Friday, December 30, 2016

Found Geometry

Here's another kind of found geometry, this time from a sidewalk view on St. Marks Avenue looking towards Classon Avenue in Brooklyn.  This covered motorcycle seems to always be there, and I could not help noticing how the sky formed an equivalent blue triangle (on a sunny day), and there are a few smaller triangles as well.  But it's not all abstract design.  It's a sidewalk view with a covered motorcycle, brick buildings with fire escapes, poles, wires, barriers still around from the time the sidewalk cement was replaced, garbage cans, cars, etc. This is a 12x16 oil on panel.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Natural Geometry

Last week when the sun was shining, I walked up a hay meadow, and came across this hay bale (actually there are two of them), an arrangement of shapes, foreground and background, marking a kind of natural geometry.

Seamus Heaney's poem "Markings" has the following lines:

All these things entered you
As if they were both the door and what came through it.
They marked the spot, marked time and held it open.

This is an 8x10 pastel.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Figure with Kimono Robe

A figure drawing from three weeks ago.  This was quickly done with charcoal and white pastel on paper previously darkened with a charcoal wash.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Revision and Hay

I revised the pastel I posted the other day since I wanted to reduce some of its coarseness.  What I was trying to do initially was to use some of the dust to an advantage.  Also to stay with the imprecision because that's just the way we see.  Tough to do well.

This afternoon I found myself walking through a high cornfield/pasture.  These rolled up hay bales were tucked under some trees.  I did a quick crayon sketch.  I post these two together since they are close in style.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016


This is a glimpse from the top of Sheep Hill looking north through trees screening the mountains of Vermont.  It's a 9x12 pastel.  It seems to work better from a slight distance.  Close up it's a mess of markings, scrapes and drags.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Distant Mountains

I'm doing a slow reading of Seamus Heaney's book Seeing Things.  That deceptively simple title phrase contains multiple meanings.  Then there's the oft-quoted ending to the poem "Fosterling":

Me waiting until I was nearly fifty
To credit marvels.  Like the tree-clock of tin cans
The tinkers made.  So long for air to brighten,
Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten.

I read that the tin can clock was made to fool the devil, which would be a marvel indeed.

The accompanying 8x10 pastel is small, slight, and contains distant mountains.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Strange Mountains

There's a poem by Seamus Heaney called "Field of Vision," which ends

                              could see
Deeper into the country than you expected
And discovered that the field behind the hedge
Grew more distinctly strange as you kept standing
Focused and drawn in by what barred the way.

Oftentimes, I think as I look at these mountains from the top of the hill that the great space separates me like a hedge, and the mountains become strange.  This image is an 8x10 pastel.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Changing Pine Tree

This pine tree is located at the bottom of Sheep Hill, in a place where the light and weather seem to change as often as the view from the top of the hill.  This is an 8x10 pastel.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


This is an 18x24 oil on canvas painting of the view from near the top of Sheep Hill from one day last week.  The view constanly changes in terms of light and color, depending upon the time and weather.  The path down (or up) switches back and forth.  You can see part of it at the bottom right.  The view might look a little surreal, but the painting certainly looks the way I feel about the view.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Flat Mountains

The view from Sheep Hill in Williamstown, MA at mid-day when the bright, early winter sun flattens the mountains: a 12x16 oil on panel.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

In Preparation

Yesterday, though it was cold, the fluctuating sunlight brought me to the side of the hill again to paint the mountains.  I did this 12x16 oil on panel in preparation for a larger studio painting, which I have started.  The weather is pretty decent today so I may find myself there again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Atlantic Avenue

A view of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn not far from Washington Avenue.  I don't know if one would call it a view up or down Atlantic Avenue.  The arrow sign shows you where to pull in for a car wash or a lube.  This is a 12x16 oil on panel.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Brooklyn Congestion

A 12x16 oil on panel of the congested corner of St. John's Place and Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn late in the afternoon.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Footpath View

After passing that steep section of Sheep Hill on the footpath, if you look back, facing north into Vermont, on a sunny day, you will see this view.  After all the recent rain, the snow is now gone but its remnants added a nice touch.  This is a 9x12 pastel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


When walking the path at the top of Sheep Hill, at this particular spot, you can't help but be shocked by the steepness, especially if there's a bit of snow for emphasis, and the sky is churning in a different direction.  A 9x12 pastel.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Beautiful Day on the Hill

Today was another last best day for a while in terms of the weather, so I went back to the mountain view at the top of Sheep Hill.  Mount Greylock in the distance is covered with snow.  In front of Mount Greylock is the Hopper,  the v-shaped valley.  The mountain on the left is Prospect while the one on the right is Stony Ledge.  It was a beautiful day to paint outside.  Hopefully there will be a couple more best last days.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Pine Tree

For a change of pace I climbed up and down Sheep Hill while it was covered with snow.  I only fell down once.  My mountain in the distance was surrounded by clouds.  At the bottom of the hill next to the path stood the familiar pine tree.  This is an 8x10 pastel.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Gone Squash

This 5x7 pastel represents a small squash about eight inches long.  It no longer exists.  It was sacrificed to the Thanksgiving meal.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Three Beets.

Three beets.  5x7 pastel.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Vulnerable Onion

At first I thought I might do some edgy veggies, but as I worked on this onion, I saw how vulnerable is the flesh of vegetables.  Already the skin of the onion is drying and peeling.  This is a 5x7 pastel.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Before the Snow

Since it started snowing on Sunday, I haven't made it back to the mountains.  This 9x12 pastel is a view of the mountains before the snow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I'm still responding to the Farmer's market.  8x10 pastel.  Sometimes it's just enough to respond to something simple in front of you.  I was heavily invested in the future of our country.  Now I have to figure out how to survive mentally and spiritually.  So a bunch of carrots makes a lot sense.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hakurei Turnips

Here are some Japanese turnips, called hakurei turnips, from the Farmer's market.  I'm trying to do what's in the refrigerator before it gets cooked.  Another 8x10 pastel.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Two Onions

This morning I went to the Farmer's Market.  The vegetables were beautiful.  I felt like painting a couple of onions.  Here they are: 8x10 pastel.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mont Sainte-Victoire in Massachusetts

This afternoon, which might be the last nice day for a while (and I might not be talking just about the weather), I found myself at the top of Sheep Hill again.  Why not do the mountain that is constantly staring me in the face?  It'll require lots of work to capture the sense of distance and steepness.  I've also noticed that this view changes frequently, in terms of sky, light, landscape.  Many paintings are present here.  Then I realized that I have my own Mont Sainte-Victoire. This painting is a 12x16 oil on panel.  That's Mount Greylock and the Hopper in the distance.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sheep Hill and Bee Hill

Ever since I discovered this view, looking up and looking across almost simultaneously, I wanted to paint it.  Left is Sheep Hill and right is Bee Hill road.  A thin line of trees separates the road from the steep hill.  The painting is a 12x24 oil on canvas.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sheep Hill and the Painter's Eye

A 9x12 pastel long view at the top of Sheep Hill where the path dips down and then goes up quickly.

Here's a quote from my recent reading, The Art of Attent!on: The Poet's Eye by Donald Revell:

"Having come to his senses, the poet needs no inner life.  He sees his moods spread out before him, a continuous revelation of his present circumstances.  There's nothing to elaborate, nothing to work out.  Infancy improves with every hour spent in Eden, and attention makes Eden--i.e., a wholly new heaven and earth--everywhere, every single time... The poem is a promised land, and poetry is what happens there.  Who would close his eyes to imagine it?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Still on Sheep Hill

Still on Sheep Hill, though this 8x10 pastel is of a pine found near the bottom of the hill.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sheep Hill, Joy and Salvation

A 9x12 oil on panel painted yesterday at a favorite spot at the top of Sheep Hill in Williamstown, MA.

Jack Lindsay quotes a letter from Cezanne to Bernard, in which the painter ends with the words: "Paint. There lies salvation."

Earlier in his biography, Lindsay, when writing about Pissarro's influence on Cezanne, says, "... there was an aspect of impressionism, which we may say developed decisively in 1869 in the work of Monet and Renoir at La Grenouilliere, that struck home with [Cezanne]--it's effect of a world of actual and potential joy.  G. Geffroy wrote that impressionism was born from an 'exaltation' of the senses.  The conviction of a quite new form of free and yet precise comprehension of nature, of a release into light and infinitely rich and subtle colour, had a liberating quality: the final ratification of that impulse to deny and defy the world of drab and restrictive conventions, and to get away untramelled into the free tracks of nature..."

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sheep Hill and Horrors

A 9x12 pastel of a late afternoon view at the top of Sheep Hill.

A couple anecdotes from the Jack Lindsay book on Cezanne:

He left two unfinished paintings behind in the hotel at Neuchatel, Switzerland.  Not to worry.  Lindsay reports that another painter overpainted the canvases.

His sister Marie "was doubtless responsible for the fact that one day, while he was out, the housekeeper took on herself to burn his sketches of Baigneuses.  A woman who sold wine and liqueurs on the Pace des Trois Ormeaux asked her, 'How is Monsieur?' 'Not very well'. 'Is Monsieur painting?' 'O, such horrors, I've come down from burning a whole heap of naked women.  I can't leave them for the family's sake.  What would people say?' 'But some of them may be good'.  'They're horrors'."  Who knows how accurate this story is.  Lindsay complains that the people who befriended Cezanne near the end of his life, such as Gasquet and Bernard, put their words into his mouth.  I am reminded of other situations where disciples wrote what the Master supposedly said.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Student of Pissarro

An 8x10 pastel that takes up an old theme: looking into woods.  The late afternoon, autumn sun gently touches a few branches, tree limbs and leaves.  The view is from the top of Sheep Hill.

My current reading is a biography of Cezanne by Jack Lindsay.  He recounts how a peasant, who had a way with words, watched both Cezanne and Pissarro painting side-by-side.  The peasant said Pissarro 'dabbed' [piquait] and Cezanne 'smeared' [plaquait].   Pissarro was an important teacher for Cezanne.  Here's Lindsay's quote of another painter Le Bail on Pissarro's painting advice, which Cezanne adopted and is still quite relevant:

"Seek out for yourself a type nature which suits your temperament.  One should observe forms and colours in a motif rather than drawing.  It's not necessary to accentuate the forms.  They can be realized without that.  Accurate drawing is dry and destroys the impression of the whole, it annihilates all sensation.  Do not make the bounding line of things too definite; the brushstroke, the right shade of colour, and the right degree of brightness should create the drawing.  With a mass the main difficulty is not to give it an accurate outline, but to paint what is to be found within it.  Paint the essential character of things, try to express it with any sort of means you like, and don't worry about technique.

When painting look for a clear object, see what lies to right and left of it, and work at all sections simultaneously.  Don't work bit by bit but rather paint everything at once, applying paint all over, with brushstrokes of the right colour and brightness, and observe in each case which colours are near the object.  Use small brushstrokes and try to set down your observations directly.  The eye should not be fixed on one point but should note everything, and in so doing observe the reflections which colours throw on their surroundings.  Work at the same time on sky, water, twigs and ground, bring on everything evenly and go tackling everything without stopping again and again, till you've got what you want.  Cover the canvas in one sitting and work at this till you can find nothing more to add.  Observe accurately the aerial perspective, from foreground to horizon, the reflection of sky and foliage. Don't be afraid of applying paint, make your work gradually more perfect.

Don't proceed in accordance with rules and principles, but paint what you see and feel.  Paint strongly and unhesitatingly.  For it's best not to lose the first impression ... one must have only one master: nature.  One must always ask her counsel."

Thursday, November 10, 2016


This morning while the sun was still shining I went to the top of Sheep Hill, but everything seemed so flat, so I ended up at the bottom of the hill next to Josiah's Pond.  This 10x10 oil on panel consists of intersecting portions of the pond, the grass area, and the gazebo with a high background for an abstract effect.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Bit Eerie

From the top of Sheep Hill, I walked down the path a bit, turned around, and painted this view, a 10x10 oil on panel.  There was a lot of air at my back where the hill keeps descending steeply.  I was behind a low embankment, and not visible from the top, from where I could hear voices above me, but the people never came down.  It was a bit eerie.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Providing Time

Mindscape: an 18x24 oil on canvas of the wooden pathway that goes around half of Jordan Pond.  I posted a pastel study last week.  A landscape like this for me is a metaphor for the mind.

I've been reading another book on the poet Seamus Heaney (Seamus Heaney's Regions by Richard Rankin Russell), which quotes Heaney, who wrote that "artworks... can slow and even stop frantic activity that characterizes most of the rest of contemporary existence... [because] they provide time for the evaluation of intention and consequence.  Even more significantly, they provide time for those extensions of memory into the past and imagination into the future by means of which our lives acquire their genuinely intersubjective and moral dimension."  Heaney creates landscapes of the mind using words.  I try using paint, though I may be disadvantaged since paint splotches have fewer levels of meaning.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sinking Into the Late Afternoon

A 9x12 oil on panel that I started at the top of Sheep Hill a couple days ago, and finished yesterday after a couple more visits.  There's a small stone bench at the lower left.  One can sit there and look north into Vermont across several miles of hills and mountains.  If it's a bright day, the shadows of clouds will slowly move across the mountains.  Yesterday,  one cloud directly overhead left a distant, seemingly unrelated shadow on the mountains.  Its source I quickly realized was the sun sinking into the late afternoon behind me.  The low sun was lined up with the cloud to throw a far away shadow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Painting Is In Massachusetts

This is a painting that I started yesterday, and finished today after returning to the site.  I haunted this spot last year in late fall.  It's high up, quite dramatic with steep inclines, and what noise you hear sounds far away, though there is a dirt road nearby with an occasional truck passing through.  The mountains you see in the painting are in Vermont.  The painting is in Massachusetts.  It's 10x10 inches.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Front and Back, Back and Forth

Life drawing is similar to plein air painting in that one has only so much time to make an image.  You look, think, gesture over your surface, look for negative and positive shapes, and then you start (you don't know yet how you will finish).   These two charcoal drawings are approximately 17x14 inches showing both a front and back view of the model.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Walking the Planks

A 9x12 pastel sketch of another Jordan Pond plank walk to determine how to embark on a painting of it.  I like the serpentine walk way and the segmented view of the pond, which is only visible as light.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

An Interior Space

Jordan Pond is a state of mind, an interior space, where I wander down the wooden path around the pond.  This painting is an 18x24 oil on canvas.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Simple Pastel

Just a simple pastel, an 8x10.  This was a view I saw early last week before all the wind, rain, and snow came.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mid-Afternoon Pond

Though it wasn't a great day sunwise, I went to a pond in Hoosick, NY, to paint during the mid-afternoon yesterday.  This is a 10x10 oil on panel.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


This little 6x8 pastel I'll call a 'study' to justify its existence.  It represents a view from the Ocean Path at Acadia National Park but could be anywhere north looking into the sea.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Drying Up.

Right now this looks like a failed painting to me, but it seemed a good idea at the time.  I wanted to paint the tractor track puddle at the lower left, which is on an improvised, usually muddy, roadway edging a corn field.  The farmer came by on his ATV and told me I'd better hurry up before it dried up. I'm always tempted to paint pictures with stuff around the edges because you are not supposed to do that.  This one is 10x10 inches.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

It Doesn't Exist Anymore

Late in the afternoon, earlier this week, if you had gone into the hayfield, and then gently moved under the barbed wire on its southern edge, while angling in the direction of the sun, and turned completely around facing the mountain, you would have seen something like this.  Since then, it has rained, the wind has blown, and the temperature has dropped.  So it doesn't exist anymore.  This is a 12x16 pastel.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ancient Evening

A 9x12 pastel view of an ancient evening on Monhegan Island.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Haley House Bakery Cafe

A view of the Haley House Bakery Cafe on Washington Street in Boston, MA.  It's a 16x16 oil on canvas.  It's the second of the two paintings I made for the silent auction, which will be part of the festivities honoring the Haley House Community's Fiftieth Anniversary on December 2-4.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Across The Water

A small 6x8 pastel of a view from Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park.  The sun is going down but still hitting the trees across the water.  The water is rushing in.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Painting with One Hand

The legendary Aldro Hibbard said, "Paint with speed. Use up your nervous energy.  A morning's painting should wear you out." I painted yesterday afternoon on an embankment overlooking a favorite pond.  The temperature was in the 80's, but the wind was so fierce, I spent most of my time holding my easel in place with one hand, while painting with the other.  That was very tiring.