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  • Footsteps in Jeffersonville, Vermont

     

    I spent last week painting in and around Jeffersonville, VT with a large group of painters.  Our crew was organized by Stapleton Kearns, who wanted to revive an old New England tradition of meeting other artists in the hills next to Mount Mansfield for painting and camaraderie.  I say revive, not because artists haven’t been painting there (the area is dense with art and artists), but because traveling groups of painters haven’t been staying at the particular inn we rented.

    We stayed at the Smugglers’ Notch Inn, built in 1790, which by the beginning of the 20th century had become a meeting place for some of the best and brightest outdoor painters in the Northeast.  Artists would meet there so often that the hotel kept a studio for artists- see the below advertisement for the hotel, drawn by Emile Gruppe, and below that a picture of the inn today:

     

     

    From the 1920s through the 1960s or so you might find John Carlson (1874-1945), Aldro Hibbard (1886-1972), Charles Curtis Allen (1886-1950), Emile Gruppe (1896-1978), Chauncey Ryder (1868-1949), Leo Blake (1887-1976), Loring Coleman (1918-2015), Roy Mason (1886-1972), John F. Enser (1898-1968), Thomas R. Curtin (1899-1977) or Harry Ballinger (1892-1993) staying at the hotel.  I have added the birth/death dates to drive the point home that although these artists were from another generation, it really wasn’t all that long ago at all.  Loring Coleman passed just a couple years ago.

    Jeffersonville is a tiny town but has a great density of artists and galleries.  Alden Bryan lived and worked there, I wasnt familiar with his work, but he had an ingenious set up: a horse-drawn studio with windows and a wood stove in it for painting outdoors, a sort-of Vermont winter version of Monet’s boat studio.  The carriage has been fully restored and can be seen outside the Visions of Vermont Gallery.  Click here to see photos and read about his portable painting cart.  Besides the Visions of Vermont Gallery, there is also the Bryan Memorial Gallery.

    Back in the old days, the owners of the inn said that John Carlson would sing for the group in the evenings, and accompany himself on piano.  I suppose he had a wonderful voice. We sat in that room at night, but thankfully we weren’t subjected to any of the artists’ singing.

    As I said, the inn kept a studio for artists, and when the weather wasn’t agreeable they would work indoors or hire the model there.  That said, the inn was hardly the only draw for artists- Mid-Century Modernists Florence and Hans Knoll also set up shop in nearby Cambridge when they retired, and their home went up for sale in 2012.

     

     

    The artists up for the trip were myself, Stape Kearns, TM Nicholas, Ken DeWaard, Peter Yesis, Thomas Adkins, Ted Charron, Garin Baker, Todd Bonita, Christopher Volpe and Sergio Roffo.  Click any artist’s name for a link to their work.  We were joined most days by hometown heroes Hunter Eddy (one of my dear friends from my Italy days who now lives outside Burlington) and Eric Tobin.  Eric really deserves an extra-special shout out, as he doesn’t just do impressive paintings, he also pointed where we should go, and when, and how many cars could fit.  Having someone who knows the lay of the land is invaluable when painting outside.

     

    As an aside, I think this trip convinced me to start using a Gloucester easel, Stapleton and TM were kind enough to lend me one to try.  They have a super-wide, low footprint, and their resistance to wind when working on large pieces makes them an invaluable bit of kit.  The above picture was during a super windy day with 40 mph gusts, and that is a 32×40″ canvas that barely moved an inch. I am good with my cigar box up to a 24×30″ or so, but as canvases get bigger I think I will be switching to a Gloucester.  Here is a link to the Take-It easel, the Gloucester easel with the modifications that those guys use.

    The weather was crazy up there last week.  We had three seasons in three days- temperatures went from negative digits to sunny, back to snowy.  The below pics are from one day after the above photo.

     

    TM Nicholas and Hunter Eddy

    Stapleton Kearns and Eric Tobin chatting in the mill

    Sergio Roffo up on the hill in the distance

     

    Another post next week when I’ve had time to clean up my paintings from VT- it’s still snowing on and off so I’m trying to finish a last few things around Boston before all my snow is gone.

  • Recent Paintings 2.0

    Yesterday I posted a group of recent still life paintings- today I thought I should put up all of the other work I have been up to over the past few months.  Though I do like painting still life I have been exploring some techniques in painting that are best suited to the landscape.  Some of these are sketches, and some took really quite a bit of time.  All of them are pushing my painting towards the more ‘broken brush’, impressionist-vein tradition I have been working at the past few years.

     

    Blue Rocks Docks 35x43%22

    Blue Rocks Docks, Slack Tide 35×43″ oil on linen

     

    The above painting is from the fall but I had forgotten to get an image before it left the studio.  It’s a studio picture, done from one of my on-site paintings in Nova Scotia last August.  Painting it was done from below, for comparison’s sake:

    Blue-Rocks-Docks-Backlit-12x16

    Backlit Docks, Blue Rocks, 12×16″

     

    The below four are all from Vermont, though different trips.  The weather was particularly difficult both times, it was good to get out, but snow mixed with ice, rain, sleet and wind isn’t fun.  I spent a weekend painting alone, staying with friends that were snowboarding at Okemo, and another short trip up with Stapleton Kearns and TM Nicholas.

     

    Tunbridge Mill

    Tunbridge Mill 14×10″ 

     

    Wallingford Barn

    Grey Morning in Wallingford 12×16″ 

     

    Ludlow

    Ludlow 10×14″

     

    Tunbridge

    Melting Snow, Tunbridge 12×16″

     

     

    Angie by Window

    Angie by Window 20×12″

     

     

    The below two were longer projects, all done outside, only touched up occasionally in the studio, in between sessions.

     

    Codman Farm 28x37%22

    Codman Farm 28×37″

    The above painting has been a long haul- I realized after finally finishing it that I started it way back in December 2013.  Photo metadata is a great way to pinpoint when you started a painting 😉

     

    Codman

     

     

    Drumlin Farm 22x28%22

    Clearing skies at Drumlin Farm 22×28″

    I have done blog posts on the process of both the above and below paintings; click here for ‘Drumlin Farm’ which started out as a demo at my winter workshop in January, and click here for the previous post on the below painting, ‘Peters Hill’ which became more of a studio picture than a pure outdoor piece

     

    Peters Hill

    Peters Hill 20×24″

    below an iPhone closeup of some of the directional, opaque brushwork.

    broken color

     

     

    I have another couple of paintings I am finishing indoors from the winter season, but it will probably be some time before they’re ready.  If I get them done soon I will update this post.  Next blog post will be on recent drawings.

    Tinmouth Barn

    Unfinished painting in Tinmouth, VT

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