This image comes from memories of trips that my family used to make on the weekends. We would all pile into the car and head off to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the day. Sometimes it was to pick peaches, sometimes to visit civil war sites, and sometimes just to explore the beautiful region. We always started really early and I recall that the light made everything sort of silvery. It was as if there were a blanket of mist covering everything.
Anyway … in those days there was nothing like the build up of housing that we see today in that region. Everything was really pretty rural and hardscrabble. The roads were not so wide, and the traffic was pretty sparse. The farms along our route were sort of rough and a step away from falling down. There might have been the occasional single pump gas station, or old general store with a wooden front porch. But remember, I am old enough that this would have been at a time when recovery from WWII meant that a lot of men had …BOUGHT THE FARM… a term that means that when the government paid death benefits to the family of a servicemen lost in war, it quite often meant that the family of the deceased could pay off any outstanding mortgage … in effect they could buy the farm. But that also meant that most often there was no longer a young man to work the farm. Hence the general aura of disrepair that prevailed.
However, the effect of that early morning light, and the misty quality of those mornings caused even the most derelict of rundown farmhouses to appear adorned in glory. I have seen the same effect when traveling through hilly terrain during the early morning anywhere the seasonal change from hot days to cool nights causes this glorious morning light. Every body raves about a beautiful sunrise, but this is a whole different thing. This is about the sky giving a benediction to the earth.
Here the effect of the pearly morning light was achieved by painting over a darker night sky and leaving the darkness to grip the morning light at the edges, just as it fades from view. I like the tension that this achieves. I also drew into the wet paint to give the details a delicate feel, in keeping with the lightness of the air. In the end this work proved to be a very delicate, but captivating image.
Summer appears to be over … at least here in New England. Most of my summer was spent visiting with friends, taking day trips, swimming, working on my book project, exercising and eating well.
However, I also spent a good deal of August reorganizing my studio storage space in order to accommodate new works as they come off the easel. It was either that or I was going to have to live in the back of my car. When my show of new works came back at the end of July I had nowhere to store it! So in one memorable afternoon and evening I destroyed 20 or so old canvases that were no longer worth the space they took up. I tossed the old broken stretchers, and in general had a grand ole time.
While making the decision as to which pieces were worth keeping, I also came across several paintings that I felt needed to be developed further. So now my studio is filled with a mix of old and new canvases, as well as the rest of the dreck that lives here on a semi permanent basis … the tape and gloves and papers and sketches, and all the rags and wipes and q-tips that come in handy while painting.
The first one of these earlier canvases to be readdressed is one of my favorites. It was in the show that Ashby and I had this June and July. WATER STRIDERS is quite a large work (48×36) and commanded a lot of attention. However, while it was hanging in the strong light of the gallery this summer, I realized that the upper part of the painting had not been finished with the same nuanced color development that was present in the lower part. So I have reworked the upper part. The result is that the top and bottom are more unified in their technique. At the same time I added a warmer tone to the upper part so that the entire painting has a better balance.Now the cool water reflects the warmer tones of the night sky, and balances the fish and their shadowy underwater world.
The only change to the bottom part of the piece is that I added my signature. It was a bit of an OOPS moment when I found that it was never signed. So altogether a successful rework of a fine piece.
ART SHOW JUNE 2017
Ashby and I are really pleased with our co-operative show of paintings and sculpture in the Gallery of the Avon Pubic Library.
It looks fabulous !!! even if I do say so myself.
We are both blown away by the magical effect of our works hanging together.
If you have not yet been able to get by to view the show, I encourage you to make the time to stop in and enjoy the truly amazing effect of two artistic visions meeting.
The combination of Ashby’s and my work creates a wonderful synergy that enhances both my paintings and her sculptures.
In fact, it turns out that you will have some extra time to get in to see the show.
We have been asked to extend the show through the month of July.
So put it on your calendar and stop by during regular library hours.
For those of you that purchased work, I will plan to switch out your pieces at the end of June so that you can arrange to pick up your paintings.
I am actually hoping to produce some new work in similar sizes to those that have sold, in order to be able to make the change-over seamless.
We will wait to see how that works.
Many of you have expressed interest in my show of new work at the Avon Library. It is going to be up for the month of June this year. It is a joint show with my roommate from college … Ashby Carlisle.
Ashby is a sculptor and has an exciting body of work. She is currently working on wall hung sculptures that explore her fascination with the natural world of plant life.
She uses her expertise with paper, clay, and metal to create unique visions that draw one into her world. At the same time she plucks words and language from the cursive illusion of vines and roots and makes one question where words go once they are spoken.
I encourage you to go to her web site www.ashbycarlisle.com to learn more about her work.
We decided to call our show … MIXING IT UP … Our work resonates well together, and creates a nice visual treat when viewed side by side … an unanticipated melding of flavors.
While Ashby’s work is more abstract than mine, it is complimentary in her use of color and line. In addition, because her work is 3 dimensional, it creates a sense of movement and allows her to explore negative space … as do my 2 dimensional pieces.
We also discovered that we were both working toward a more whimsical artistic vision during this past year. That is not to say that the work has become fantastical, rather that it does not always present a vision of the real world.
Color has become an unexpected player in challenging ways. Line has taken on new forms that weren’t supposed to be that way.
And space has been manipulated to illustrate a different world … a world that is more uniquely ours.
It has been exciting to expand our artistic horizons in this way.
I have not abandoned representational work, but now work only from memory. This allows me to paint what is in my mind’s eye, rather than the the camera’s eye. The result has been a more challenging portfolio of images.
The show will be hung in the gallery of the Avon Library from May 30th through June 29th and can be viewed anytime during regular Library hours.
Our reception will be June 1st from 4.30 to 7.
We are looking forward to sharing our new work with you all.
This is the latest progression from my collection: Sticks and Stones. It is a study of color and ;memories that it can evoke.
The title “A SLICE OF SUMMER” refers to the quality of the light and color that reflect the hot summer days of my childhood.
A SLICE OF SUMMER – Progression – First State
A SLICE OF SUMMER – Progression – second state
A SLICE OF SUMMER – Progression – Third state
A SLICE OF SUMMER – Progression – fourth state
A SLICE OF SUMMER 16×30 Final state
I have been working on this large piece for some time now, and thought that you would like to see the progression that takes place as a work goes through the process of refinement.
The piece is 48 x 36 and covers a lot of space. I am enjoying working at a larger scale for a while, but it is a challenge to keep the overall feel of the piece consistent.
There is something eerie about how a work evolves and this one has come a long way from its original whimsical nature, and has grown into a real statement piece.
I will most likely be finishing the piece over the next few days and will keep you posted on progress. For a larger view of each piece, click on the image.
HOME FROM THE FARM
Lately, I have found that i really enjoy the process of creating landscapes entirely from memory. After years of painting from reference photos, it is exciting to manipulate reality to fit how the memory looks in my minds eye.
These landscapes are my most recent, and represent three entirely different places in entirely different times, and yet they live concurrently in my memory bank of images. By looking at them next to each other it is evident that I like to simplify and rub off the rough edges and keep only certain parts of a memory. I would suppose that everyone does much the same thing, but in my case it is part of the design process.
The process of designing and creating these landscapes means that certain elements take precedence and come into prominence as the work takes shape. In most cases I am unaware until well into the process what features will become key. Afterwards I always know when it is right, because it fits the memory and feels complete, even if parts have had to be eliminated.
It is a challenge to make these memories come alive, and to be able to share them with others in such a complete way, is very satisfying. Enjoy!
LITTLE CAT FEET oil 16×20 $800
First up on the news front, I want you all to know that sculptor, and fellow artist Ashby Carlisle and I are collaborating on a show of new work to be hung at the Avon Library next June. We discovered earlier this year that our work really resonates when viewed side by side. We are really excited to be presenting our work in this context.
I will keep you posted on dates for our opening reception. Meanwhile if you get a chance, you can check out her website www.ashbycarlisle.com
I also finished another of my precarious landscapes. This one is about the fog of the future, and how reassuring it is to have a bit of blue sky showing on the horizon.
I really like this piece and find that the solidity of the houses … even though they are built on stilts … illustrates how fog, as eerie and unnerving as it can be, still creates a sense of calm and serenity, because one can not look too far ahead.
And, finally this week I admitted that I am not willing to close up my studio to accommodate a Christmas tree and the whole decorating and entertaining schtick … I really can’t afford to loose a month of studio time.
So, instead of my traditional big tree with lights, ornaments, and all the trimmings, I spent the last two days painting myself a christmas tree to get into the festive spirit.
It was fun to let loose with such a random subject. And I have to say that I am enjoying the pseudo tree.
And although I do miss the piney smell and the lights, I don’t miss the mess an palaver that a real tree involves.
THIS PIECE HAS BEEN PAINTED OVER AND IS NOW NO MORE THAN A MEMORY
WE LIVE IN PRECARIOUS TIMES oil 30×40 $2400
I have started a new series called, “Sticks and Stones”
So far I have laid out 5 canvases of various sizes, and am really happy with the direction that they are taking.
In all of them the light that surrounds wonky stilt houses or tippy city skylines is used to heighten the sense of uneasiness that comes from living in a shifting and uneasy world. The sky and the air around us … Mother Nature at her best … serves to highlight the slightly off kilter world that surrounds us these days
This big piece appears to have city states built on top of random stone work, stairs, and loose bits of technology. There is evidence of crumbled infrastructure that nevertheless serves to support the corporate body. And above it all Mother Nature has created a glorious sunny day.
In part the title refers to the obvious political and economic uneasiness that surrounds most of the world’s population.
However, at a different level it is about learning, as we age, how to live when we are impacted by major health issues, or loss of loved ones … or how to tie a knot and go on when life treats us to one indignity after another.
It also addresses the question of how we interact with the outside world, and how tenuous are the lines of communication between individuals … sometimes it seems as if the connections that we make with others are very delicate and a bit dicey to transverse.
I enjoy the sense of power that this piece brings by resolving chaos into a form of order … design overcoming disorder, as it were. At the same time, while it exudes a sense of stability and peace, upon closer inspection nothing is quite as stable as it would appear.
HEAVY WEATHER 18X24 $900
The impact of weather approaching over the long flat expanses of the Midwest has a very unique feel, and it is a very strong visual memory.
My family spent some time in Kansas City, Kansas. I was initially amazed that it was so cosmopolitan and yet a heartbeat away you were in the plains … looking at farmland for as far as you could see. That was a long time ago of course, and I’m sure much has changed … but the memory is still as strong as ever.
This piece expresses much the same sense of an unchanging and changeable world. The sense of an invincible and staunch world at the mercy of weather and circumstances is never more visible than in the lone barns and homes that dot the landscape of the plains.
I like the concept of the buildings standing strong against whatever weather comes. These barns are seasoned warriors.They hang in there whatever comes.
I guess I will never really stop with the landscapes … even as I continue exploring life in precarious times. And, I suppose that this landscape is no different … after all life on a the Great Plains can be precarious indeed.