Tuesday, March 31, 2015
This is an 8x10 drawing of the Brooklyn corner of Lefferts Avenue and Washington Avenue with Flatbush Avenue in the background. The jumble of color appealed to me. In this drawing I've started using a brush and ink, as well as a pen, along with pastel, charcoal, and water.
Monday, March 30, 2015
My daily routine didn't work out in the last couple days. But here's a Brooklyn drawing that I completed a while back (number 64) when there was still snow on the ground in Brooklyn. I can attest that there is no more snow on the sidewalks of Brooklyn. This 8x10 drawing is predominantly charcoal with some ink and pastel, and shows another aspect of Franklin Avenue.
Friday, March 27, 2015
The next day, Wednesday, I returned to try again, this time painting the barn from the other end looking up the enormous Sheep Hill. The snow is mostly gone now. This is a 9x12 oil on panel. I can't make any claims for the painting, but it's a composition that I will return to later this year.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Just because it's spring in the calendar doesn't make it spring where you walk and breathe. So I was reminded by Leslie at Sheep Hill, where I went to paint on Tuesday. Though it was warm enough to paint outside, snow has made a reappearance in the posted painting because it was still there on the ground. The painting is a 9x12 oil on panel.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Another 12x12 oil on canvas depicting another spring day, to remind us of what we are still missing. It's a view of a field on the edge of the Field Farm south path.
In the Turner biography by Anthony Bailey, the author notes Turner's desire to improve the status of landscape painting to the same level as history and portrait painting. Bailey writes, "...there were those who shared the alleged opinion of the French painter Francois Boucher... that nature was 'too green and badly lit.'" If Boucher did say that, it's funny coming from someone whose paintings I once heard described as 'they look like someone's house where the lights are on, but nobody's home.' This gives us an idea of the opposition Turner faced regarding landscape painting, and how far we have come. But Boucher's words are funny also because, unfortunately, they are too often true about landscape. However, I do miss some of the green right now.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
This morning is bright and sunny, but extremely cold with snow still on the ground. Spring is slow in arriving. So I've decided to paint my own spring. This 12x12 oil on canvas painting depicts the large barn on Blair Road on a warmer spring day.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Sunday, March 22, 2015
I keep plugging away trying to turn the corner, to get away from the oppression of winter. This is a view of Tunnel City Coffee on Spring Street from last year in the fall. The blue is more blue gray in the original.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
This is a view looking north on Franklin Avenue in the guise of an 8x10 pen and ink drawing.
I've been reading the classic book on 19th century American landscape painting by Barbara Novak, Nature and Culture. She cites another writer about the ambivalence American landscapists had about introducing the railroad train into their landscapes. The train didn't fit the Claude Lorrain system that many artists had imposed upon the American landscape, even though the train made the landscape available and usually was there. "In art we have a fascinating history of technological inventions presenting art conventions with no options but to exclude them. The automobile in twentieth-century art provided one such example. There were few effective ways of including it within an existing realist convention until the appearance of American pop art." In my drawings and paintings of Brooklyn and other urban places, I include all the cars. When I first started doing urban scenes, I looked for places without cars, but I quickly realized that I couldn't find anyplace where cars were not present. They function as my stand-ins for people. Why I don't include people? That's another story.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Not a snow scene: a 12x12 oil on canvas of Spring Street in the fall, and early in the morning.
After seeing the movie Mr. Turner, I started reading about him. There's a story that a particular landscape did not sell for a long time, and the eventual buyer said that it was "indistinct." Turner either said in response, "Indistinctness is my fault," or "Indistinctness is my forte." I love it that indistinctness underlies his indistinctness.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
One last winter painting, another view of the side of the mountain, a 12x12 oil on canvas. I encountered this view going down a logging road towards the sun while the mountain to my left went up steeply. The next few paintings that I will post will not be winter paintings. I can write this since I have already completed two of them.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Winter is still here: a 12x12 oil on canvas to suggest the snow experience on the side of the mountain. Fortunately, it was a sunny day. The snow on the mountain remains in place much longer, but looks better than the piles at the mall parking lot.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
A line of parked cars on Sullivan Place between McKeever Place and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn is the content of this 8x10 pen and ink drawing. You might have noticed that instead of generic places, I prefer specific places in my artwork. There's too much reality already in existence to make up one's own, and risk becoming 'clicheish'. The painter Lois Dodd said that she makes her paintings from what she sees and finds in the world. If she concludes that what she is looking at won't work in a painting she moves to a different position, or moves on to another place. That has always been my approach as well. There's plenty of room for being as abstract or realistic as you might want within the specificity of reality. This is number 61.
Monday, March 16, 2015
A quick look down Union Street from Bedford Avenue just after having crossed Eastern Parkway. The sun is hitting some things and putting others in shade. This is number 60, an 8x10 pen & ink drawing with charcoal and pastel.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
This 8x10 pen and ink drawing represents a garage on Lincoln Place near Bedford Avenue. It always seems such an extravagance to have a small two car garage on a street lined with brownstones, a vestige of a different past. I've done this garage before, but this time, I was attracted by the geometry left by the sun and snow that duplicates the garage's shapes. This is drawing number 59.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
One more simple winter painting, another 12x12 oil on canvas, of some birch trees. I have a few more that I am working on, but can see the time soon when I will stop painting winter. Remember that these paintings will look refreshing in July and August.
Friday, March 13, 2015
This 12x12 oil on canvas painting depicts a gully edged with tall pine trees, planted years ago, I was told, to hold the banks in place. I completed the painting a few days ago based upon a digital reference from last week. Yesterday, when I returned to look at the gully, most of the snow was already gone. I spent the afternoon snowshoeing up and down the side of a nearby mountain. I was there last week as well, but didn't go up as far. Based upon what I trudged through last week, I find it amazing how quickly the snow is disappearing.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
A 12x12 oil on canvas of a view on Constitution Hill in Lanesborough. Through the screen of trees the view extends for miles as you climb up to the top. Winter in the woods offers the opportunity for composing with verticals and horizontals, the old cubist grid. I think the old cubist grid existed before cubism. As I write this, and look outside my studio window, the spot where the squirrel was digging in the snow yesterday is now bare.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
The endless winter seems to be fading, the snow evaporating rapidly. I'm watching out my studio window a gray squirrel digging in the snow for some cached food. He doesn't seem to have to go down as deep as I've seen earlier. I was going to post another winter painting, but not yet. The above pen and ink is from the corner of Van Brunt and Commerce Streets in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The 57th pen and ink is an eye-grabber. It depicts the corner of Delavan and Richards Streets in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. It's early in the morning, and the sun is just rising. There's a park across the street that allows the low sun to reach this building to create a dramatic setting.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Sunday, March 8, 2015
An 8x10 pen and ink drawing, with pastel and charcoal, of a view a bit further up Franklin Avenue from Carroll Street in Brooklyn. The store fronts line up just like the cars. I'm caught in a loop between Brooklyn and Winter.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Friday, March 6, 2015
One more winter painting, a 12x12 oil on canvas, of a location probably with a hidden stream, at Field Farm on the north side, on a day when the sun was shining, but a thin cloud cover somewhat diminished its strength. Soon enough all this snow will be followed by water and mud.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
A second painting of Constitution Hill, a 12x12 oil on canvas. The square format strengthens the tensions between slope, sky, trees and shadows, plus that of the color and the natural ambiguity of the setting.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
This oil painting has the same proportions as yesterday's, but is larger, 18x24 inches. It also displays a new location for me, Constitution Hill in Lanesborough, MA. This view is at the bottom of the hill. The landscape painter Neil Welliver commented once how the woods are a "mess". He was able to bring some order to the woods in his paintings, but to me the "mess" is inherent to the woods. One can be standing in the woods, and looking, and looking, and still not be able to see clearly. Even in winter the woods are a mess, but the ground, if snow covered, at least is much simpler.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
This 9x12 oil on canvas is a view of the stream cut in the opposite direction of the winter painting that I posted under "Wintry Blues". There's a narrow foot bridge partway down the embankment that spans the gully. This year the bridge as well as both sides of the bank are covered with snow and ice, making the crossing a bit treacherous. I used cerulean blue, lemon yellow, and quinacridone red. In the "Wintry Blues" painting I used cobalt blue, cadmium yellow, and quinacridone red. For each winter painting, I've been selecting different blues, yellows and reds. I also use titanium white. It's fun to see what one can do with just a few colors.
Monday, March 2, 2015
The sun also rises to meet the wall of a large warehouse at the end of Richards Street near Seabring Street in Brooklyn's Red Hook section. This is one of those streets that one might drive through quickly without paying attention to get to the expressway.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Back in Red Hook with a view of Seabring Street going towards Van Brunt Street. The early morning sun illuminates the wall of a large warehouse. Yes, that is a stretch limo that is parked there. Even though the temperature is about zero and the wind is blowing, the sun makes the scene appear warmer.