Thursday, July 31, 2014

On Top of the World 9 x 12 oil

We rent a house for a part of each summer on Monhegan Island.  It is on the top of Horn Hill... the top.  Before we arrive, while we are packing at home, The Hill becomes notorious, and a bit exaggerated, in terms of its height, its steepness, the stamina needed to climb it.  When we are bringing new friends with us, the Horn Hill lore can be intimidating.  Truth is... it is steep.  It is up there.  But, it is certainly doable, and absolutely glorious.  We watch the sunset over the 12-mile distant mainland every evening that it reveals itself.  We watch weather approach and  take on  fascinating size and shape when it nears this lump of rock in the ocean.  Every morning, I look North from the deck to see this wonderful view, divided by this luscious group of three trees.  The view without the tree would be amazing in itself, but the tree adds a beautiful vertical counterpoint to the horizon and village below.  

"On Top of the World" is my take on the Girls Just Wanna Paint challenge for July, theme "Tree".  

Thanks for looking, and as always, I love your comments.

Monhegan Sketchbook July 31 - Long and Short views and Fred Astaire

Here are a few more sketches from my book this week.  We've had some interesting weather, crystal clear days, some big fog pressing against the screens trying to find its way in, more fog that hangs in the harbor only while the sky above and beyond is blue.  As always, it's a joy to be here.  The tall sketch is the long view from the house we call ours for the week.  We can see out beyond Manana to the mainland 12 miles away (many days, but not this one).  Then I have the view over our friends Arline and Moe's house.  We had dinner with them last night.  What a hoot! They are fascinating, and have that way of making their guests feel fascinating, too.  And, they are huge Fred Astaire fans, a passion we share.

Then I have a short view of Bill Cameron's memorial spot over looking the harbor from Horn Hill, and a couple of hikers awaiting the ferry back to Booth Bay Harbor.  I love people watching on the island, and with a sketchbook in hand, you can ostensibly don your invisibility cloak (thank you, Harry Potter, and Happy Birthday today), and just watch and record.  What a blast!

In honor of Arline and Moe, here's a link to Fred Astaire's "Drum Crazy" from the movie Easter Parade.  If you have never seen it, it's 4 minutes of sheer joy.  If you have seen it, it's 4 minutes of sheer joy relived.

Thanks for looking, and as always, I love your comments.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monhegan Sketchbook July 28

 We're back on Monhegan!  A friend is here with her partner and their two moms, both in their 80's.  Our friend rented a golf cart to aid with the moms' mobility on the island, and I had the pleasure of painting with them up on Lighthouse Hill yesterday. I need to do a little tweaking, then will post that painting later this week.  Today it has gone from gray to drizzle, to SIDEWAYS DOWNPOUR, and now maybe to some clearing.  I have been working in my sketchbook, using watercolor and/or watercolor pencils.  Here are some recent images. 

As always, thanks for looking.  I love your comments, too.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Monhegan Pitkin Cottage Window - Two Views

 Across from Monhegan's Library sits tiny Pitkin Cottage.  The Library and cottage are part of one of Monhegan's two street intersections, if you could call them that.  Theirs is the more northern of the two intersections. The church sits in the other.  As visitors stroll into the Pitkin intersection, they pass the Library, gaze shifts to the left and the Monhegan Schoolhouse, then to their maps, then to the decision ahead at the fork in the road: up to the right leads to the Lighthouse and Museum, and up to the left leads to the Ice Pond and/or Cathedral Woods.  Because of this rhythm, I believe most people don't see the Pitkin cottage, though it is certainly in plain view. My theory is actually based on empirical evidence.  I have painted and sketched in a number of spots on this path, amid the pedestrian traffic.

What's the point?  So.  The Pitkin cottage used to have these beautiful (and worn) windows filled with a collection of blue bottles on both sides of its tiny kitchen.   I loved looking through the kitchen at the bottles in front of bottles with the sun-filled interior sandwiched between them. The windows have since been replaced with more practical new ones. Here are a couple of takes on the lovely windows, or as I call it, "an interior painted from the exterior". In both cases, after asking permission, I painted standing in the yard, right on the edge of the intersection I described above.  No one saw me either time.  Invisible in plain sight.  It's a skill... maybe a superpower if you could invoke it with intention.   

Thanks for looking.  As always, I love your comments.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Monhegan Chickens and a nod to "The Music Man"

Monhegan has chickens, in a lovely yard and garden along the road through the village.  They are usually picking and pecking their way around the yard and occasionally onto the road.  I like watching them, their movement simultaneously graceful and jerky.  

Of course, they remind me of my favorite musical "The Music Man", which we watched on TV, (I guess; pre-VCR), and listened to on my parents' soundtrack album.  Robert Preston was a force of nature, his movements so graceful and powerful, and his creation of Harold Hill simultaneously charming, romantic, unctuous, clever, deceitful, sensitive.. a fixture in our childhood home.

In honor of the chickens, here is "Pick a Little, Talk a Little/Goodnight Ladies" with Robert Preston and Hermione Gingold. Doesn't get much better... "brazen overtures!"

Thanks for looking.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Brushwork - and a basketball metaphor

Keeper's Cottage - window detail
Recently, a number of people have commented on my brushwork. Some of my students have remarked that they want to lay down paint like I do. Thoughts about that in a second... Truth is, my brush work varies from painting to painting depending on a variety of factors.  In this painting, "Keeper's Cottage", I had about 40 minutes before the sun was gone, and midway through the painting, I realized my prediction for the shadow shapes and their movement was completely off so I was racing to get them down before they were gone. My intention was to work on the painting back in my studio, but I loved the immediacy of it, so left it alone.  There is even a place next to the window where the primed surface is untouched by paint.  It worked for this subject.  
Keeper's Cottage - shadow detail
Back to the desire to lay paint down like another artist... that can be a goal, or motivation for an examination of your style.  That type of thinking is an important piece of the intentionality needed to develop your artistic self, and is a continual process for me.  However, loose paint and the impression of spontaneity do not trump good foundational skills of accurate values, clean color, good design.  To use a basketball metaphor, it's a full court press, all the time.  

Thanks for looking!   

Keeper's Cottage - sky detail

Friday, July 04, 2014

Monhegan Sketchbook July 3rd and 4th and Joseph Welch, a hero

 What an interesting couple of days.  Fog and sun, clouds, then rain, fog, clouds, sun.  4th of July celebrations were rushed and or cancelled up and down the coast as Hurricane Arthur threatens, and Monhegan's charming fireworks free for all down by the beach has been postponed until tomorrow night, so we'll miss it.  I meandered with my sketchbook, added a few new sketches of the foggy harbor, and a some other local vignettes.

Our friends Arline Simon and Mo Oberman arrived on the island yesterday so I stopped by their studio.  I wrote about them last fall after Arline and I exchanged paintings across several months. She surprised me as we departed Monhegan Island last summer, and I surprised her at the opening of her solo show at the Upstream Gallery in Dobb's Ferry, NY last fall.  

Arline's show included several drawings of Arline's from the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s.  To hear Arline tell the tale, she was watching the hearings on TV and was struck by the sheer evil of McCarthy's face and demeanor.  She grabbed her book and began sketching. Over fifty years later, her daughter, designer Emily Oberman discovered her mother's drawings in a portfolio, and designed a book "Pentagram Papers 43: Drawing McCarthy".   Arline brought her repro of the Joseph Welch drawing up to Monhegan for us after we purchased it last fall.  I did a little research into Joseph Welch.  He was the chief counsel to the Army during the McCarthy hearings. The era is very meaningful to me.  My father was an FBI agent in NYC during the 1950s.  When he transferred from his initial assignment in Arkansas to NY, his superiors assigned him to investigating purported  Communist sympathizers among US citizens.  He told me that he had no interest in that witch hunt.  Dad requested a transfer to the crimes division, which is how he saw his role in law enforcement.  I'm proud of him for making that move.

Here's a little video of the hearings that Arline responded to so beautifully with her pen and paper; the hearings that had nothing to do with my father's work what so ever.  

McCarthy vs Welch "decency"

Every day on Monhegan is interesting. Today was certainly no exception.

Thanks for looking, and as always, I appreciate your comments.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Monhegan Sketchbook July 2

Today was an interesting day (as they all are) here on Monhegan.  A friend stopped by for a breakfast visit.  We compared notes about daughters heading off to college.  She commissioned me to do a painting for her friend as a wedding gift.  On my way out to the harbor, I chatted with a couple of people and was invited into their homes for a look see.  I love looking at the homes here on the island!   Each is unique, offers its own views and angles of the beloved island.  Today was a bonus day as I was privileged to see two interesting, rustic homes.

There is some pretty good chop going on in the harbor perhaps due to Hurricane Arthur marching up the coast.  I love sitting by the waves, and absorbing their heady rhythm.  I made my way down to the harbor to do some drawing, and was pleasantly surprised by my husband showing up to hang out, followed shortly thereafter by our daughter and her friend.  The four of us hung out while I pulled out my sketchbook. 

I'll probably lay some watercolor into these drawings, but here's today's efforts.  Oh, look at the second picture up top.  Squashed bugs are the hallmark of artists painting on location!  

Thanks for looking.  As always, I love your comments. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Monhegan Sketchbook July 1st - "Rainy Day at the Coffee Shop"

There's a small coffee shop on Monhegan by the dock, with great 12 over 12 windows that look out at the harbor and Manana.  The Barnacle is a nice place to have a beverage, or an ice cream, or a cup of chowder, or a scone... you get the picture.  The building is very old, so I have to duck under its cross beams which I would guess started at about 6 feet from the floor, but have settled a bit over the years.  On a sunny day, people come and go, and can pick up a few postcards, some blueberry jam, and maybe a bottle of wine just before embarking on their Monhegan visit, or their ferry ride back across to the mainland.  You can sit at the oil cloth-covered tables and pass some time on a sunny day.  Each year, there are different little past times in baskets on the tables. One year it was Madlibs, another year we found Magnetic Poetry sets, and another year those little sliding puzzles that can drive you bonkers.

When the weather is foul here on the island, the few small shops, the library, and The Barnacle get crowded with damp, steaming island visitors looking for warmth and distraction.  The two drawings above are from such a day when the Barnacle was packed!  We were lucky to get a table, to play a little solitaire, open the sketch book and wait out the passing torrents. "Rainy Day at the Coffee Shop" is my take on this month's Girls Just Wanna Paint theme for June, "interiors".  Check out the other entries on our blog.  

As always, thanks for looking.  You know I love your comments.