Back in 2013, a group of my friends and I were invited to paint in Plyos, the Russian city in the Ivanovo region where Isaak Levitan painted many of his most important pictures. The weather wasn’t great (you can read about that trip by clicking here, and I should really rephotograph the paintings I still have from the trip ). During that difficult trip we developed a lot of camaraderie with our Russian counterparts, though we had little common language. Painting through the torrential rain every day, and complaining and drinking at night.
This year, my friend Ben Fenske wanted to return the favor, so he invited a small group of the Russian artists we painted with to come paint in the US, and organized an exhibition at the end of the trip at Grenning Gallery in Sag Harbor, NY– Ben also organized a few American artists as counterparts, as we had in 2013. The artists that were painting together were Carl Bretzke, Viktor Butko, Ben Fenske, Olga Karpacheva, Stapleton Kearns, Tim McGuire, Jesse Powell, Irina Rybekova and Oleg Zhuravlev [click any artist’s name for a link to their website] Additionally, my friend Kelly Carmody had been painting in Maine, and we spent time painting with her throughout the trip. Jesse Powell was gracious enough to host our very large group at his family’s camp on a pond in Blue Hill, ME. We were there for peak fall color, and thankfully the weather was mostly good.
Trips like these are interesting- whatever the weather ends up being like, there’s an undeniable energy in getting a large group of artists together; everyone brings their ‘A’ game, and there is a sort of friendly competition and excitement to watching the group’s work develop. For me personally, being away from my family encourages me to spend every waking moment working on paintings, as I want to make sure I’m using my time well. As an artist it’s an energizing experience, however your paintings end up it will revitalize your studio time. There is a bit of magic in all the big personalities, on your feet working all day, and large dinners at night. It was intense, and exhausting.
Here are a few of my pictures I started during the trip, and I have finished in the studio (Next post I will put the other half of the paintings from the trip, they are larger and have been taking more time to complete)
Stonington Harbor from Church St, 20×24″
Golden Hour, Allen Cove 14×18″
Lobster Pound, 22×28″
Powell Camp 12×16″
Here’s some pictures from the trip of the group at work:
Tim McGuire painting in Stonington
Olga Karpacheva painting at Jesse Powell’s in the rain
Oleg Zhuravlev in Stonington on the Highlands
Irina Rybekova and Zhuravlev on Mt Cadillac above Eagle Lake
Jesse Powell painting in Stonington
Stapleton Kearns in Stonington
Me painting at Powell Camp
Olga Karpacheva and myself painting a Lobster Pound
Ben Fenske and Viktor Butko painting happily in the rain
Fenske and Carmody in Stonington
Viktor Butko painting the Lobster Co-Op
Carl Bretzke painting in Stonington
the day we were completely rained out we took the Russians to the Farnsworth in Rockland to see the Wyeth collection
The fall color was fantastic, though going into the trip I was slightly concerned the Russians would find inland Maine too similar to Russia- I had forgotten that though they also have fantastic fall color, they don’t have all the blood red maple foliage.
Our show at Grenning Gallery in Sag Harbor will open on November 5th. Most of the artists will be in attendance.