Thursday, March 25, 2010

On the Easel

Not sure where this is headed but it's almost finished.

Monday, March 22, 2010

White Mtn painting rained out. Cold spring days demand painting by the fireplace.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Grande Dame

One never tires of viewing her.

Rest for the road-weary. Early bed tonight for a full day painting en plein air in the White Mountains.

White Mountain Excursion

I find myself here at the gorgeous Mt Washington Hotel to meet artist Robert Van Vrankin, a new friend, for dinner. The hotel, which opened in 1902, is one of the last of the great "grand resorts." I don't know where I'm staying tonight (at $180/night and no "artist rate" it isn't likely to be here!), but I am jazzed to strap my travel easel to my back and to paint out in the Whites tomorrow.

Friday, March 19, 2010

To the White Mountains!

I'm thrilled to learn that I will be staying with my Chester College colleague, psychologist Stephen Soreff, at the legendary Balsams grand resort this summer. Stephen and I will be presenting our program, The Adventure of the White Mountains in Art, Literature and Experience.

It's an hour-long participatory program in which I provide a synopsis of the history of White Mountain art and artists, while Steve and his partner Peggy draw audience members out to make connections between the classic literature of the transcendentalists and their own first-hand experiences hiking and enjoying the Whites.

We've already given the "show" twice to great audiences, once at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Joe Dodge lodge and, earlier this month, at the Highland Center at Bretton Woods (the food there is just incredible, btw). Each time, we spread the distinctly American gospel of the spiritual-experiential apprehension of "wildness" in nature and the art that captures and celebrates it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


It's spring break at the two colleges at which I teach, Chester College of New England and New Hampshire Institute of Art, and my wife Anna is celebrating life on the West Coast, so between entertaining Max, I'm (almost) getting a chance to catch up on some long 0ver-due to-do's and (gasp) painting some new things.

This one, called "Moonlight," is 8x10 and destined for Bowersock Gallery in Provincetown.

I am going back to some of my earliest modes- tonal landscapes of mood and suggestion. I'm in love with the half-tones and the shadows. I will be exploring the outer boundaries of representation in this mode, and I plan to see what I am able to express even while pushing these paintings into abstraction. I long to soar large on these. But I'm starting small first so that I can create numerous canvases in which to try out a greater number of variations in method and idea.

"Old Master" Orange

I've been loving studying "old master" techniques using still life subjects. I'm using a limited palette, in this case to create a Caravaggio-like "tenebrism" - i.e., dark, almost featureless backgrounds with highly contrasting, strongly directional lighting of the main subject. Applying several glazes of translucent paint layers lets me build up a glossy surface into which light passes and bounces back out, creating a luminosity that seems to come from within the painting. This luminosity is one of the advantages of using oils, so I figure might as well take the time to do it and let the medium be its best self once in a while.

I've done apples, pears, grapes, and lemons using these techniques. This particular still life is 4x6. It's a commission, along with a matching pear that I'll be starting on next. I love doing these! When they work, it's like a spiritual experience of a little piece of nature fixed inside a frame. I will probably be doing these for the rest of my life.