Thursday, July 23, 2009

Early Morning
8 x 10 Oil on Panel

In the previous post I noted my dislike of "capturing a moment in time." In freezing time, even to relish the moment, one takes the chance of forgetting the past or losing sight of what is to come. When I went out to paint Early Morning it was misty, very misty, foggy. There was no view to paint. I could barely see what was 50 yards in front of me, but I love mist and fog and atmosphere and mystery so I proceeded to paint a clump of trees on a nearby hillside shrouded in a thick cloud. It was marvelous. Large arboreal ghosts appearing and disappearing, making silent entrances and exits. Then within minutes the sun burned off the fog and revealed the identities of the actors. Now the play was over, my subject changed and a new play had begun. I could save my little misty masterpiece and start a new painting or change what I was working on and make it into a sunny morning sketch. I was not happy with either option. The misty version seemed unresolved and the sunny option too stark. I needed something in between, those few moments when the sun was burning off the fog. Leaving some of the fog reminds us of how the morning started and picking up some of the sunlight points to the day ahead. The painting is not a snapshot of a moment but tells a story with a past and a future. The future however is not fully revealed, the story is not finished, and we can delight in the anticipation of what is to come.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Summer Storm
Oil on Linen
Image 20 x 30 - Framed 27 x 37

Beethoven. Symphony No. 6 in F Op 68. The Pastoral. Fourth Movement. Gewitter, Sturm. Thunderstorm. Allegro. The great composer wanted his symphony to be "a matter more of feeling than of painting in sounds." To feel, to engage, to experience. I rather dislike "capturing a moment in time" in my paintings. Instead I would like the viewer to take in the whole of the storm. To feel the first few drops, watch as the sky darkens and the winds push the clouds and drive the rain, hear the thunder and fear the lightning, to know the relief of the sun finally breaking through. To expect a rainbow to appear if they look at the painting long enough.....

The Painting of the Month is a special offer to my blog readers (click on the image for a larger view). This month Summer Storm, which retails for $4800, was offered at a discount and purchased by a reader. Next month a new drawing or painting will be offered.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Rain
8 x 12 Oil on Panel

When you live in Vermont you are surrounded by snow for a good part of the winter. White is everywhere. One day last February I had an intense desire for color. I pulled a small panel from the racks and decided to paint a landscape, a summer landscape. Storms have always fascinated me but are rather hard to paint from nature. There is the fear of being drenched at any moment as well as the fear of being struck by lightning. So I often watch storms from a safe and dry distance storing up information for just such a moment as this. The painting was there in my head, all I had to do was transfer it to the panel. No reference photo, no pencil drawing, no plein air sketch, just me and my memory and my imagination. It started as a great storm, dark on the horizon, clouds racing through the sky, trees bending in the wind. I worked on it for an hour or so from time to time over the next few weeks while continuing with my larger paintings. As the days passed by and my color anxieties eased so did the storm in my painting. The wind gradually died down, a bit of sun broke through, and the fierce storm turned into refreshing rain. But I still had that great storm in my head so I went back to the racks and out came a larger canvas.....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The class at the League goes from September through May. It focuses on portrait and figure painting but also includes still life, composition, color, drawing, pretty much anything that has to do with indoor painting. But to be a well rounded artist you must also be familiar with the principles of outdoor painting. DuMond was an avid fisherman and, I am told, took students with him on his fishing/painting excursions to Nova Scotia. After he bought a small farm in Old Lyme, CT he invited students to join him there. When Frank took over the class he took his students to Lubeck, ME to paint seascapes. By the time I came along the class was meeting every June in Stowe, a beautiful skiing community in northern Vermont. We would meet 3 times a week for critiques and work on our own for the rest of the time. I've moved the class to southern Vermont to the town of Pawlet, a good place for the class for a number of reasons. First, I have my home and studio there. It is a farming community which echos the DuMond's Old Lyme class. And finally it has long had resident artists and is comfortable seeing them along the roads. Ogden Pleissner, a former DuMond student, and Jay Connaway both lived there. Pleissner was famous for his sporting art, especially fly fishing scenes, and Connaway was a great landscape painter known for his big bold brushwork. So for the past month we dotted the landscape with french easels and pochade boxes at all hours of the day and often late into the evening. Obsessed with greens and blues and light and atmosphere. Before long we will all be back at the League again, obsessed with bones and muscles and structure and form.....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I painted these peonies from my garden on a Monday, early the next morning Frank passed away. I think it would have made him happy to know that a few hours later the landscape class was out for a sunrise crit. The tradition continues. Elizabeth and I attended his funeral service in New York on Saturday. Colleagues, clients and friends filled the pews of the beautiful Grace Church in lower Manhattan. Many of his former students were there, arriving from Pittsburg, Nashville, New Orleans, even Venice, as well as neighboring states. There was a large number from Vermont where Frank and Anne owned a house for many years and where Frank taught his landscape class. We all said farewell to our old mentor then met at the Salmagundi Club to share our memories. After the reception Elizabeth and I walked down to Chinatown for a bite to eat with my old roommates and dear friends Bill and Kim Darling and 4 of their 8 children. It turned into a rather jolly meal and, unwilling to part with them again so soon, we decided to walk back uptown with them. It was a pleasant, sunny day but there was a sudden late day cloudburst. We found shelter and when the rain stopped continued our trek uptown. As we walked along there appeared rainbow after rainbow. Finally we stopped and looked back downtown to see a particularly intense rainbow. It was right over Frank's studio. We were all thinking the same thing, it was obviously Frank showing off his new palette.....