In the counties of the Upper Delaware Rive and Catstkill region of Pennsylvania and New York there are thousands os once productive farms lying idle. Some are abandoned. Some are still occupied yet unproductive. It's an evolving economic and demographic condition. In this painting I've tried to create an end of the day and season image the may also represent the end of an era. Where I grew up in Northeast Massachusetts there were a many farms that had survived from colonial times. Over the past 40 years they have been developed leaving little evidence of rural life. Sadly that phenomenon is accelerating in the region where I now live. But there still is great beauty in the land. And in the spector of those who loved and worked the lands.
This is a painting of the Cookie Jar. The cookie jar that sat on the kitchen counter while I was growing up. We didn't have a lot but we did have cookies. My mother was a fabulous baker. The cookie jar was always full. Oatmeal, molasses , wheaties, chocolate chip, sugar, all kinds of wonderful made from scratch cookies.I can see that little knotty pine kitchen with the latch cabinets and covered cake dish. Where there was always a freshly made cake.
Recently I was cleaning out a shed and found it full of a clan of mice living in the at cookie jar. Eggh! I 'washed it out good', popped insome freshly cut Peonies and painted it on a 12 x 9 rough canvas.
A finished sketch really. Just enough to write the story of Ma's cookie jar.
Skinners Falls is a river landmark along the Upper Delaware. A quiet pool transitions to a fast run and drop. Slush ice doesn't build up here. Is grows here and collects downstream. This interpretation of Skinners, named after the early log rafting pioneer, is a favorite summer haunt. In winter is is the home of Eagles.
My friend Judy Bodman has been urging me to make some Lino cuts. She is a print maker after all. So finally I took her advice. I bought a cheap introductory kit. After a few stumbled starts. I made this small print of my dog Patch. This is the first proof.
Need to clean it up.. Very happy with the result.
This painting was intended to be a one session Alla Prima. That was 5 months ago. It turned out to be about 10 sessions. Is it even done now? It's a scene of the of Delaware River where Calkin's Creek spills into it in Milanville, PA.
This piece is from a photograph I took several years ago. I waited for the sun to fall on the church community for an hour in sub sub freezing temps. It's far from perfect. Far from a tight render. Somehow It didn't want to be rendered. So many things just don't need to be rendered like others things need to be. Feeling, sense of place, time ?
I did this a one of Peter Fiore's workshops in May. I found nothing but encouragement to go down this path. Thank you Peter, Barbara, Judy and all the other participants in the workshop.
The study has it's own charm. I really like this. Could this be a new direction.
It's been a while since i posted here. It's not because I haven't been painting. I haven't been painting in my studio. The last four paintings I've done in the studio I really haven't liked. At all. 2 have been sanded down to the gesso. I have been painting most every week with Johan and Judith. Making some progress there. This is the latest. Not thinning my paint at all. Tomorrow we should be finishing this but I may want one more week.
Catherine Week 2 March 2017
I have found myself being very cheap with my paint. Even washing my oils like watercolors. The frugal New Englander in me or the watercolor artist clawing for recognition. Either way is hasn't been rewarding. Over the past few session of life painting I've made a conscious effort to use mor paint and slow down. I't's working.
Last weekend I attended Peter Fiore's workshop in Milford, PA. I brought one of the paintings that i was hating, "North of Skinners', for a critical look. Peter is a masterful painter and a great teacher. In about 1 minute he got me on track. I even got another a study done for another piece. I'm pleased with it. It only goes to show that sometimes you need a hand. Check out his site here.
This is three weeks of painting effort on the last pose. The pose lasts 1 more week but I 'll be in the city. I'll work on this in the studio over the next week. It is intentionally not a polished realism. It is an exercise in neutrality even exaggeratedly so. When I painted with watercolors I thought of neutrality as earth tone thing. Making grays from colors mixed with various earth toned pigments. These neutrals are created with compliments. The effect is a lot like my acrylics from the 70s, transparent layers that created neutrals achieved unconsciously.
This is a continuation of my last post on finding a non-pose pose. The chosen pose. This is week two of over painting efforts. We have a good mix in our group. Johan Sellenraad a long time local artist transplant from NYC. We work in his studio along the Delaware River in Millanville, PA. Johan makes big, Subaru sized, paintings of canvas in a strong confident style full of reference. Judith Reeve paints with a expert feel for the figure and gorgeous approach to color.
Over the past several years this has been a tremendous education for me. The simple length of time that we have painted together has allowed me to observe and absorb knowledge and attitude that has helped me along my journey. Please visit their web pages to find out more about Johan and Judith.
At our weekly long pose painting session, every Thursday for 3 hours, it was time to find a new pose. Johan likes to find poses that are interesting and not posey. These are the quick 2 to 5 minute poses I did while we searched for the pose. I used grey pastel on bristle plate. Our model Cathrine strikes poses as naturally as breathing. I like all of these gesture pose sketches.
This is the 'non-pose' that we decided on. Not a real expressive gesture but very strong and complicated. Again in chalks.
This is the first session in paint. I'm working on a 24 x 36 canvas. All the colors are roughed in. The drawing needs some adjustment and the color has to be warmed. More next week.
In my previous post of a pair of peaches I took s step in a different direction. Less polish more essence. The juice not the skin of the fruit maybe. This painting of Hickory nuts from the tree in front of my house are the next tippy toe movement on that path. Finding the balance in space. The ground. The harmonious colors. Applying the paint loosely. Scrubbing it out letting it tack up. Repainting the accents and minimal detail. Gently dusting the focus out again. Again applying paint even more sparingly. I think the result is more real than the polished apple realism that I had achieved earlier this year.
In my next post I'm going to elaborate on this by first by going back to my earlier post of my on my journey into realism.
Here's the thing. I haven't been happy with my studio painting for a while. This last month I was painting a boat painting from a photograph. Not a bad photo but hard to in interpret. I thought it would be a good idea to paint a little still life from the real thing. While i was shopping today I bought a couple of peaches to paint this evening. This afternoon I had put the boat painting in a drawer. Maybe in a year or so I'll think its great but it really sucks. What the hell am I doing trying to paint a boat photographed on a overcast shitty day. I think I'll weld that drawer shut.
On to the peaches. I painted for a little over 2 hours. A long time for a small painting and I wasn't even near the end or happy. I started wiping areas repainting them with the same unhappy result. Did I mention that I'm a little over realism. I mean what does it show? That I can copy a photo or a set-up. Big deal. After two or three partial wipes I'd had it. I wiped the whole damn thing and I love it. I smoothed some stuff out. and signed it. To me its reality maybe not realistic but certainly real. The colors are peachy. the light is alive. It has energy and expression. And best of all now I can eat the peaches.
For most of my life i've worked from photographic reference. That's how we were taught back in illustration classes. Of course Life Drawing was a important part of art school but the vocation thing was working from photography. Your own or more than likely others that you collected and categorized in you personal morgue files. The public library even had morgue reference files that you could search. All to much like office work for me. I abandoned reality for humorous imagination while still in school. Somehow relying of morgue picture wasn't a funny idea. Even though I worked from my imagination, working from photos was a big part of my process until 2012 when I left the work world. The first thing I did was mine my collection of thousand of photos subjects to paint. The second was find opportunities to paint from life. I found a weekly life drawing session that was and hour and ten munites each way. I went every week like clock work. It saved my life as an artist.
Since then I've found several other life drawing opportunities closer then the hour ten. Working from life allows you to see in dimension to create and understand space. Every week I paint with Johan Selenradd, Jim McGinty and Judith Reeve. All three incredible and different painters. I learn something new every week, color, composition, space and form. Even the importance of painting just to paint for myself.
The above painting of our model Catherine down over two weeks about 4 and a half hours of painting time. We did two posses combined on 1 canvas. Just great fun. It's unfinhed and will remain so.