Sunday, June 9, 2013

By the Sea....by the beautiful Sea

Well, what a time it has been since my last post in April.  You just never know what any given day will bring!  I have been freed up to paint full time and have been making the most of it.  I'll keep the chatter brief and now will share some of the fruits of my paintbrush.  All of these are from my visits to Cape Cod, many inspired by my time in the Dune Shacks. There's more to come.  This week I'm going to switch gears a little and work on some ideas inspired by Rome.   Enjoy!

This first one I did last year but love it lots so had to include it...
Crescendo,  20 x 40", oil on canvas
Through the Dunes,  26 x 30", oil on canvas

Silver,  24 x 30", oil on canvas

A Break in the Dunes, 24 x 30", oil on canvas
This next one is really hard to photograph, the subtleties are hard to capture.  I'll need a pro to photo this.
Moonlight, 30 x 20", oil on canvas

West to East, 20 x 30", oil on canvas

Friday, April 12, 2013

A peek into process

Here's a little peek into my painting process.  Sometimes paintings just flow in through my eyes, run down my arm and effortlessly out of the end of the brush - certainly not always!  Here's how many of my paintings begin.  Most of my recent landscapes come from Arnold Arboretum and here's one that came from my wanderings.  It's a stream that's off the main path near the Rhodedendrums. A small pool of water with sky and trees reflected in it caught my eye so I did the quick sketch below which is how the vast majority of my paintings begin. I can't tell you how many times people ask if I use photos, I almost never use them.  If I do they sure don't look like the end result, rather they act as a touchstone.

Sketch for "Pool"
From the sketch I did this watercolor but when it was nearly finished I didn't like it at all so right away started another one...below.

Pool, watercolor, 11 x 14"
Then I started this one below and 90% of the way through didn't like it either.  Grrr.  So I hung them up side by side, pulled out my inner critic and had a tough love session.  Lots of artists, probably all of us, hang them up and live with them for a while. Turns out I liked them both but feel the first one is better, looser.  Pool #2 feels a little stiff and the reflection too centered and on-purpose.  But it does have some nice qualities to it so is a keeper.

Pool #2, watercolor, 11 x 14"

Which one do you prefer?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A walk in the park

I spend a lot of time in Arnold Arboretum painting and gathering ideas for paintings.  Here's a few I've done recently.  The first one "Night in the Park" is actually made up using composites of sketches I did from there then added a dash of drama, working on a couple more on this theme.  I'm too chicken to actually be in any city park at night...sad but true.

Night in the Park,  12 x 16", watercolor

Understory,  9 x 12"  watercolor

Upstream, 16 x 12", watercolor

Path, 12 x 16", watercolor

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Anders Zorn exhibit at the Gardner


In Wikstrom's Studio by Anders Zorn


There is a terrific show of Anders Zorn's work at the venerable Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Up until now I've only seen one or two pieces of his work scattered about but this show has a good collection of his paintings all in one place.  I have to confess that I normally can't stand looking at portraits or paintings of people and have been known to avoid exhibits of people paintings.  It's not that I don't appreciate it as an art form it's that I just have never liked that genre. But this is Anders Zorn!  A few paintings grabbed me plus there's no denying his virtuosity and talent. As a mass transit user I particularly enjoyed his omnibus paintings, everyday people doing everyday things. I've often thought of how many great paintings could come out of my subway rides if I only painted people it could be an endless subject.  One of my favorites was a painting called "Natteffekt" it's of a woman in a red coat with a thick fur collar and she looks like she's had one heck of a good time and the party is still going on for her.  She's a bit disheveled, lipstick seems a smear, maybe she's had a bit too much wine but no matter she's enjoying herself.  I could be reading the painting all wrong but that's what comes across and I love it for just that reason.

I spent a lot of time looking at Zorn's backgrounds which are fantastic.  I love his loose but confident brushwork, the bold strokes that describe a chair, window, shoe or collar with one strong swoop of paint and masterful ease. He'd thrash a few lines here and there and voila a table and chairs in the background or view out an bus window...just terrific.  I appreciated the insight into his process when they grouped a number of the omnibus sketches near the finished painting. He experiments with composition, people looking one way, then another.  The woman carries a round box (hat box?) then Zorn settles on a square box.  They have the same expression as subway and bus riders have today with the exception that everyone now seems glued to their cellphones.  The people on his bus have their eyes cast off somewhere, they are in their own world, pensive.

But my favorite painting was the one above "In Wikstrom's Studio"  The image above does not do it any justice except to give you an idea of what it looks like.  I stood in front of this one a long time first because I was crazy for the brushwork, the color values and "story". The model doesn't know we are there observing her, is she getting ready to model or getting dressed after modeling? All the colors and values are very close. Her dress seems to be stone like all that's around her and out of this garment "pedestal" a slightly pink, warm blooded woman emerges. Perhaps because Spring starts tomorrow (after our blizzard of today!), the daffodils and tulips are coming up despite the beating they are taking but I see this painting and her as Spring-like, life gently emerging from all that dust, stone and clay with the hint of green in the tree in the back.  I really loved this painting and will go back to visit it and the rest of the exhibit again.  Perhaps my only regret is that they did not have more watercolors of his on display, I love his watercolors! This is not a one visit show.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Histoire drôle sur Sennelier

Watercolor box from Sennelier!

Ah every time I see this little watercolor box I crack up, certainly not because of Sennelier...mais non!  Instead I laugh at my self.  Here's the story....

First you must understand that my whole trip to Paris some years ago centered around Art, especially a trip to the magnificent Sennelier Art Store!  It's a lovely store on the Left Bank, has been there over 100 years ALL the great artists have shopped there...Cezanne, Picasso (who loved their grey chalks) and so many more, it made me swoon just thinking about it.  This isn't just an art store it's the history of Art, it IS Art!  Much more special than a museum with all the finished works because it's where all the finished works in the museums began!  So of course, this little art schmuck from Boston just had to go there, be in the presence of history, beg the Art Gods to shine on me (I'm still waiting) and absolutely had to get something!

I readily confess to being deeply smitten with all things France, French, Paris, all their towns and cities...food, culture, wine...the whole thing and I don't have a poker face.  So of course when I went into the store "they must have seen me coming for miles" as the saying goes.  BUT I tried to play it cool, like I'd been there a hundred times.  This is never a good tactic for me, I can't do cool especially when I'm working hard at it.  In the store I look at everything. I touch everything. I swoon.  The clerk comes over a couple times "Puis-je vous aider madame?  With my best blank face (and I don't have one) I toss off "non, monsieur, merci" and I keep looking.  Upstairs I fondle all the brushes then pick a few handmade but cheap ones, after all I am an artist & a poor one at that!  Finally I decide to get a watercolor box, small, for travel.  At first he brings out a plastic box like one you could find in any U.S. art store...sacre bleu what an insult!  However I say no, blandly with a soupçon of boredom, do you have anything else.  Out comes a parade of little watercolor boxes and I fall in love with the one in the picture above.  The little brass knob is a stopper for the small built in water container.  I'm swooning, again.  Plus it comes in a little pretty box with Sennelier written all over.  Now the other thing I was not used to was $ to euro conversion.  He told me the price, I acted non-chalant and said ok then as he turned to ring up the sale I nearly fainted....HOW much did he say it was????  Mon Dieu!  Then I had an Ally McBeal moment of mad dialogue where I played out what would happen if I said "uh how much is it?" then he would look disgusted, then I would bust out into tears run out of the store, a bit of a Les Mis moment after being put to shame in Sennelier!  NO it can't happen!  So I suck it up, stick out my credit card and promise myself I will only use them for very very special paintings.

The whole memory of this totally cracks me up to this day and every time I see the little box.  I'm too embarrassed to say how much it cost me but suffice it to say I think I got seriously hosed and that they are still rolling on the floor at Sennelier laughing - I would be!  I am just remembering this!  Such a little box, such a funny memory.  Priceless...merci.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New work #2

Been painting up a storm, lots of work for the "Forest Series", more on that later but for now enjoy my new little piece.

Pines - 8 x 10" - oil on paper


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Work #1...

As always I feel guilty for not posting on a regular basis but I am going to fix that!  Starting out the New Year with New Work!  The plan is to do a post a couple times a week.  The work has been coming along nicely and pretty steady but to me it feels kind of slow.  The problem is I can't paint what I don't see and in winter I rarely go out...I hate the cold and not fond of snow.  It sure can be pretty but only if you are out in nature and not in a city.  So, here's the first post of new work and all this work is from my exploration of "The Woods", more on that later.  And by the way HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!

Yellow Bush 20" x 14", watercolor