Wednesday, September 24, 2008


By the Sea
Oil on Panel
Image 9 x 12 - Framed 13 x 16

You never know what's going to happen when you paint en plein air. Sometimes bad things happen. Like the time I tried to paint some cows resting under a beautiful old oak tree. As soon as I started painting they all got up and came over to the fence to watch what I was doing. Or the time I was painting an oncoming storm. I decided I was about to get drenched so I packed up to head home. Shortly after I got everything in the car a magnificent rainbow appeared, too late for me to get it into my painting. But sometimes good things happen, like when I was painting By the Sea. It was a rather uninteresting overcast day but I decided to paint anyway. As I neared the end of my sketch the clouds parted just a bit, just enough for the wind to caress the sea and whip up a bit of surf. Then the sun made a brief appearance, kissed the rocks, and disappeared again. It gave the scene an exquisite, subtle liveliness. Delightful. Sometimes good things happen.....

The Painting of the Month is a special offer to my blog readers (click on the image for a larger view). This month By the Sea, which retails for $1400, is being made available for $900 (includes shipping, VT residents add 6% sales tax). To purchase this piece contact me at Payment is by check only please, no credit cards. If you prefer you may make 3 monthly payments. This offer is available for 30 days from the date of this post.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

24 x 30 Oil on Linen

Still Life? I think not. Anyone who has tried to paint nasturtiums knows that they are anything but still. Action life, moving life, flowing life, rhythmic life, maybe. The first day everything seems great, the vine is doing an exotic dance, there are a few buds waiting their turn to open, the leaves are fresh and lively. You cheerfully start your painting, a flower here, a leaf there, place the vase and the pear, a few touches for the drapery. When you come back the next morning, however, your arrangement is barely recognizable. The little leaf that grew so nicely to the left has doubled in size and now turns to face toward you. The lovely blooms that were the focus of your piece have drooped to the tabletop. The bud that you were waiting to paint has not only fully opened but is hidden behind a fresh leaf. Everything on the right hand side of the painting has turned abruptly to the left, seeking out the light from the window. This is either a disaster for the artist or an opportunity. I chose the latter. Instead of copying what was in front of me I was liberated to pick and chose the most exciting moments of each day. Rather than rush to finish before it all moved again I anxiously waited to see what the next day would offer. My composition took on a natural liveliness. I was able to paint what happens over several days rather than capture one moment. Still life? Well this time it was more life than still.....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Any Given Sunday
36 x 52 Oil on Linen

Football season has begun. I like football. I thought of a few different ways to approach a post about this painting. The convergence of old master technique and contemporary subject matter. A commentary on texture in painting, the challenge of painting pizza and cardboard boxes, aluminum beer cans, nylon jerseys and faux pigskin. The importance of abstraction and balance in a still life. But this painting isn't about any of those things for me. It's about football. It brings back fond memories of my youth. Playing with my cousins in a clearing in my grandfather's orchard, later with the neighborhood kids in the narrow alley behind our house. I didn't like organized sports but enjoyed playing on an intramural team with my friends in high school. Growing up outside Philadelphia I would sit with my dad and my brother and watch the Eagles every Sunday. I still like to watch the games. It relaxes me. It's a kind of meditation. While others might concentrate on their breathing or employ some other meditation technique, I find watching a football game very relaxing. I generally could care less who wins or loses and most of the game is, quite frankly, rather dull with only an occasional exciting play. But it's familiar and comforting. It clears other thoughts out of my head and then replaces them with, well, nothing. Mental junk food, which is probably why pizza and beer go so well with the game. It's not profound or lofty, it doesn't nourish or enrich my life, it doesn't make me a better person. I just like it. So to my fellow football fans...this painting is for you.....

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Silver Bowl
34 x 30 Oil on Linen

I think of my palette as my piano. The colors are arranged from white to black. Each artist can use whatever colors they like but should set them out as if they were the keys on their piano. White at one end followed by the next highest color in pitch, or value as artists call it, then proceed down through the middle range of colors and finally the darks and then black. It would be impossible to play the piano if the keys were not arranged in a logical way and you couldn't find the note you want to play. So it is with painting. It is impossible to mix the color you want if you don't know where it falls on the scale from white to black. Mix your light colors at one end of the palette, keep the richness in the middle, play the dark notes at the other end. If you can control your palette from light to dark mixing color will be as easy as playing scales. At the end of the day your palette will tell you how well you've painted. If it is beautiful and organized and harmonious then your painting will be too. If your palette is a patchy confusing mess then your painting will look the same. Someone recently sent me this quote from Robert Henri, "Dirty brushes and a sloppy palette have dictated the color-tone and key of many a painting. The painter abdicates and the palette becomes master".....