My winter vacation was a great time to get things done. For about 9 days I had free rein to paint, organize, cook, clean, think, read, and learn, and play a lot of Boggle with Tim. There were also trips to Harvard Art Museums, perusing Instagram and Youtube for knowledge/inspiration. And pie.
Here’s a run-down of the art stuff:
Untitled (Surface Study) : Oil on wood. 8″x10″ 2016
1) Revisited the gold candy with the dark background. The candy paintings have been on a white background, giving them a bright, almost clinical appearance. I wondered if using a black background might change the feel. It did, and I don’t immediately love with the look. After looking at the painting for a couple weeks I pushed the background darker. I also lightened up and solidified some of the highlights and added a glaze of Indian Yellow over the transparent foil ends. All steps in the right direction. (sorry for the truly shitty photographs – a new camera needs to be in the future)
Untitled (Dreams Study) : Oil on wood. 8″x10″ 2016
2) Painted a can on a black background. Again testing the idea of darker backgrounds for the solo objects. I like this one better than the candy. I also went back in after it was dry and glazed some of the reds to make them pop more. This is using a direct studio lamp to light the model instead of daylight as on the past cans.
Echoes : Back field : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2016
3) Painted a path. This was one of the reference shots I gathered at my father’s house over Christmas. It seemed a bit too precious to build into a full size painting, but it made a nice exercise in color temperature in the snow. I also worked on simplifying/massing the backgrounds of the trees, rather than paint each individual branch.
Untitled (Substance Study) : Oil on wood. 8″x10″ 2016
4) Bake pie, paint pie, eat pie. Prodding the idea behind the Substance series I expanded from donuts into pie. Mostly because I had pie in the fridge. Surprisingly challenging to paint the simple surfaces without seeming boring. Not quite as colorful, but I think Wayne Theibauld would enjoy.
Overpass Study : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2016
Snow on my palette
5) Freeze my f**king ass off. At the Harvard Art Museums I came across a Monet painting of a snowy road with the quote: “We glimpsed a little heater, then an easel, then a gentleman swathed in three overcoats, with gloved hands, his face half-frozen. It was M. Monet, studying some aspect of the snow.”
It was inspiring and on my return home I bundled up and attempted to capture ‘some aspect of the overpass.’ It was actually a lot of fun. The cold definitely takes a toll on your cognitive process – about halfway through I forgot how to use color temperature. Then the snow started. I really like the left side – I may cut it down to a 6×9″
6) Work on a sunny landscape/beach scene. Which, for reasons I cannot discuss I cannot yet post.
untitled (Dreams Study) : Oil on wood. 8″x10″ 2017
7) Painted a can on the white background with direct light. The direct light on the model significantly changes shadows and highlights. It may be what I use for the larger scale paintings.
8) Annual New Year Studio Cleanup! Lastly, I spent January 2 cleaning up and streamlining my studio space. Fresh start to a new year!
It’s been a couple weeks since my last post – not because I wasn’t painting, but because the painting wasn’t done. I’m planning another larger scale landscape painting and I spent a week working on a smaller study. It was helpful in assessing the areas that will be challenging on the larger scale: keeping the ground transparent and textured, being aware of temperature relationships, and figuring out how to paint a goddam tree without leaves on it.
I’ve also been ramping up my landscape painting in general because I go on vacation NEXT WEEK! We’ll be back up in Acadia park and I will be scrambling over hill and dale trying to find a place to paint. Every year past has followed a similar routine: the first day out painting is like learning to ride a bike all over again -usually resulting in a wasted day/painting.
This week I did a one-half-plein-air painting of the billboard next to my house through an open window. And yesterday I put on my go pack and biked out to the Charles River to complete a mediocre painting. Just as predicted above it was a bit of starting from scratch. Hopefully that will all be gone by the time I get to Maine.
untitled (tree in field, study) : Oil on wood. 12″x18″ 2016
untitled study. Oil on wood. 6″x8″ 2016
untitled study. Oil on board. 12″x9″ 2016
As some folks know Lance and I moved at the beginning of July, and both the build up to it and the aftermath have been quite intensive. Suffice to say there hasn’t been much time for artwork.
However, after a month in the new apartment I have my studio set up and I have finally finished some painting!
The past two weeks have been devoted to the Echoes series, something I’ve strayed away from last year. I stumbled onto Russian artist Isaac Levitan who’s work is truly inspiring for landscape painters. His work provided an emotional touchstone and inspired me to rethink where I want Echoes to go.
I pulled out some reference material and returned to a field that I’ve painted in some smaller pieces. This time I went larger, colder, and tried to balance the mix of impression and realism. I’m quite happy with the result. What do you think?
untitled (winter field) : Oil on linen. 24″x36″ 2015
One of the (few) benefits of the recent barrage of snow storms is that I’m stuck inside being productive. I’ve spend several weeks now working on another one of the larger landscapes. This one is about 3’x2′ and was fun and challenging to work on. The larger challenges are still controlling the color temperatures and working more loosely. All in all they are fun and stimulating!
The next piece I work on will have much more sunlight and warmth – I need it after all this snow!
untitled (woods II) : Oil on canvas. 44″x30″ 2015
Please note: I’m a lousy photographer and these larger paintings are exceptionally difficult to shoot properly! I’m sorry for the lousy image quality – but it will have to suffice until I get these professionally shot.
Im very fortunate to have some of the Echoes series showing/up for sale at Simon’s Too in Cambridge. It’s a cozy little coffee shop just outside of Harvard Square.
Simon’s Too : 983 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA.
Neil hamming for the camera
Me making things level.
The final shot of the Echoes wall.
The final shot of the big painting.
I hope you’ll stop by and take a look. And definitely try the coffee!
A peek at something I’ve been working on a for a while. This is the next in the Echoes series. It’s a little different than a straight landscape, but I like it a lot. Once this layer dries I’ll be able to go in and tweak a few details here and there, and clean up some areas, but overall I like the direction this is heading.
work in progress : Oil on board. 16″x20″
Last night I stepped into the studio for a quick landscape sketch. I’ve been thinking a lot about Andrew Wyeth (having just finished his biography) His father NC Wyeth used to tell him “paint the massive forms”. It seems odd, given Andrew Wyeth’s propensity for detail and texture, but it’s good advice nonetheless.
The sketch was done in an hour, from drawing to finish. It’s obviously rough around some edges, but I’m quite happy with the overall feel. Definitely more painterly than my usual work.
Also, in rearranging my space I stumbled across this painting from a last year. I’d posted a preview of it, but it never appeared in finished form. It’s a little heavy on the saturated greens, but I still think it’s a nice little painting.
Winter Field Sketch : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2014
Access Road : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013
I started this painting a week or two ago. I’ve jumped up to a larger size: 16″x20″ and I like the flexibility it allows in painting greater detail if I want. It also takes more time – I think I’ve spent 3-4 sessions of 3-5 hours each on this painting.
The source material is from my last NH trip, and I was really trying to capture that oppressive summer day. There may be a few details that need tweaking as I move forward but I think it is 99% finished.
An Old House : Oil on board, 16″x 20″ 2013
A quick oil sketch of a marsh near my dad’s farm. Im working on a larger piece that’s taking a bit more time to complete. This was done with some of the leftover paints on my palette to keep them from going to waste. I did it unless the hour and I’m quite pleased with the results.
I haven’t been able to beat the heatwave we’ve been in for the past couple of weeks. Its tough painting when it’s 95 degrees. I paint in rubber gloves, and after about twenty minutes the sweat is trickling from the gloves down my arms. Nice, huh?
Despite the oppressive temperatures I did eek out this painting. I spent a lot of time mixing the base colors for the greens, the greys, and the blues ahead of time. I think that definitely clarified a lot of the forms.
It’s one of the small size paintings at 9″x12″ but it feels much more finished than a sketch. I may come back and revisit this idea on a larger scale. Hopefully the heat will have broken by Friday when I get some free time again.
Road and Farm : 9″x12″ Oil on board. 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.
Road and Mountains : Oil on board. 9″x12″ 2013
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.
Field in Summer : Oil on board, 9″x12″ 2013
A Path : Oil on Board, 14″x18″ 2013
Just got a new easel set up in my studio! Much sturdier than the aluminum travel easel I was using.
And I’ve almost finished a new painting! Part of the Echoes series. Mostly happy with the result, but as always I can see areas where I’d improve it.
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.
Progress made on a small painting of Swan’s Island. Hopefully it will be ready by Open Studios next week!
Swan’s Island Road #2 : 9’x12″ Oil on Board