Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last Pond

Another 9x12 pastel pond reflection on colourfix suede.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wet Surface

Another pastel of the pond at Field Farm. 9x12 on colourfix suede.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Turn to Mud

To take a break from reflecting pond surfaces, I turned to mud (not literally) in a newly cut corn field. It makes me realize that, though I admire the beauty of a corn field, I have no idea what the farmer sees and is doing there. Another 9x12 pastel on pastelmat.

I have been using water with pastel on the pastelmat paper. The results are interesting enough to keep pursuing. I remember reading somewhere that Degas used water and pastel. The soaked and brushed pastel behaves like watercolor. Drying time is necessary before reapplying dry pastel.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More Pond

Another Field Farm pond view, this time looking east toward Greylock. 9x12 pastel on pastelmat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Another view of the pond at Field Farm with the Taconics in the background, and the foreground. For the last two, I have used pastel and water for the underpainting, and let it dry before applying more pastel. Similar to watercolor on this ground. 9x12 pastel on pastelmat.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pond at Field Farm

When the sun is shining, and the sky is blue, and the pond is full of water, the results are better than a drained canal on a cloudy day. 9x12 pastel on pastelmat.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Drained Canal Sketches

Yesterday I did these two 9x12 oil sketches of the canal in its present state. It doesn't look like a Monet any more.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Canal Ditch

The canal actually lost more water overnight. It's only about a foot deep, and in some places a foot wide. I will do some paintings this weekend. The mud contrasts nicely with the green grass and trees. The snapping turtles must have all scattered to the river. Fish? What fish?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not a Pretty Picture

This evening I walked along the canal, which is now nearly empty. In some places you can see the bottom. The first drawing is from my walk 'n draw sketchbook. The top drawing I did in the studio to provide a sense of how the canal is presently just a deep ditch. It needs to be in black and white.

Not too much junk at the bottom, at least in my area, though there are two computer towers at the bottom at the bridge from which location the top drawing originates. I am assuming that the water has been released to enable repairs to the berm. But it is grim.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Eye of the Barn

Through the doorway, through the window, to the distance, the eye of the barn. 9x12 pastel.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Up and Down

All I have today is another walk 'n draw page from the sketchbook. I have a couple paintings started, but I am slower at the moment. The canal did fill up quickly from the week's rain, so much so that some water was let out, and then a weak point developed up canal, and more water was let out last night. The result is that the canal is down about three to four feet. An up and down week for the canal.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Mystery of Two Barns

OK. That's enough for now. I think I will do a few pastels.

Here's something I read the other night from a book of interviews with the poet Galway Kinnell, Walking Down the Stairs:

"If the things and creatures that live on earth don't possess mystery, then there isn't any. To touch this mystery requires, I think, love of the things and creatures that surround us: the capacity to go out to them so that they enter us, so that they are transformed within us, and so that our own inner life finds expression through them. The use of the term 'inner life' means that one is not quite whole, that one has an inner life and an outer life, and they don't quite come together. In the purest poem the inner and outer meet."

Substitute "artwork" for "poem" above.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rain, Canal, Water, Walk and Draw

While I wait for a couple paintings to complete themselves, I went for a walk 'n draw this evening along the canal in between rain spells. The above is from my current sketchbook. We have had so much rain lately that the river is actually above where it was last week from Irene. And the canal is filling up. It's now only about three feet below normal levels. The image above is best viewed while squinting.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sunken Canal

One of the terrible outcomes of Irene's appearance was a huge break in the berm separating the canal from the river near Lambertville. The canal, which normally flows south started flowing north as it emptied out into the river. The break has been fixed now, but the canal is still missing about six to eight feet of water from across its top. This painting depicts a sunny day last week before the canal lost another four feet of water.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Barns and Something You Cannot Possibly Do

If you look at the barn images, you probably have enough information to draw an architectural rendering by now. The barn sometimes feels like a brick on my head. The partial barn images I find more interesting. When standing close to the barn, it assumes different personalities.

This weekend I read Life Work by Donald Hall (appropriate for Labor Day weekend). He writes about how easy it is to deceive one's self about one's work:

"...while I am writing at the desk...I am utterly happy, utterly unself-conscious. Then I remember--sagging suddenly, heavy as mud, black, and hopeless--all the times I have felt this way, writing poems especially but occasionally essays, when I have come later to realize that the words I wrote with such excitement were nothing, nothing, nothing at all, and my excitement (my certainty!) merely a function of blood chemistry. One disease of working alone--the way writers mostly work--is dependence on mood. Mood is no measure and flips from highest to lowest in a millisecond."

These words apply to painters too. You can't wish a painting to be good despite your best intentions. Just move on, and keep working. Maybe on the same idea.

But here is Donald Hall quoting the sculptor Henry Moore:

"The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is--it must be something you cannot possibly do!"

So if you think, maybe, you deceive yourself, be consoled if you pursue "something you cannot possibly do!"