Friday, April 6, 2018

Mountain Brook Summer

This charcoal is an amalgamation of many trips to the mountains.  The most direct sources of inspiration for this drawing was a trip that Julie and I took in Mid Summer to the Swift River in Maine and along the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, as well as the riverbed often visible when driving through Farmington Maine. 

One of the areas we stopped in was nearly water free.  The low water (almost absent) added a whole new type of interest to the river scene for me.  I find rivers and water in general to be a fascinating subject.  From reflections of sky and trees, to rapids, to the ebbs and flows of river channels, and of course water falls.  Along the river bed were occasional puddles which reflected the trees, clouds, and sky overhead.  That's a subject (or three) for another day.

In this case I've altered the composition somewhat to allow the viewer to see the river bed.  In reality, the growth along the road was so thick, that you couldn't see the river bed which ran to within a few feet of the tote road.  In exploring the riverbed, there were some areas where the trees obscured the sky above, letting only mottled light through to the rocks below.  It was breathtaking.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Old Mill - Sabattus

Old Mill, Sabattus Maine

If you see and old building or any building that strikes you, record it in your own way.  I cannot count the number of buildings and scenes that I wanted to paint that were gone by the time I got around to trying to paint them.  In the U.S. in particular, our history is fleeting and the "old" is often bulldozed for the new.

I often rise early in the morning and explore for subjects of interest.  This mornings journey took me to Sabattus.  A weathered mostly abandoned Mill complex caught my eye.  It was a grey day but the greys and rusted roof of this buiding spoke to me.  I took a few notes for reference later when I decide to do a painting of this subject.

As often happens to me when I'm on location, is that I get lost in the moment and the subject requires more simplification and scaling than I accomplish with the first pass - still I was able to put down enough of the subject for further study.  There was an old dam and mill pond to the right of the subject which I'll explore further later.  The reflections in the pond were fascinating and could have been the subject of many paintings.

Old Mill Sabattus, Maine

The advantage to utilizing Pen and Ind for these field sketches for me is that it is quick, easy to transport, makes me think before blocking in the composition and I can take reference notes quickly and easily.

The disadvantage is that color notes are not the same as matching the colors.  Which is why i also enjoy sketching on location with watercolors.  I could have easily combined the watercolor with the Pen and Ink, but for now I prefer to keep the two seperate.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Insipiration - Bath New Hampshire

Acrylic on Canvas Board 12"x16"

My earliest memories of covered bridges were on family trips to see my Aunt in North Conway, New Hampshire.  I was always fascinated by the construction of the bridges.  I can still hear and feel the car on the wooden planks of the bridge echoing throughout the bridge.  Being surrounded by darkness and large wooden beams was a stark contrast to the sunlight outside.  On stormy trips, the sounds changed from rain on the roof of the car to the muffled sound of rain of the roof of the bridge.  You can still see the foundations of the covered bridge on the way into North Conway on Route 302 - over the Saco River.  I have a vague recollection of the bridge being damaged by a fire.  There was some hope that it would be rebuilt, but that proved to be too steep a financial committment and the bridge was eventually demolished as the route into North Conway was redirected.

I've also been fascinated by the old industrial buildings alongside New England rivers.  I used to play in an old abandoned mill in my hometown.  It stirs my memory more today than it did at the time. The memories may not be fully accurate, but they are mine none the less.   The massive floor boards, frosty windows filled with imperfections of early glass  all combined with the heart pounding  excitement of being somewhere you weren't supposed to be, doing something you weren't supposed to be doing.  So many of these buildings were allowed to fall into disrepair as manufacturing jobs disappeared or moved on to other locations.  It's nice now to see that restaurants and other businesses have been rehabbing these buildings that were once the bedrock of so many communities throughout New England.

This painting is an example of what I've written about in the past.  It's a studio painting based on memories and emotions from my experiences.  The original idea for the painting came from some on location sketches from trips to Bath New Hampshire.  It is one of the largest covered bridges I've ever seen.  It's a beautiful village and a must see if you are travelling to New Hampshire.

Below are a few examples from my trusty sketchpad.  I started with some compositional ideas around the border of the page - pretty much from the upper left - clockwise around the page.  I then sectioned off the remaining center of the paper and once I'd sketched in this new perspective I knew that was the one I wanted to pursue.

Below is the first and second pass at the painting.  I started by toning the canvas with a warm earth tone and then preceeded to put in the sky and then blocked in the bones of the painting (the river bed, walls, and surrounding buildings.  The bridge was then put in next with no windows till the end.  This was a new type of canvas board for me.  It was prepped for watercolor - so I found that working in acrylics, these was very little tooth or bite to the canvas, so I had to adapt my style of paitning until I'd built up enough paint on the canvas.  Below I've shown the (Nearly) finished painting.

Fairly subtle, but important changes I think.  What are your thoughts?

One of my favorite artists, Aldro Hibbard, did at least one painting of this area from up above (to my right looking at the painting) and looking upriver.  It was breathtaking to see.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

10 Annual Joy of Art Opening Reception

Julie and I aattended a woderful opening reception at the Crooker Gallery, Thopsham Public Library in Topsham Maine this afternoon.  It's always enjoyable to meet other artists and supporters of the arts and to see the many different expressions from different artists.  This Gallery and event is where I took my first steps to show my work outside the family (four years ago) and the staff was as warm, encouraging, and as welcoming as ever.

I entered two pieces in this juried exhibition.  A watercolor (Moonlight, Ice Out, Androscoggin) and an acrylic (Midcoast Marsh).

My watercolor, "Moonlight, Ice Out, Androscoggin" won first prize in the watercolor division.

I was speaking with another artist about her landscape painting, which I particularly admired, when a couple stopped by to listen to the conversation.  We spoke of the joys and challenges of painting on location and how it informs our work.  

The couple asked me what paintings I had entered in the show.   They then asked me to talk to them about my Midcoast Marsh painting.  I was able to describe to them the location which was the inspiration for the painting and about  my process for choosing and executing a subject.

"Would you consider parting with it?" and with that the painting was sold!  I'll write more about that soon.  It was so rewarding to hear the couple share their memories that my painting had stirred up of growing up in and around marshes and that Midcoast Marsh would have a home in thier cottage.

Thanks again to the Friends of the Topsham Public Library for this wonderful opportunity.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Country Church - Work in Progress

Do you have a favorite painting or drawing?

Here is my latest work in progress.  It's a small country church based on the watercolor below, which was completed on location years ago in Bowdoinham, Maine.   It's at a stage where I'll set aside awhile to see if there is anything else I'd like to add when I look at it with "fresh eyes" so to speak.

I had the good fortune to strike up a friendship and correspondence with the illustrator Bob Harris for the last decade of his life.  He was so generous with his advice and so encouraging.  He'd often laugh and say how difficult it was and how important it was  to know when a painting was done - before it was finished!  It's so easy to overcomplicate subjects and to leave little to the imagination for the viewer.

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."   Edgar Degas

I really do like this watercolor sketch below, not because of how it turned out or any technical learning from the painting.  It does have a special place for me because it was the first painting I'd done on location once we'd moved up to Lisbon Falls.  I have so many impressions and memories of trips up and down this road with so many more subjects to paint.

My favorite painting or drawing?  The next one!!

Below are a few quick compositional sketches for the charcoal drawing above.  I did these sketches within 5 minutes and then moved onto the charcoal.

I'll likely do some paintings based on the finished sketch as well.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stroudwater Colonial - Opening night

Here is a picutre of my charcoal "Stroudwater Colonial" which was accepted for the River Arts Gallery Exhibition - Black and White - Currently on display in Damriscotta.

My wife, Julie, also had two works accepted for this show - Her first juried exhibition!!  Congratulations honey!  Julie is gifted at avoiding having her picture taken, but that is another story.  It was a wonderful evening with family and new friends!

I'm submitting two paintings for jurying at the Crooker gallery in Topsham later this week.

Adroscoggin River, Ice Breaking by moonlight (watercolor)

Midcoast Marsh - Acrylic on Canvas Board

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Moonlight on Mountain Pond

I spent a few hours in the studio the past couple of evenings matting drawings and paintings to see what I'd like to enter in my next juried exhibition.  Sometimes framing or even simply matting a painting or drawing help expose any compositional flaws.

Moonlight on Mountain Pond

There is a stillness in the wood
That is hard to comprehend
As I hike away from civilization, from the “should’s”
I leave the car and my worries behind

The daylight views are dramatic enough
But the night sky and the dance of moonlight and shadow
On clouds, mountain, forest and stream
Leave me spellbound

Like the sirens of myth
It is possible to become lost in natures song  
But the sound of my heart provides the rhythm
To the silence
Provides the anchor in the storm
The storm we all carry inside

In a few days
I’ll be back at work
Surrounded by activity and sound
The “should’s” will have returned in full force

In moments of decision,
I strive to remember
The mountains
The dance of moonlight and shadow
The silence

I am learning to be still