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  • Show at Tree’s Place

    Allen-Cove-Final2

    Fishing Shack in Allen Cove, 35×43″ (90x110cm)

     

    This Saturday May 21st there is a show of my work opening at Tree’s Place Gallery in Orleans, on Cape Cod.  It’s a two-person show, the other artist’s work featured is Marcia Burtt.  The opening is from 5-7:00 and I will be there- the show runs through June 2nd.  If you’re in the area, stop by for a glass of wine and a chat.

    Below are a couple of other paintings in the show that are not in the online catalogue:

     

    Spring-in-Gloucester

    Spring in Gloucester, 16×20″ (40x50cm)

     

    Blue-Rocks-Mist

    Morning Mist, Blue Rocks 24×30″ (60x75cm)

     

    Pomegranate-Slice-5.5x7.5

    Halved Pomegranate 6×8″ (15x20cm)

     

    Click here to see the online catalogue for the show.  

  • Plyos, Rain

    This painting of Plyos, Russia from 2014 left the studio last week and I realized I never put a finished photo on my site. The client asked me to write a short description of the piece for them to have, so I thought I would post it here.  This has long been among my favorite of my studio landscapes, but strangely had never been selected for a single exhibition.  Glad that it’s gone off to a good home.

     

    Plyos

    Plyos, Rain oil on canvas 2014 35×47″ (90×120 cm)

     

    In spring 2013 I was invited by the Museum of Landscape in Plyos, Ivanova Region, to paint in Russia as part of a cultural exchange/art initiative called зеленый шум or “Green Noise”.  Plyos is a quaint village on the Volga River, (one of the ‘Golden Ring’ cities about ~8 hours northeast from Moscow), today a tourist destination with strict architectural cultural preservation and as its centerpiece, a museum and statue to the great Russian landscape artist, Isaak Levitan (1860-1900).  Levitan had long been one of my favorite artists, and I had read about Plyos for years-although most Russians I met had never heard of the town.

    Each year the ‘Green Noise’ program would invite foreign artists to paint with Russian counterparts and have an exhibition with the work at the end of the trip.  I jumped at the chance-Levitan’s pictures of Plyos rank among his best, so of course, I had to see it.  

    Unfortunately it rained every single day with two exceptions: the day it was snowing, and the one day we weren’t allowed to paint as we had to take part in the inaugural ceremony.  Generally speaking, I prefer to work indoors if it’s raining, but we had no choice during the trip to continue work as each of us had to produce paintings for the exhibition at the end.  I did 13 paintings during the trip, and ‘Rain, Plyos’ was eventually painted in my studio outside Boston from the studies in early 2014.  

     

    For comparisons sake, here is an image of the 24×30″ (60x80cm) painting that I did on-site during the trip:

    Plyos Sketch

     

  • Recent Drawings

    IMG_6615

    charcoal pencil and white chalk

    Here’s the third installment of my far too infrequent blog postings of my recent work, drawings.  I’ve been good at putting images on my Facebook and Instagram but should probably be updating my site more often.  I’m considering rebuilding/restructuring my site again, as so much of what I post on here has been about guest teachers demos, and random thoughts.  Maybe I need two blogs-but I don’t even update this one often.

     

    IMG_6619

    charcoal pencil

     

    These are just sketches, all but one done between critiques while I am teaching in the studio on Tuesday evenings.  I don’t paint the figure or portrait very often these days and sketching is an easy way for me to keep my eye analytical.   I love drawing the figure, it’s what initially pulled me away from doing graffiti as a teenager.  Plus, the human form translates so well to all of the other issues in painting- whether portraits, landscapes or still lifes, it seems to inform everything and keep me interested in my other work.

    None of these are really ‘finished drawings’ and most serve just as a record of the 2-4 hour classes that I did them during.  I switch mediums a lot while I’m doing them to keep challenging myself- I have a toddler who still doesn’t sleep through the night often, so if I work with charcoal pencil or metal point, which doesn’t really lend to erasing, it keeps me focused (or incredibly frustrated) at the end of a long day.  Some of these are done sight-size, some not.

     

     

    IMG_6609

    silverpoint

     

    IMG_6618

    graphite

     

    IMG_6613

    charcoal and white chalk

     

    IMG_6610

    silverpoint and white chalk

     

    IMG_6608

    silverpoint and white chalk

     

    IMG_6621

    charcoal

     

    IMG_6614

    graphite

    IMG_6611

    graphite

    IMG_6605

    graphite and charcoal pencil

     

    IMG_6620

    silverpoint and charcoal pencil

     

    IMG_6606

    charcoal and charcoal pencil

     

    IMG_6616

    charcoal and white chalk

     

    IMG_6617

    charcoal pencil, silverpoint and white chalk

     

     

     

  • 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

  • Still Life Paintings

    It’s time to post some work, show folks what I have been up to.  As usual, I spent some time painting outdoors this winter, though our snow left much to be desired this year.  In a way, that was a bit helpful, it encouraged me to stay in the studio and start doing some still life painting again.  It had been at least a few years since I painted still life in earnest, so it has been great to delve into it again- as one might expect, my approach is now quite different than it was back in 2006-2010 when I painted primarily still lives.  I have been enjoying them.

     

    IMG_6298

     

    The batch of paintings below is part of a still life exhibition ‘Stillness‘ at Ann Long Fine Art in Charleston, SC.  The show opens this Thursday, and you can see whats in the exhibition by clicking here.  Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it down for the opening, Charleston is a really fun, beautiful town with great food and weather.

     

    Fennel

    Fennel and Spring Onion 12×10″

     

    Honeydew_and_Grapes 9.5x11.5%22

    Honeydew and Grapes 10×12″

     

    pomegranate

    Single Pomegranate 10×8″

     

    halved_avocado

    Halved Avocado 10×12″

    bunch_of_asparagus

    Bunch of Asparagus 12×16″

     

    cauliflower_and_onion_in_warm_light

    Cauliflower and Onion, Warm Light 10×14″

     

    watermelon_slice

    Watermelon Slice 12×16″

     

     

    Then, the below four still lifes went off to the gallery I show with in Boston, Sloane Merrill Gallery.  They are not part of an big exhibition, but I was there the other day and most are currently hanging if you stop in at the gallery.  The below painting is my favorite painting from this year thus far.

     

     

    Pear-and-Pomegranate-25x35

    Pear and Pomegranate 11×14″

     

    Poggio-Antico-e-melograno-16x20

    Poggio Antico and Pomegranate 16×20″

     

    Artichoke_Tomato_Garlic_10x15

    Artichoke, Tomatoes and Garlic 10×15″

     

    Breakfast-12x16'

    Breakfast 12×16″

     

    The below batch has gone off to a variety of places, and a couple I still have.  The top picture with the three clementines is going to be part of a 2-Person show I’m participating in next month at Tree’s Place gallery in Orleans, MA, down in Cape Cod.  That show opens on May 21st, I’ll be at the opening, and the show runs through labor day weekend to June 3rd.

     

    Spotlight_13x22

    Spotlight 13×22″

     

    Turnip-9x16

    Single Turnip 9×16″

     

    DSC_0082

    Watermelon Radishes 10×12″

     

    Sliced_Pear_25x35

    Sliced Pear 10×14″

     

    Satsuma-Mandarins-25x35-oil-on-linen-panel

    Satsuma Mandarins 10×14″

     

    IMG_6564

    Pomegranates 7×10″

     

    As this post has become a bit long, I will do a separate one for recent landscape paintings.

     

  • Ben Fenske Figure Construction Class, March 2016

    DSC_0047

     

    Ben Fenske taught an stunningly informative class earlier this month in my studio.  It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to call his courses ‘drawing classes’, although most of the time is spent drawing: either Ben demonstrating while lecturing, or the group drawing from the live model.  We advertise Ben’s courses as ‘construction’ courses, ways to study building the figure, with the goal being the ability to draw with or without the live model.  Perhaps more accurately, we could say that these are courses in theory and abstract conception of the figure through the memorization of specific anatomical points and surface references.  But it’s easier to say ‘Construction’.

     

    IMG_6228

     

    Ben puts a huge amount of effort into these classes (see above two of Ben’s life-size sculpted examples for this class,  two different constructions of the core of the body, ribcage and pelvis, with anatomical references marked).  For those who don’t know Ben and his work, he is a painter who uses a fast and loose impressionistic technique, and as the history of representational painting has shown us, the best ‘loose’ painting requires a huge amount of theoretical and academic understanding.

    Each day Ben would lecture on anatomy and draw examples, the class drawing along with him and taking notes.

     

    DSC_0023

     

    Below, see a few of Ben’s boards from his morning lectures.  The top image is on proportions of the figure and begins outlining Ben’s system of points which are to be mapped out on the figure.  This technique is an amalgam of what Fenske studied at the Russian school in Florence, and his own studies on artistic anatomy.

     

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    IMG_6105

     

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    DSC_0044

     

    Then, each afternoon we had a model, male and female.  The students were all very ready to draw after spending the morning taking notes and drawing from Ben’s sculpted models.

     

    BF pan 1a

    DSC_0061

     

    Here’s one of the students, Vaijayanti Meweda at work, and below, her drawing.  I think it was a nice example of some of the concepts Ben was trying to trying to have the students work with, hatching and directional modeling rather than value-based modeling- especially since she had a backlit view of the model.

     

    IMG_6109 IMG_6154

     

    Additionally, Vaijayanti gets an extra-special shout-out for helping to organize our pot-luck lunch on the last day.  The food was great, and while everyone ate, Ben gave a lecture on the computer on some of the art that inspires him.  All in all, the class was amazing, just overflowing with practical information, and I’m glad to say Ben will be back to teach this August.

     

    DSC_0054

     

    DSC_0059

     

     

    Ben’s Recommended Book List:

    Gottfried Bammes (in english, but not complete) http://amzn.to/1Um4hvp
    Gottfried Bammes Die Gestalt des Menshen (this is the more complete book, all images) http://amzn.to/1RoKWtc
    The other Bammes Figure book, also in German and excellent http://amzn.to/1UaJ4oQ
    Nikolai Li’s figure drawing book (in russian, great images) http://amzn.to/1Me4luK
    Nikolai Li book on the Portrait (in Russian, great price right now) http://amzn.to/1RqFEr2
    ‘Struttura Uomo’ Pozza book volume one http://amzn.to/1Me3r1n  (I can’t currently find easily volume two, ebb and flow of book availability)
    Richer’s Artistic Anatomy http://amzn.to/1Me3GcD
    Hatton’s Figure Drawing: A Complete Guide http://amzn.to/1RT84uj
    Russian Fundamentals of Drawing Textbook (in english, not as extensive as the Li books, but very good) http://amzn.to/258GMK9
    Russian Academy books on alumni and teachers, these are all paperback and in chinese:
  • More on Landscape Painting Process

    Peters-Hill-20x24

    Peters Hill, 20×24″ oil on canvas

    The above painting (just a quick raking light snapshot image to show some of the technique I’ve been using) is 95% done. As I’ve been talking about process a bit on the blog over the last year, I thought I would continue that here.   This is a link to my previous post where I tried to deconstruct the design of one of my favourite Isaak Levitan paintings.  Unlike some of my other work, this is a painting that was done 30% outside, 70% in the studio.

     

    Here is the above landscape as I started it outside, nearing the end of two days of work- about three hours the first day and 2 hours on the second day.  I spent a long time on the drawing and scale of each of the trees, arranging the design of the picture into a pleasing set of rhythms.  I worked to get the painting as true to what I saw in nature, while being somewhat interpretive with the color (the second day was overcast, but I held on to the blue sky and shadow patterns from the first day)

     

    IMG_5650

     

     

    I knew at this point I wouldn’t be able to finish this picture outside.  The kids use my central hill as a sledding hill, and the snow was getting pockmarked with all their little footprints- and no more snow on the forecast, as it’s been really, really warm this winter.  What’s more, I wasn’t entirely pleased with the overall composition as I drew it outside.

     

    IMG_5668

     

    After letting the picture rest for a few days, just to let it dry and to give myself a fresh mental perspective I spent an hour or so drawing on top of it with charcoal and white chalk.  I moved trees around, added a cloud, changed the foreground mass, started to turn the trees on the left into birches, and came up with a more unified pattern of light and shade on the snow.

     

    IMG_5721

     

    Above was my first pass in oils on my newly studio-ized snowscape.  I’d filled in the center-left tree a bit, removed the one next to it, and adjusted a bunch of the big rhythms.  Most of the work took place getting me to this point– as you can see, the final image below is nearly identical in design.  I then spent many sessions arranging broken color, glazing, and applying short, stiff impastos.

    I will probably rework the painting a bit when I get the frame for it (I nearly always do), and will update the image at that point.

    Peters-Hill-20x24

     

  • Old, Dirty, Worn Out and Misshapen (Brushes)

    This blog post’s title is not self-referential, it’s about brushes.  I am getting older, but more than dirty, worn out, or misshapen, I am cheap and very particular about my materials.  I know other painters that use their new brushes only a few times before retiring them, preferring the clear square/round shape, and everyone from time to time wishes they could just throw their brushes out rather than cleaning them.

    So here’s a simple studio trick I have been using for the past couple of years to squeeze a little life out of an old brush, I was showing my group of students this morning and thought I should share them here as well.

     

    IMG_5912

     

    Personally, I like my brushstrokes to have an irregular shape; I don’t like the same touch to repeat itself everywhere in my painting.  Typically, these days I paint with mostly flats, filberts and a few rounds, and once in a blue moon a rigger or egbert.  Mostly hog bristles with an occasional kolinsky sable or mongoose hair brush.  I don’t much like synthetics and use them rarely.

    Although I keep my brushes for a long time and don’t mind as they wear down, they have to keep a distinct calligraphic shape.  the brush you see above and below was one I typically would retire- throw in with all the other old brushes for scrubbing in the background or mixing colors.  You can see the belly of the brush has become swollen, and errant hairs have started to take over, and paint in the ferrule has fossilized the bottom of the hairs.

     

    IMG_5913

     

    I grab a sharp knife, and basically sharpen the brush as you would a wooden pencil with a knife- slowing cutting from the front and back before sharpening the sides.  I only cut forward, away from my hand, and work slowly to not cut off more than necessary.

     

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    Just like sharpening a pencil with a knife, it takes a bit of practice, but I really like the end result, it definitely brings some clarity back to the shape of the brush.  Believe it or not, I had the gall to show this trick to Symi from Rosemary Brushes last time she was here in the studio.  I’m sure she found it slightly offensive, but did remark its a much better way of rejuvenating a brush than cutting the tips down to attempt to make a ‘flat’ out of an old brush.

     

    IMG_5917IMG_5916

     

    Also, starting today Keith Linwood-Stover is featuring my work on his website, The Cyber Art Show.  First gallery of 12 pictures went up today, other 12 will be featured tomorrow.  The way it works is he picks all the paintings he likes and puts them up with an artists’ bio, straightforward.  Though I only just discovered his website he’s featured tons of artists and many impressive painters in his archives.  Check it out.

     

    Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 13.19.44

     

     

     

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