Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looks Like It's Going to Rain (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
This small painting is based on a drawing I did looking west from the Wilkins Road in Monticello. back in early November (before the snow arrived) on a very cold, late autumn day. The nozzle on my can of fixative had become obstructed with gunk, so I was not able to work on the drawing as long as I would have liked (which was just as well because my fingers had become quite painfully frozen by that point), but I did, however, get to meet the farmer who owns the land as he came by on his tractor just as I was getting ready to pack up my supplies and we had a nice chat. I really liked the contrast between the oranges and browns of the recently plowed field against the deep blue of the oncoming rain.

Monday, December 7, 2009

You Can See Mars Hill from Here (oil on canvas, 2009)


I did some pastel drawings of this view looking north at the turn on the Front Ridge Road over the course of four or five days during the week before Thanksgiving. Despite the sunshine and perfectly clear skies, it was quite cold (although it has gotten much colder since), which always makes working outside with pastels a challenge. I started this painting during the week of Thanksgiving, but had to take a break from it to travel to MA for the holiday, and finished it last week.

Friday, November 6, 2009

House Where No One Lives (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
This old house is on the Fletcher Road in Monticello, just past the Wilkins Road and right before the border crossing into Canada. When I was kid, there was a path at the end of my street, which would take you through a big field and then about 3/4 through the woods where it came out on Stow road by an old, empty house behind trees like this. The kids in my neighborhood all called it the "Witchy-poo House" and we were terrified to go near it. Coming upon this building, at dusk, during the last week of October brought back a lot of memories from childhood Halloweens. I borrowed the title (slightly altered) from a Tom Waits song.

The Sentinels (oil on canvas, 2009)


I found this group of trees on a hillside in Monticello, south of the Wilkins Road, which is a dirt farming road that runs parallel to the Canadian border. I did two pastels of the subject, one on a very cold, overcast Sunday afternoon (Drawing with frozen fingers is never fun and I know that it's going to get much colder in the months to come...), and another, a couple of days later on a sunny day. I liked the feel of the first pastel drawing and tried to capture the coldest of the dim, late-October afternoon. Right behind where I was standing is a big tree with an enormous tractor tire wrapped around it. Apparently, the tree grew up right through the opening in the middle of the tire, which has probably been there more than 40 years.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Top of the Hill (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
This is a painting of the old Henderson barn at the top of a fairly steep rise on the Carson Road in Littleton. I have done several pictures looking up at this building from the bottom of the hill, at various times throughout the year. I did a lot of bike riding this past summer and my regular route took me up to the top of this hill, usually in the early afternoon, and I often thought that it would make a good subject for a painting. I did three or four drawings of on different days over the course of about two weeks before executing this painting from memory. There's an opening in the chicken-wire fence between those two posts and sometimes the sheep will wander right out into the road.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Solo Show at the Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle

I will be having a show of some my recent work at the Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library, 39 Second Street in Presque Isle, ME from November 7 through December 31st, The public is invited to attend the opening reception on Saturday November 7, 2009 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.

Closed House (oil on canvas, 2009)


I finished this over two weeks ago but 9 straight days of rain and a trip to Massachusetts have kept me from photographing it until now. I did several pastel drawings of this view, looking north from the recreational vehicle trail towards where it crosses Wiley Road, in late August and September.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Forgotten Dream (pastel, 2009)


Another, more recent, drawing of the old potato house north of my studio. When I started working in pastels, about 9 years ago, I bought a large set of Rembrandt pastels, which I used for quite some time. For the past few years, however, I have been using mostly Schminke, Sennelier and Townsend pastels which I keep in various boxes in a backpack. I used my old Rembrandt set for this image, and I quite enjoyed working with them again.

Wilson's Wharf, Eastport (pastel, 2009)

(Private Collection)
This is the second drawing that I did in Eastport on Saturday on a pier behind a seafood restaurant looking out towards Lubec. There was actually a dumpster from the restaurant right behind me and I did all i could to try and ignore the odor coming from it as I worked.

Houses on Middle Street, Eastport (pastel, 2009)


I went down to Eastport this past Saturday for the annual "Paint Eastport" event, organized by the Eastport Gallery. Artists create work during the day, which coincides with the annual Salmon Festival and the Pirate Festival (The biggest challenge of the day was finding a place to park!) and the work is auctioned off at a silent auction which takes place at the Eastport Arts Center. I decided to work in pastels because they are more portable than oil paints and the lack of available parking meant that I had to walk around town looking for subject matter. This was the first drawing that I did, between about 11:00 and 1:00. There was a church to the right of the white house, which I was originally planning to focus on, but as i started to work, I became much more interested in the the Victorian house in the distance and the two STOP signs.

Red Barn Up the Road (pastel, 2009)


This old potato house is just north of my studio and I have been going out at noon time and making drawings of it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wiley Road Potato House II (2009, pastel)


Another drawing of the old potato house off of Wiley Road.

Wiley Road Potato House (2009, pastel)


One of several drawings of this subject that I have made over the past week or so.

Potato Field in Blossom (2009, oil on canvas)

(Private Collection)
I was happy with the pastel drawing that I did of this subject earlier this summer and wasn't planning to do a painting of it for fear that I would end up trying to just "copy" the pastel. However, after looking at the pastel for a few weeks I realized that many of the reasons that I liked the pastel had to do with the handling of the materials, and that I really didn't know how to translate that into oil paint. I found this painting particularly challenging and learned quite a bit while working on it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Over the Hills and Far Away (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
This is a view looking west into New Brunswick from a recently combined grain field in Monticello.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Above the Treetops (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
I have been working on this for the past couple of weeks, based on the view from the Front Ridge Road looking east over the town where I live, Littleton, and beyond into New Brunswick. I have been listening to a lot of Pat Metheny music lately and, since it was his birthday yesterday, it seemed fitting that I borrow the title from one of his songs...

Acres Wild (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
I painted this on Sunday afternoon, in a field north of the Ingraham Road, looking east towards New Brunswick. There were some quite large bear tracks in the path that I walked to get to this spot which, I must admit, made me a little nervous. This is a very small painting, 8 x 10 inches. I like the way that the large size of my brushes and knife, relative to the size of the canvas, force a kind of looseness, limit my ability to become overly "descriptive" and allow me to work without worrying about how much paint I am using.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Potato Field in Blossom (pastel, 2009)


I was in my studio teaching from 9:00 am until 5:00 yesterday and was a little burnt out, but it was such a beautiful day (FINALLY!) that I couldn't allow myself not to go outside and do some work. I hiked up the road with my pastel bag and was planning to do a drawing of the house that is in the distance of this picture, but I decided, once I got there, to hike further down the trail and stumbled into this potato field. I really liked the way the afternoon shadows fell on the barn, but I had no idea how I was going to deal with the potato plants in the foreground. I thought about just cropping them out, but I didn't really want to do a "barn" picture and, besides, that would have been taking the easy way, which rarely is the right way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Posted Field at Sunset (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
I finished this a couple of weeks ago, but I have had a great deal of difficulty photographing it, I think because the foreground is so dark and sky much lighter. I did many drawings of this view, which is off of the Carmicheal Road near my house, over the past couple of months and this composition was based on elements from several of them and then, as is usually the case, things changed once I started working on the painting. It wasn't intentional, but now that it is done, it reminds me a bit of the work of George Inness, whom I admire not only for his work, but for his philosophies about art.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pastel Sketches from Front Ridge





These are some sketches that I've done over the past couple of weeks of the view from the Front Ridge Road here in Littleton, looking West towards New Brunswick. I have had to work very quickly on these because of the temperamental weather – I never know when a thundershower is going to strike. If we get a good, clear day I would like to bring a canvas up there and do a painting.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fox's Hill (oil on canvas, 2009)


This is a view looking south towards Wiley Road down the ATV trail that will eventually take one to the Meduxnekeag Ramblers Club House. It is a spot that reminds me more of England than northern Maine, oddly enough. I can honestly say that I've lost about a pound of flesh and at least two pints of blood to the black flies over the past four weeks while making numerous drawings of this view. I found the geometry of the paths and newly tilled potato fields to be particularly interesting. I know that I went too far with the yellow-greens and the oranges, but it works for the picture.

There's a big red fox that lives on that hill in the upper right and he sat there watching me draw on two different occasions.

View Down the Front Ridge (pastel, 2009)


After six days of rain, the sun came out briefly last Thursday and I did this pastel from the Front Ridge Road which offers some fantastic views looking east out over the numerous Littleton potato farms towards New Brunswick. I had to work fairly quickly as the sun was setting behind me. Given the plethora of subject matter in front of me, it was a good exercise in editing out unnecessary information. I liked the way the fence posts help to establish the space going down the hill in the foreground and there was a big cloud out towards Fredericton that was catching the light from the setting sun and giving off a pinkish-orange glow.The drawing has some problems, but I look forward to returning to this subject some more over the next few weeks.

Fork in the Road (oil on canvas, 2009)

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Very Green Spring (oil on Canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
This is the old Henderson sheep farm on the Carson Road, which I have drawn and painted many times in the past and which I still find to be a subject that offers numerous possibilities for composition and color. This was based on a pencil drawing, that had quite a few sheep in it, and a pastel sketch (see below) that didn't have any sheep.

Path on a Hillside (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
I did most of this during my Open Studio Masterclass this past Thursday evening, with some finishing touches added on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Usually my students paint while I walk around the studio offering advice, suggestions, criticism, relevant comments, etc.. They suggested that it might be educational for them if I were to work along with them so that they could observe my process directly. So, I worked on this painting, which is based on a pastel sketch that I did last week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Through the Hollow (pastel, 2009)

(Private Collection)

Sketchbook Pages

Now that the snow is (finally) gone, I've spent the last few weeks going out almost daily, getting eaten alive by black flies and drawing, either in pastel or pencil. I've tried painting outside during this time of year, but I always end up dozens of insects stuck in the paint – a real nuisance! By the first week of July it's pretty easy to work outside, bug-free. I have also been stretching and priming a dozen canvases and looking forward to painting with green again. When I do these drawings, I focus on finding compositional and color relationships which may be developed into paintings later on, rather than "descriptive" information. Rather than bringing my big bag of expensive pastels, these are done with the remains (mostly very small pieces and crumbs) of my first pastel set, a set of 30 Rembrandt half sticks that I bought in 1999. Because of the rapidly changing light and the insects, I have to work very quickly. I do a lot of these types of drawings and it usually feels like I'm panning for gold. Usually I come up empty, but once in a while I get something that has promise. Here are a couple of those.

This is the old Henderson sheep farm that I've draw dozens of time over the past three years and which continues to give me inspiration. Lately, the sheep have been out en force, but they usually flee to the top of the hill as soon as they notice me.


This is the entrance to a field on the Carmichael Road, directly across from the two barrels that I painted last fall. I went back to this spot on three different days.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dexter and Pam's House (oil on canvas, 2009)


My wife's car had to have the engine replaced and, as a result, was at the mechanic's from early March until the end of April. This left me without a car during the day so I was forced to work within walking distance of my house. This is a painting of my neighbors' house and dairy barn, about a mile up the road, when we still had a great deal of snow on the ground. I did a number of drawings just after noon time over the course of about a week and worked the painting up in the studio. The house, like my own, is over a hundred years old and probably doesn't have square corner anywhere on it at this point. Because of this, I left the drawing of the house a little loose.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Halloween (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
This small painting (10 x 20) is based on a charcoal drawing that I did on Halloween last year, in between my kids' party at school and taking them out for Trick or Treating. This is an old house a few miles up the road from me that's been for sale for a long time. I fear that having been unoccupied for so long and not heated during the winters, that it may be starting to sustain some structural damage. I pulled in to the driveway and was immediately struck by the long shadow cast on the wall. I thought it was kind of spooky, but maybe it was just the day. The original drawing included all of the dormers and much more of the roof, but I think it works better cropped this way.

Gerry's Barns in Winter (oil on canvas, 2009)


I finished this painting about 5 weeks ago but I misplaced my digital camera so I haven't been able to post anything. These are the same barns from a painting called "Last Days of Summer" that I did a couple of years ago. When I was out drawing these back in September 2006 the owner came down to see what I was up to and we talked for a little while. He indicated that he was planning to have the barns pulled down before the end of that year, but I am glad to see that, two and a half years later, they are still standing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blue October Sky (oil on canvas, 2009)

(Private Collection)
First painting of the new year. I didn't get much work done during the holidays. Well, not much art work, anyway. Plenty of baking, writing out Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping, cleaning, and entertaining house guests. Then, I almost managed to burn my studio down when I absent-mindedly left a plastic can of black house paint on top of my heater and the bottom melted out. It has taken me two weeks to finally get the smell of burnt plastic out of the building.

I laid out the composition for this painting back in November and, prior to the holidays, I did about half a dozen small color studies, mostly experimenting with different colors for the sky, which for some reason, I thought had to be any color but blue. In the end, I couldn't decide and figured that I should stop thinking about it and just start the painting and that I would know what color to paint the sky when the time came. It turned out blue after all. At least I know that I didn't choose blue out of indolence – it was chosen to bring out the oranges in the grass.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

October Light (oil on canvas, 2008)

(Private Collection)
I actually finished this right before Christmas but haven't had a chance to photograph it and post it until now. These are one very old and two fairly new barns next to the ITS trail where it crosses Wiley Road here in Littleton. I parked my car across from here one Saturday afternoon in late October and hiked south on the ITS trail with my pastels and easel to a nice clearing with a tractor path meandering through it and a very old tree that held a lot of promise for a compositional subject. Unfortunately, after setting up, I heard far to many rifle shots to feel comfortable (I have been told by a reliable source that a stray rifle bullet can travel as far as two miles.) so, dejectedly, I hiked back to the car and as I was loading my gear into the back I saw the afternoon sun hitting the side of this old barn and once again, as so often happens, found my subject in a place where I hadn't expected to.