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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pen and Ink Exploration

Pen and Ink - Breakers Two

I'm not sure what started me on this particular exploration of pen and ink but I do find it quite enjoyable.  I work in a variety of media: Watercolor, Charcoal, Acrylic, Oil, Pencil, and most recently Gouache, and Mixed Media experiments.  I'll write more about the differnt media in subsequent posts.

I do find that the different mediums I work with all inform one another.  For instance, I find working in pen and ink makes me think further about composition and design as the medium is so direct and unforgiving.  I know that I've barely scratched the surface of Pen and Ink.

I enjoy studying the many moods of the ocean.  The power of the waves.  The color and the shapes in the rock and in the surf, the reflections of the sun and moon, the mist, sea fog and foam, and , the movement of the waves create constantly shifting and new fascinations to me.  This is all purely the visual and doesn't even take into account the impact of the sounds and smells of the ocean.

The same composition of rocks and beach or a cove could literally be painted daily or throughout the day and every painting would be different.   Claude Monet studied the effects of light on subjects in series such as haystacks, Rouen Cathederal, Houses of Parliament and more.  The same subject in different light and atmospheric conditions held his interest (not to mention ours for more than a century) because the challenges presented and, therefore the subjects themselves were, in fact, different.  Sometimes subtle differences, sometimes dramatic differences.  

I remember reading a note from Winslow Homer describing one of his paintings to the dealer, describing in great detail the lighting effect of the clouds being 15 minutes before sunset and how different the lighting would be 15 minutes after sunset.  It's not something that the casual observer would even notice, but master artists such as Homer and Monet could never be described as casual observers of the world around them.

It's interesting to note that even people with little to no interest in art can, if they are familiar with the subject matter, can "tell" if a realistic picture "rings true" with their expereience.  They may not be able to describe what is right or wrong with a picture but their "gut" will let them know if something "isn't quite right."

Scarborough Barn

Old Country Church

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Let it Go! Watercolor and Tracing Paper Experiments

These paintings are quick and simple experiments utiliing watercolor on tracing paper.  I occasionaly paint on tracing paper as a quick way to get down some ideas for paintings.  This has always been studio work for me.  

To say that tracing paper is not meant for watercolor is an understatement.  However, I also find that not considering a painting for display is incredibly freeing.  The subject matter was inspired by Aiden Lassell Ripley.

The second painting is simply a view of the reverse side of the paper.  It shows the mirror image of the compostion.  This can be done electronically through most photo editing as well, but I like to work with brush on paper.

The bottom painting view was a simply accident.  I placed the tracing paper on my easal on top of a previously completed landscape.  This shows how I might combine the compositions into new paintings.  It shows what some different color combinations would look like.  Once again, these effects could be achieved electronically but I enjoy the practice with the brush.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rugged Coast

Rugged Coast
Gouache on Paper

This painting is a gouache on paper over pen and ink.  As I've written about before, I will occasionally experiment over earlier paintings.  The Yankee in me hates to throw anything out.  Working in Gouache is still relatively new to me.  I prefer transparent watercolor, but whatever can help me achieve what I'm trying to achieve, I'll give it a try.

I was watching one of James Gurney's video's about painting on location with gouache and he mentioned how gouache tends to dry a little darker than it appears when painting - something I found to be very true.  This painting was also over a sketch in pen in ink with a lot of shading, so that did not help.  None the less, my plan was to go for a stormy scene anyway.

The picture below shows my current method for sketching on location and even studio work where I will work out different ideas in the margins - focusing on different compostions in thumbnail sketches before attempting a finished drawing.   

In this particular instance, there are only a few compositional sketches in the margins.  In other cases, the margins will be filled.   Another advantage of this method is for on location work.  At times, I may see a subject I want to paint, with many other elements that could lead to other paitnings in their own right, or some elements for me to add to other compositions.  It's a great practice that I also find forces me to simplify my compositions.  Initially I pre-drew all the squares for composition.  I've decided against that as there are times I'd like to do portrait orientation compositions as well as landscape compositions. 

I've not reached the point where I'm doing proportial sketches to the size of the final paintings, but that is easy enough to do.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Charcoal and Tracing Paper Experiments

I occasionally like to experiment with tracing paper.  Not to trace compositions, but I enjoy the feel charcoal on tracing paper.  Using tracing paper and even newsprint was also recommended by noted illustrators Robert Fawcett and Charles La Salle for practice.  I enjoy finding instructional books by artists such as these for inspiration.  Andrew Loomis is another favorite of mine.  The effects that Loomis and La Salle were able to achieve in Charcoal were amazing.  And Fawcett is an acknowleged master of line.  They make it look so easy.  Any expert does.  

I also like to see what the composition looks like in reverse.  While looking at a few of my paintings and drawings in preparation for entering another juried exhibition, I also noticed the difference the colored background makes.  

In this case I imagined a stormy sea where visibility was quite limited.  This was done from imagination, through I do enjoy storm watching along the coast.  The first image is simply with a piece of white paper behind the tracing paper charcoal drawing.

In the second picture, I've simply moved the white paper to the right and left the natural color of the drawing board (brown) to show through.  It does demonstrate a different mood.

The image below is with the image reversed.  Tracing paper makes this quick and easy - of course this can be done even more simply with basic computer software - but for me I prefer to go "old school"

 I'll share another example of working with watercolor on tracing paper in my next post.

I continue to be reminded on a regular basis that in art, and in life, there is no substitute for doing the work.  Reading about drawing or painting does no more to make you an artist than reading about playing the piano makes one a piano player. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Breakers Two

Pen and Ink - Breakers Two

I enjoy studying the many moods of the ocean.  The power of the waves.  The color and the shapes in the rock and in the surf, the reflections of the sun and moon, the mist, sea fog and foam, and , the movement of the waves create constantly shifting and new fascinations to me.  This is all purely the visual and doesn't even take into account the impact of the sounds and smells of the ocean.

These drawings are half memory half imagination from my childhood explorations of Higgins Beach in Scarborough Maine, Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, and my most recent trips to Pemaquid.

Tidal Pool, Incoming Tide - Pen and Ink