Friday, December 16, 2011

Sleeping Kate

18x26in pastel

A pastel that I have recently brought to completion. My goal was to paint the figure with the same layers of color linework and crosshatched color as I paint my rocks and most importantly I wanted to achieve a likeness. That's the technical side. I also wanted to paint a portrait of my wife who is always moving about when she finally found peace at the end of a stressful day curled up in the living room chair. I started from a sketch and some photo references(she never woke) and finished it up in the studio.   I haven't painted alot of figures let alone portraits over the years. I lost interest after hundreds of drawings in college. But lately the figure has been creeping back into my landscape painting and after seeing the MPS show  I thought it was time to tackle it again. I recently finished a unit on the figure with my students. They did not want to draw from the model, mostly because of a fear of failure. The figure and portraits can be very intimidating. This began a discussion on risk. I often tell them that without risk there can be no art and finding and facing that moment of risk is a constant struggle for artists.      I was recently reading a great book called "How to be a Graphic Artist and not Lose Your Soul" by Adrian Shaughnessy and he came up with an equation that defines creativity in the best way. RISK+DISCOMFORT+SWEAT(+-INSPIRATION)= CREATIVITY
He says that there can be no creativity without risk and he goes on to say that "We have to flirt with failure if we are to produce anything with genius in it."
Now, I'm not saying  this is any work of genius but it is an excursion out of my comfort zone into new territory.

Dawn Light, Live Oak

When the sun hit this Live Oak tree in Oldfields SC. it cast a rosy, orangish glow that gradually faded to gold then disappeared. I started it on site last summer but didnt quite get the shadow colors the way I wanted. Tweaked it in the studio last weekend and as a color sketch I'm satisfied now with the result. 9x9in oil  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dawn on the Severn

Here is a view of the Severn River looking over to the Peninsula, a view I have painted many times but never drawn in pastel. I started this about a year ago but never completed because I couldn't resolve the foreground. I got inspired by the many pastels at the MPS show and decided to tackle the sails. It was an interesting dawn. The day was hot and overcast. The light was a pinkish white. The "white" sails were salmon pinks and deep chocolate browns. The photo of the drawing is a bit on the pale side. It's a little warmer in good light. I treated the sails like my rock drawings, just building up layers of lines and colored textures. I tried something new in using water on a brush and painted the darks in using the pastel then drawing over the underpainting. This view is my "Chapel Pond" down here. a very peaceful, unique piece of land that never ceases to give me pleasure in watching how light plays over the surface of the land like the human body. 18x24 in pastel on sanded paper.   

Monday, November 7, 2011

SHADES OF PASTEL- National juried show

Maryland Pastel Society’s “Shades of Pastel” National Juried Exhibition, October 24-November 20, 2011, at Workhouse Art Center, Lorton, Virginia. Juror: Liz Haywood-Sullivan.

One of my pastels was picked to be in this years exhibit ("Vista", a self portrait of me on Noomark Mt) If you ever thought pastel was a a medium subservient to oil paint then this show will change your mind. The color nearly jumped off the walls. There was such  variety in style, technique, and subject from pieces that echoed Post- impressionist paintings of the 19th and 20th cen to bold modernist color abstractions. Truely inspiring. These are  paintings of pure pigment that glow.  My first juried exhibition where I had to ship my work and it made me quite nervous but everything turned out ok. The gallery is beautiful as well. The Workhouse Art Center is a spacious renovated historic site like Alexandria's Torpedo Factory where many artists work . I hope folks get to see it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Storm Along Pocock Rd

Another one painted between rain showers last week on the Leake farm.  Of course when I finished up so did the storm and there was incredible light. No matter. Being in the moment was incredible and pushing paint around trying to capture those scudding clouds was feeling alive.  .

Bud Leake's Barn

Painting in the pouring rain, it was still great fun. One of the little oil sketches I painted out on the Leake property. Looking at his work gives one great permission to just jump in and paint. One good thing about painting in overcast  or rainy conditions is you don't have to worry about changing light conditions.And when it begins to rain you don't have time to think. You just get it down.  Another reason to compare oneself to a flyfisherman. They're out there in the rain as well. I think I got a small one but a keeper, none the less.  10x10in oil

Robin Hood Beach

Finally got it the way I wanted it. This little oil sketch was begun on site at about 5pm and the setting sun was painting the beach in warm peach colors and casting great blue shadows from the trees behind me. Most of the foreground was blue so I took some out and put some back trying to get the right balance. I had to do most of  this in my studio from memory because as I was painting cars started arriving and parking right in my view. It seems there was a big party going on and everyone was parking at the beach. Always a party in Sherwood Forest.   The pavilion is on the Severn River. You can just make out the bridge in the lower right corner. 12x12in oil on birch panel  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Painting at Eugene Leake's Farm

MAPAPA (Mid Atlantic Plein air Painters Assoc) hosted a very rainy day of painting at Eugene Leake's farm in Baltimore Co.Eugene "Bud" Leake was the much revered president of MICA in the '70's and a formidable landscape painter who sought to tie together both the Impressionist landscape with the  modern Expressionist world. He passed in his 90's a few years ago but his studio and house look like he just stepped out for a coffee. I met Mr. Leake many years ago at a workshop he gave on his farm and he influenced me profoundly. His brushwork was bold. Details did not exist and he took scenery as it was, leaving street signs, poles and wires. He didn't "pretty them up".   He came at the landscape with a moderinst sensibility but  honoring the traditions of the Barbazon painters (pre- Impressionists) and his hero Corot.  

Eugene Leake (detail) 
Leake's Easel 

                                                                     his studio space 
Eugene Leake

                                                               photo by Robert Stark

                                               the down jacket he always wore in the field
                                                                         living with art
              MAPAPA members Michael Gaudreau, Bruno Baran, David Diaz

My work on the easel during a drenching rainstorm. I kept thinking "What would Bud Leake do?" He would just keep painting away and so I did , thanks to a great Utrecht umbrella.   

                                                                my pallete after the storm 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trinity Falls

I found this location completely by chance because I was sitting in front of the Keene Valley post office( the only place that has cell phone coverage) when I ran into a fellow artist who needed to phone as well. She told me about the falls and together we searched it out. This magnificent spot is in the backyard of some very generous folks who let Tim and I come back and paint the following day. Thanks , Hedvig for showing us the way. 8x101n oil on panel

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dawn at Chapel Pond

Caught the dawn light as it came over the mountain. I may move the shadow back up a little. It moved so quickly as I painted. This turned out to be a wonderful painting day. I started with this one and later painted on Johns Brook. Three paintings today!

Painting on Johns Brook

Friend and painter Bear Miller took me to one of his favorite painting spots on the Johns Brook yesterday where we painted all day. The first one iI did was of this crooked tree. It was a small 6x6in piece and I had a lot of fun with it. I think the background needs to recede more so I will play with it when I get back to the studio. The rock painting was a no holds barred barrel of fun. It is larger , 11x14in and I used my largest brush. I created a thick impasto of texture and built the painting rock by rock. Once the paint covers the canvas it is great fun to move it around.   SOLD!  AT THE  MAPAPA SHOW at the Subtl Rebellion Gallery , Abingdon MD

revised version. SOLD

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Island in a Sea of Grass

It's very challenging to paint Plein air in the Adk's. You can go from overcast to bright sunshine and back in seconds. Sometimes little openings in the clouds will illuminate a hillside and you go "oh, WOW!" and you want to paint it in and then it's gone. Decisions must be made. That's why I like to paint small. This little hump of land is a local landmark in Keene Valley. Some say its an Indian burial ground but I got it from the source(Pat Quinn of Mountain Meadows) that it is a KAME , something the glaciers left on their journey back north some thousands of years ago. This feature has been painted by artists since they've been coming up here in the 1800's. The field was once a farm but being state land now, is gradually reverting to forest and wetlands. There is on old barn nearby that is the most photographed barn in the park . We both chose not to do that. I have to thank my painting buddy Tim for picking the spot and getting me out here to paint early in the morning. We had a very limited time (1hour ) so we had to paint fast and furious, the only way to do it.As much as I like painting as a solitary experience , painting with a friend is like running or hiking. It gets you out there when you might be sleeping late or reading the paper. And it"s great to bounce ideas off each other and see just how differend each persons vision can be. We arrived after 7 and set up our stuff and walked around for a vantage point. We set paint to canvas at 8. From there it was a light show, every second bringing new revelations. What do I paint? What do I leave out? I decided to"break the rules" and place the kame dead center. It works in a square, like an island in a sea of grass. 6x6in oil on birch . SOLD

Thursday, July 14, 2011

October Nocturne

Here is another I will be showing up in Keene Valley. I was up there in Mid October staying at the Mountain Meadows B&B in KV and this is the view off the back porch! The small stream flows down to the Ausable River. It was dusk and the sun had just disappeared behind the mountain. It had snowed that afternoon but it all melted away by morning. oil panel 9x12in.

Painter at Hulls Falls

Here is a little painting I did en Plein air last summer of a classic Adirondck waterfalls in Keene Valley. I will be bringing it up to Keene Valley in August for a show. I was out painting with Bear Miller and the seeing reminded me of the landscape paintings of the early 1800's where the painters would include small figures in their landscapes to highten the majestic . Bear just happened to be painting in my foreground so I included him. His painting of the falls is in the Corscaden show. While we were painting we noticed brook trout swimming UP the falls. What I didn't include was the iron bridge directly over the falls just out of the picture frame. That's the romantic in me. Perhaps next time, as a statement. oil on panels Diptych . 6x12 in.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Summer Gallery 2011

40th Anniversary!!!


paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculpture

open Saturday, Sunday, Monday

noon till 6pm and by appointment

58 Beers Bridge way (1.5 miles south of Keene Valley on rt 73)


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chapel Pond

Chapel Pond is aptly named. It is a spiritual touchstone to many artists (as well as swimmers) here in the Adirondacks.You can see me painting over there in my profile picture. My favorite time to be here is at dawn when the sun rises over Giant mountain and a sliver of light touches the tops of the trees and slowly descends down. This morning was hazy and alternating between sun and rain. My intention was to compose the painting with interesting marks that would coalesce into a readable image when viewed from a few feet away.18x18in pastel on sanded paper. SOLD

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Deep End


Heart Lake is a small lake in the Adirondack Mts at the foot of Mt. Jo near Lake Placid. It's nestled in the heart of the High Peaks at the Adirondack Mt Club and makes the most refreshing swim after a day of climbing. When seen from the mountain the lake is heart shaped. I was attracted to the patterns in the water and how the rope led my eye into the distant mountains. The water allows me to play with different markmaking, like with my rocks. I will live with this one for awhile to see if I want to break the shapes up more. 18x26in pastel

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Okatie River SC 9am

I am down in Oldfield, South Carolina painting on the Okatie River. It's early in the morning and the day hasn't reached the 90's yet. It's only in the 80's. The air is hazy, like fog because of the wildfires in Georgia. You can smell the smoke in the air. I painted these on site on two little 8x10 panels to create a diptych. As a composition, I find this preferable to one large panel for some reason. Why is that? 8x20 oil

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Peninsula Series

Over the past year I have been fascinated with a singular part of the Severn River landscape. This peninsula juts out into the river like a crooked arm shielding and protecting what we called as kids the "lagoon"or Brewers Pond. I find it restful just looking at it. It is the last piece of land on the Severn without palatial houses and the last wild place. Some call it "the Green Cathedral" and parts of it are protected. I used to explore and go camping here as a boy and I always loved what the sun did to it at different times of the day , especially at dawn. When I was a teen and trying to be a painter I attempted to paint it and failed miserably because I had no idea how to do it. It was 40 years before I tried again.