Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Red Sky (pastel, 2007)

(Private Collection)

Autumn Hay Bales (pastel, 2007)

(Private Collection)

Road to a Friend's House (pastel, 2007)

April Snow (oil on canvas, 2007)

Impending Darkness (oil on canvas, 2007)

I was out doing a pastel from my car one afternoon on the Station Road here in Littleton which is essentially the end of civilization up here, being the eastern border of the great wilderness between here and Quebec. I did an unsatisfactory pastel of a small house and decided to call it a day as it was getting dark. As I turned to my right to make sure there were no cars approaching I saw this little shell of a house with the sun going down behind it. It is a curious and incomplete structure, being what appears to be a single room with a door and it having no siding yet, but wrapped in Tyvek paper. I did a quick pastel sketch which became the impetus for this large painting.

Clear Blue Sky (oil on canvas, 2007)

Last Days of Summer (oil on canvas, 2007)

(Private Collection)

Monticello Grange (oil on canvas, 2007)

Groundhog Day (oil on canvas, 2007)

(Private Collection)

Thirty Below Sunrise (oil on canvas, 2007)

I went out for a run one morning in January and it was so cold (30 below zero with the wind chill) that the fluid in my eyes (the only part of my body that was exposed) froze before I got half a mile from my house. This was unbelievably painful. I had to walk back with my hands over my eyes. So, I capitulated and went out drawing instead and did a colored pencil drawing which became the impetus for this painting.

Indian Summer (oil on canvas, 2007)

Monticello Potato Shippers (oil on canvas, 2007)

Bend In the Road (oil on canvas, 2007)

Ross Ridge Barns (oil on canvas, 2007)

Skies Clearing Over the Ridge (oil on canvas, 2006)

(Private Collection)
Late in the afternoon after a long period of rain in the Spring 2006, the skies started to clear and I saw these fantastic clouds moving quickly across the sky. I grabbed my pastel supplies and rushed to out find a view to draw from before the phenomenon was over. I ended up on Front Ridge Road in Littleton, ME, the most elevated ridge in the area from which you can see great distances on a clear day. I got out of the car and did a quick pastel, which later yielded another pastel, several drawings and finally this painting. In this particular work, more than any other, I can see my love of John Constable's painting.

Corn Field in September (pastel, 2006)

Summer's End (pastel, 2006)

(Private Collection)
I was out running one day on Ross Ridge Road near my house when I saw a unique barn that had two opened doors at right angles to each other so that one could see right through the corner of the barn to a corn field beyond, which was ablaze in the early September sun (see above). I returned the following day to make a pastel of the barn and corn field. I parked across the street and I was unloading my gear from the back of the car I looked to my right and saw this solitary tree, with New Brunswick off in the distance. Needless to say, I drew the tree instead and went back another day to draw the barn and corn field.

Monticello Potato Shippers (pastel, 2006)

This is the Elliot's old potato house on the Station Road in Monticello. When he was a boy, friend Kevin used to come up here with his dad from Massachusetts to pick up potatoes. This was done in early September 2006. I was standing much further to the right planning to do an image of the entire building. A large cloud mass was blocking the sun and as I waited for it to pass I walked around considering other views to work from. When I got to this spot, the sky cleared and lit up the west face of this building, which is corrugated metal, like it was on fire. I moved my easel and did this pastel, which I developed into an oil painting during the winter. Sometimes the best way to show how large an object is is to only show a portion of it.

Leland Hill Road (oil on canvas, 2006)

(Private Collection)
The intersection of Leland Hill and Pierce Roads in Sutton, MA has been very fruitful for me. The painting "Pierce Road" (see below) is view looking at this location from the opposite side (note the triangular Yield sign in both paintings. The red barn from the painting of the same name (see further below) is just to left, outside this picture frame (note same stone wall in both pictures).

Pierce Road (oil on canvas, 2006)

(Private Collection)

The Red Maple (pastel, 2006)

(Private Collection)
I went out early one Friday morning in June, just after sunrise, and despite it being the height of black fly season, I managed to get a couple of nice pastels done (see "Early Hours" below). I returned home around 9:00 feeling quite happy with the morning's work. When I showed my wife my proud accomplishments, her only response was "When are you going to draw that red maple tree in back of the house?" Feeling especially confident, I went back outside to face the black flies once more and did this pastel, on black Stonehenge paper. My wife was under the mistaken impression that I had done it for her and is still mad at me for selling it.....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Early Hours (pastel, 2006)

This was done on the Lake Road in Monticello, ME just after sunrise on a Friday morning in early June 2006, whilst I was eaten alive by the vicious Maine black flies. Despite, being covered in insect repellent, I had to keep jumping back into the car every couple of minutes to wait for the flies to dissipate as they would swarm around my head to the point that I couldn't even see to draw.

Birch Trees at Woods Edge (pastel, 2006)

This pastel was done from a field in back of my property in April 2006, before the black flies arrived.

Three Trees (watercolor, 2006)

(Private Collection)
This small watercolor was done from the car on an overcast winter day.

Fresh Snow Cover (oil on canvas, 2006)

This is the original version of this painting, which I was never completely happy with. I re-painted over it in November 2007. (see more recent post)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pierce Road (watercolor, 2006)

I like watercolor, but it doesn't come easy to me and I have to force myself to work in it. One day I forced myself to do a watercolor and I did this, based on a drawing I had done in Sutton, MA a year earlier. I like the exaggerated perspective and the cinematic composition. This image later became an oil painting. The limited color scheme is inspired by Winslow Homer, who did many paintings using only two colors, mixing them in varying degrees to create a multitude of different color tones.

Bend In The Road (pastel, 2006)

(Private Collection)
I was driving out on the Framingham Road on my way to another location to do some studies for a painting that I was working on when I looked up and saw the sky filled with these unusual zeppelin-shaped clouds. I stopped the car and got out on the hood and drew this using Polychromos hard pastels on a cream colored laid paper. I have since done two paintings from this composition.

Littleton, Maine Sunset (oil on canvas, 2006)

I was out running one day in March 2006 and I looked to the west over a frozen potato field and saw this sunset. I sketched out the composition in the sand on the road with a stick to help me remember it and then I rushed home and did a small pastel from memory, which eventually became this painting.

Sunset Near the Border (oil on canvas, 2006)

(Private Collection)
This is a view from the end of the Foxcroft Road. Just around the bend to the right, the road ends at the border of New Brunswick, Canada. Northern Maine is known for having very cold winters and massive amounts of snow. Snow mobiling is big business up here. The winter of 2006 was unusual in that after a big storm the day after Christmas 2005, we hardly had any snow at all and the landscape, mostly potato fields, looked essentially like this. It was still cold, though. This was done from a pastel that I drew on location.

Snowstorm Approaching (pastel, 2006)

(Private Collection)
This pastel was done in early February 2006 near the end of the Campbell Road looking up a hill across a snow covered potato field as a large dark cloud bank moved in just before sunset. Sorry about the glare on the photo. This piece uses a technique where I sketch in the basic forms and them paint over the pastel with an acrylic medium which gives the pastel a painterly look and provides a nice textured surface for subsequent layers of pastel to cling to.

Sheep Farm In Snow (pastel, 2006)

Another view of the Henderson farm, just after a snow storm. Done while sitting on the hood of my car in the freezing cold. I remember having to pause to get back into the car every 5 minutes or so to thaw my fingers out over the defroster. I had been using Rembrandt pastels on Rives BFK paper quite a lot but I had just gotten a big box of 60 Windsor and Newton pastels at 60% off as the set was being discontinued. This was my first time using them and I also tried Stonehenge paper for the first time. I prefer the BFK, but I work in pastel several times a week and the W&N pastels have become a favorite for quick sketching, although Schmincke pastels remain my preferred pastel.

Sheep Farm Up the Hill (pastel, 2006)

This was done in January 2006 on the Carson Road, about 3 miles from my house in sub-zero temperatures. Everyone from around here recognizes it as the old Henderson farm. I went back the next day to do another one after it had snowed.

Field Behind the Barn (pastel, 2006)

(Private Collection)
In January 2006 I relocated to northern Maine to devote myself full time to art. This was the first thing that I did, about 6 days after we moved in, standing in the snow behind the potato house that has since become my studio. It was about 20 below zero with the wind chill, so I had to work quickly. Sold on eBay for an insanely low price.

Off the Beaten Tracks (oil on canvas, 2005)

This is based on a view in Foxboro, MA where the Boston to Providence railroad crosses under I-95, about half a mile from the office where I used to work as a graphic designer. The view reminded me of the work of a great painter named Richard Sheehan (who, sadly, passed away last year) whose work I saw when he came to Holy Cross College as a visiting artist while I was a student there. He showed many wonderful paintings of scenes looking under and through bridges and overpasses that were brilliantly painted. This was done from a pen and ink drawing that I did on my lunch break one hot summer day.

Asylum (oil on canvas, 2005)

This painting was based on the old Foxboro State Mental Hospital in Foxboro, MA. I used to work as a graphic designer, not far from this site. One day i was sitting on the curb across the street from this building with my sketch book doing a drawing and a security officer in a van pulled up and parked between me and the building and she asked me what I was doing. I said "Drawing" and she said "Are you drawing the building?" I said, "No, I'mm drawing the space around the building." She wasn't amused and tld me that I couldn't draw the building because it was going up for auction (Not sure I understand the logic there) and she refused to move her van until I gave up and left. I went back the next day when she wasn't around and snapped some photos and between those and my drawing, I was able to do this painting. I was studying Edward Hopper at the time and, looking back, I can see the influence.

Cape Dory Sunset (watercolor, 2005)

(Private Collection)
This large watercolor (about 24" x 36") was done for my friend Robert. We were out sailing on his Cape Dory one afternoon in Buzzards Bay and on the way back into the mooring, the sun was setting and he looked at me and said, "You should paint that." So I did, and I added his boat. If you look very closely you might see Robert at the helm, wheel in one hand and a bottle of Dead guy Ale in the other.

Nelson Road Silos (oil on canvas, 2005)

This painting was inspired by a view a few miles from my grandmother's house in upstate New York. I found the two silos to be quite ominous and threatening, especially since there are no barns any where near by and the silos themselves are covered with all sorts of overgrowth. They reminded me of the scene near the end of the old Wicker Man movie where Sgt. Howie is lead up the hill and first sees the Wicker Man ("Oh Jesus Christ! Oh God! Please no! Oh Christ!..."). I tried many different color schemes and the red/orange/yellow analogous color seemed to work best. In retrospect, I suppose it adds a feeling of impending violence, which is what I felt when I first saw the silos.

The Red Barn (oil on canvas, 2005)

(Private Collection)
This painting was done during the spring of 2005. It is actually the third attempt at this subject matter, the first being done a year before and the second in the Fall of 2004. The scene is based on a view from the intersection of Leland Hill and Pierce Roads in Sutton, MA where I used to run. This particular intersection has yielded several images. The actual barn has a row of windows across the front and the house is much closer. I was more interested in capturing the light and time of day than the barn itself.

Road to Ilsley (oil on canvas, 2005)

(Private Collection)
On St. Patrick's Day 2003, while travelling on the M4 en route to Heathrow airport in London from the southwest of England, my wife and I turned off at Winterborn and headed north in search of a nice counrty pub where we might grab some lunch. We drove into the village of East Ilsley, which looked promising, but as my wife was sound asleep, I decided to continue driving into the countryside and perhaps grab a quick sketch. After about twenty minutes driving east, and feeling as though I was dangerously close to being lost, I turned the car around to head back to Ilsley. I immediately beheld this scene. The road had been cut out of a hillside, with a wall of clay on my right and a drop off leading down to a muddy field on my left. At a sharp bend in the road, an isolated group of trees rose up and seemed to form a tunnel over the narrow road. Beyond were miles and miles of the early spring greens of the English countryside. I stopped the car, did a quick sketch and snapped some photos before heading off to the Crown and Horns for some grilled salmon and Greene King ale.

East of Lacock (oil on canvas, 2004)

(Collection of the artist)
This painting was completed in May 2004, the day before my birthday. It is based on a scene that I sketched and photographed on the road leading east out of the village of Lacock in Chippenham England which, if followed long enough, will eventually lead you up a steep hill to the Rising Sun pub where you might, if you be so inclined, have a pint of Mole Catcher ale. I never had much success with painting as an undergraduate student, and ended up going to graduate school as a printmaking major. In May of 2003 my wife, at my request, bought me set of oil paints and brushes and I began teaching myself how to paint from scratch. After a year of countless color studies, monochromatic paintings and dozens of truly horrible paintings, this was the first painting that I was really pleased with.