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.