Thursday, July 31, 2014

Third at 25th

But earlier this morning I completed the above 12x24 oil on canvas of a view under the Gowanus Expressway at Third and 24th Street in Brooklyn.  I love jumping from the country to the city and back.

Blair at Stratton

This morning I went up to the top of Stratton Road, walked into the field, and made the 9x12 charcoal drawing of trees and bushes that reside on the edge of Blair Road, which abuts with the top of Stratton. Then it occurred to me: why are you overlooking this most obvious place to paint.  You can park easily, you have multiple views, and the neighbors are friendly.  So I came back in the afternoon and did the above 9x12 oil on panel painting.  As I looked around, I realized that just in this spot alone, I could make a dozen paintings.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bergen at Washington and Can Art Save the World?

A 12x24 oil on canvas of Bergen Street at Washington Avenue in Brooklyn.

I recently read Culture and the Death of God by Terry Eagleton.   He writes, "An art which is its own raison d'etre is an eloquent riposte to exchange-value, but it is not easy to see how it can redeem the world.  For the radical Romantics, art represents the values we live for, but it is not for art that we live.  Autonomy is a political as well as aesthetic value, so that the self-dependence of the work of art speaks of more than itself.  Somewhere between Shelley and Tennyson, this insight is mislaid.  The imagination gradually ceases to be a political force.  As the era of industrial capitalism unfolds, the autonomy of the artwork begins to speak only of itself.  Radical Romanticism melts into fin-de-siecle aestheticism.  Art itself comes to stand in for the promesse de bonheur it once held out."

If you have ever read The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, you will remember that he writes that the making of the work of art is more important than the final product, as far as the artist is concerned.  Recently, I read an essay, which takes this further and includes everyone,  by the painter Jordan Wolfson with the title How Painting Can Help Save the World, Actually.  Go to:  Wolfson I think is convincing that art does indeed stand for more than itself.   Let me know what you think?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Garden Fence

The garden fence: the large 18x24 version for which I did the sketch earlier.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Garden Fence

A 9x12 oil study for a larger painting done this morning at Sweet Brook Farm.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Above the Clark

This morning I visited the Clark Art Institute for the first time since its renovation.  It was wonderful to re-encounter the Monets, Pissarros, Sisleys, Corots, Daubignys, etc.  On my way out I looked up at the hill behind the Clark.  Hmm... I worked up there this afternoon painting this 9x12 oil on panel of the tree, grass and distant mountains.  You might see me up there again.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cow Pasture

The location that I wanted to paint at is a field next to a stream bank, where one could presumably find earth colors to contrast with the greens, but I tried to figure out an easy way to get there from the road: jump a fence, climb down an embankment made of boulders, get through the tall brush, walk along the stream, and voila, I might be there, assuming that the posted fence isn't hidden in the brush.  I passed, and went to the farm where I painted a view that I had drawn last week.   I need to do more exploring to find interesting and accessible places.  This is a 9x12 on mdf panel.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sheep Hill Day

I spent the day at Sheep Hill.  The three 7x14" drawings I did this morning as studies for a larger painting that's only in the contemplation stage.  I have identified a site that might have some contrast to the green, but did not get there.  Instead I went to Sheep Hill again in the afternoon to paint, and I think I managed to get the green to work.  As you can see, Sheep Hill is a steep hill.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sheep Hill and Bee Hill

A small parking spot off of a dirt road called Bee Hill Road provides access to the top of a steep hill called Sheep Hill.  The location of this 12x9 oil  is just down to the left of the parking spot facing north where an opening occurs in a row of trees and a sunken stone fence.  I used a surreptitious zig-zag composition.   I do feel the need to find a site where there is something to contrast better with all the green that is everywhere.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Haley Farm Duo

This morning I arrived at Haley Farm close to 9:15.  First I did the 9x12 oil painting of the small house, followed by the 9x12 drawing of the tree,  after turning about 45 degrees to the left.  In between, in the 45 degree angle, there's a small corn field.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Outdoors, Photography, and Illusionism

This morning when I was making the 9x12 charcoal drawing a jogger ran by, and he said, "You and John McDonald" which I took as a compliment.  John MacDonald is a terrific painter located in Williamstown, MA.   Later in the day I went to Haley Farm, where I painted the 9x12 oil.

Interestingly, even though both works today were done outdoors, I wanted to quote from a book on the the artist Carolyn Brady, The Watercolors of Carolyn Brady by Irene McManus, which I just finished reading.   Brady did all of her outstanding work from her photographs.

"Brady's first rule is to work from camera-generated images.  The camera intercepts a reality that lies beyond the reality available to the lazy or prejudiced human eye.  In this sense, Brady is every inch the photorealist, expressed in the distortions and illusionism fixed by the camera lens.  But she is also, once again, the Transcendentalist, the American Romantic, using the scientifically or technologically established 'real' to extract the metaphysically unreal."

"Photography is one of the keys to her art.  Her color photographs (always effortful to make) are her preparatory 'drawings.'  she thinks of herself as an 'abstract realist, using photographic illusionism.  The photographic image is very powerful illusionism.  We know that now, after doing this for so many years.' The strong lights and darks of the photograph; the subtly altered color; the fiercely concentrated close-up focus, the drastic cropping of the almost always random image--all these elements tend to steal up on commonplace reality, to abstract a truth that the naked eye would certainly miss.

   Brady is committed to material reality, but she is more interested in illusionism, the intensified reality captured by the camera.  At its finest, her work achieves a traffic between  everyday reality visible to the average human eye, and a phantom reality graspable only through the lens (or deep meditation), yielding for one tantalizing instant the truth  of the substrate."

Brady consciously used photography as a means to pursue the 'reality' behind supposed reality.  I like the comparison between meditation and the camera lens.

Dean and Grand

Another 12x24 view of a street corner in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More Drawings

Yeah, more drawings.  I've been saving them up.  I did complete a painting today, but it isn't photographing too well yet until the paint dries a bit.  The top drawing I did this morning, the next yesterday, the next the day before, etc.  I may do these as paintings.  Not sure yet.   For what it's worth, they are plein-air drawings.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

28th and Fourth

Earlier I was thinking that I might only post a couple drawings tonight, but the above 12x24 oil painting went so well, here it is.  The drawings will have to wait for another day.  It shows 28th Street from Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Beth's Garden

An 18x24 oil of Beth's garden, which has a wonderful view.  The next garden painting will show a completed arbor and fence.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Truck Study

Here's the more studied version of the Haley Farm truck, also a 9x12 oil on canvas.  I pitched it up a slight bit.

Bergen Street Shadows

A 12x12 oil of shadows on the sidewalk of Bergen Street near the corner of Washington Avenue in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Drawing at the Top and in the Garage

Sunday a group of us climbed the Busby Trail in Savoy, where I sketched the long view at the top.   Earlier in the day I made the bottom drawing while looking out the open garage door.  We lost power today, so I am a bit behind in completing a couple paintings.

Monday, July 7, 2014


I did get back to Haley Farm near the Hopper on Saturday afternoon where the truck is located.  It's loaded with wood planks as if one could just get in and drive off.  I know that everyone does rotting trucks, but I like them too.  I'm going to try a studio version next.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Drawing on Reserve

Yesterday, I completed this drawing just before the rains came, and it's still raining now.  The drawing shows a small tree off Stratton Road with the mountains visible in the background.  I don't have any completed paintings at the moment.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dean towards Classon

This is a variation of a Brooklyn corner that I painted at the end of October, 2012.  In this view there are tall weeds in the sidewalk, brighter sunlight, but the plywood fence is the same.