Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Chinese Chime" oil 16" x 12"

This is one of my favorite studies, and one of my paintings that I am keeping in my own collection.  Over the years, there have been a few paintings that I know I will keep.  Sometimes it is the time, place, event, a memory, perhaps, that motivate me to keep a painting.  I love this painting for its complex simplicity, and for its edges, and because every stroke has meaning, which is always my goal.  I try to get my idea across with as little detail as possible, but lots of information.

 You can see the combination of hard and soft edges, and the brushwork, thick and thin paint.  

Thanks for looking, and Joyful Christmas!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

"Rupert" watercolor & ink 6 x 8

This month's theme for Girls Just Wanna Paint is "birds".  Several summers ago, we met a gull on Monhegan.  Of course, there are hundreds of gulls on Monhegan, but this one had a very distinctive square head, and markings, and showed up day after day on our deck. We named him Rupert (no idea why).  Rupert has good lines, and looked lovely in the late afternoon sun.  He spent one summer with some viridian green on his head, which I guess he found on an artist's palette on our deck.  One of the things I love about Monhegan is watching gulls fly from east to the west side of the island each morning, a distance of about a half mile, then back again in the evening.  I think they must nest in the nooks and crannies of the cliffs each night.  Their cries are synonymous with salt, sea, sand... 
See the rest of this month's challenge paintings here.   As always, thanks for looking, feel free to share.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thayer Skyline and Current Exhibition

What a wonderful show opening tonight at Thayer Academy in Braintree.  Lots of friends (and new friends) came out to say hello. Lots of laughs and good conversation.  The show is hanging through December 18th; hope you'll come by to the Gallery in the first floor of the Southworth building.

And, here is my completed "Thayer Skyline"  11 x 14; hanging in the show.  

"Thayer Skyline" in process 11 x 14 oil

 Thayer Academy is a beautiful school in Braintree, MA.  Our Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge group is exhibiting in the lovely Thayer Gallery (1st floor of the Southworth Library) until Dec 18th.  Come see us at the opening, Nov 21 from 5-8pm.  

Here are the first three steps in my painting "Thayer Skyline", completed version on exhibit in the show.  I painted over an old floral study.  Sometimes I enjoy the puzzle of forming a new image over an old.  The underlying ground provides an interesting tone to the board.  The campus has a lovely shape, brick on brick and iconic tower.  I'll post the finished version later this week. 

Thanks for looking, hope to see you at the opening Thursday, Nov 21 5-8pm.  Come by to introduce yourself, say hi, have a bite to eat, and  take a look at our more than 100 paintings.

See you then. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Are You Free on Thursday?

Our painting challenge group has a show opening this Thursday night, November 21st, at Thayer Academy in Braintree.   We are a group of 12 local professionals who paint in response to a monthly challenge theme, and have been doing so for over four years.  The challenges are posted on the 1st of each month on our blog, Girls Just Wanna Paint

Please come see our show, a mixture of challenge paintings and our own larger works.  Come say hello, see our work hanging together in this beautiful space.  We'd love to meet you.

 The gallery is in the lower level of the Southworth Library on the Thayer Academy campus.  (See the arrow below.  You can park off Central Avenue.)  

Looking forward to seeing you.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Over Oberman's" - A Friendship, and A Swap

Over Oberman's  oil
 When we started visiting Monhegan Island ten or so years ago, I began visiting artists' studios.  On the walk down Horn Hill is a small fragment of shingle wedged in between a smaller couple of supporting sticks. The shingle quietly announces: "A. Simon  Tue, Thurs 2-4". It has an arrow.  Hmmmm.  Is there a Simon somewhere in there?  Man or woman?  And, where?  

The arrow points to a grassy knoll, with wonderful view over the village.  A. Simon.  So, I followed the arrow, and found a gap in a hedge.  Stepping through revealed a lovely old house, and studio perched on the side of the hill.   Turns out A. Simon is Arline Simon, of Yonkers and Monhegan Island, wife of artist Moe Oberman. Her work is exciting!  And, though my family moved from New York when I was of pre-school age, Arline's quick wit and accent felt like coming home. 

Tam's Notch by Arline Simon
Soon after, I began my Arline Simon collection with a striking image of Manana which I cherish. Visiting Arline in her studio has become one of the highlights of our Monhegan visits. 

This past summer, I was admiring one of Arline's pieces.  She and I talked about a trade.  Arline and Moe planned to look at my site to choose something, but didn't have a chance before we were heading off Island Saturday morning.  Just before the ferry pulled in, Arline came down the hill and handed me a bag containing her painting and a bouquet of wildflowers. (Tradition says, flowers given to you as you leave the island mean you will return.)  So moving.
With Arline at the dock

 We communicated this fall about completing our   trade, but hadn't yet succeeded when an invitation  arrived for Arline's semi-annual show at the Upstream Gallery in Dobb's Ferry, NY.  Long story a little shorter, I did a painting of Arline and Moe's home from above on the grassy knoll; we headed off to New York to surprise Arline at her opening, to see her new work (which is striking!), and to complete the exchange.  So glad we did.  Arline and Moe were so surprised!  We also had a chance to meet Jerry Vis,  to see his wonderful work and talk about his process.  Great weekend all around!
With Arline at Upstream Gallery

Monday, November 11, 2013

"The Tower" 6 x 6 oil

The Thayer Academy Tower, seen from the back across some rooftops.  I love the H.H. Richardson-esque tower with its graceful bricks in shadow, with the slate roofs in the foreground.  What a beautiful campus.
My painting group, Girls Just Wanna Paint, has a group show at Thayer Academy from November 18 - December 18, with an opening reception on November 21 from 5-8 pm. We are putting the final touches on our work, and hanging soon!

As always, thanks for looking.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

"Makeup Quiz" 6 x 6 oil

The Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge for October was "makeup".  Makeup.  I use it once in a while, but wanted a different take on the idea.  My October was filled with college applications, middle school math, and Red Sox proceeding through the fall to win the World Series.  I considered a "make up call", and realized I was a little too entrenched in the baseball games, and the late nights.  I opted for "makeup quiz", that time many of us have spent in a minimally populated room, trying not to rush, but feeling a little out of synch and out of rhythm.  These three are doing a great job concentrating... wonder how they fared? 

By the way, my classroom looks nothing like this sensory deprivation chamber; I have tables that fit two or a crowded three students.  My walls are covered with maps and posters, and visuals.  I love the space, albeit a little small.  Thanks for looking at my work, as always, love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

"With Sprinkles' oil 8 x 6

It was my turn to choose  for September's Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge.  I chose "with", to the perplexed looks of my fellow painters.  However, prepositions can provide very interesting subjects.. through, in, over, under.  I like them all.  

There is a lovely spot in the next town over where they make their own ice cream, and stay open until Halloween! That's unusual here for an outdoor eatery. There is an iconic pink truck parked out front and the spotted dairy cow motif is prevalent.  I like the west-facing window, and the affect of the low sun late in the day.  My daughter's friend ordered Pumpkin Oreo the other day.  Most ice cream shops needn't create fall flavors, but this one does.  I took a bite, and it was delicious, all those hints of nutmeg, cinnamon that a pumpkin pie has.   

After bouncing the theme of "with" around in my head for awhile, "with affection", "with aplomb", "once more with feeling!", I opted for "with sprinkles".  Check out the rest of our challenge paintings here.   Thanks for looking!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Sketchbook - Hometown Icons

Two recent drawings of local landmarks from my sketchbook.  The Historic Winslow House up top was built circa 1699.  it is a beautiful and graceful structure, with a long and fascinating history of occupancy by Massachusetts governors, judges, lawyers, doctors.  The house has been owned and maintained since the 1920's by the Winslow House Association.  My husband and I enjoyed our wedding reception there twenty years ago.  It has a summer season, open for tours, and is worth a visit.

The next drawing is the annual Festival of the Arts Gala at North River Arts Society in Marshfield Hills.  Each Memorial Day weekend for the past 37 years.  The Festival opens on Friday night of the long weekend with a grand party on Old Main Street.  The Festival photography exhibit is now held in the newly renovated Firehouse, pictured here.  

Exciting news!  These two drawings are going to be included in a time capsule coordinated by the Marshfield Historical Commission to celebrate their 100th anniversary. The capsule will be buried on October 5 and retrieved in 25 years!  

As always, thank you for looking, comments always appreciated.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

"Salt, Sea, Sun" 6 x 6 oil

This month's Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge was "ritual".  Usually, when I hear the challenge, a thought jumps into my head... not this time.  I mulled over daily rituals, the difference between "ritual" and "routine". Then I thought about annual rituals, seasonal, occasional.  We read "Night Before Christmas" every Christmas Eve and each open one gift, a ritual my family has carried over from my home as a child.  Yes, we use the Arthur Rackham illustrated version of the poem. His illustrations are beautifully eerie and convey the magic of that night.

Back to ritual...  My conclusion is that there is something spiritual, or centering, grounding, about ritual vs routine.  One dictionary definition is "a ceremonial act or a series of such acts".  I love to rise earlier than my family on weekends, sit with coffee and my book on the porch - that's a ritual.  I feed the kittens, and provide fresh water each day - more of a routine. The idea of spirituality and centering brought to mind my annual summer sojourn to the rocky coast of Monhegan, where I sit on the rocks, surrounded by sea, salt, and the sun, painting what I hear, taste, smell, and see and even touch.  It is a ceremony, a ritual, in which I joyfully participate. 

   Here are the other GJWP challenge entries.  Check out these interesting and varied takes on "ritual".  

As always, thanks for looking.  Love to read your comments.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On my easel - "Sakonnet Boats"

I spent a fabulous recent afternoon with my good friend Kelley MacDonald in Rhode Island.  We meandered down along the Sakonnet River past beautiful farms rolling down to the water, fields of hay bales, cows, lovely antique homes, intriguing shops and intersections.  She and I painted at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, the southernmost spot on this gorgeous Rhode Island peninsula. 

I painted over an old painting start, which I do on occasion.  The shapes below the new painting are interesting, and much like a jigsaw puzzle, I enjoy watching the forms emerge gradually

Painting on location is about managing  the moving target in front of you, whether changing shadows, crashing waves, pedestrians meandering along the sidewalk, or boats turning on their moorings and sometimes motoring out of your view altogether... such a blast.  Sakonnet Point Harbor has a lot going on for a small place.  I designed the painting to lead the viewer's eye from the bottom up and through the harbor, out between the jetties to the distance, hard to visualize in this early stage but that's my plan.

  While I was searching for an image or two of Sakonnet Point so you'd have an idea where we were (see the big red arrow on the right), I came across this beautiful painting by Worthington Whittredge, second generation of Hudson School artists. Kelley and I drove along this exact topography, narrow passage (now paved) with the river on one side and quiet ponds on the other.  I wonder if Whittredge heard similar sounds of lapping waves, gulls calling and children laughing as he painted.  

I'll post the finished painting shortly.  As always, thanks for looking.  Comments welcome - I love to hear from you. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bat house, Birdhouse and icons

Recently, I designed a lesson for my young Art Studio class.  We talked about symbol vs reality.  Road signs are a great example.  When you see a sign for "Deer Crossing", do you see every eyelash on the deer?  Every nuance of fur and hoof?  

All of the students gave examples of symbols that they come across in their lives: birthdays, Red Sox, holidays, poison, danger, electricity, product recognition, superheros, etc.  We had a blast.  Then we created symbols for Halloween and constructed lanterns using the silhouettes in heavy black paper atop yellow tissue paper.  Drop a votive inside (in a jelly glass, with parental supervision) and you have a very cool Halloween decoration.  Yup, a lesson where we got to cut paper, right up my alley!

I resurrected the motif for a birdhouse I painted for my local art association's recent fundraiser.  Fall IS just around the corner.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Boston Public Library, city driving, and Joan of Arc

It's summer, which provides time for exploring, meandering.  However, it's August, time is getting short before the school year begins, so my daughter and I added a little multitasking to this week's meandering.  She is a relatively new driver so we headed into Boston to practice some city driving before spending a little time at the Boston Public Library studying in its glorious reading room.  

We love the Boston BPL.  What's not to like? Grand scale, Sargent murals, nooks and crannies jammed with visual sumptuousness, a glorious reading room filled with people who are working quietly, and a hushed, awed demeanor by the myriad tourists.   The building is filled with energy.   
We discovered the BPL's enormous Joan of Arc collection on a recent visit.  The bulk of the collection was donated by Cardinal John Joseph Wright of Pittsburgh in 1976.   Here's an interesting post about it from a children's literature point of view: 10,000 Ways of Looking at Joan of Arc.  And, I was thrilled when my internet research this morning turned up a beautiful book by a friend.  Look at "HERetic: Joan of Arc" by Dorothy Simpson Krause.  It is a fascinating, stunning, beautiful, virtual flip book.   

Great morning spent in Boston.  Good driving practice, she was very calm as the driver, I less so as the passenger.  The Library was fantastic, and we're heading back on a regular basis.


Friday, August 02, 2013

"Manana 4 PM" sketchbook

 Every day, weather permitting, the Balmy Days II ferry from Boothbay Harbor offers a 30 minute tour around the Island here.  It remains one of the best ways to spend $4 that I know,  I cruise the Island's circumference this way several times each week we are here.  It's a nice demarcation in the day, and a way to connect with my family and friends.  We now have a short hand, "2 o'clock?", which translates to "Would you like to organize your day, as I'll organize mine, and meet at the dock at 1:45 to ride around the Island with me?" 
This post isn't about the tour, it's about after the tour earlier this week.  We dispersed after the ride, and I headed to Swim Beach with my sketchbook.  Artist friend, Kevin Beers, was hanging out in the rocks, painting Manana, and I settled in for a few minutes, which turned in to two hours of painting side by side, and chatting about Monhegan, life on the island, life off the island...  it was a splendid afternoon. Not sure how long he'd been there when I arrived, nor how long he stayed after I departed, but at about 4 PM he swapped paintings and began working on his "4 PM painting". The shadows descend down Manana as the afternoon progresses so working a couple of paintings during an afternoon as the light to shadow ratio changes is a great plan.  

 When my mother painted for a few weeks each summer in New Harbor, Maine, she routinely had several paintings in progress and chose her day's destinations according to the weather, and the angle of the sun: 2 PM on the Sheepscot River if sunny, else Kresge Rocks, 8 AM in Christmas Cove if sunny... and so on.

My watercolor sketch is Manana sporting its 4 PM pattern.  I rummaged in my sketch bag for a fine point permanent marker which eluded me, so used a water soluble fine point instead.  When I added the watercolor, I couldn't use any washes as the marker would run, so it was an interesting exercise in staying "in the lines" so to speak.  What a great afternoon!

Oh, and here are a couple of photos of a flock of cedar waxwings congregating in the tree off our deck last year.... just because.

Thanks for looking.  As always, your comments are welcome.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

"Exodus" oil 8 x 11

Each summer, as we leave Monhegan Island, I take a photo or two of our party taking the last walk down to the dock.  There's something appealing about the consolidation of belongings, and the unified energy of departure.  It has been a decade now, and I know I'll be taking a few more photos when we leave again in a couple of days.  

This month's challenge topic for Girls Just Wanna Paint was "travel".  These three girls are traveling,  about to embark on another leg of their trip ... over the last rise, down the hill, onto the ferry and back to the mainland, paved roads, pace quickening and heading home.  Is that technically, "untravel"? Unravel, unwind, rewind... back again.

  Thanks for looking.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monhegan Harbor - unintentional geometry

This morning, my daughter and I were sitting with scone and coffee at the local dock.  She and I chatted and looked at the water, with ferry comings and goings, seagulls, even a couple of lovely young French children with toy swords battling their way up and down the dock a la Erroll Flynn, calling to one another, "Viens ici!" and other phrases I couldn't discern with my decades-old French training.

Then, we both looked closely at this sailboat in the harbor.  I'm hoping you can see it in these photos.
The lines extending from the top of the mast to the bow are aligned exactly with the shift in rocks behind the boat.  From our distance of across the harbor, it read like an illusion, or, for the fantasy reader, like a portal, or horcrux.  The diagonal of the rope is also the demarcation of darker rock and lighter rock.  This is a perfect example of unintended geometry that you must observe and manage in your own paintings. Don't allow an arbitrary arrangement of geometry in your subject create a disconcerting note or passage in your painting.

Step away from your painting frequently, looking from a fresh perspective.  You'll catch false notes, and fix them.  I would have designed with a shortened section of the paler rocks, allowing the line, or implied line to travel up through the darker rocks.  Or, you may decide the angle of the rocks which replicates the geometry of the boat's lines, may make a terrific painting.  My friend Nancy Sargent Howell, uses a technique she calls "prisming" in her paintings.  She sees them, and extrapolates.  See how she uses the subject's geometry in "Laundry and Lines" below.

So, what's the takeaway here?   Go for it. Make your decisions actively, not passively, with your eyes open, with intentionality!  You are the master of your two-dimensional replication of the 3-dimensional world.  Winnie the Pooh says, "Be ware, be very, very ware."  I suggest a slight modification to Pooh's advice, "Be Aware. Be very Aware."
Thanks for looking; feel free to share.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Over View" 9 x 12 oil Monhegan

One of the reasons I love the New England coast is its topographical variety.  Up, down, around, in, out, over, under... the foreground and background constantly shifting in their relation to one another, providing a myriad of exciting views. 

Remember all those Hanna- Barbera cartoons where the Flintstones, for example, were driving in their car, and the background was zooming by?  The foreground was moving at a different pace than the background and conveying speed.  I was fascinated by that relationship of the front and back when I was a child.  Still fascinating.

"Over view" is a painting from up behind the Monhegan schoolhouse, looking out at Manana and the mainland 10 miles distant.  Walking along Monhegan's coast provides that same fascination.  Every couple of steps provides an entirely new arrangement of foreground to background.  So exciting.

Thanks for looking.  Feel free to comment and to share.

Oh, and here's the Flintstones opening segment.  It'll all come flooding back to you.

"Flintstones, meet the Flintstones..."

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Wednesday Evening" 16 x 16 oil - leading the eye

I have written about this painting in its early stages.  You can read about its progress here in these two earlier posts:
 "Newbury at Night" start
"Newbury at Night" in process

Years ago I asked my painting teacher how I can know when a painting is finished.  His response was that you need to know what your painting is about, know the idea behind your painting.  When you can do nothing more to support the idea, then you are finished.  At the time, I'm not sure I had enough context to understand what that meant, but over the years it has stuck with me, and is the drive behind my painting process.  
Wednesday Evening - detail
So... "Wednesday Evening" has always been about the transition occurring at dusk in this Boston intersection - the juxtaposition of commuters' speedy exodus and pedestrians meandering into evening.  I designed the painting to use the people in the foreground as your path into the painting, while leading the eye along the road and into the acceleration out the ramp to the Mass Pike. I used many, many shapes in the painting to lead your eye into the distance, into the dusk.  As an example, the detail shown here shows two   street signs and the upper tail light of a car in the middle ground.  These three shapes are intentionally angled to point to the blur of light as the cars exit the city.  I also supported that idea by softening all the edges in the high contrast areas of the painting, the lamp posts, the large dark structure, etc.. but I left the edges crisp in the taillights' glow along the Pike.  The tall building on the right side acts as a stopper so your eye doesn't leave, and I added the idea of architectural detail which  points down to the same area of light.  

My intention was to lead the eye, and to keep the viewer engaged in the painting, observing the contrast in tempos between the Pike and the street.  As always, interested in your thoughts.  Thanks for looking.