Weekend Update

This weekend I worked a little bit on the Travelers series.  The layering and underpainting take a really long time – then they need to dry thoroughly before the next layer of painting can go on.  I usually work a few paintings at a time.  I’m working one from early May, and below is the start of #5.

I also did a short study of some oak leaves as an exercise.  The drawing needs some work, and the highlights of the leaves came out wrong, but most everything else I like.

I start on a pinkish background with a careful drawing.  And then slowly build the underpainting up from there.

I start on a pinkish background with a careful drawing. And then slowly build the underpainting up from there.

untitled : Oil on board. 8"x10" 2014

untitled : Oil on board. 8″x10″ 2014

Acadia Painting 5/5

On the last day of vacation Lance and I once again went to the loop road and climbed out on the rocks.  It was the perfect, beautiful, sunny way to end a long relaxing, exciting, art-filled week.

Otter Cliffs : Oil on Board. 9"x12"  2013. painted on site.

Otter Cliffs : Oil on Board. 9″x12″ 2013. painted on site.

Best of all, I got a great painting out of it and I learned that, when standing in direct sunlight, your colors are probably darker than you imagine 🙂

Also, there were a few other sketches that I did from around the island.

The Rocks at Seawall : Pencil. 5"x7" 2013

The Rocks at Seawall : Pencil. 5″x7″ 2013

Upper Hadlock Pond : Pencil. 5"x7" 2013

Upper Hadlock Pond : Pencil. 5″x7″ 2013

Some Notes on Waves : Pencil. 5"x7" 2013

Some Notes on Waves : Pencil. 5″x7″ 2013

View of Little Long Pond : Pencil. 5"x7" 2013

View of Little Long Pond : Pencil. 5″x7″ 2013

View From Beech Mountain : Pencil. 5"x7" 2013

View From Beech Mountain : Pencil. 5″x7″ 2013

Acadia Painting 2/5

So before August of last year I hadn’t done much oil painting since I graduated college in 2002.  As Lance and I were packing for Acadia in 2012 I decided, on a whim, to bring along my old box of oil paints and some masonite panels.   The first full day of vacation Lance and I hiked along the edge of Somes Sound – the fjord that cuts up the center of Mount Desert Island.

After a few hours of hiking we cut down to the water level and I decided that if I was going to paint, that was the time.  It was awkward and windy, and the first result was clumsy, but it started me down the path to where I am today. (click photos to enlarge)

Somes Sound : Oil on masonite.  9"x12" (NFS) Painted on site.

Somes Sound : Oil on masonite. 9″x12″ (NFS) Painted on site.

Last week I revisited the spot to repaint it on the one year anniversary.

The Flying Mountain trail winds along the edge of a steep embankment a few hundred feet above the water.  The trail is literally cut into the rock face in parts, and offers dramatic views up the Sound and across to Nuremberg and Parkman Mountains.

Setting up my easel on the edge of Flying Mountain. 2013.

Setting up my easel on the edge of Flying Mountain. 2013.

I was able to get a glimpse of my original painting site (the nearer of the two points on the right), which was under water due to the tide, so I decided to stop where I was, perched on the edge of a giant granite boulder tumble, and set up my easel.

I spent about 2 peaceful hours there.  Almost no sounds except the occasional boat motoring up the fjord. I spotted an osprey hunting below me, and was visited by a remarkably curious/fearless red squirrel.  The resulting painting perfectly captures the late afternoon feeling.  It’s a little sweet, and the water on the right side got muddied with some stray orange, but overall I’m happy with it.

Somes Sound Overlook : Oil on board. 9"x12"  2013. painted on site.

Somes Sound Overlook : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013. painted on site.

Earlier Tuesday morning Lance and I had gone to Sand Beach, on the eastern-most part of Mount Desert Island.  The beach is a tiny channel with steep cliffs rising on either side, and a stunning view of the Beehive Mountain directly behind it. I spent a good amount of time sketching the cliffs.

Looking out from Sand Beach : Graphite 5"x7" 2013

Looking out from Sand Beach : Graphite 5″x7″ 2013

Looking North from Sand Beach : Graphite 5"x7" 2013

Looking North from Sand Beach : Graphite 5″x7″ 2013

Looking out from Sand Beach : Graphite 5"x7" 2013

Looking out from Sand Beach : Graphite 5″x7″ 2013

Acadia Painting 1/5

August is incredibly busy at my job, and the month ended with a much needed, and much enjoyed vacation to Acadia park in Maine. For those who are unfamiliar Acadia is on Mt. Desert Island – a weird and beautiful place, complete with dramatic mountains, rugged cliffs jutting into the ocean, gorgeous boreal forests, a fjord, and truly breathtaking views.

It is a landscape that inspired artists such as Edward Hopper, Frederick Church, and Fitz Hugh Lane. And me. I brought along my painting kit and my sketchbook again this year and spent 5 of the seven days making art.

First up is Seawall, painted on Monday morning.   Seawall is a cobble beach on the lower east side of the island, staring off into the Atlantic ocean and the outlier islands. Across the road are tall, eerie pine forests and quiet marshes.

Painting the ocean is challenging.  It’s always moving.  It was foggy one moment, and sunny the next.  By the time I finished drawing, mixing colors, and started painting the rocks in the bottom of the painting had half vanished under the tide.  An hour later they were completely submerged. And, of course, the composition is a little bland, with the horizon cutting just about halfway through the painting.   But still, it was the start of a very productive week!

Seawall : Oil on board. 9"x12" 2013. Painted on site.

Seawall : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013. Painted on site.

A panorama of the marsh behind Seawall beach.

A panorama of the marsh behind Seawall beach.

Graphite studies of the rocks, waves, and vistas of Seawall beach.  5"x7" 2013

Graphite studies of the rocks, waves, and vistas of Seawall beach. 5″x7″ 2013

Sketchbook drawings

A pair of small drawings from my sketchbook.  I usually do a value/composition drawing before I start a painting.  First is the house across the street in the glow of a streetlamp.  Second is a prep drawing for my last painting.

House in Streetlight : Pencil 3"x4" 2013

House in Streetlight : Pencil 3″x4″ 2013

















Farm Drawing : Pencil.  3"x4" 2013

Farm Drawing : Pencil. 3″x4″ 2013


Open Studios Take Away

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.

When I am Gone (number 17)

When I am Gone (number 17)

10 Landscape Sketches

These are little thumbnails I do as warmups before actual painting.  I usually work from photos on my phone and the corresponding sketch is about the same size – usually in the 3-4″ range.

Kinda, sorta finished & a new experiment

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

Stream Painting : Oil on gessoed paper. 18″x24″ 2013



Some random old sketches.

Every now and then I flip through my past sketchbooks and discover things I like that I had forgotten about.

Box Drawings

Box Drawings. Colored pencil on colored paper. 6″x9″ each page. 2005 ish.

Fisher Skull Drawing

Fisher Skull Drawing. Colored pencil on colored paper. 6″x9″ 2005

Stairs and Snow

Stairs and Snow. Silverpoint on colored paper washed with gouache. 6″x9″ 2005 ish.

The Old Barn

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.

New Sketchbook…almost

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.

In a week when its good and dry I’ll pull it out of the press and start using it.

More Pigeons

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″

More old stuff

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.

Fence Progress

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:

Fence Test Run

Old Figure Drawings

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.


Sketch-blog lift off!



2006 : Silverpoint on prepared paper. 9" x 9"

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.