Monday, December 17, 2012

Birchbark Raku Vases

To create these "Ichibana" Raku vases my goal was to evoke a sense of birch bark not build a "fool the eye"  representation of a birch tree. I pressed thin slabs of clay onto and around a birch log I  collected from a downed tree. I pressed the clay carefully around sawed branches and other imperfections. I reversed the slab, pushing out the branch parts and slapped them around a cylinder. I did not want to disguise the fact that they were clay slabs so I left edges and torn ends. After bisque firing I used a liquid wax to paint anything I wanted black. That would be the branch parts and the little specks that are on natural birchbark. Glaze will not adhere to wax and those areas would turn black with smoke. I glazed the outside in a white crackle and the inside with a copper glaze.  After the reduction firing I got copper flashing along some edges, and coppery greens on the inside. It has an "abstract expressionist" sense of a realistic  artifact. Walking through the woods in the Adirondacks you see downed birches everywhere. The bark looks like this, torn, imperfect, ragged and beautiful.    The vases are from12 to 14in. tall

Raku Vessel #1

A rather large pot, 12 in diam. 10in tall. hand- built,slab,coil and pinch method with a raku black glaze. Very light, less than a lb.


That's me on the left. In order to know when to pull the pots out of the kiln you actually have to look inside to see how the glaze is settling.

 I have been taking a break from painting for awhile and exploring  my interests in raku pottery. Pictured is the small gas kiln ( I used and the pits where the vessels find their color. A Raku firing is an interesting process. It originated in Japan with Zen monks and stresses natural forms and the accidental and spontaneous. American Raku was popularized by Paul Soldner in the '50's when he dropped a molten pot in  the leaves by accident . When he covered it up to put out the fire he found rich colors and metals came to the surface of the pot. What happens is when a hot ,glowing pot is taken out of the kiln and placed in a bed of combustables flames happen. The pit is covered and the fire consumes all the oxygen in the pit. In an oxygen free atmosphere all the metals in the glazes come to the surface (called a reduction) to create copper and silver shines as well as black crackle lines where the smoke gets into the surface. It's also great fun. I believe Raku translates roughly to mean "Party". Pictures of the actual pots will follow as soon as I take them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Waterfall Meditation

 Today was unseasonably warm. In otherwords, a beautiful late fall day. I was working on the previous painting in my studio and I thought "I gotta get outside. This might be the last nice day of the fall" So I got my Plein Air kit and went hiking with Maggie the dog up the Little Gunpowder River. If you park on the Balt.Co. side ,just over the bridge and hike upstream for about 15 minutes and turn left when you cross a stream there is this terrific waterfall. Actually it's the lower half of a larger cascade. Even though painting a waterfall is terribly cliche, I find it incredibly restful and stimulating( if one can experience both at the same time) being streamside and trying to capture moving water. What a great day.  10x10in oil on board.  

Acton Cove, off Spa Creek. Annapolis

 I was walking in Annapolis one afternoon near West St. and came upon this scene that  reminded me so much of a Sisely painting that I thought I would attempt it in similar impressionist style. The day was slightly overcast so I put a lot of  very pale complimentary pinks and blues in the sky. 11x15 pastel  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Along the Boquet R.

 A river study painted along the Boquet River in Keene Valley NY. My favorite spot in a forest of Hemlocks. Rainy, overcast day. 10x10in oil on board

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Maggie in the Woods

 Spent the morning painting in the woods with Bear Miller. This waterfall is right behind his house in the Adirondacks. As I was sketching it Maggie laid down in the foreground.  Had to paint her. 9x12 oil

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Noonmark Mt (from Ausable Club)

 As you drive to the trailhead to start your hike up Noonmark Mt. the road takes you through the Ausable Club where you can glimpse the peak. 12x17in pastel  SOLD 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Marcy Field

 This is just one of the grandest vistas in the Adk's. Marcy field is actually used as an airstrip. On Sundays this field is the home of a terrific farmers market.The little white house has been renovated and now  serves as a gallery for the High Peaks Artists of Keene Valley.  SOLD at High Peaks show

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Pond

 A little reflective plein air on a hot day. 11x14in oil

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Keene Valley House

 I have painted this house many times because of the way the morning and evening sun hits it.  It has become such a wonderful study in light and shadow and summarizing the landscape. I take away as much as I can, for instance, no lines for clapboards. It's a small painting that I do with a big brush (#4 or #6).  10x10in oil on board.  SOLD

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pines at Oldfield

 A little Plein-Air piece from the balcony of my sister's little house in Oldfield SC.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sous Bois

 Painted plein- air in the hemlock forest along the Boquet River in both oil and soft pastel. 8x10in  

Back Country Condo

 Saw this old VW bus at the Hostel in Keene Valley. All week you would find it at different trailheads. These guys were all over the place.  It was a bit of a rust bucket but well loved and you could tell well traveled. I used to have one myself in the 70's.  I painted Noonmark behind it as if it was down on Marcy Field. This fits into my "icon" series.    9x12in oil on panel    SOLD

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Island in a Sea of Grass II

The finished version is just a little different. I added some leafy plants in the foreground.
 Working out some issues with pastel. Using them like paint sticks. Making marks, underpainting, layering colors, in other words, having a good time. Not finished yet.  12x18in pastel on Wallis paper  

Evening Chimes

  This is a little warm up drawing I did quickly because I wanted to play around with a blue sky.  9x12in pastel   


 The view from Ampersand Mt. I was attracted to the pools of water on the mountaintop echoing the shapes of the lakes in the distance as well as the painted blazes leading you into the picture. But most of all,How do you draw that incredible granite texture?  16x20in pastel

Monday, May 28, 2012


 I've painted Chapel pond many times in oils, it's my spiritual home in the Adirondacks, but never in pastel. Pastels really lend themselves to getting that seamless color of water that you can only get with glazing in oils. Right here the sun has just topped Giant Mt and has begun its passage down the sides of the mt.  I am experimenting with about a half a dozen blues, layering them, blending with fingers, brushing out with a stiff brush and scumbling. Still some more to be done. I enjoy getting lost in the process. 14x13 3/4 pastel on sanded paper.  SOLD

Dreaming of Noonmark

 A little Memory picture of Noonmark Mountain. I will be there in just a few weeks. 8x10in pastel  SOLD

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chapel Pond

 Working on this painting of one of my favorite places in the Adirondacks, Chapel Pond.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Indian Mound

 A Keene Valley landmark,this glacial erratic sits out in the middle of a large field and has been painted by artists for over a century. I like how the light hits it at different times of the day, like Monet's haystacks. Just messin' around  from memory with pastel sticks. 8x10in pastel   SOLD

Sunday, May 13, 2012

View From Thorsby

 In 1923 my grandfather bought a small cottage on the Severn River abput 12 miles north of Annapolis in a Summer community called Sherwood Forest. The house was sold in the '70's and remodeled and re configured extensively. My sister and brother-in-law were able to buy it back and now the family is back on Thorsby Hill again. I did this plein air piece on a painting excursion with Bear Miller on a brisk, windy day in early spring (Easter monday,to be exact) The trees were just starting to leaf and they were this electric green that only comes in the spring. We were standing on the edge of the bluff painting with one hand and holding our canvases with the other.  I dashed this very quickly as the shadows moved down the side of the house.I painted the view, Bear painted me painting theview. If you want to see his rendering check out his blog over there on the right.  8x10in oil on panel   

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mill House

 This stone house is at Jerusalem Mill. I lived just over the hill in the background back in the late '70's when it was in private ownership. It now belongs to the state.  I finished it off with more leaves in the upper part but framed it for a show before I got another shot. I posted it just for the record. What facinated me was the play of light on the stones and foreground.  18x26in pastel on sanded paper.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Evening Walk

 Around 7 pm the setting sun creates long shadows that eventually engulf these two little houses in KeeneValley. This is the first time I painted the presence of my wife and self into the picture. We walk by these buildings every day. I am experimenting with what pastels can do as opposed to oil paint and I love the way you can layer colors. 
8x10in pastel on black rag board  SOLD

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Trinity Falls

 18x26in pastel on sanded paper

   Last summer I painted a small Plein Air sketch of this famous little falls in Keene Valley. I completed this studio painting using the sketch as a guide. Two artists I know have painted this falls and I wanted to create my own interpretation. I built up this image with many layers of marks and smudges trying not to be too realistic but it happened anyway.  

Cairn on Crow Mt.

Big Crow is a small mountain with a super view. We climb it every year. At the top someone had built a small cairn to mark the top. Stylistically I wanted to create a piece made up of small dashes of color like the Impressionists instead of flat planes of color ala Porter or Katz.  Seeing the Van Gogh show "Up Close" in Philadelphia gave me a new respect for his genius and the way he applied paint to canvas. I also discovered that there was a name for subject matter that Van Gogh and other 19th and early 20th cen painters explored when they went into the forest to paint. It was called
"Sous-Boise" Into the woods.    16x20in pastel on board. SOLD

Friday, April 13, 2012

Art Show for Earth Day

 The flyer for this years show. I will have 25 pieces to show this year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chapel Pond reflection ,revisited

 I reworked this drawing from a couple of years ago with my new soft pastels and it seems more finished.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bud Leake's Barn II

 Experimenting with soft pastels on a black surface. A local framer("Fast Frames", very nice people) donated some centercuts of matboards that they were going to recycle to my school. I wanted to see how they would be to draw on before I gave them to my students and I really like the results. They are smooth with just enough tooth to work with soft pastel. Not as good with hard pastels. This surface is a very thick black core black matboard. 8x10in pastel    SOLD   

Severn WIllow

  My mother tells me that my father proposed to her by this willow tree in 1950. She tells me every time we pass it, one of the reasons I was really keen on painting it.When I am lucky enough to visit  her home on the Severn River I try to wake at dawn to catch to morning sun. The painter Michael Barre says that willow trees are some of the hardest trees to paint. That's probably because they are so wispy and difficult for the paintbrush to pull off. I was hesitant to attempt this myself until I started fooling around with these very soft pastels.  By gently rubbing the side over a rough surface (black mat board, in this case) I found the textures made really seem to create the illusion of the feathery nature of the willow. 8x10in. terry ludwig pastels

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Heritage Tomatoes

 The Farmers Market is starting up  this Saturday. I worked this one from a photo I took last year. I really like building up patches of colors. Let's face it. I don't do smooth. I will live with this one for a couple of days and smooth out some of the rough edges maybe. but I am amazed by the colors of these Non supermarket tomatoes , and the taste, oh boy , I can't wait for Summer. pastel 11x14in     

Barn on Cromwell Bridge Rd.

 I was out hiking with the dog in Cromwell Park  when I caught this incredible blue shadow cast on this barn. It gave me a chance to try out these new Terry Ludwig soft pastels. They're like drawing with sticks of butter but I'm getting the hang of them.   pastel 11x14 in.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Crab Feast

 Working on a big pastel tonight. It's getting close to steamed crab season and really wanted to do a painting with absolutely NO green in it. Had my first soft shell last week. I was wondering how I could paint all that crusty Old Bay and had a grand time just layering the colors. No attempt to paint smooth realism. Just layering those patchy squiggles.  Love that Cadmium! 18x24in pastel  (work in progress)   

Sunday, March 4, 2012