July 23, 2011
I had a small deck to stand on, looking up to paint this old Vermont house. When the sun got high enough in the sky to get past the roofline, it was impossible to look up and the glare obscured the view. I had to paint early in the morning and I didn't have nearly enough time to do it.
Like all these old houses, this house has a front section, a kitchen wing off of that and then a barn attached to the kitchen. Renovation has turned the barn into a really nice living space.
To get the full perspective on the foreshortening of the different segments of the house, I'd have had to stand back further -- an impossibility since there's a steep drop-off from the deck.
In this as well as the other Vermont photos/paintings, I used the camera in my phone for the images. Not as good as my normal digital camera and I think the color is a little off.
Here's a first sketch and the painting as far as I could take it.
I took up a spot across the street from the house -- here's what I was looking at and how I painted it. The hardest aspects to this painting were 1) making the street go downhill (it's a steep one); 2) using my sensibility to create the color of the house down the hill .. and having to use sense to make the house I was painting the right shade of gray to match the owner's view; and 3) 97 degree heat in Vermont.
In the winter, you can see the Village Green down the hill. It was peeking through the trees in the lush summer leaves, but I gave the landscape a little pruning so you can see the green a bit more in the distance.
I loved that you can see the mountains surrounding Woodstock beyond the houses.
I was up in Vermont, really on vacation, but with the plan to paint at least one work -- the house I was staying in. While I was working on that painting, a man stopped by, asked if I'd paint the house he lives in. It was just up the hill, an 1800s bungalow that will be torn down in the next month by its owners.
There were so many interesting emotional aspects to this painting. In front of the house was a huge woodpile, clearly the result of many hours of hard work chopping wood. The house was surrounded by a spectacularly colorful garden with a rich array of perennials and annuals in such abundance that even hungry deer couldn't diminish its beauty (although you could see how they'd been feeding off the sunflowers!). And there was this old house, a survivor on its last days, showing its age. I took the photo from a little different angle than the spot where I'd painted, and you can see that I edited the view a bit to include more of the garden.
It was a wonderful experience, including the bouquet of flowers left for me on the front porch by the man who'd commissioned the painting.
July 14, 2011
Back in 1998, I painted a mural on three walls of a room in our house that the kids used as a playroom. It was painted over 4 or 5 years later when we renovated. I recently tried to recall what it looked like, but really couldn't remember. The room has silvery green walls now.
I knew I'd painted farm animals and my older daughter (who was then 6) and I'd added my younger daughter when she was just pulling herself up to stand. I didn't remember at all using the Playskool dollhouse, horse and carriage that they played with as the house in the garden. I completely forgot about the boat and pond.
I found these photos from 1998 of the mural in a file of completely unrelated paperwork.
July 12, 2011
I was invited to paint this morning with Walt Bartman, who is being filmed for a pilot for a TV show. I'm not sure exactly when, if ever, anything will come of it. The cameramen filmed a lot of Walt talking about art -- I think I'm looking on attentively in the background -- and also offering suggestions to painters on works in progress.
We painted out at Washington Grove and my mind was very much on a painting I'd sold last month. The painting has a pattern of light splashing through trees. Today I was thinking both about that rhythm and the progression along the gravel path. The front of the house was a light yellow, but in shade I think it needs to go a little darker than I have it now.
July 7, 2011
I've got two commissions to work on in the next month. One (not unlike the form I signed today that asked for my relationship to Judy Gilbert Levey) is "self" commissioned. I am going to work on a painting of a Woodstock VT house as a gift to its owners. The view past the house is of the gorgeous town of Woodstock and I may use a bit of artistic license to capture the house and town on one canvas.
The second, very cool project, is that I'm working on a painting for Quartermaine's Coffee Roasters, our local and wonderful coffee shop. They have a painting I did last year of their store in downtown Bethesda, and they've opened a second store on Old Georgetown Road that needs to have its "portrait" done as well. The store will be getting a large Q logo on the corner and some royal blue umbrellas for its tables before I get to paint it -- I did some scouting today and it's clear that morning sun is going to be needed. These two paintings will be used in upcoming marketing for the stores and I may just be coming to a mailbox near you this fall.
With a little fine tuning once the paint is a little drier, I should be able to wrap this up.
I hate to spend time making window muntins line up but I think my loose play of the way light makes some panels and edges seem stronger and others not so important is failing me a bit here. I could protest that you don't see it that way in real life when you look at the actual painting, but maybe you do.
Glad I got rid of the lock. I think when I go back to the canal next week I'll paint the water, bridges and locks, looking west along the canal instead of across it.
July 6, 2011
I've been home today (first rain, now waiting for a home repair) and working in the studio instead of returning to Georgetown. I don't have anything to refer to, like a photo, but I'm finding that it's pretty clear what direction the painting needs to go.
One interesting issue I'm having is over the lock. The lock is right in front of the brick house, closed, but I find the shape of the lock gate and the dark void where the water level drops to be a distraction. Although the painting is about the span across the canal, the depth of the reflections and the play of light along the buildings, a scheme that should easily include a lock... I think the lock may move downstream and out of view, as will the stone pad that a lock opener would stand on that runs along side.
July 5, 2011
This is a start to a painting that I may never finish. Or I may get my courage up to go back to Georgetown and face the parking meters again. I used the pay by cell service, got a text confirming my parking was authorized... and got a ticket anyway. Although I know there's a whole procedure to protest the ticket and it will be resolved, the experience rattled me. Last time I painted mad, I ended up with a better painting than I expected... not so today, not yet.
I need to get the lights and darks under control -- some areas of the painting have the right depth, others are too flat and there are some colors and spaces that aren't occupying the intended space. Stay tuned.