Thursday, April 30, 2015

Filler Tree

Today,  I didn't get a chance to paint outdoors, but my larger version of the crumpled barn is progressing quite well.  In the meantime,  here's a charcoal drawing I did over two weeks ago, in case I needed some 'filler' material.  It's approximately 9x12, and represents a remarkable tree.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


In preparation for a larger painting, I did this 12x12 oil on panel on site this afternoon.  There were a few bursts of wind, and at one point I thought I saw the barn sway, but when I concentrated on the barn, it didn't move again, so who knows?  It doesn't inspire confidence about staying upright.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Behind Schedule

This 9x12 oil on canvas is the same view as yesterday, but at a moment when the sun decided to stay a bit longer.  The grass is springtime grass, but the trees and bushes are still a couple weeks or more behind schedule.

Monday, April 27, 2015


This morning I went out again because the sun hinted that it might come out for a while.  But after I set up to paint, the sun disappeared, so I painted anyway.  This is a 9x12 oil on panel.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Clapboards in Sunlight

The clapboard workshop or shed from a different position in an 18x24 oil on canvas.  When I first encountered this modest building two years ago, I was bowled over by its beauty.  Maybe it's an acquired taste, or something peculiar to me, but I love the way the sun illuminates it at all times of the day.  I probably love it also because it presents so many shapes and shadows despite its simplicity.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hanging On

For a sunny day in the second half of April, it was cold and windy.  I went back to the old barns and painted this view quickly.  Gray, green and blue.   This view shows the edge of one barn, and the last add-on to a long barn, composed of several add-ons, all hanging on for dear life.  There's another structure below the horizon.  They all stand there like a still life that's been around for a long time.

One of the things I learned today is that, if you know where you are going to paint, it's beneficial to have your palette prepared ahead of time.  Then all you need do is paint.  I carry my palette in the same flat container for both studio and outside painting, so I can set it up before I leave.  It just never occurred to me how good an idea that is.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Different Angle

The same old barn from a couple days ago, but from a slightly different angle, and with a different color scheme.   The barn's visibility will disappear when the grass grows and the leaves fill out on the trees and bushes.  This painting is also an 18x24 oil on canvas.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Zebra Stripes on a House

This 18x24 oil on canvas painting I completed this morning of a garage attached to a building that probably was a workshop at one time, though it looks like a one room school house.   I was attracted by the windows, and the chimney in relation to the windows, and the abstract shapes, and the clapboards.  The clapboards, Holy Edward Hopper!  Zebra stripes on a house.  This building appeared a few days ago under the heading of "Backlit".


Yesterday morning, which seems a long time ago, I painted this 9x12 oil sketch.  After less than an hour, the clouds started to appear, and I packed up.  You can see the clouds coming in the painting.  I did catch the light around this old barn with the new grass despite the clouds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Age and Neglect

This large 18x24 oil on canvas I completed yesterday in the studio.  It's the best view of this falling apart barn.  I did an on-site oil sketch of it last week.  It's interesting to think that once there were people who cut the wood, and assembled all the pieces to make this barn a new structure, and that somebody admired it for its newness and promise.  What appeals to me now is the barn's age and neglect.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mohawk Trail

A third version of the Cold River at the same location in the Mohawk Trail State Forest.  I did wander up and down the river, and stopped at several places along the river on Route 2 to see what was there to paint.  One spot had a sign asking fishermen to release all salmon caught.  I never would have expected salmon to be there.  What is there along a several mile stretch are deep gorges, steep mountains, dense forest, and the Cold River.  I wonder why it's called the Cold River.

Monday, April 20, 2015


This 12x12 oil on panel oil I did a few days ago when the weather was nicer,  in the early afternoon when the building was backlit.  That's Mount Greylock in the background.  It's a composition I'll return to in a larger format soon.

The Cold River

Yesterday, a nice sunny day, I visited the Cold River at the Mohawk Trail State Forest.  It's not that far away, but the terrain is quite rugged and wild in appearance, and very challenging to paint.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Old Barn and New Grass

Yesterday's old barn effort, a 9x12 oil on panel.  The newly minted spring grass with the blue sky is very appealing at this time of the year.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Same Old Barn

One painting I did on site in about an hour the day before yesterday, the second I did in the studio yesterday, and took more time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Risky Business

Yesterday, I left the Green River for some old barns.  Painting outdoors and quickly forces risk taking.  If the initial conception and realization is good, then the only problem is when to stop.  If the start is difficult, there's seldom time to recover.  The risk is painting a failed picture.  You trust your first idea and then learn from what follows, to improve those first ideas, and accept the failures as a normal part of the process.  For example, baseball players seem to accept failure as part of their work.  As batters, they will fail seven out of ten times even though they want to get a hit every time up.  It's the three out of ten that makes them who they are, but they can't get the three without the seven.

Yesterday I did four paintings.  They were all of compositions I had conceived the day before to improve my chances.  I'm still pondering the results.  A painting is all about the execution, not the conception.  However, even if the first realization is not successful, it can lead to a second more successful version, which is what I am going to try next.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It Happens So Fast

Yesterday morning I was at the Green River again: a 9x12 oil on panel.  Rivers are tough to paint.  Not only does the water surface keep changing (and quickly), but the sunlight changes as well (more slowly so that you don't realize it).  Some artists claim that they remember what it was like when they started to paint.  How can they remember when the changes are staring them in the face, and may be more appealing?  Work fast? I think (and I hope) we end up with a fast moving painting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rushing By

A 12x24 oil on canvas of the Green River rapids at the Hopper Road bridge at Mount Hope Park.  All the rocks seem like liquid also since either water or light runs over them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Need to Rediscover

The poet Charles Simic writes, "Emerson asks in his famous essay 'Nature' why Americans should not also enjoy an original relation to the universe and have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition.  This notion that the truth has to be rediscovered time and time again makes sense in a country with a population of diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, and his call for self-reliance has continued to inspire whatever originality our literature and arts have accomplished to date."

The 12x9 oil on panel I did the other day at Sheep Hill trying to rediscover something.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rapidly and Calmly

Yesterday morning I went back to Mount Hope Park to draw the  Green River from one particular spot where the water shoots by.   I was sitting there quietly and still next to the river, except I was probably drawing as furiously as the water was jumping, so the image I just conjured up, of being passive next to an active fury, maybe is not right, since this pen and ink image that I first conjured up is quite feverish.  The day before when I made the other drawing, I saw an otter or marten, a sleek black animal larger than a cat with a long tail, jump into the river and with spurts quickly move through the rapids to the other bank.  The animal moved against the water quite calmly, as if the rapids weren't there.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Imagining Spring

Maybe today is the first day of spring.  It wasn't yesterday.  All I could manage is this drawing of the Green River.   It shows the bend at the Hopper Road Bridge.

I've been trying to catch up on my reading.  In an essay in the NYRB the poet Charles Simic wrote last summer, "I live between two worlds, the one I see with my eyes open and the one I see with my eyes closed.  Unlike other people, I regard the two as equals and trust my eyes as much as my imagination...  Poetry is not just a record of things seen and remembered but a deeper reading of them with the aid of the imagination."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Green River on the Rocks

Another version of the Green River at the Hopper Road bridge, a 12x12 oil on canvas.  After looking carefully at the bridge, which appears to be disintegrating, I wonder about it every time I drive over it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Green River Boil

A 9x12 oil on canvas of the boiling waters of the Green River at the Hopper Road bridge.  Several large boulders squeeze the water into narrow channels as it passes the bridge and makes a left.  In the summertime this location is a calmer swimming hole.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Drawing Green River Water

From the calm waters of Josiah's Pond to the boiling cauldron of the Green River at the entrance to Hopper Road is but a short distance.  I started with some drawings the day before and yesterday, two of which are here, though I had to depart yesterday morning when it started to rain, and it hasn't stopped yet.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Josiah's Pond at Sheep Hill

An 18x24 oil on canvas of Josiah's Pond, the gazebo and the shed at Sheep Hill.  I tried to maintain that low sun effect from yesterday's drawing, provide an interesting composition, vary the brushstrokes, and keep the painting relatively simple.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Silvery Sheep Hill

The weather hasn't been ideal, as in warm and sunny.  I went to Sheep Hill to draw again instead of painting.  The light was silvery.  Now if I can only capture that in a painting.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Sun at Sheep Hill

Yesterday morning the sun rose early and bright, so I went to Sheep Hill.  I made a couple drawings of this view, though the wind was gusty and made drawing difficult.  Gradually the clouds moved in, and I left.  The above 12x12 oil I did in the studio.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sheep Hill Barns

As it turned out, I opted to make just a few slight changes from the first draft.  These two barns look related, almost like twins, but are different upon examination.  When you enter the tiny courtyard between them and face out, its tightness is effective in augmenting the expansive view of the steep Sheep Hill in front of you.  Behind the barns, as you see here, is a row of trees lining the road at the base of another steep mountain side.  The barns have been refurbished but still pleasantly reflect their age.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Three or Six Barns

The first two are a 9x12 charcoal drawing and a 9x12 oil on panel on site studies of the barns at Sheep Hill.  The last is an 18x24 oil on canvas developed from the first two.  The large painting is not quite done yet, but very far along.  Unfortunately, on the Internet they look the same size, but the large painting is, well,  larger.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Going and Coming

Almost all the snow on the hill above Josiah's Pond at Sheep Hill is now gone.  This 9x12 oil on panel I did the day before yesterday before the rain and higher temperatures arrived last night.  I was there again yesterday and did a charcoal drawing and an oil sketch of the barns as preliminaries for a larger painting.  I'll post those tomorrow.  The painting may take some time.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Snow on a Hill

Painting outdoors at Sheep Hill went well yesterday afternoon.  I did two paintings.  The second I will post tomorrow.  This one is 12x12 oil on panel, and demonstrates that snow on a hill melts in the sunshine.  You can compare it to the oil sketch of a similar view that I posted a few days ago.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Plywood Fence

One more drawing from the corner of Sullivan Place and Washington Avenue in Brooklyn (no. 66).   One can find fences made with painted and graffitied plywood surrounding empty lots and construction sites all over Brooklyn.  I have noticed that some of these fences are up so long that they get repainted or replaced.