Saturday, December 17, 2011

Building Blocks

When my Grandson, Tyler, was a toddler (he'll be ten next month), he loved to play with a collection of wooden blocks made of indestructable hard woods. Heavy and cumbersome as they were, over the years and many moves, I managed to squirrel away these blocks.  They are from my children's childhood. They were saved with the hope of replaying the familiar scene of adult and child building fantastic environments together. 

After each building session with Tyler, I thought of documenting these imaginary structures (completed with touches of rowdy cowboys, carnivorous dinosaurs and zooming cars) not only for their playfullness and inventiveness but knowing changes were coming: from the immediate swipe of the child's hand and the adult's knowledge of childhood's brevity.  I never did take the photographs but the block collection remains.

Yesterday, I traveled to North Andover to Smolak Farm for a painting session.  Cold, gusty winds greeted me as I stepped from my car.  High on a ridge, I looked out over a beautiful vista; the farm with its pond and grazing Canada geese, the impressive illuminated white barn with its outbuildings, acres of orchards, with dark gentle hills and fair weather clouds as a back drop.

Painting these bucolic scenes is thought of by many as a quaint endeavor... but nothing lasts forever except maybe a painting.

Bon Painting!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Not a day to force paint on a paint brush

As discipline as I am when Thursday comes round for plein air painting, it was not a day to force paint on a paint brush.

Indoors, I really tried to paint from a colleague's small color photograph: a marsh scene.  It wasn't meant to be though.  When I returned home, I wiped the canvas panel clean with a rag soaked with turpentine.  I then scaped my palette down to the color of bone.

Because... I really wanted to paint out in the Garden of Eden today.

To stand tall among the swirling grasses and embracing trees

To see all the luscious, earthy details, to gather in all with hawkish eyes.

There! On a distant horizon, set upon its arc; an angel

Observes, ponders then lifts a glistening brush

To the canvas made from the most delicate woven threads

of spider webs, friends' fine hairs, spittle and ocean mist

and paints a most glorious new day.

Good bye my gentle friend.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Printmaker, G. Baumann and outdoor painter

Recently, had published a short article about my all-time favorite color woodcut printmaker, Gustave Baumann. The article speaks of Baumann's love of outdoor painting accomplished in gouache and watercolors on mid-tone papers.  The paintings are beautiful works of art unto themselves but they were only landscapes studies to be finalized in print form...He painted to be a better printmaker.

When the Boston Antiquarian Book and Print Fair comes round, I locate the booth where his prints can be held and the print surface scrutinized for the soft, rich color combinations and mark making.  They are modest designs, unually 9"X11", and were often printed using up to seven woodblocks.  Simply beautiful!

If you are ever in Sante Fe, be sure to stop by the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of New Mexico to check out their extensive Baumann print collection.

This Thursday, I painted in Beverly at Goat Hill (see link for more historical info regarding this area) overlooking the Bass River.  A lovely, sunny day with temps in the 40's and no one around except for the pick-up truck rendezvous at noontime.  This was my second spot for consideration, the first being at Long Hill.  My Corgi and I sat for a while on a log watching a flock of colorful chickens, a pair of turkeys and comic Guinea hens scratch in the pine straw at the Children's Garden.  Though not inspiring enough to break open the paint box; a comtemplative time well spent.

My attraction at Goat Hill was the busy tumbling of factory buildings lining the river's edge with a distant bridge and checkered water tower contrasting the quiet, blue shape of the water plane.  Of course, the rhythm of the vertical dock pilings in the foreground and the diagonal cutting shoreline and boatyard cranes delighted my eye.  The challenge of organizing such a jumble of shapes and line into a dynamic 12"X16" format, invigorated my painting senses into using color spots.