August 30, 2017

View of Lone Peak, summer

I did a lot of painting in Montana this summer but this is the only painting I finished.  The view is from the meadow at a house that's for sale which is actually about 6 miles, maybe even 7, from the base of Lone Peak.

The challenge of painting a meadow is one I tackled more than once with some success and a lot of "needs more study".  There's the issue of making the grass look grassy without the fussiness of painting individual plants; there's the need to show flowers but not every single one; and there's the way that light catches areas of grass or the tips of plants at different times of day.  And the look of a meadow is greatly affected by how dry the summer has been -- whether there's a tinge of gold or wheat to the lightest grasses.

In mid-July when I painted this, there were still areas of snow visible on the peak.  By August, they were gone.

I've shipped the unfinished paintings to my studio in Bethesda and I'll be working on either finishing them or using them as studies for larger paintings.

August 4, 2017

19 Years of Painting A House in Maine

2017, oil on multimedia dartboard

1998, watercolor
 I've been painting in Maine during summers for the past 19 years, always staying at the same house.  While I'm there, I paint lobsters, lobster boats, rocks, the ocean, the beach, adirondack chairs, the ferry across the harbor... and the 1880s Victorian house with the wrap-around porch that I rent.

19 years ago, I did a small watercolor painting from the front lawn and it may have been among the last times I took out watercolors and a soft brush.  Since then, I've painted the house from the front, the side, the beach, in the morning, at sunset, and any other time it has struck me that I can get a bit more familiar with the house.

Over the years, the house has been surrounded by more or fewer wildflowers, and drought has turned the grass to the color of wheat or wet summers have made it a lush green.  The landscaping has gotten a bit more elaborate, too.

My own exploration of paints, my palette, mediums and painting surfaces has resulted in some looser and some tighter paintings.   There have been times when I only have a short session in which to paint and other times that I have more opportunity to contemplate the scene.  Sometimes the spot I set up my easel gives me an angle that make the house look taller or wider, and I emphasize that.  The house's white siding can turn yellow in bright light or blue or purple in deep shade.

Artists paint the same subject over and over, not as a commercial strategy (although some do -- painting upon painting of an apple, then two apples, and so on), but as a way of getting to know and understand a subject or a place.  Jennifer Bartlett famously published a book, In the Garden, of almost 200 drawings in a range of styles of the garden at a villa.  Monet painted haystacks (and many other things) at different times of day.

And I keep painting this house.