Friday, June 16, 2017

Floating Studios

How many well known artists have found great pleasure painting from a boat?

I know of two:  Daubigny and Monet.

A couple of years ago I attended the Peabody Essex Museum's, Impressionists on the Water, exhibit where I delighted in viewing, "The Boat Trip" by Charles-Francois Daubigny in 1861.  It's a collection of 16 small etchings made into a book telling of his painting adventures aboard his Le Botin...it is quite humorous.

Claude Monet began his adventures aboard his floating studio on the Seine soon after seeing Daubigny prints on display in Paris.  The painting below sure looks peaceful.and 'far from the maddening' crowds of on lookers.
Now that I am summering at my cottage near Long Sought for Pond,  I scrubbed down my 8 foot sailing dinghy in anticipation of my first painting session on the water. I practiced my boat set up on dry land the night before. Simplicity was key because  "Don't Rock the Boat!" was my mantra.
Leaving the tripod head and post attached to my Stratus pochade box,  I 'stepped' it into the hole where the mast is usually positioned at the bow and secured it with a bungee cord. Within a tightly covered, plastic legal file box, I placed all my painting items.  One of my concerns was turpentine spillage in my boat and possibly into the water. So I brought along a Masterson covered palette tray. I placed it on top of the plastic file box (positioned between my legs) with the open can of turp, paints and brushes on it as I painted.  

Next I gathered my oars and PFD for tomorrow's rendezvous.

Five o'clock in the morning.  It was cold and calm...just the way I liked it.  I cast off, rowed through sea smoke rising up from the warm pond. Mayflies and their dancing partners reflected in the mirrored surface dipped and bobbed, a bullfrog bellowed somewhere near the shore line.

the scene and the painting's early stage

the Stratus pochade set up






two hour, 12x16 oil painting

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

there is a word for that

The word is "catenary": a curve created between two points:

  • the gentle dip of telephone wires between two telegraph poles.
  • a tightrope cable between two stanchions under a circus big top. 
  • playmates and their skipping rope 
  • silky spider thread bejeweled with dew drops
  • the high flying string tether between kiter and his kite
Oh the weighted, subliminal beauty of the catenary line created between two points.

My dear father, Joseph, passed away December 23rd. 88 years old died in his sleep shortly after I returned home from visiting him in South Carolina.

Within one year, the experience of this third death has created not a catenary line I hold between two points of birth and death but a parabolic curve with a deep, tragic trough stricken heavily with the weight of grief.

  • like a telephone wire after an ice storm, 
  • like the tightrope of an aerial acrobat carrying three fellow travelers upon his shoulders 
  • like the string of the kite which lost its loft, 
  • like the skipping rope befuddled by a playmate's misstep. 

This past Sunday in the parking garage, I sat in my car frozen with fear. My car was packed with painting gear and a rendezvous with another painter was planned but I couldn't move.  "Go home, go home", came hissing in my ear. "Go home".  I called my friend and cancelled.

Wetlands in Littleton, MA

Here is the painting I painted after wrestling off fear and grief.   Fresh air did help in dispelling what ailed me in that parking garage...for the time being.

Love you Dad.