Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Late December Canals and Van Gogh

Completed today, two views of the same stretch of the canal, the first 12 x 24 in oil, and the top 9x12 in pastel.

Lately, I have been reading the new biography of Van Gogh by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. One reviewer claimed it read like a novel, but if you have held a romantic view of Van Gogh, read his letters and saw the movie Lust for Life as a teenager, then you may find this biography tough going. Not because the book's not well done, but because it may challenge your view of Van Gogh. He must have had a personality disorder of some kind hindering his ability to behave normally. Of course, if he had been a normal person, we would not have the great art that he created in the last four years of his life. He really did suffer enormously. I am only up to year 1881 so far. He was fluent in English and French (self-taught) besides his native Dutch. Multi-lingual people are usually highly-gifted.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Simple Canal II

This is the oil version of the simple canal. Mid-morning. Breezy. 12 x 24.

River Drive

This is River Drive early in the morning. 9x12 pastel.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Washington's Beach

One last visit to the usually desolate beach visited once a year by "George Washington" and his 18th century supporters.

Washington Crosses

Merry Christmas. In the first photo the re-enactors gather on the Pennsylvania side earlier today. The next photo shows the first boat landing at "my" beach. It ended up a bit further north than planned, so the crowd was thin at this point. In the next photo, everybody moved over. The last photo shows the fourth and last boat landing again at the same beach. Washington is visible in the center. Once a year on Christmas day the usually deserted Delaware beach is mobbed with people.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Simple Canal

A simple rendition of the canal in the morning facing south near Washington's Crossing. 9x12 pastel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I may be done with this beach for a while. Who knows?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Early Delaware Beach

This morning was overcast and darkish at the river's edge. This is just about the spot where "Washington" disembarks from the boat when he reaches the New Jersey side during the re-enactment. Usually there's nobody there.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Soft Spot

You may think the soft spot is in my head, but I have a soft spot for this soft spot on the Delaware river. If I do it about a dozen times, maybe I will learn one thing or two. This view is also early morning (this morning), but earlier than the first painting.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cooler Beach

This is a view of the same place this morning. I almost fell down in the mud (more mud!) at the edge of the river. Much colder.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Delaware at Washington's Crossing

Early morning at Washington's Crossing at the edge of the Delaware River looking north on the New Jersey side. Sandy beach from the flooding. 8x10 pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes Touch paper.


This view is from the edge of a corn field looking north into Vermont. It's an 11x14 oil like the previous painting.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Looking Beyond the Corn Field

In the book The Old Way of Seeing, Jonathan Hale writes, "I am walking in the country, thinking about lunch and the bad thing someone said, or the good thing I will do, tramping along, when I stop for a moment...and suddenly it all comes in: yellow trees, fields, shadows--the country is full of shadows. The sensation is a kind of visual listening. In this state, perception is more vivid, colors are deeper, the world looks at once more real and more magical."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two Barn Monte

Again, I extended a 12 x 12 barn into a 12 x 28 barn. Only because I didn't like the 12 x 12 barn. Not so sure about the 12 x 28 yet either.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cold Drawing and No Lion

This morning I worked this one quite quickly since my fingers were cold. There are some paintings coming along but they are not yet ready. This past weekend I went looking for the mountain lion since there was snow on the ground. No footsteps were to be seen near the barn.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Unsegmented Corn Field

This oil painting is one piece 12 x 24. A familiar view of the late cornfield, now mud site.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Four Canals

This weekend I couldn't paint because of other obligations, but I did get a chance to walk 'n draw on the canal. Of the numerous drawings I did, these four are representative. Drawing does lead to new ideas. I have been using an unusually shaped Strathmore sketch pad that measures 5 x 12".

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Obsession and Landscape

This is a 7x14 pencil drawing in preparation for a slightly larger painting. I often think of the "archetypal landscape" of Anselm Kiefer when I do these tiny landscapes, and because they are so small, they are like his huge landscapes in opposition, if that makes any sense. But I don't have the rawness, the woundedness he displays, because I am not quite pursuing his interests, or maybe being pursued by them. Mark Rosenthal in a 1987 Kiefer catalog states that his paintings have "...the blackened, scorched earth [as] his central motif, his Mont Sainte Victoire, as it were, showing the province of the landscape to be human suffering, not the glory of nature." His obsession is the soil burned and soaked in blood. Cezanne's late obsession was the unobtainable mountain (like Moby Dick). Nevertheless, any repeated landscape motifs acquire some hint, some flavor, some meaning of previous, obsessed-over landscapes, even if they don't deny the "glory of nature".

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Extended Barn

First I did the square oil painting of the barn, but then I thought it needed to be extended, so I added the rest of the barn. The size is 12x28 overall. I do have plans to do a series of large horizontal paintings. They will be seamless.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Muddy Landscapes and No Flowers

Someone whose opinion I value said to me that nobody wants landscapes of muddy cornfields. People want flowers, color, paintings that bring comfort. Oh, well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not Yet

This morning I went out in the darkness and raindrops, and made the above sketch of the full canal. But I have discovered that I am not yet done with Sunken Canal after all. The top image is a 12x9 pastel started last night, and completed tonight. When thinking of the Sunken Canal I thought of a beautiful piece of music I heard a couple years ago, Old and Lost Rivers by Tobias Picker. The canal is now found and risen, but I still remember the Sunken Canal.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bright Sunken Canal

Now that the canal is full again, I think I will switch away from the sunken canal series.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunken Canal and Thomas Hardy

Another 12 x 9 for the series of Sunken Canal pastels.

I have been reading a biography of Thomas Hardy by Ralph Pite. Hardy was taken by the Impressionists. He wrote, according to Pite, "The 'principle' of 'that what you carry away with you from a scene is the true feature to grasp; or in other words, what appeals to your own individual eye and heart in particular amid much that does not appeal, and which you therefore omit to record.' Hardy did not want any longer to see 'scenic paintings' of landscapes but instead 'the deeper reality underlying the scenic.'"

That approach may seem trite or obvious today, but, if so, we forget what a revelation it once was, and maybe one needs to recapture that revelation.

Full Canal

This is a drawing from this morning's walk'n-sketch. The canal is completely full to its normal level. I won't take it for granted anymore. I also didn't realize how wide it really is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Corn Fields and a Mountain Lion

This weekend I wandered around the corn fields. One day I wore my boots, and it was a good thing since my sneakers would not have survived the mud and water. Of course, I knew it would be wet where I was going. I visited the abandoned barn again, which is surrounded by corn fields. I saw some big footprints in the mud, like from a large dog, but it wasn't a dog. The prints were in the vicinity of a lot of deer tracks. Strange that I have never seen a deer in that area, though I see deer almost daily in New Jersey.

The next day I met up with the farmer, and asked him about the barn. He told me many things, one of which is that a mountain lion has been seen around the barn, supposedly lives in the barn. Hmm... That might explain why sometimes I feel that I am being observed, not to mention the footprints.

The two paintings above are 9x12 oils.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tractor Path

The farmer uses a tractor or a four-wheeled vehicle to move everywhere and anywhere. Since the edges of the field where he drives most of the time are mud, there are ruts in the mud. Fortunately, there are mountains in the background, and corn stalks remnants, and bright skies (sometimes). This is a 9x12 oil, or should I say, a 9x12 mud, but I hope not in the bad sense that oil paint can become like mud.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Looking Up the Canal or Canal Looking Up

While I work on a painting, I can only offer a walk'nsketch from this morning. The good news is that the canal water rose several feet last night, and it didn't rain. Somebody must be letting in more water. The drawing is 8x6 with graphite pencil.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back to Mud with Charcoal

Back to muddy corn fields. I want to continue the muddy field series, but act out some drawings first before each painting to learn the lay of the land. This will look better in color. The charcoal drawing is 9x12.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tall Canal

Another view from the Grant Street Bridge facing south. I could put together an exhibition consisting of paintings of just this view, and they are all different. The stretch of canal that I usually paint only extends about a half mile or so. 12x9 pastel on colorfix suede.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Canal Bending

This morning was sunny and I walked along the canal, stopping occasionally to sketch. Since I have an extra hour tonight, I kept on working. The canal is filling up slowly. Workmen have been scooping out tree trunks and sand banks out of the canal, so presumably the rest of the water will be allowed back in soon. The sketch is only 8x6, while the pastel is 12x9 on colorfix suede paper.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reflections on a Canal

There is now more water in the canal than visible here, presumably from the recent snow melt. What strikes me about this view is how the water disappears in the reflections. Actually, one cannot see water except through its reflections, right?

This is 12x9 pastel on colourfix suede. The colourfix suede leads to a slightly rougher finish than the two previous verticals on pastelmat paper.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mud Memories

Today I talked to another artist about how I viewed muddy, harvested corn fields as battle sites, still fresh from the turmoil and disaster. A muddy field is like a drawing tipped aslant, the lines and scratches in perspective, instead of upright and flat. Evidence of tragedy lies everywhere. Wounds still raw from scraping and rubbing, but new life is just beneath the surface, or even on the surface. Maybe I am being overdramatic.

The top is 8x10, the bottom 9x12, both oils.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stix Fields

Two drawings with Art Stix that I did this weekend but couldn't post until now, since I didn't have any electricity for the last three days. There are also two oils that I will post later. They all represent the muddy fields before the foot of snow fell on Saturday night. I had to walk carefully to avoid stepping in the softer mud, and slipping. But it was worth it. The fields look like natural paintings on the earth. Muddy fields have a lot of different thematic meanings, and levels of visual complexity.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Low Canal

On the bridge next to Faherty's restaurant, but looking north, you will see this view of the sunken canal. 12x9 pastel on pastelmat.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunken Canal on a Bright Day

Not much is happening with the canal these days. Still looks kinda low. It's even worse when the sun is not shining. 12x9 pastel on pastelmat.