Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snow Shoes and Paint Box

After two suffering falls while ice skating a few weeks ago, I have turned in my skates for a pair of snowshoes. Ice is such an unforgiving surface for old bones to scatter itself about on.

This past Saturday I tramped down my own path inside Old Calf Pasture in Concord , MA and headed for a snowy riverside path along the Sudbury River.   My winter walk begins with donning a painter's balaclava and a philosophy of although having limited knowledge of what lies ahead I'm confident I'll know it when I see it.  My divots in the snow displayed a frightening variety; nothing like the delicate tracks left behind by the meanderings of deer, otters or rabbits. I continued to scrutinize the frozen waterway banks lined with ancient willows for the right combination of form and line.  Not satisfied I kept on, leaning forward emitting steam driven breathes and a brow heavy with sweat until I came to the confluence of three rivers: the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord. There along the opposite bank was a bump of sorts; a snow covered bit of rocky ledge in the marsh flatland.   Now that looks interesting!

My first "Selfie'!

Because the snow drifts were deep, I kept my show shoes on while painting at the easel.  That's my blue denim painting apron and not a skirt!  Could have used gaiters to keep the snow out of my boots as well.

After returning home, I was curious about a man and his dog who came over that bit of ledge... was there a foot trail on the other side of the river?  After some online research, I discovered the 'bump' had a name. It is called Egg Rock and has historical and cultural importance in Concord. An inscription is carved into the rock which reads:
On the hill Nashawtuck
at the meeting of the rivers
and along the banks
lived the Indian owners of
before the white men came.

Musketaquid is the Native American word for the Concord River meaning Meadow River.

And... I found in my research that there is indeed a foot trail on which the man and his dog traveled to reach Egg Rock.  It is off the Reformatory Branch Trail and parking can be found at the Simon Willard Woods.

And ...my painter's philosophy was once again tested and proven true..."I'll know it when I see it".

Sunday, February 9, 2014

but what can stand against God Almighty's white?

My, how beautiful the earth is dressed today with a new garment of fresh snow.

If you drive east on Route 133 through the old common of North Andover, there is an iconic New England greeter; a beautiful, white-crowned with multiple spires U U church and to her right, clusters of small independent businesses in colonial attire.  I admire this quaint grouping every time I circle around the rotary pass on my way to somewhere over the hill.

With temperatures in the 20's and a brilliant sun, I gathered my gear yesterday and headed to this particular site.  Typically, it is a complex composition with its myriad forms and dark details but today it is reduced to a white layout of simplicity; easy shapes and forms.   The landscape, soft in white woolen layers, warm smoke swirling from chimneys has a dark backdrop of winter y woods on hill: a lovely contrast I think to myself.

Selecting my spot from which to paint, I stand weighted down with insulated boots, two layers of mittens, black woolen hat, bulky sweaters. I study the radiant light reflecting off glistening snow drifts and man made mounds.    The sun's brightness and warmth reaches my eyes and facial skin as I stand there contemplating.  The quickness of my heart moves inner heat to the far reaches of my toes and fingers. Is this ecstasy?

Creative Spirit blind me with your radiant love, allow me although with clumsy hands, set such wonder and beauty upon my empty canvas.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Concord Art Association
Concord, MA

Members Juried I Show
Painting and Sculpture
Juried by Larry Powers of Powers Gallery in Acton, MA

through February 17 
Reception photo of Marsh Willows, 12x16, oil on linen panel. Painted at the Artichoke Reservoir.

Zeitgeist Gallery
167 Market Street
Lowell, MA

"Garden of Unearthly Delights"
A GMO Garden Party

January 29-February 22, 2014

Photo of entry for GMO show called The Plant Athlete, able to leap in a single bound to escape chewing insects.

link to a short introduction by curator

Now showing at Centro Restaurant & Bar, Lowell

ah it's warm outside so let's paint

Here are a few paintings from my recent plein air paint outings.

The first painting was painted at Strawbery Banke. Strawbery Banks is an outdoor history museum located in the South End historic district of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.   It is the oldest neighborhood in New Hampshire to be settled by Europeans, and the earliest neighborhood remaining in the present-day city of Portsmouth.  The neighborhood's history traces back to 1630, when Captain Walter Neal chose the area to build a settlement, naming it after the wild berries growing along the Piscataqua River. At this time of year, there is plenty of parking and no crowds of tourists.

On Sunday, my husband and I drove to Boylston to one of our favorite places to visit in central MA: Tower Hill Botanical Gardens http://www.towerhillbg.org/index.php/visit/  . Dropping me off and Bogart along with my painting gear in a large, snowy field, Ken continued up and around to park the car and to hike solo on the trails for a spectacular view of Mount Wachusett and Reservoir.  I painted one of the many heirloom apple orchards on the property.  The sun felt wonderful on the face and there were a few honey bees flying about while I painted.  I believe visitors really enjoy seeing a painter set up in the fields. They tooted often as they drove by.  I obliged with a wave.  After painting for one and half hours, the sky turned cloudy and the anticipated rains began to fall. A quick call on the cell and my ride arrived shorty thereafter.  We had a yummy lunch at the Tower Hill's Twigs Cafe; complete with great views and a warm, glowing fireplace.

I have bought a new pochade box called Strada http://www.stradaeasel.com/   in anticipation of hiking in and painting deeper into the woods as oppose to setting up my painting gear near the car along the roadside. My Soltek is a sturdy piece of equipment and I am quite satisfied with how it functions but it is too heavy to be transporting it deep into the fields and woods.  I often romanticize how more adventurous my painting travels would be if I could only hike a mile or two and set up my easel.   The Strada is similar in design to my old wood Monarch box I purchase many years ago along with an ultra-light tripod called SLIK made with super titanium alloy with a quick release head for attaching the pochade box. The Monarch no longer functions i.e. is it has disintegrated from use. My new easel had its trial runs with the above two paintings. The only complaint I have is the Strada's panel support is a little to bouncy when applying paint too briskly. Otherwise it weighs only two pounds and fits perfectly into my back pack.

Happy Painting Trails!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The way we view Art is not Rational

A while ago, I viewed a newspaper advertisement in the Boston Globe which featured a portrait of a young girl turned to the side looking over her shoulder at the viewer.   Upon looking at this young face, I immediately thought of the painting by Vermeer, Girl with the Pearl Earring. To check for similar facial feature/expression between photo and painting,  I searched on the Internet for Vermeer's painting. Below is the comparison of the two images.  So close except for a few variances that is, the tilt of the head and the sensuality of the mouth in Vermeer's. When looking at the advertisement, why did I immediately think, Vermeer! Was the photographer manipulating the universal appeal and recognition of Vermeer's image to tell a story; to sell an image?  An imitation or just coincidence?

I sent the visual comparisons to my art friends who agreed it was an uncanny resemblance; maybe it was the eyes someone suggested.

There is a new exhibition at the Springfield's D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts called "Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World".  One of the exhibited phony paintings is John Myatt's 'Girl with the Pearl Earring'. Then I began to think, was I comparing a Vermeer's painting or a fake. So back to the Internet I went.  Which one of the images found below is a forgery?
Phew! I did have a the authentic image of Vermeer's masterpiece when doing my comparisons.  The right hand image is a fake and can be purchased at Juchuan Art.  This web site boasts of offering over 15,000, 100% hand painted oil paintings. Of course they're painted on canvas!... do I look like a fool?

In this world, there is only one, truly unique, Girl with the Pearl Earring, hand painted by the master, Johannes Vermeer.  But why be so concerned about viewing a fake vs the original?   An interesting BBC article can be read at this link,   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16032234  It's all about brain waves!