Friday, October 21, 2011

A Misty Day in Essex

On Thursday I traveled to the quaint river town of Essex for my weekly engagement of plein air painting. To my delight, the construction of Route 133 was finally complete: no diesel fumes, no noisy steam shovels and jack hammers, no long lines of idling traffic. Also, because of new concrete sidewalks, an easy care-free walk along both sides of this scenic stretch is now safe and pleasurable.
Essex is a favorite spot among painters because of its natural beauty and maritime history. Birthplace to about 4,000 schooners long ago, Essex Shipbuilding Museum and Burnham's boat builder outbuildings with catboats are nestled in a cove located on the Essex River. This is the scene I chose to paint with my easel set-up behind Periwinkles Restaurant.
Now I can't be choosey when it comes to Thursdays' weather, because Thursday is my only day dedicated to plein air painting. The rest of my time is spent in the studio making linoleum prints Well, it wasn't raining but the atmosphere was quite misty. All days can't be sunshine and rainbows; some days can elicit a mysterious scene shrouded in mist and fog... and this was such a day. While painting that morning, a serviceman for the restaurant inquired if I was good at painting in sunshine. Who needs bright colors steep in sunshine when I can work up a palette of exotic greys.
I knew painting was coming to a close when two elderly ladies wandered near and I asked if they had a hair dryer, which would have been a wonderful drying tool because the fine mist had coated my canvas and droplets began to form and hung along the bottom edge.
Finished in two and half hours, I packed up and traveled to Corliss Brothers Nursery to pick out three dozen tulips bulbs for spring forcing... there was sunshine on my shoulders for the rest of the day.
This Saturday, October 22, is Essex Clamfest.
Bon Painting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pochade Paint Boxes

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, died last week. Because his life's passion was to turn the computer into "something wonderful", today I am much impressed by the computer's mobility and its diverse applications considering what my personal computer looked like and how it functioned (remember floppy discs?) a couple of decades ago.
The same type of revolution has happened to the pocade box. A pochade box is a portable paint box which holds paint brushes, paint tubes, palette, etc. and is carried into the landscape. Developed and used in the field for many, many decades, the ubiquitous wooden French easel weighs about 18 pounds (oh so heavy) and the wing nuts used for adjusting the length of legs are cumbersome.
Five years ago, after purchasing a few types of pochade boxes, I invested in a Soltek. This easel has a contemporary, sleek design made of light weight, space-age material, weighs in at 9 pounds; it's sturdy with automatic locking, telescoping legs makes this easel quick and easy to set up. I thoroughly enjoy the look and function of this easel. (In photo, I have included my iPod for comparision to my Soltek)
"Welcome to 21st Century plein air painting",
Oh... my favorite APPLE product.... warm, homemade apple pie.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Open Studios at Western Ave, Lowell

How is a working print studio transformed into a gallery-like setting... with extra furniture removed, open storage shelves covered with black drop cloths and white paper, extra display panels brought in, and portfolio boxes open and placed upon the 4'X6' glass inking table. Tranformation complete!
On the weekend of October 1 and 2, hundreds of people strolled through the studio with an array of interesting questions regarding the reductive block print process and my prints.
My 4 year old grandson, Ethan, was on hand as well. He was sitting at the office computer when my daughter decided to do a little wedding gift shopping at Gary Destramp's studio a few studios down. Upon her leaving, there was a rush of people into my studio. I happily chatted wawy.
When the studio emptied, I found Ethan holding a ball point pen and my guest book with a most delicious smile on his face. There on the book's pages was a familiar drawing motif of his, TORNADOS. I looked around and found more swirling, triangular forms, gyrating across post cards, price lists, anything that could be considered a drawing surface. eyes were upon a print in progress at my workbench; an 'open studio' demonstration complete with carved linoleum and printed paper in the registration gig. There on the print, I see tornados drawn with such passion as only a little four year old could draw.
I immediately sat down... called him over to me. I wrapped my grandmotherly arms around that happy, proud little boy and told him, "I love you!" Nothing is as precious as grandchildren.
(Ethan, 1.5 years old, already a connoiseur of his Nana's plein air paintings).