Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Between

Another quick pastel sketch of a space between houses, and some space in front of the house in Williamstown, MA. 5x7 on Canson paper.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back in the Backyards

This is a quick pastel sketch of a space between houses in a Williamstown, MA neighborhood.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Out from Under

This is a redo of the picture below.  I would like to push the colors a bit more from here on out as I attempted to do here.  This is a 5x7 on Canson paper.

I have been looking at a book by Nicholas Verrall, an English painter who does very colorful oil paintings.  He notes four issues about painting landscapes outside:
a. "unreliable nature of light and weather"
b. "deciding which part of a landscape to concentrate on."
c. "find[ing] a composition that is different and challenging..."
d. "they can be unrelentingly green."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Under the Trees

In the last week, I started to read a book I always wanted to read, Modern Painters by John Ruskin.   He wrote, "It is far more difficult to be simple than to be complicated; far more difficult to sacrifice skill and cease exertion in the proper place, than to expend both indiscriminately."  The above two pastels were done outside at the same location in Washington Crossing Park this weekend.  I am not satisfied with either.  However, I have learned from both exercises.   I need to apply Ruskin's advice when working outside.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Out on Several Limbs

This line of trees is located at the main entrance to Washington Crossing Park.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spaces, No Dumpsters

Colin Page wrote on his blog recently that he wants to be free to paint a picture of a dumpster if he chooses, and if I remember correctly, Marc Hanson did paint a dumpster last year.  Here I am doing partial driveways and garages, with the space between houses.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunny Tree

This tree was lit up by the early morning sun.  It is slightly off the beaten path in Washington Crossing Park.  It will change soon when the leaves appear.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Branching Out

Every now and then, sometimes it seems to be almost every day, I have to try something just to see if it will work, at the risk of turning out a dud or semi-dud.  For this pastel, I tried to use both both negative and positive spaces in fleshing out those thin tree branches, working on a dark background, trying to keep the dynamism of the branches through a painterly approach.   These trees are located at the main entrance to Washington Crossing Park. 8x10 on colourfix paper.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back in the Park

Spring is here, despite the cold. The grass is greening, buds are opening, forsythia is blooming. This is an 8x10 pastel on Wallis paper.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Humble Pastel

The exhibition catalog Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late contains a small illustration of a painting by Bonnard called "Pays du Midi, Soleil Couchant (Le Cannet)," ca. 1910, depicting the sides of two houses and the space between them, which is a long view.   Of course, the two houses could be two trees, or the sides of a window, or... 

Friday, April 10, 2009

No Brainer

I am still working in the space between houses.  The mountains are real.  I wonder how often the people who live in Williamstown, MA see them.  Whenever I am there I am always in awe.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Experiment Continued

Sometimes it's hard to decide if one should scrape everything off and begin again, or give it up, and move on.  I asked myself, what was it that I originally saw that attracted me, and tried again to make that visible.  But letting time pass and working on something else are probably the best options when stuck or unwilling to admit that the result cannot be saved.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


This pastel is an experiment.  There are no explosions.  Still looking between houses walking down Stratton.  8x10 on Canson paper.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Between Houses and Ruskin

On one of my standard walks, up Luce Road, across Benlise and Longview Terrace, and down Stratton Road,  I took photographs of the spaces between houses.  These spaces are intriguing because they hold mountains in the background, and add some interesting man-made geometry to the foreground/middleground.

I came across the following John Ruskin quote today when reading a review of a Gerard Manley Hopkins biography (  "The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one."    

Monday, April 6, 2009

Canson Tree

The Canson paper buckles too much with the alcohol wash, so I am going to not use it for these small 5x7 pastels.  I will rub and scrape the pastel with paper, finger, and brush instead.  This is a view looking to the left of Pine Cobble from Stratton Road in Williamstown, MA.  

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Luce Road Revisited

This is one of three pastels I did of sites on Luce Road this weekend.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mortal Frame

The last time I did this old farm shed,  I wondered why I was attracted to it.  Yesterday I read an excerpt from Karl Rahner who described himself as "the abandoned hut of my poor, dim earthly life."  Old fallen down barns and ruined sheds are like ourselves in a sense: human structures, with character and many stories, still attractive though in need of repair, and maybe a new life.  I remember reading that Wolf Kahn does not want to be known as a painter of barns.  He manages to see them for what they really are: human structures that when viewed with imagination and compassion present an opportunity, in Kahn's case, to release a powerful and  colorful vision.  By the way, this pastel is 8x10 on colourfix paper.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just Your Plain Everyday Neighborhood in Winter

This image dates back to early March when the snow was still around on Luce Road in Williamstown, MA.  It's 8x10 on Canson paper.    I think I might switch for a while to the colourfix paper.  I seem to have greater success working on the prepared paper.