Wednesday, June 21, 2017
For the first day of summer, this morning I painted a driveway. The breeze was gentle and persistent with the sun going in and out. I pretended that I was in Provence painting on a country road, except the building alongside the driveway doesn't look like a mas, the Provencal farmhouse, but is a Federal style house in Hoosic, NY. 9x12 oil on panel.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Since Facebook, where I also post these paintings, claims it gives wider dissemination to quality posts, this is a quality post. The quality painting visible here, a 12x16 oil on canvas panel, depicts the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Grand Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. It is a lively corner with colors aplenty. I might go so far as to call it a quality urban corner. I hope you like it, the painting and the corner.
Monday, June 19, 2017
The corner of Grand and Bergen in Brooklyn is one of my favorite corners because the car repair shops are so bright and colorful, and the sidewalks and streets are usually full of cars waiting to be fixed. The front car in this painting has a "black eye" on the passenger side. But what really got my attention was the position of the white panel truck repeating the appearance of the building in the top left background. The composition is almost like a pin wheel. I didn't invent this composition. I found it. Of course, I always look here first. The painting is a 12x16 oil on canvas panel.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
The streets of Brooklyn can be exhilarating for a visual artist, a painter, because there is so much to see and respond to. I might have a different attitude about it if I were not just a frequent visitor and had to live there under difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, there's an organic nature to city streets, even though they are filled with artificiality and brutishness, that parallels the world outside the city. Maybe it's the variety and range of visual stimuli in a tight space. The two "natures" mix when large trees and untended weeds reside with hydrants, walls topped with barbed wire, cars, signs, and buildings and on and on. This view is of the corner of Grand and Pacific on a 12x16 oil on panel.
Friday, June 16, 2017
When walking the Marginal Way, I couldn't help but see this vigorous bush at the margin. This is a 12x16 oil on panel.
Because of my attraction to his Monhegan sea paintings, I've been reading about George Bellows. The book by Mahonri Sharp Young contains interesting comments:
"We like to think the realist vision is a fantasy, but it's solid rock compared to some of our obsessions. It has a wide appeal because it's widely shared; most people see that way today. Besides, there's something immensely attractive about Bellows' outlook, something which is still present in the world we deplore. We try not to find things fascinating or colorful, but they are."
"We have no tradition of the grand old man in art. It's not a role our men fall into naturally; mostly they fall into bitterness."
Regarding the effect of success on an artist like Bellows: "We exaggerate the benefits of failure."
Regarding Bellows ' life: "Nothing bad happened to him except his early death, and that was so unexpected he never gave it a thought."
"It is true: Bellows appealed to people who don't like art, as Wyeth does today."
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
This is a 12x16 oil on panel from Thursday last week when I was painting at the top of Sheep Hill. It's a view looking north on a sunny afternoon. When I was there the grass was tall. However, the path that rings the hill is closely mowed.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
A third painting from the Ogunquit weekend: a 9x12 oil on panel, done on Saturday afternoon, behind the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. When working on this one, a woman who lives and grew up nearby was sitting below looking at the sea. I had met her earlier when she was planting in her front yard. Upon leaving, she told me that I was keeping up the old tradition of painting at that very spot. She added that when she was a child, some painters would even use the rock surface as a palette, and later, when they had gone, the children would come by to use the paint to mark up their faces. Needless to day, I didn't continue that particular tradition.
Monday, June 12, 2017
A 12x16 oil on panel done at Ogunquit on Sunday. I tucked myself into a narrow space at the bottom of a cliff completely in the shade where there's a little stony beach behind the Ogunquit Museum of American Art to paint this view. It was hot and hazy, and a bare, barren spot.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Yesterday, back on the hill to look at and paint the mountain. I set up in a different place and used a different composition this time. The sky was getting milky, but it was still hot and sunny. I used my umbrella to shade my panel and my head. 12x16 oil on panel.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Whenever I visit Mount Greylock as seen from the top of Sheep Hill, I inevitably think of Cezanne's late Mont Saint-Victoire paintings, and I realize that our temperaments differ. But I can understand his "excitement" when gazing upon the mountain and the sky. I have a more organic view, certainly less adventuresome. What I particularly like about the distinctive Sheephill view are the various diagonal planes: deeply slanting hills, receding mountains, whose heights lead to the development of parallel cloud structures. This is a 12x16 oil on panel that I did on site yesterday morning.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
It's still raining, so I went to Toulouse. This street reminds me of an old fairy tale that I read when I was a kid. I don't remember much about it except the pictures of narrow lanes with tall buildings and a boy who jumps off a bridge into a canal to find a lost key. The painting is a 9x12 oil on panel.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
With the prospect of rain later today, tomorrow, the day after that, and then the next day, I went out to paint even though the sun was fading away. I found myself in another field, in a wet lane used only by tractors, which leave ruts deep enough to gather and hold water. Besides water, there's a lot of green around too. This is a 9x12 oil on panel.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Yesterday I did my annual homage to the truck at Haley Farm at the end of Hopper Road in Williamstown, MA. It's a very popular truck even though it's been standing at the same spot for 25 years. Maybe that's why. Also maybe because it kind of stands out.
Often you may read about the dos and don'ts of selecting a good vantage point to paint something. Since this truck is parked in a cow pasture, my selection criteria was simple: find the driest spot. The painting is a 12x16 oil on panel.
Friday, June 2, 2017
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Yesterday I didn't go to Toulouse, but to the pond instead. I concentrated on some pines next to the pond which appears slightly at the right. I'm attracted to large pines. I like their sky holes, the green against the blue. This is a 9x12 oil on panel.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
This 9x12 oil on panel is a view of a street in Toulouse, France. I did this painting after developing a more involved thumbnail drawing than usual, and then following the thumbnail as the guide. You might ask, why haven't you been doing that all along. Well, good question.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
This tree at the pond, I've been told, is a black willow, not a weeping willow. Wikipedia says they are given to "frequently forking near the base," which happened with this tree. I tried to reduce the complexity of what I encountered when making this painting. I liked the way the sun struck the mass of foliage, and the small sky reflections underneath, but I realized quickly, and maybe too late, that this jumble would require a lot of work to organize. The painting is a 9x12 oil on panel.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017
A painting from the far end of the pond, a 9x12 oil on panel. This was done on site several days ago.
From my reading: Cezanne built a studio building in 1902 in Aix. After the studio was shut following his father's death in 1906, Cezanne's son Paul never returned to Aix . He indicated that it was because the people of Aix had so little respect for his father. Of course, that has changed today.
Friday, May 19, 2017
This time, a 9x12 oil on panel of a couple more willow trees at the pond, which I painted yesterday morning. In Ross King's book on Monet's water lilies, Mad Enchantment, he writes how willows signify loss and sadness and how that sadness is part of Monet's late paintings. On a brilliant morning when the sun illuminates the willow trunks, it's hard to think of sadness...
With this painting, I tried something that had not occurred to me before: paint without using a medium. It worked out well, and I think that it makes it easier to layer paint.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
This morning I went back to the pond. I was standing at one end of the pond looking toward the other end and painted this view, a 12x16 oil on panel. I may paint this view more than once, since it changes dramatically during the day.
After I finished this painting, I moved to another location to start another painting, but I became involved in a duckling rescue operation. I learned later that a duckling was born last night, and at mid-day I saw it running after three other ducks, and it promptly went into the pond while the three ducks went back to their duck house. The duckling tried to get out of the pond, while, in the meantime, the bullfrogs were signaling that lunch had arrived. Anyway, the duckling was eventually successfully removed from the pond and put back in the duck house with its careless mother, who is sitting on a pile of eggs. Hopefully the duckling will still be there tomorrow.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Last Friday I also did this 8x10 oil sketch on panel. I looked across the pond and saw reflections of a tree like an airplane and the roof of the peacock house like a heart, and a pine tree... like a pine tree, and I painted away frantically.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
When Monet started to paint his pond, he spent a few years agonizing about it and destroyed dozens of canvases. Fortunately, he got over whatever problems he encountered or created for himself. One can't look into a pond without thinking of Monet. This is a 9x12 oil on panel done while standing on the pond's nose, from two days ago when the sun was still shining.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
This is a 12x12 oil on panel, which I worked on for a span of two days. I stood in a shady spot looking into the pond. Most of the view is water. Charles Movalli called painting "controlled chaos". I was trying to achieve a controlled chaos, from the chaos of a pond surface, on the surface of a panel. The view looks down the pond to where there's an old barn. The outline of the pond has been described as like a pair of sunglasses. In the center of the painting you can make out the nose on which the sunglasses sit.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Yesterday was still cloudy, but the pond was still there, so I went out and painted. Here's a 9x12 oil on panel showing a view down the pond. I described it as a figure eight, but was told by someone who knows it better that it's like the two lenses of a pair of sunglasses.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Sunday, May 7, 2017
This is a 12x16 pastel on colourfix board: a complicated Gloucester boatyard view that I've tried to simplify. I snugly fitted the boat at the bottom to hold up the rest of the harbor. I want to tackle a larger oil version of this view.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
At the end of Rocky Neck Avenue in Gloucester, MA is a site called the Gloucester Marine Railways, which calls itself the oldest working shipyard in the United States. This 9x12 pastel is a view of the shipyard. It's also a collection of mostly unrandom marks, touches, scrapes, and rubbings of hard and soft pastel.
Friday, May 5, 2017
Another Gloucester pastel, this on an 11x14 on pastelbord. I can understand why seaports and boatyards have always attracted painters. Where else can you find colorful and shapely man-made objects surrounded by sky and water? And there's always the patina of age, and other aspects of change and tradition. I went to Gloucester to see an exhibition of paintings by Charles Movalli, a great painter who died last year.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Sunday, April 30, 2017
This is an urban painting, a view of the boardwalk at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, facing east towards the aquarium. I've been reading some books on Eugene Boudin lately, and so felt the urge to paint the beach with people. The painting is an 18x24 oil on canvas.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The weather improved again in the afternoon yesterday, so I went to the pond once more. I notice that I'm in a rut: my last three plein air paintings have had a tree repoussoir at the side. I'll work on that. This is a 9x12 oil on panel.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
A 9x12 oil on panel of a pond in Hoosick, N.Y. The afternoon started cloudy but the sun appeared near the end of this painting, so I went with the flow. It's happened often enough, that when a painting is approaching completion, I am prepared to take advantage of a sudden positive change. Situational painting. Of course the water just kept moving the entire time.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Down to the sea. The high road, Israel Head Road to be exact, in winter in early morning in Ogunquit, Maine, goes down to the sea. I love high views of the sea where the water rises above the roof line. This particular view is full of complexity below but not much above, where a telephone pole crosses the horizon. A 12x24 oil on canvas.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Monday, April 24, 2017
This morning I went back to the old farm house at the end of the dirt road. The shadow was creeping down the side of the side porch, so I marked off where it was, and painted real fast. By the time I was done, the shadow was all the way down like a curtain to the floor. But I managed to capture where it was when I arrived on the scene. It helped to have done the preparatory watercolor a few days ago. What I found interesting to deal with was that the shadows were full of light.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Many years ago I spent a few days on Monhegan Island. I remember walking out of the woods and encountering a painter hauling all his stuff in a cart going in where I came from. I asked him where he was going. He said that he didn't know, but he would know when he got there. For some reason that episode has remained in my memory. Maybe because I'm always encountering the difficulty of figuring out where to go to paint.
When one is looking for a place to paint in a place much larger than Monhegan Island, which is about any place, it's hard to know where to go, never mind figuring out if you have reached it. Anyway, last year I noticed this spot on Rockwell Road in Lanesborogh,MA. That's the road that goes up to Mount Greylock. I went there this morning, and painted this view at the turn just before the Welcome Center. Unfortunately the gate leading up past the center is still closed. But it was a great view with Pontoosuc Lake in the far distance. The painting is a 9x12 oil on panel.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Friday, April 21, 2017
Despite the weather forecast, the sun came out for a while so I went out and painted again. This is the old barn at the end of the dirt road. In fact, this view shows the end of the dirt road. Every time I walk this way, I am attracted to the beautiful curved form of the road juxtaposed to the roof shape. All the shapes seem to fit nicely together. This painting is a 12x16 oil on panel.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Another plein air painting, an 11x14 oil on multimedia board, showing the old farm house at the end of the dirt road in the middle of the afternoon on a bright sunny day. The white washed side is now the shadow side.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Yesterday was another gorgeous day at the end of the dirt road. I was attracted to how flat the whitewashed side of the old farm house appeared in the sunlight. I got far enough away from the building to have the mountain in the background frame the roof. An aspect of painting landscapes at this time of the year is dealing with grassy surfaces that are in the process of changing over from brown to green. Because of where I was set up, there was a lot of grassy area to deal with.
The peculiar thing about this 19th century building is that it has a relatively new roof. I learned yesterday (from the man who put on the roof, of all people, who I encountered at the old farm) that it was to preserve the building until the owners could decide what to do with it. This painting is a 12x16 oil on panel.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
A view of part of the barn that is just beyond the old white farm house at the end of the dirt road. Of course there are mountains all around, since this place is located in a narrow valley. I was struck by the comparison of the shadowed barn side with its point and the evergreen in the background. The barn is just like the house: all four sides are different. This is an 11x14 oil on multimedia board.