Monday, February 29, 2016

Look, See and Draw

Yesterday I went for a long walk with my sketchbook, two pieces of graphite and a charcoal stick.  I just read in the Mendelowitz book, A Guide to Drawing, that drawing "cannot be separated from the act of seeing."  So I'm trying to use my simple tools to help me to see.   I realize that I'm following some examples by earlier artists, so I'm not pretending to become a blank slate seeing everything anew.  I'm using those earlier artists as a starting point to look and see and draw, hoping that I will end up in a different place, not visible now,  than I started from.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Yupo Tunnel

Another Yupo and sidewalk tunnel.  The view is from Degraw Street near Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Drawing Around

A couple more quick simple drawings done while walking.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Note

A small, simple pencil drawing of a view out of the studio window, and/or a bunch of pencil marks on a piece of paper.  A note about looking through the trees to the field on the other side.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Everyday, if I do nothing else, I draw.  Besides the ink wash drawings (this one is another 8x10 Yupo of a view on Classon Avenue in Brooklyn), right now I'm also doing a series of quick drawings in pencil (this one from one of my walks).  Drawing is crucial to good painting, and even more crucial to discovering new ideas.  It's hard to think up new ideas, by which I don't mean content so much as methods.  It's less difficult to draw up new ideas.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Another Yupo

Another Yupo drawing, an 8x10 pen, brush, and ink wash with touches of watercolor, depicting the Gowanus Canal from the Carroll Street bridge.  There's a boat there that sometimes is afloat, and sometimes is partially submerged.  Yupo seems a good surface for watery subjects.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Gowanus Expressway

Standing on the west side of the Union Street bridge over the Gowanus Canal, and looking east, one can see another kind of Gowanus 'expressway.'  I like how the painted graffiti and the decaying piers reflect each other.  There's so much activity on this wall, that I felt compelled to simplify the upper part of the painting.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Yupo Experiment

I've been experimenting.  The above is an 8x10 drawing with pen, brush, ink and wash, and faint watercolor touches on Yupo paper, which is a plastic paper.  The subject is what I call the cartoon house on Carroll Street in Brooklyn.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Brilliant Gowanus

When I am in Brooklyn wandering around, I usually end up at the Gowanus Canal.  This is a view from the Union Street Bridge on a day when the sun was out making the water brilliant and the buildings shine.  I painted this rather broadly because I only wanted to suggest the multitude of details.   The Gowanus is not always like this.  The last time I was there, recently, there was a very low tide, exposing about four or five feet of mud not often seen, and the canal smelled awful.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


No words of wisdom today.  Just another drawing, an 8x10 of the corner of Fourth Avenue and Baltic Street in Brooklyn.  The interior form of the building that is no longer there is still etched on the wall of the remaining and once adjoining building.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Despair and Protection Avenue

Another day, another drawing, this one of a house on the corner of Protection Avenue and Route 2 in North Adams, MA.  I'm a sucker for triangles and shadows.  This drawing is an 8x10 with ink wash, pen and ink, and pastel.  I'll get back to Brooklyn but sometimes this area where I do live is pretty nice too.

About three weeks ago, the writer Sarah Manguso wrote a column in the Sunday Times  Book Review.  She said,  "The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway.  Those things are beside the point.  The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair.  If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight or vain in comparison."  Just substitute "painter" for "writer" to get the full meaning.

As a painter, I usually operate on the "expression" and "beautiful" wavelength, so her words hit me hard.  Maybe the only person I keep from despair is myself.  But it doesn't hurt and it's not pretentious to think in terms of a bigger picture or a higher or deeper level when painting or drawing.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Back Yard

An 8x10 drawing of a back yard that abuts the Hoosic River in North Adams, MA.  Besides the pool, sheds, and flag, the back yard contains a high cement wall to keep out the river.  The media is pen and ink, ink wash, and pastel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Covered Sidewalk

An 18x24 oil on canvas of the covered sidewalk on Van Brunt Street approaching Hamilton in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, near the cruise terminal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Corner Drawing

This 8x10 drawing, pen, ink and wash with pastel, shows the corner of Grand Avenue and Bergen Street in Brooklyn.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Douglass Drawing

I've started another Brooklyn pen and ink drawing series.  This time I'm using a different approach based upon what I learned doing the studio interior drawings, which is basically to use wash and color first before using the pen, so that I'm not shading in between the lines.  The lines will be accurate and not dependent upon the wash.  At least that's the idea.  The above 8x10 pen and ink with pastel depicts a view down Douglass Street towards Fourth Avenue.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sackett Street

A 12x24 oil on canvas of a view down the sidewalk on Sackett Street facing towards Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.  The fence is nicely decorated.  If you look at Google's street view, obviously taken sometime in the past, the painting on the fence is different and quite tame by comparison.  This is one of the ways that the city changes all the time.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Split Up Square

Another view of the studio, focusing on a wall whose windows let in the sunlight in the morning.  There are so many sections and pieces that the painting seems like a cubist work, except it isn't.  It's a painting of the many ways to split up the space inside of a square.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


A 24x24 oil on canvas of a view of Prospect Place, between Classon and Grand, in Brooklyn.  Besides speed bump signs, dumpsters are a common sight in Brooklyn, reflecting the constant change and renovation always taking place in the city.  There are also a lot of formal, artistic reasons why I like this particular mundane sight.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Inventing the Sunlight

These exploratory drawings of the studio interior I call the "studioink" series.  This last one I did a few days ago, and I have started the painting, based upon it, but the painting's progress depends upon seeing a little sunshine through the windows.  Given the forecast, I may have to invent the sunlight.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bond at President

I've been working on this 24x24 oil on canvas Brooklyn painting during the last few days.  It's a view of Bond Street at President.  There's some kind of fabrication shop there.  In the summer they have huge fans working on the sidewalks.  There's a giant manikin on a platform next to the nearest dumpster.  I don't know what it is, but it seems to fit.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Canfield Gallery Exhibition

Today was installation day at the Canfield Gallery in Arlington, VT.  There are forty-four paintings in the exhibition "Mostly Berkshires and Brooklyn: Landscape Paintings by Robert H. Lafond," so it's worth your while to visit if you are in the vicinity of Arlington.  On your way to the Northshire bookstore in Manchester, you can make a short detour in Arlington.  Besides Berkshire landscapes, I've include some seascapes and Brooklyn paintings.  The exhibition dates are February 4 to March 1. The artist's reception is Saturday, February 6 from 3 to 5 pm.  You can learn more about the exhibition at

Monday, February 1, 2016

Not That Simple

Yesterday, I did the underpainting, and today I did the painting.  A few days ago, I did the drawing.  It's so simple.

Include the Windows

This pen, ink and wash drawing I did a few days ago.  I sat down in the corner of the studio with the intention of finding a view that included the windows.