Sunday, October 7, 2018

Eastport Cliffs

Eastport Cliffs

This drawing was inspired by the view from the outside deck of a restaurant in Eastport.  As I've mentioned before throughout this blog, my love of nature fuels my art, but often requires some adjustments to create a composition for a painting. 

This scene is calm, as the sea was calm.  Still, for me the calm the cliff with the tree creates a tension.  How many more storms will the tree last?  Will it grow too large for its roots to support or will the foundation of rock tumble into the sea taking the tree with it.

In this case while remaining true to the subject:

I've moved the house down the hill toward the cliffs and moved the houses chimney to reduce distraction.  

The islands in the distance did exist, but I've added a channel in between to add distance as a landmass across the picture would stop the eye from moving into the painting.

The cliffs existed, some of the patterns of of the rocks and shadows were altered for composition to lead the eye into the drawing.

The tree existed as well and drew me to the subject in the first place.  I've emphasized and enlarged the tree slightly.

In a conversation with another artist who was readying for a show of abstract art, but who often sketched from nature, we each discussed how our preferred style stretched our creativity.  It was very respectful conversation despite our very different perspectives.  While he saw value in sketching and drawing from life, his view was not to change anything, but to accurately record what was in front of him.  While he found abstract painting to be a far more of a creative exercise.  

For me, trying to capture a moment in time and to interpret nature in two dimensions is far from constraining.   Just the opposite actually.  I find that pulling and rearranging elements that I've experienced first hand into a new composition to be as rewarding as being able to capture those elusive moments in nature that too many of us regularly pass by without noticing. 

I will most likely do a variation of this subject during a storm with a tighter focus on the cliffs, tree, and house.  I've often visited the coast during storms.  I find the ocean to be mesmerizing in all its moods and colors.   This idea occurred to me while working on the cliffs.  Adding the water effects on the rocks during a storm will be an enjoyable stretch.

Monday, September 17, 2018

New Group Exhibition - River Arts Damriscotta

Time Together - Acrylic on Canvas
Aiden LaSalle

The above canvas by Aiden LaSalle will be included in the juried group exhibition at River Arts opening Friday September 21 in Damriscotta.

Aiden has been painting for decades and has paintings in numerous private collections throughout New England.  It's rare for any of his paintings to get by his family and clients but at age 82 he thought he'd try something a little different and enter a juried competition.

Aiden comes from a family of artists.  His father, Edward LaSalle, was an illustrator in the 20's and 30's and he sold his paintings privately throughout the next five decades.  His Uncle, Charles LaSalle and his cousin Aiden Lassell Ripley were highly successful artists who won awards nationally and are still highly collectable artists to this day.   His mother, Vivian LaSalle was a fashion artist for Palmer's Department Store and a portraitist in pastels.

Aiden has also spent a lifetime in and around the woods, studying nature in all its moods, and that authenticity is embedded in all he creates.    

I currently have two other paintings by Aiden for sale.  If you are interested please email me at

Acrylic on Canvas

Storm Warning
Acrylic on Canvas

Congratulations again to Aiden!  I cannot thank him enough for mentoring me on my own artistic journey.

I also had one painting accepted for this exhibition as seen below.  It is a watercolor on paper.

Treetops / Woodcock

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Evans Notch, Revisited

While readying paintings for submission to a juried competition, I decided to take a break to make some painting notes.

In short, as I've painted over the years I've gradually moved from a frenetic non-process of painting on location and,thanks to haphazard storage, I seemed to spend as much time looking for my materials than I did painting, to a fairly consistent process.  I've written about the development on my preferred working method over time, if you are interested in that topic, I've included some links below.

This particular notebook is a small portfolio that I've not written about before.  Each page of the portfolio is filled with index cards.  Each card has its own idea for a painting.  In some cases its just a quick phrase scribbled down (Orange Moonrise / Trees illuminated from behind).  In others there are no words and just a quick pencil sketch of a composition.  In other cases the card references other studies to utilize to complete a new subject.  Some of the cards are a critique of a painting completed much earlier.

Lastly, and the subject of this post, are notes about paintings that I'd completed to a point, but didn't know what to do next or how to complete the painting at the time. 

This painting  immediately below was the first pass of an oil of "The Basin" in Evan's Notch. 

The true first pass at the painting didn't have the Birches, Spruce, or Moose in front of the pond.  I then added these elements but I knew that it was in its final form - I just wasn't sure what that finished state would be so I set the painting aside - for years.

Below is the painting with my latest revisions.  I added texture to the mountain as well as different colors.  I added more value to the shadows on the mountain peak and exposed rocks.  The birches received the bulk of the work - literally adding bulk through structure modifications as well as color and value work.

Lastly the water seemed more dull that I liked, so I added some lighter reflections from the sky on the left and green reflections on the right.

I may have gone a bit too far with the brilliance of the trees, but they are glowing at times, so I'll set this aside a take a look with fresh eyes soon (not years from now).

Below are a few links to earlier posts which describe the evolution of my working methods.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Fishing the rapids II

Fishing the Rapids 
Acrylic 18" x 24"

Sometimes an idea for a painting kicks around in my head for awhile.  Then it reaches a point where I have to get it out and onto canvas or paper and occasionally in the form of notes or poems.  More often than not I feel like a passenger on that ride rather than the pilot.

In this case, the version of the picture to the left was my first pass.  I've talked before about how I will often get a painting to a point of partial completion and simply set it aside for awhile.  There was always something about this painting that hadn't set quite right with me.  Despite the fact that family, friends, and even an impartial critic who selected the painting for a juried show liked the painting as it was.
Some of the differences between the two are do doubt because of different lighting.  While I made small additions and corrections throughout much of the picture - a small brush stroke and color adjustment here and there. the main adjustment was to the color of the large tree on the far bank (left bank) and the small trees in the left foreground.
Those color adjustments, adding primary complementary shades to the rocks and the muting of colors on the far bank really helped bring out the reflections of the sky in the water.  Other than covering my old signature and adding the new, I didn't even alter the water.  I was quite happy with how this turned out.  I was able to add contrast and some darker colors - while turning an area of the painting that had seemed flat and lifeless into one of interest that still supported the whole picture.

I'm now finding more pleasure in making small adjustments in color, shape, and form, to pictures that in the past I was quite content to just leave unfinished.  It's a different part of the creative process but one that I continue to grow in appreciation for daily.

The working process behind the original version of this painting can be found elsewhere in this blog.

Now I can let it go and move onto something completely different.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Group Exhibitions and Juried Competitions

I currently have three works on display at the Crooker Gallery in the Topsham Public Library as part of a combined show for award winners of the 10th annual Joy of Art and Joy of the Lense exhibitions.  The show runs through September 20th.  If you are interested in purchasing any of these paintings please private message me.

Acrylic - 12 x 16
Cape Elizabeth
Painted on Location

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

Lisbon Farm
Watercolor 8" x 10"
Painted on Location

Stroudwater Colonial
Charcoal on Paper
12" x 16"

The painting below is currently on display at River Arts Gallery in Damriscotta as part of a juried exhibition - local color.  This exhibition runs through the next two weeks.

Lisbon Farm
18" x 24"

I also have submitted two paintings for a juried exhibition ArtinME in Boothbay, ME.  Fingers crossed that one will make the cut!   Am trying to live and take risks according to the motto "Go Big or Go Home!"

Monday, September 3, 2018

This charcoal is an elaboration of an on location watercolor sketch of a farm in Bowdoin.  Haying has begun in the foreground.   One of the things that impresses me most about the farms in Maine is how farmers utilize nearly every inch of arable land, be it for Hay, Corn, or other crops.   Hay fields in various shapes and sizes are tucked away alongside roads as in this case.

I may well take the view of Mt Washington from Lisbon and add it to this scene in an alternate composition.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Pembroke Stone Bridge

Here is one of two large charcoals I've begun since my return from a trip Down East.  This is a stone bridge in my mother's hometown of Pembroke Maine.    The river is the Pennamaquan river which drains Pennamaquan Lake into Cobscook Bay.  

As a child I spent many hours playing by the river.  When the tide was outgoing the river flowed rapidly through the stone arch ways.   I used to launch "Boats" that I found throughout the woods.  The river flowed so rapidly in fact, that the waves created by the flow of the river reminded me of the wake of my uncles boat on Sebago Lake.   When the tide was incoming, there were many small whirlpools formed as the saltwater and the freshwater collided forming intricate designs of flotsom and foam on the surface of the river.  On windy days, the river foam would be blown rapidly upriver, sometimes on the surface, at other times taking flight.

I never fished, not sure why,  but the fishing was good as evidenced by the bald eagles that regularly snatched fish from the river.   Most likely river herring.  The Eagles nest was high in a spruce overlooking the river in the woods behind my grandparents.  Eagles weren't very numerous in those days (the early 70's) but I had their company daily whenever I was in Pembroke.

The House indicated at the right side of the bridge, is actually the Masonic Hall which would not be visible (and to the right of the bridge).  The Masonic Hall was at the entrance to Masonic Lane, and my grandparents house was at the end of the lane.  Below is a sketch I did years ago entitled Pembroke Memories.

Image may contain: outdoor

According to the Maine DOT Historic Bridge Survey, Phase II Final Report & Historic Context. 2004
"The Arch Bridge in Pembroke (#2021) is among the most complete, extant stone arch bridges in Maine. It was built in 1894 by the town."  

Eastport Cliffs

Eastport Cliffs This drawing was inspired by the view from the outside deck of a restaurant in Eastport.  As I've mentioned b...