So…how do I fix a painting that I don’t like? Easy! I just took the original painting and repainted over every single aspect of it.
The first round (top) was too muddy in the tree forms along the middle of the painting. The mountains, by contrast, were too flat. The greens in the field alternated between frosty mint and pure yellow ochre – only one of which was actually correct. And then there was the sky…the crisp blue sky that served as a reminder to me: unless I am in the Caribbean I am never, ever, ever allowed to use Pthalo blue in the sky.
Road and Mountains : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013
The second time around I used a series of pre-mixed greens (really only slightly dulled down yellow ochre) and slowly blocked in the form of the trees. The field was flattened to get rid of the annoying random chatter. Then the sky was pushed back with a mix of Ti white, cobalt blue, and a bit of a home-made grey to give it that summer hazy feel that I was going for in the first place. There are still some issues with the painting – but miles better than the first time. (also, once again my camera is pulling the greens into the orange family)
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#1. Skull and Teddy. Admittedly this is a weird little painting, but being weird has never stopped any of my friends. 9″x12″ Oil on board.
#2. Field in Lincoln. This is a little experiment with acrylics from last summer when I was out biking. It’s 9″x12″ Acrylic on canvas over wood stretchers.
Acrylic on canvas. 9″x12″ Painted from a photograph.
#3. Fluffy Clouds. Earlier in the spring we were subjected to some crazy thunderstorms and I observed the gorgeous cloud formations in the aftermath. This is a big painting at 16″x20″. Oil on board. (*because of the size this one is pick-up only)
#4. Tree Roots at Jordan Pond. Trying to capture the dappled light coming through the trees. 9″x12″ Oil on Board
Walking around Jordan Pond. Oil on board. 9″x12″ Painted from a photograph
#5. Teddy Solo. This is the most recent painting – a quick study using the Zorn palette of black, white, red, and yellow ochre. 8″x 10.25″ Oil on unmounted canvas.
Zorn Palette Teddy : Oil on unmounted canvas. 2013
This painting is a 1 hour sketch of my little suede teddy bear using the Zorn palette.
Anders Zorn was a Swedish landscape and portrait painter – a contemporary and competitor of John Singer Sargent and Joaquin Sarolla y Bastida. Zorn often (but not always) limited his palette to just four colors: ivory black, flake white, yellow ochre, and vermillion red (I swapped in Cad Red Med.)
Limiting a palette is always an interesting challenge because you are forced to work less on perceived colors and more from value, form, and color temperature. The Zorn palette actually gives you a great range of tones, both warm and cool.
I painted teddy after doing the color chart. My palette was full of all of the mixtures and I think I probably should have limited them even further. Also – canvas paper sucks. Literally. I would put down a brushstroke and it would get sucked into the tooth of the canvas almost immediately. For the next experiments I have added extra gesso to the paper to help seal it up.
Zorn Palette Teddy : Oil on unmounted canvas. 2013
A couple weeks ago I went back to NH to get some reference photos for new paintings. It was a helpful trip – the one downside being that I was photographing at mid-day under a blazing summer sun with virtually no clouds. That translates into a lot of flatness because shadows are dropped directly below things.
This is a small sketch and I’m not particularly thrilled. Something is definitely off with the mountains in the background and I can’t figure out what. The foreground is a little muddy in the use of greens, as are the 3-4 big trees in the front. Probably doesn’t help that I’m red/green color blind. Also – the camera is turning the greens orange again.
It’s been all quiet on the artistic front for a few weeks. One reason is that I’ve been reading and practicing some color theory techniques – more on that in a few days. But mostly I’ve been away from painting because I was out of source material.
On Friday I went back to my childhood home and spent several hours biking around the fields and farms where I grew up taking tons of photos to work from. It was an interesting experience that tugged at a few memories, which is exactly the reason why I’m painting this subject matter to start with.
Below is one sketch from the weekend – a mirror to Field in Winter (same location) and also the finished photo of A Path from earlier this year. It’s been finished for a while, I just hadn’t got around to photographing it.
So I’m not crazy morbid. I just happen to have a plastic anatomical skull laying around and it makes for an easy prop for paintings. (that’s also the reason the teeth look very fake…they are.)
It’s been another rainy Friday finishing up some pieces, including this little piece. I’ve been playing with Liquin as a medium and trying to get a handle on transparent layers and building up a painting rather than the alla-prima style I’m used to. It is definitely interesting, allowing for a lot more control, but a lot less expression. I can’t say I love it just yet.
Liquin is an alkyd medium, similar to the walnut alkyd medium I normally use. While the walnut is non-toxic and shortens drying times it cannot be added in bulk to the paints or it will screw with the adhesion. Liquin can be added and added and added, allowing for lots of transparencies and layers, but it also is a petroleum based product with a definite model-glue type smell. Not my favorite.
The cold and rainy Memorial day weekend turned out to be a great prompt to get some work done. I spent most of Friday and Saturday in the studio and the results aren’t bad.
I was able to finish up the last details on an Echoes painting and add in several new layers on another. I still need to finish up some of the details on the first painting below, as well as think up titles; perhaps the hardest part of the whole process.
Then on Saturday afternoon I went in a different direction by using photos after a recent thunderstorm as inspiration (and an an excuse to play around with Liquin painting medium.) I’m definitely not thrilled with the smell of the Liquin, which is something akin to model glue. But the effects were interesting: a much more fluid painting body, paint that was a tad bit slippery at times, and a greater extension of the paint than I’ve experienced with the walnut alkyd medium.
I’m planning on going back in with the Liquin to explore some glazing techniques. And I picked up a new tube of titanium white because I’ve been getting really annoyed with the transparency of the Permalba (titanium/zinc mixture)
Feeling energized from Open Studios, I spent this whole weekend painting. And a little bit of it working on a chair. But mostly painting.
I finished “A road #2”, and made a lot of headway on two new paintings. I’m very happy with the one below, other than that its a little happy and sunny and I think it needs a wee bit more melancholy to it.
Just finished up Somerville Open Studios and an outstanding weekend! I had about 200 people come through my space. I sold five pieces: two “When These Are Gone” watercolors, one of the “Echoes” oil paintings, and two figure drawings! I gave away dozens of my postcards and business cards. It was a significantly better event than last year.
Probably most important thing I took away from the weekend: incredible perspective on my work. Repeatedly trying to explain my process or ideas in 30 seconds or less really helps crystallize them for me. It’s also interesting to see what types of work people respond to. I put one idea into a piece and that is what makes it interesting for me, but viewers bring their own attachments and responses and will get something completely different from it.
I’ve got a lot of notes to make while the weekend is still fresh in my mind, and then a lot of work to make in the coming months.
Two medium scale (18″x14″) paintings brought much closer to completion this weekend. I grew up playing around the powerlines near my father’s house.
The Pownal landscape was done from a few photos taken on Easter at my brother’s house. I was very excited when I started it. I have grown considerably less excited as it progressed. Painting trees with no leaves on them is hard.
I need to let some elements dry before going back in and adding some details, like the actual power lines.
Here is the most recent iteration of the Barn. I added on the canoe, some details along the windows on the red side, cleaned up the tree and bushes on the right, fixed the sky a bit, and added some depth to the trees on the right. I hope this is the final version Time will tell.
I’m still using my dad’s barn as inspiration for some paintings, but I’ve moved outside this time. I took some photos when I was visiting before Christmas. The low winter sun caught the barn just as we were returning from a walk. I keep thinking it’s finished, but I still want to go into the painting and fix things. The left side of the painting feels a little empty, but I didn’t want to paint in the teal Subaru thats parked there in real life. (and yes, the barn actually is red on two sides, raw barnboard on the others)
Untitled 18″x14″ Oil on board. 2013.
Also, this weekend I did a little experiment with drawing/painting. I used another photo from New Hampshire for reference. The medium is oil thinned out with a ton of turpentine so as to give it a real washy, watercolory feel. Good lord you need some real ventilation when working with that stuff! I’m overall happy with the result, but completely not sure what its about or where it’s going. It feels a little like the ink drawings I did in Fables, so maybe it will lead back in that direction soon enough.
Stream Painting : Oil on gessoed paper. 18″x24″ 2013
Worked on another barn painting today, and whipped this out after to use up the leftover paint. Not bad. Kinda random. I might go back once everything has dried. This was all gobbed on there so it might be a few weeks. Sorry for the glare bouncing off the paint – its tricky to find good photo light in the studio.
The old barn at my dad’s house – where I grew up – has always been a place of mystery and exploration for me. There is something very evocative of the geometry of the beams, the varying levels of height, the walls perforated by shafts of sunlight, which bounce around and illuminate.
I’ve been working on this imagery for a little while, and while I’m not sure if these paintings are exactly what I’m looking for I plan on spending more time with the subject matter.
When I get busy or lazy I use Moleskine sketchbooks. When I get bored with those I make my own. This is one that I had folded the pages down ages ago, but never got around to actually sewing until a just a couple weeks back. Here it is glued up before I stick it in the press for a few days to dry out.
The construction is a hybrid Bradel binding that I developed and love. The covers are a folded thick watercolor paper that is edged along the spine with thin red leather. The covers are sewn onto the text block – as though they are signatures – with a double-needle coptic stitch. Then the cover is glued shut on itself which creates a fairly stiff, but thin board, and all of the knots from the sewing are hidden inside. I cover thin boards with a material and past them onto the thin boards, and then turn in the edges over both.
This was constructed with Strathmore 400 drawing paper, waxed linen thread, and red leather, with boards covered in a re-purposed vellum document from 1822 and red french-marbled paste downs.
Here is the book all glued up in the boards before going into the press.
Coptic-Bradel hybrid with red leather and vellum over boards.
I pasted the vellum text-side in, but the translucency of the material allows some of it to show through.
In a week when its good and dry I’ll pull it out of the press and start using it.
Walking around Jordan Pond. Oil on board. 9″x12″ Painted from a photograph
Swan’s Island. Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2012
Worked on three paintings today. The first was finishing up the telephone pole in the painting of the road on Swan’s Island. The second was tweaking the tree and the roots painting. I’m still not thrilled with it, but I think it’s gone beyond the point of being fixable and should just be a lesson learned. And finally I did actually make new work – this is from a photo a couple years back when I hiked the Precipice trail on Mt. Pimetic, and ended up with an awesome view of Cadillac Mt.
I’ve been working on oil paintings lately just as a kind of exercise. The paintings are mostly done from photos taken during my vacation up in Maine. These are the two newest. I really like the painting of a road on Swan’s Island. The second is from a walk around Jordan Pond. I really liked the way the roots were twisted and overlapping. Neither one is finished just yet.
I took the photo in the post below back in July when I was training for a century (it was great) I painted this from the photo. Its in acrylic on canvas and its okay. Some of the colors are a bit off in the clouds. I’d like to try again in oils when I get the chance.
Acrylic on canvas. 9″x12″ Painted from a photograph.
So I’ve been training for a 125 mile bike ride in September. Training eats up a lot of spare time: basically an entire weekend day, plus 4-6 hours during the week. I haven’t had much time to work on art, but I have seen some inspirational things on the rides. This one was too beautiful to pass- I had to stop and take a picture.
Usually when my doorbell rings, I ignore it. Most likely it’s takeout food for my upstairs or downstairs neighbors. So last night my doorbell rang shortly after I got home. I did answer the door this time and HOLY CRAP – it was a guy who had seen my work at Open Studios and tried to email me, but the email went into the spam folder and this guy came back to my house to ring the doorbell to buy FOUR of the “When I Am Gone” series.
Open Studios is just around the corner: May 5th and 6th. I am # A 36 on the map, with a shuttle stop less than a block away. I suppose now is the time to start making my space a little more presentable!
Here is a link to my Somerville Open Studios page.
The first real time I have a memory of making a painting was when I was 9 or 10, using a combination of house paint, tempera, watercolors, and pencil…basically anything I could get my hands on in the garage.
However, my mom just gave me a box of old papers she saved from when I was a kid, and it turns out I started my artistic journey much much younger. Below are three self portraits – the first of which was done when I was FOUR (and 1 month, thanks to my mom’s note keeping)
As you can see I wasn’t really big on accurate representation at the time…
We see ‘pigeon’ as a mass. Each one is so similar to the other that it may as well BE the other. When we look at pigeons we rarely see individuality. For some reason I am drawn to pigeons (aesthetically speaking, I don’t want to have one as a pet or raise them.)
On these two occasions I saw pigeons huddled in the rain, feathers fluffed to stay warm and as dry as possible. I snapped quick photos with my cell phone and did the drawings from them. They are silverpoint on paper, from some time in 2006. Approx. 5″x9″
Despite being clueless that registration ended on January 31 I was still able to finagle a way into participating in Somerville Open Studios! Hooray!
On Saturday and Sunday May 5+6 I will be showing work. Still not sure if it will be at my house, or at a shared studio space, so stay tuned.
The link to my profile page is here.
Normally I use Fridays to work in the studio and clean up the house. Today I had family in town and we ended up going to the newly added-on-to Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It was lovely but you can’t take photos.
I did manage snap these three during different parts of the day, and thanks to Instagram they look semi decent.
I know it’s a week late, but things get busy. Last week was Valentines day. Most people either love it or hate it. I’m indifferent. I don’t think one 12 hour period of time counts more for my declaration of … Continue reading →
It’s 9:30 on a Thursday and I’m having a glass of wine and listening to some music (The Album Leaf) and sifting through some old drawings I had scanned to see what’s worth posting. I have dozens and dozens of sketchbooks filled with old figure drawings but I feel like throwing some naked men up on the screen is a cheap way to drive traffic.
So cheap it is!
I used to attend a figure drawing session nearby that was borderline legit. Which was fine, some of the sketchiness (no pun intended) appealed to me, and the models were generally very good. Unfortunately the host of the group let it devolve into a shit-show, so I ended up not returning. However, I did get some good drawings, including one of my favorite models: Edward. I have some sketch pages of him, and a nice finished drawing that is very reminiscent of the Barberini Faun.
As some of my friends know I’m rather enamored with the idea of fences. They pop up in lots of my work – from physical sculptures, to drawings, to photographs. Sometimes they are metaphorical, sometimes they are just plain real.
I’ve been working on a large drawing for the Lost series which incorporates one of my favorites: chain link. I love the durability, the industrial aesthetic, and the airy perforations which all combine to say “you can see through, but you can’t get through.”
A snippet of the larger drawing which is going ever so slowly.
Fence Progress detail
And a page from my sketchbook with a test run of the fencing:
These are a few old figure drawings I found while digging through some old sketchbooks. As you can see there are definitely some proportion issues to be worked through. Most of these are from 2005-2006. When you click a thumbnail it will pop up a carousel. Click the ‘permalink’ button for more details about the image.
My plan is to update the sketchblog periodically through the week and make major updates as larger pieces are finished. I was digging through some old sketch-books and found this drawing from 2006. It seemed apropos for the first posting. It’s one of the first finished drawings I did in silver-point. I had a thing for pigeons at the time.