Friday, December 23, 2011

Ice Skating
18 x 20 Oil on Linen

In rural Vermont fire safety is a bit problematic, there is no such thing as a network of fire hydrants. What many people have instead is a pond nearby that can easily be drained by the local volunteer fire department. Our house has one such pond. On our first Christmas here Elizabeth bought me a pair of ice skates. While she sat by the fireplace reading her new books I went out to clear the new snow off the pond. If you get to the snow before it starts to melt you can create a perfect skating surface. My timing was just right so we bundled up with scarves and gloves, laced up our skates, and headed out. It was crisp and cold with a bit of a breeze. We glided and talked, marveled at the passing clouds and paused to watch the white tailed deer bounding across the neighbor's field. When we went back inside, all aglow with rosy cheeks, Elizabeth made hot chocolate and we enjoyed a few Christmas cookies. I turned on the radio. The weather report said to be cautious going outside, to not stay out too long, with the wind the temperature felt like -30! Since then, when I can time it just right, we like to have friends over for impromptu skating parties. It always reminds me of those charming old Dutch paintings, and I couldn't resist painting one myself.....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sunny Afternoon
9 x 12 Oil on Linen

I often ask my students to tell me their thoughts about the piece they are working on. Not that I don't have my own thoughts, but it clues me in to how they are thinking as they create their paintings. Recently one of my best students, who was working on a nude, said he wasn't sure if he had gotten the leg right. Yes, I replied, it looks a bit dull and lifeless. Well, he said, I saw more light there but I didn't want it to compete with the big light on the torso. There's your answer I replied, you've taken a negative approach. You painted the leg so that it would not be something. Wouldn't it be better to paint the leg so that it expresses what you want it to say rather than what you don't want it to do? Let it live, let it take its rightful place in the painting. If nature has blessed it with light then express that with joy and confidence. It is always better to approach your painting, or any part of your painting, with a positive attitude, "this is what I want to have happen here", rather than negatively, "I don't want this to happen here". When you paint a negative thought you tell the viewer "don't look at this". When you paint the leg in its full glory you say to the viewer "come, celebrate with with me, for we are sharing something amazing".....