits are such a challenge.

Charles Reid, in his book Pulling Your Paintings Together, writes "...you must draw as if you've never seen or experienced anything before the moment you first see your subject.  You should literally be seeing for the first time."   This reminds me of the passage in the Letter of James, "A man who listens to God's word but does not put it into practice is like a man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with; he looks at himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like."  Being forgetful and not forgetful at the same time is the challenge. 
Elsewhere Reid writes, "...a drawing is like a poem.  It suggests and implies, but it never tells a literal story."  I like to remember those words.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Trees and Faces

This small pastel is a view of the D&R canal looking northwest towards Church Street at Trimmer in Titusville, NJ.  The pastel above is a self-portrait of a moving tree.

Since I spent the weekend working on several self-portraits, I wanted to see again a video installation by Jennifer Steinkamp of a moving tree that goes through the four seasons.  It's at MOCA in North Adams, MA.  See  http://jsteinkamp.com/ , especially the tree projection called Mike Kelly.  Painting self-portraits is like trying to paint a moving tree.  Everything keeps changing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Different Kind of Landscape

I am going to do a different kind of landscape.  I can work on site, since the weather doesn't interfere, and the scenery is accommodating.   The problem is that I have to get the hills and ridges correct, and avoid the glare.  But it will give me an opportunity to experiment.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Park Pond

Only two days ago the weather looked like this.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Symmetrical Idea with Variations

This is really a view of a small pond, not well known, near the edge of the park.  It's surrounded by trees and not visible except from a few openings.