April 30, 2012

A very cloudy day at Rocklands Farm today.  The cows were on a far part of the property and the lambs weren't close by either, so I painted the farmhouse and nearby buildings.  I'm always amazed at the array of house/barn/shed/storage structures that seem to be almost randomly sited.  They  have every kind of roof design and their color shows the weathering and age of the various buildings.

Leaving the farm today I saw a red fox, standing in the middle of the road, looking like he'd been drawn there by a cartoonist.  When he fled as I approached, his tail flew behind him in a perfect horizontal flash of reddish brown.

April 28, 2012

Horses... from a distance

Out in West Virginia today at a horse farm/summer camp and I first went to the field to paint the horses and the view.  It's beautiful, although the horses came right up to me and pretty much my view was of horse faces, not the mountains beyond.  The horses were happy to stay and pose, but it started to rain, then sleet, then hail while I was painting.

I retreated to the covered barn stalls, but the horses didn't follow me.

April 25, 2012

Cows and Goats

 It was a spectacular day out at Rocklands Farm in Seneca.  The animals were out and moving around a lot. It took me 3 rounds of the cows circling the pond to get enough information to paint them -- even so, they weren't still for a second.  The goats weren't any more cooperative.

April 24, 2012


This was an old painting that I'd started a few years ago, always wanted to get back to it but never did. It had a red Canal Lockkeeper's house past the bridge.  I remember when I was painting these vultures I was  feeling kind of queasy watching them lurk awaiting something to pounce on.  I think someone came along with a dog that scared them off and that's where the painted ended.

I hadn't balanced the background/foreground tension in the painting before, so today I pushed away the far end of the bridge and heightened the contrast of the rusty fence spikes against the white concrete and blue/black birds.

April 16, 2012

Four Unfinished Paintings

Did I say I was done with "pretty" for my paintings? I was at Clara Barton House this morning. Azaleas, tulips, dogwoods, redbuds... and a beautiful blue sky. It was really pretty, I couldn't help myself.

I'm getting closer to finishing the Quartermaine's paintings, finally. I had a little breakthrough with the storefront when I realized I needed to use the starburst pattern of angles leading to the center of the painting to bring the focus to the inside of the store. I have more to do as I emphasize the angles and rebalance the figures to help the movement into the center.
The painting at the roaster is now highlighted as it needs to be; I have to work on the shadow colors a bit.

As for the portrait, it's very close to being done. I'm trying to keep the focus on her expression and continue building the painting around it.

April 12, 2012

The End of "Pretty"

This portrait is a large -- 36 x 48 -- canvas that I'm painting in the studio, working from the sketches I did of this model this winter. I was struggling with the urge to make her pretty and in a fit of pique about something completely unrelated, gave her this face instead. It's the end of pretty for this girl and I am thinking maybe I need to push the emotional edge in my work. No longer a refuge into the beautiful, maybe it will become a vehicle to vent the darker side of things. I still have a way to go on this portrait, but I'm happy with her tortured face.

I still need to finish my paintings for the coffee shop. I needed to check the light in the shop to see how Calvin's face appeared as it would be on the wall. He definitely needed more highlights, which I've added. It was a minor celebrity moment, when people came up and asked me about the painting, I ran into friends and I've even been stopped now by someone who said, "didn't I see you at the coffee shop?" The painting, though, as I brought it in, was in pretty stark form and all my good feelings about it were quashed when the owner didn't understand how the painting would look when finished. He was worried it was too "graphic" and not a warm enough painting. I've put in a lot more time on it and it's closer to being done.