Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How many triangles?

At last, my final print of the Hat Series, The Memory of Wind and Water has been accomplished. I chuckle at the thought of asking one of my grand children to play the visual game of:   How many triangles can you find in the artwork? 

The Memory of Wind and Water

Old Time Red

Appleton's Bouquet

In the Heat of the Day

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Painting at Tower Hill

My painter friend Kathy and I recently painted at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. Since there were crowds of people there to see the Ikebana Show, we found a quiet space outside, around the back of the Orangerie where a ready made still life of abandoned glazed and unglazed pots awaited our thumb nail sketching. 

I chose the stacked arrangement of a variety of Italian Terra Cotta pots, bricks and clay drainage pipes for plein air painting. The simplicity of the stucco building, with the wild vertical movement of the Virginia Creeper grounded with pots would make an interesting composition and red palette. 

Clay pots seem so simple at first glance.  They are such ubiquitous items of gardening.  Yet look at the form closely. Designed with tapering sides, this cylindrical form has a function to stack one inside the other for compact storage.  Then there's the ornamental beauty of the rolled rim and other exterior circumscribed lines.  Classic beauty made from simple earthy material.

In 19th century English estate gardening, there was a demand to specialized the form and function of clay pots to match the root systems of a wide variety of plants: tall, small, wide.

Here's another plein air painting but at the gardens of Steven Cooledge estate in North Andover in October. Love those leeks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Binging on purging

Liquidating three properties in 14 months, of which one was my own, has been an exhausting task. This phase I'll call 'binging on purging' .. eliminating stuff accumulated over decades of living and collecting by my loved ones... is over.

Farewell! Angel of Death.  My dark, heavy companion and I have split ways, for awhile any ways. I am confident, we'll see each other soon enough.

So with this respite, I have decided to purchase a T@G trailer.  Here's a pic of my RIG. (Isn't ironic after purging a ton and half of possessions I go and buy something else).

desperate to paint

So my first 'shake down' was traveling to the Grand Isle State Park Vermont to camp with my very good friends, Mary and Jan. This area is known as the Lake Champlain Islands. 

Everything went great except the weather.  It rained every day except for my travel day. Starting an evening camp fire began an hour and half before an enjoyable fire could be sustained.

Presently I’m drying and wringing out. Otherwise the trailer and car performed beautifully… and so did I.   

I mostly sketched from the back of car and sometimes from the front seat with wipers on.

One outing, when I heard thunder over my shoulders and saw the thickening clouds I began hurrying to pack up my painting gear.  At the same time four rugged fishermen (you know, the ones in camouflage rain gear) landed their boat and asked, weren’t they pretty enough for me to paint.

Hee hee!    ‘Maybe next time but now let’s get the heck out of here.’ 

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 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.