Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cold Winter Morning (pastel, 2008)

Since the ground is covered with snow and I'm freezing inside my house, I figured I had better post something more recent, and with some white in it. I did this drawing yesterday and decided to use it on my Christmas cards. The wind chill yesterday morning (and today!) was about 20 below zero...and it's not even winter yet. But I'm not complaining. It's supposed to get up to 40 degrees tomorrow – a heat wave, no less!

The sunsets here in northern Maine can be breathtaking, especially when there are clouds in the sky and they light up pink and orange, but the pink sky early on a winter morning is also quite beautiful (if you're willing to go outside at 7am when the wind chill is 20 below zero). That's the same barn as in the "Lonely Barn" painting below, but seen from further down the hill, and I've included the house and other structures so the barn isn't as lonely, especially with it being so close to Christmas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tractor Path (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
I have been out running and on sketching hikes on this particular tractor path on numerous occasions over the past year and the geometry of the path, as it snakes through the fields, down the hill and back up again, has always been interesting to me. The mound of earth in the distance to the left of the path always reminds me of Thomas Hardy's "Return of the Native" (and if you know the story, you'll know where the name of my studio comes from...). That's the Littleton Baptist church on Route 1 in the distance.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lonely Barn (oil on canvas, 2008)

Two Barrels (pastel, 2008)

This is a field off of the Carmichael Road, about 2 miles from my house. I have taken my 4-year-old son for walks past here dozens of times and have often wanted to make a picture from it. The view always reminds me of Andrew Wyeth, probably because of the high horizon and the old empty barrels. I did this drawing about three weeks ago on a beautiful October day.

Rainy September (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
I saw this view on Ingraham Road, about a mile and a half from my house, one day while out running just after it had stopped raining. I walked up there the next day with my backpack full of drawing materials, my portable easel and my drawing board to make some compositional studies. As I was walking up Route 1 on the way there, I happened to notice one of the Border Patrol vehicles drive past me. About a half an hour later, I had my easel set up on the side of the road and was well into my drawing when I sensed a car approaching from my right and slowing down to a stop. I looked up and it was the same Border Patrol truck that I had seen earlier. The driver rolled down his window and asked me the strangest question: "Are you looking for something?" Had I been quick-witted, I might have replied "Yes, inspiration." but instead I just asked him what he meant. He said, "I saw you walking up the road earlier and I thought you might be looking for something." I am not sure how he came to that conclusion, but I explained that I was an artist and what I was doing and he wished me well and drove away. Very odd...

Tractor Path studies (pastel, 2008)

These are a couple of pastel studies that I did of a subject that I am currently making a painting of. It is a view from a tractor path through some corn and potato fields, facing west towards US Route 1. The first one (bottom) was done on an overcast day in early October. I liked the composition but wasn't happy with the colors. I went back a week later on a nicer day and moved my easel over to the left. I liked the colors better in the second one (top) and the view of the Littleton church at the top, but I was not happy with the tractor path in the foreground. I went back again last Sunday afternoon but there were gunshots all around (it's hunting season up here and not everyone adheres to the "No Hunting on Sundays" rule.) so I turned around and hiked back to my car without getting any work done. I have incorporated the elements that I like from both of these into a painting which I have been working on for the past week.

Littleton, Maine (oil on canvas, 2008)

This was a painting that I had done in early September (see below) and thought it was finished. However, after hanging it in my gallery and having to see it every day, I became dissatisfied with the "blueness" of the sky so I put it back on the easel and repainted the sky. To compensate for the changes, I ended up repainting most of the canvas.

Barn Over a Rise (pastel, 2008)

I have wanted to make a picture of this subject for a long time. I did another drawing, which was a horizontal composition, and I was not happy with at all. I did some compositional studies in my studio and discovered that it worked better as a vertical so I went back to the location and did this, which I am happier with. I wanted to do a painting of this subject, but where I was happy with the pastel, I was afraid that I would end up just trying to copy it. I eventually did the painting (see above) but changed the colors and eliminated one of the fence posts from the composition.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Field at Sunset (oil on canvas, 2008)

This was a painting that I did last summer which, at the time at least, I was very pleased with. However, as the year went on I began to have misgivings about it. It was hanging in the window of a gallery in downtown Houlton over the summer and when I saw it there I was horrified and realized that I had completely missed the mood that I was trying to capture so I took it home, sanded it down and repainted the whole thing over the past two weeks. I am much happier with it now. The sanding down and repainting has given the surface a very dense texture that reminds me of some of JWM Turner's paintings that I love so much and I am eager to explore this kind of textural surface build up some more in the future.

Littleton, Maine (oil on canvas, 2008)

This is from a view looking south on the Framingham Road in early September. I had done a pastel of this view, which I liked, so I took my easel out to the location and began the painting there, finishing it up in the studio. It is a wonderful time of year here for color. The potato fields, almost ready for harvest, are a brilliant green and they often neighbor fields of wheat which have an intense golden yellow color. By early October the potatoes will all have been dug up and the wheat mowed down and the landscape will take on a radically different color. Of course, not long afterwards it will all be covered with three feet of snow (but let's not think about that!).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday Morning, Presque Isle (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
This, along with the pastel below, were done as part of the "Paint Presque Isle" fund raiser event sponsored by the Aroostook Partners for the Arts yesterday. Artists were invited to paint within the confines of a specific area in downtown Presque Isle and the work was auctioned later in the evening to raise money for educational arts events for school children. I ended up spending a lot more time on this (almost five hours) than I originally thought that I would. I am sure that my love of Edward Hopper had something to do with my selecting this particular view, but I also have always enjoyed the receding perspective of railroad tracks, which I don't get to see very often near where I live.

Bench Swing (pastel, 2008)

(Private Collection)
I did this yesterday as part of the "Paint Presque Isle" fund raiser event sponsored by Aroostook Partners in the Arts. I had worked all morning and into the afternoon on an oil painting (see above) but still had a couple of hours left before the work had to be turned in for the auction that was to take place that evening. I had thought this view of the bridge was nice when I was scoping out locations early in the morning but it seemed that it would be better once the sun was a lot further to the west. I had originally intended to work from a spot more to the right, so the swing was not in view, but another artist had set up in that location so I was forced to find a new one, which turned out for the better, I think. The new location had the added advantage of allowing me to work in the shade of a big tree; a much needed relief after baking in the sun for five hours while I worked on the oil painting.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Framingham Road (pastel, 2008)

I saw this view this afternoon while out running and thought it would make a nice composition, especially the contrast between the green potato plants and the yellow wheat field. I drove out to the location later, around 5:00, intending to make a small painting of it. After setting up my easel and painting table and getting all of my supplies out, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my jar of solvent to clean my brushes. Luckily, I had packed a drawing board with a sheet of red paper taped to it, and my pastels were still in the car from last night, so I made this drawing instead. Last Saturday I gave a class on painting outdoors and I advised my students to make up a checklist of everything that they need to bring and to go over the list before they head out. Perhaps I should heed my own advice....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Big Pink Cloud (pastel, 2008)

(Private Collection)
I did this earlier this evening after dinner. I had to work fairly quickly as the sun was setting to my right. As often happens, I had intended to do a drawing of something else, in this case a view looking northwest, but when I started to unload my gear from the car, I looked up to the south and saw this big pinkish-orange cloud formation and decided to do it instead. A man drove by in a pickup truck and stopped for a few minutes to watch me work and provide a little encouragement. It was nearly dark when I made the finishing touches to the foreground.

Wheat Field (pastel, 2008)

I gave a pastel workshop yesterday and did this as a demo during the class. I am always afraid of falling on my face when I do demonstrations. Whenever I start a picture, I never have a clear idea of exactly where it's going to go anyway and it's not uncommon for for a fair amount of them to end up disastrous. Having to think about what I'm doing and explain it to people while I'm working makes things even more difficult. This one didn't turn out too bad, though.

Sheep Farm, Summer (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
This was done a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to do a painting based on the image in the pastel (see below), but not directly from the pastel. I went back to the location with a big canvas and started the painting, making some changes to the composition, most notably the addition of a shadow in the foreground from a group of trees that was behind me to the right. I estimate that I spent about 40 hours on this over the course of four days.

Fitzpatrick Barns (oil on canvas, 2008)

I am trying to be diligent about posting things in a timely manner, but not doing very well.Painting of the Fitzpatrick barns on Foxcroft Road done about three weeks ago. I went back to the location and started the painting, changing the composition from the pastel, and then finished it in the studio.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fitzpatrick Barns (pastel, 2008)

This was done Tuesday afternoon. It was cloudy and looked like it was going to rain when I started, but then the sun came out and I had to modify the picture accordingly. I had an audience for a while, as Mr. Fitzpatrick and several kids, all of whom had just been swimming, came out to watch me work. I have had artists and students tell me that they find the prospect of having people watch them work disturbing, but I have always found that people are usually very positive (even when the picture is going badly!) and I usually get some interesting information or hear interesting stories about the subject of the picture.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Barn and Lombardy Trees (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
This was mostly painted directly from life on Thursday 7/17. I had a student coming at 6pm so I had to stop working on it, but I finished it up in the studio later that evening.

Hayfield and Lombardy Trees (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
This was painted from direct observation on Wednesday (7/16) in the late morning into the early afternoon. This and the one above were done as a commission for someone who wanted to give a small painting of mine, of which I didn't have any on hand, as a gift to her sister. The subject matter was open to me, but she suggested that I might check out the views from the field behind the house where she and her sister grew up. I fell in love with the site and will probably be going back there many more times to work.

Hay Field, Barn and Lombardy Trees (pastel, 2008)

This was done on Tuesday from almost the same location as the painting above, but much later in the day. The painting above was done in the late morning and early afternoon, whereas this drawing was done at about 7:30 in the evening.

Henderson Farm, summer (pastel, 2008)

I did a painting of this view during the winter. It is amazing how the landscape h where I live went from buried under 3 feet of snow to being such a vivid green in what seems like a very short time. I may work this idea up into a painting.

Overcast (pastel, 2008)

Fitzpatrick Barns on the Foxcroft Road. It was about to rain and the grass had taken on an eerie green glow. This was done very quickly and I managed to get the drawing board and pastel box into the car just seconds before the sky opened up. Of course, I still had to break my easel down, and got soaked in the process...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Potato House Ruins (pastel, 2008)

(Private Collection)
I did this early Saturday evening off of the Station Road in Monticello. I did a pastel of this same building two years ago, but in the morning when the sun was on the other side of the building. Years ago, there was a railroad running through here and these potato houses were thriving. Now the railroad has become a trail for ATVs and snowmobiles and the old potato houses are crumbling.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Show in Eastport, ME

I will be having a solo show at the Eastport Gallery, 74 Water Street in downtown Eastport from June 13 through July 4. There will be an opening reception on Saturday June 21 at 5:00pm. I will also have work on display there in the main gallery throughout the season.

Green Truck (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
This small (10 x 20) canvas was done in my studio after two drawings that I did on location, one in pastel and one in graphite crayon. At the moment, we are in the height of the black fly season. I got eaten alive while working on the drawings and painting outdoors in oils is impossible at this point because the flies become embedded in the wet paint.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kittrell, NC Barn (oil on canvas, 2008)

This painting was based on a photograph that my friend Ross took a couple of years ago in North Carolina, where he lives. I generally don't like to work from photos, but I liked the idea of the tree shadows being cast on this old barn and since we had record breaking snow accumulation where I live this year (over 200 inches!) and 8 foot high snow banks everywhere, which made working outside virtually impossible, I decided to work from this image. I did a lot of charcoal drawings to work out the composition and then a few pastel studies to play with different color ideas, none of which I was happy with. I went in to this painting not knowing what any of the colors were going to be and, as a result, most of it got painted over three or four times over the course of the last 5 weeks before I was finally happy with it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Show in Madawaska

A lot of my recent work is currently on display at the Café de la Place, 285 Main Street in Madawaska, ME and will be there throughout the Month of May. There will be an opening reception on Saturday May 3 from 6pm to 8pm, which is open to the public. Regular hours at the Café de la Place are 4:30am to 2pm Monday through Friday. The phone number is (207) 728-0944.

Warners Road Shed (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

North Carolina Barn (charcoal, 2008)

From a photo taken by my friend Ross in North Carolina.

Asylum (oil on canvas, 2008)

This is a building (one of many) from the old Foxboro State Mental Hospital in Foxboro, MA. I used to work near here and would make drawings of these buildings on my lunch break. There was a security guard in a white van who told me that I wasn't allowed to draw the buildings because they were going to be auctioned off by the state (I never quite found the logic in that, and right before I moved to Maine, the complex had been sold and the buildings were being demolished) and she used to case me off all the time. I did a painting of this when I still lived in MA, but I was never really happy with it so I did this from memory, incorporating more textural paint application, intense colors and a different composition. In retrospect, I think the color in the sky was influenced as much by Giorgio DiChirico's work as the cover to Pink Floyd's "Animals" album.

Still Life Studies

A couple of small still life studies. These were each done in a single painting session.

Farmhouse At Dusk (oil on canvas, 2008)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Henderson Farm, Winter (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)

Warners Road Barn

These are a couple of small (8" x 16") studies that I did based on a 10 year old photograph of an old barn near where my grandfather used to farm onions in upstate New York. I did 6 or 7 charcoal drawings and a couple of pastels from the photo first and then I painted these from memory, without referring back to the photo.

Puddle (oil on canvas, 2008) - updated March 2008

Since posting this painting in New Year's Eve (see below) I have repainted over it twice. In the second version, I made the puddle much smaller so that it didn't extend out of the lower right corner, but the painting still didn't work. In this version, I extended the puddle back out, but painted over most of the foreground and middle ground, lightening them both up and breaking up the furrows in the field. The result has been very thick paint with some interesting textures that I really like. All in all, I worked on this image for six months, but I am glad that I persevered, even though there were times when I thought about abandoning the image altogether.

Pastel Still Lifes

A couple of pastel drawings of still-life setups.

Charcoal Drawings

I have been doing a lot of charcoal drawings of still life setups over the past few months. Here are a few of my favorites.