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.