Friday, July 22, 2011

Sand Beach Seaweed (pastel on paper, 2011)

While on vacation on Mount Desert Island my wife and kids and I went to Sand Beach one afternoon. I brought my pastels along and spent the entire time drawing. I did a view looking out over the water, but I'm not really happy with it and probably won't post it here. I think it's just too "picture postcard" for my taste. But the dunes in back of the beach with the seaweed on the ground and heavy clouds moving in – this I like.

Road to Bernard (pastel on paper, 2011)

This drawing was done while on vacation in Southwest Harbor from a little bridge on the road that leads to the small town of Bernard on the quite side of the Mount Desert Island. To my left as I was working was a little inlet with boats visible in the distance but those types of postcard-like views really don't interest me at all. A woman actually pulled over and got out of her car and said that she had to see what I could possibly be drawing since I wasn't looking out towards the water at "that beautiful view". A policeman pulled up behind me at one point also, and parked right in front of that big pole on the left, obstructing my view for about 10 minutes. I was expecting him to get out and ask me questions about what I was doing, but he eventually just drove away. I'm no sure if he even realized that he was blocking my view.

Cable Crossing (pastel on paper, 2011)

This was done early one morning while on vacation in Southwest Harbor. I wandered down a road called "Cable Crossing" which led from the Seawall Road to the water. It looks like the place where the power cables go under water out to the Cranberry Islands. This was a view looking to my left back towards Southwest Harbor. There are broken mussel shells everywhere on the shore and they give an interesting iridescent shine that contrasts with the dark brown rocks along the seawall.

The Narrows from Valley Peak (oil on canvas, 2011)

I hiked up Valley Peak mountain on Mount Desert Island with my painting gear to do this one. No small task, climbing a steep, rocky trail with a 40lb. backpack, a portable easel, a canvas, an 18" x 24" piece of masonite that I use for a palette and a folding table to rest the palette on. Top add to the fun, I gashed open my left leg on rugged shrub near the top and was bleeding all over the place while I painted this and was continually harassed by a hornet. Nonetheless, I found a nice view of The Narrows at the mouth of Sommes Sound out on a rocky ledge. The biggest challenge of all turned out to be getting the wet painting back down the mountain without smudging it too much.

From Manset Town Landing (oil on canvas, 2011)

(Private Collection)
This was painted from the town landing in Manset, looking out at the moorings in Southwest Harbor.

Seawall Grill (pastel on paper, 2011)

(Private Collection)
This was done from the Seawall picnic area near Southwest Harbor late one afternoon. I wandered around the rocks for quite a while with my heavy backpack full of pastels looking for an interesting composition before I found this rusty old camp grill which I immediately fell in love with.

Seawall Boulder (oil on canvas, 2011)

(Private Collection)
I painted this while in Southwest Harbor on the Seawall between Manset and Bass Harbor one morning as the fog was lifting. I believe that's the Cranberry Islands in the distance. I got quite a sunburn on my neck while working on this.

Red Cottage (oil on vanvas, 2011)

We spent the last week of June in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island at an absolutely wonderful and lovely cottage owned by the Lesters. It's for rent and you can learn more about it here. I spent a lot of the time there working (I actually told my wife before we left that the thing I was most looking forward to about vacation was being able to work!), but did get to see some great sights and go hiking with my kids. I did this small painting on the first day that we were there, behind the kitchen of the cottage. My son was zipping up and down the dirt driveway just behind that big tree the entire time that I was working and I can still hear him making his motorcycle noises whenever I look at this.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Home (Wright House)" (2011, oil on canvas)

(Private Collection)
This is painting I did in May of Nancy and Dana Wright's house, right here in Littleton. Nancy was retiring from her position as teaching principal at the Wellington School (see below) and Dana had asked me to do a painting of the school for her. A little while later, the faculty of the school approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing a painting of the school for Nancy. I explained that her husband had already asked me and that they should get together with him. A few days later they got back in touch with me and said that they decided they would like it if I did a painting of the house. They were worried about keeping it a surprise so I figured that the best time to work was while Nancy was at school. I checked with some of the staff to see if she ever goes home for lunch (Her house is just a couple of miles from the school.) and they assured me that she didn't. I went over to the house around noon on a day that the kids at school were performing the annual big play that they do in the spring, thinking that she had to be at school that day. I ran into a man working on their farm and let him know that I would be across the street painting and he also assured me that Nancy never came home during the school day. So I set up my easel and started to work and, sure enough, here comes Nancy driving right up to the house! I thought for certain that the surprise was ruined but it turned out that she was so used to seeing me all over town standing behind my easel, that she had no idea that I was doing a painting for her. She was even planning to buy it for her husband for Father's Day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Home Away from Home" (2011, oil on canvas)

(Private Collection)
This is a painting of the Wellington elementary school in Monticello. My son just finished first grade there and my daughter went there from pre-K through third grade before graduating to the Houlton Southside School last year. It's a wonderful little school and I spend a lot of time there, teaching art classes to the kids and volunteering for various things. A few years ago I painted a mural inside of Jack chopping down the beanstalk with the giant's feet coming down out of the ceiling. The school board threatened to close Wellington down this year but a large group of us parents, along with the Wellington staff, fought them and convinced them to keep the school open, at least for another year. My son's teacher, who was also the principal, retired this year and her husband asked me to paint a picture of the school. It was something that I'd always wanted to paint, anyway. The only difficulty was being able to get down there to work when the principal wasn't there, which was almost never. I went down on Mother's Day, figuring there was no way she'd be working that day and sure enough, she showed up to plant flowers out in front! Luckily, I'd brought my kids with me (giving my wife a couple of hours of peace and quiet) and they were riding their bikes around the parking lot so I had an excuse for being there.
At least half a dozen of the people who saw the painting pointed to the area on the hillside above the door and said "There's Tom Good's house." which I find interesting because it looks like this:

I like that people can look at what are essentially abstract swirls of paint and see something that they recognize.