Friday, December 13, 2013

Trying to find an Answer

A Fresh Start

This is a quick post about what happened in the studio today.

I pulled out of the cupboard a 20x25" canvas that I began at the Vermont Workshop in June 2012. Since that time it's been languishing around the studio, but it was brought into service this autumn for a session of the Dead Paintings Society. I re-worked it some, changing it several times in the process, for whatever educational benefit it might have.

Today, casting about for a surface on which to paint, and not wanting to stretch a canvas, I decided that the Vermont painting needed to give its life for ART. 

Although I failed to take a photo before I started, there's enough here to bring back painful memories for any of my students who were there.

I flipped it into a vertical.

And added the yellow ochre, baryte yellow, and secret yellow sky and its reflection.

What I was most after was a mood. Most of you know I like to keep the painting entirely in play until my imagination is fired by something within the rectangle.

Above, you will see that I continued the reflection, and added a temporary "shoreline" so I would have a reference point.

At this stage, I've put in a bit more color, and made some streaks in the sky. I've wiped out the area in the lower left, thinking about putting in a near shoreline or bank.

Now there is some more activity in the sky and a reflection in the water. The distant hill is more filled in, as is its reflection.

Finally, I filled in the hillside and its reflection, and built a rocky foreground. 

This is where I stopped. I'm not sure what will ultimately be the "subject" of the picture in a conventional sense.   For me, the subject will be the mood.

Try this at home.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Today's Effort

Thinking of N.C.

Thinking of N. C. Wyeth led me to paint a whole 25x20" canvas today. I pulled the canvas out of the never-will-be-finished pile. It was a start from one of last summer's Battis Farm workshops.

I turned it vertically, and set about painting a view that would have some of the strong, dramatic contrasts that are such a feature of the elder Wyeth's work.
My original intention was to create a landscape into which I could put the figures for "Chapter Two: The Ambush"
As it turned out, the painting is smaller in scale than I wanted, and the painting had a mind of its own. 

It still has some little bits to be dealt with, but I'm very pleased with this five hours' work. I'll sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

After an absence

Trying to Catch up

Well, if you follow the blog with any regularity, you'll know I've been AWOL. Seems it started with the beginning of the three-part demonstration. We had 22 students, both painters and lay people. It was quite an adventure, and it's my intention to post about it one day. 

Further to that subject, I've been asked when the next one will be. I've scheduled it for the 10th, 17th & 24th of January (9 a.m.-1 p.m. each day). You may sign up for fewer than three sessions, but I think you'd benefit the most from all three. Because Sarajean is recuperating this month, you should register with me, instead: We will have even more interested non-artists this time, so feel free to spread the word to those who might enjoy it. 

We'll need  the 3-part as an antidote to the cruel blasts of winter (if you're like me, the creativity slows. Let's jump start it!) 

My thanks to all who wrote about the difference the demos made to their own ideas and to their work. It's very heartening to me to hear of these epiphanies, and it certainly made my time recovering in the sanatorium easier.

I also have been essaying some other paintings. First, I painted, almost straight out, a 30x24 anticipating February. I wanted to capture the complete hush that falls across the landscape when it begins to snow. Here's the result (a rather poor phone shot, overlit at the top----oh, well).

I also played around with a 12x14" piece of canvas, taped to a board. It turned out to be a squall.

I have become a devotee of Instagram. It's an easy way to post some photos quickly, and to just as quickly get some feedback from artists I know all across the country and even beyond. It's easy to sign up. For me it's fun because I'm in touch with a number of my confederates at Arcadia Contemporary.

Here's a photo which the director of Arcadia's satellite space at The Four Seasons Hotel in New York posted on Instagram. Seems the cleaner was momentarily beguiled.

I posted a photo of a drawing I own. I bought the drawing at a vide-grenier (tag sale) when we lived in France. It was in the midst of a pile of miscellaneous, printed papers. The sign said 2 euros. So I casually paid the vendor and made off with my treasure.

Anyway, as I was saying, I posted a phone shot of the drawing on instagram, trying to get a sense of the date of the the uniform and the rifle. Several people managed to place the soldier and his rifle at the time of the Crimean war. 

One of the new painters I've met on Instagram is Jon Hayes. I suggested to Jon that we try to make paintings of him, utilizing the drawing of our long-dead fellow artist. For most of a week we've been posting our progress back and forth, and receiving comments from other artists. All in all, it's been great fun (though somewhat harrowing because of my lack of figure skills). Here's the drawing (about 20" x 12"):

Jon did a very credible job of his study. Perhaps because I'm a landscape painter, I felt impelled to put him in a setting. I imagined his location (somewhere in the Crimea!) and set about making a painting that tried to borrow from my first hero, N. C. Wyeth). It has much wrong with it, but it does have an 'atmosphere'. This is its current state (25"x20"):

The inclusion of another figure, some landscape (a distant estuary? Can he see the Russian Fleet?) and the moon, begin to give it a certain feeling that I like. I can see curling up with my book, anxious to find out what's next.
In fact, Jon and I have agreed to try a painting illustrating another event. We've called it "Chapter Two: The Ambush". This time we don't have a drawing to help us from our 19th c. artist friend. We each will interpret the where and what for ourselves. Wish us luck.

Penultimately, two students have been badgering me (yes, that's the correct word) to do some sessions which are just critiques. I've said that I'd consider it. If you should want to be involved in these, and can withstand my withering comments(!), let me know. I'll pass your interest on to Gloria and Pat who are organizing it.

Finally, there are those who'd like to have a weekly painting class, in which you paint(!), to get us through the winter. If you're someone who'd like to do that, please write to me at

Wednesday, October 30, 2013



A Three-part Demonstration 

A number or artists have asked if I would do a demonstration, starting with a blank canvas and continuing to a finished one.

In response to this, I've tentatively scheduled a three-part demonstration for 8, 15 & 22 November---all Fridays. The sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be a fifteen minute break at 11:00 a.m.

Because my studio gets somewhat congested for The Dead Paintings Society, I've made arrangements for a larger space in my studio building for these sessions.

Part of the advantage to having a larger space is being able to also have those who may not paint but who'd like to know more about the process, how I make choices in color, composition and subject.

I've chosen a 36" x 42" canvas for this class. The large size will make it easier to demonstrate a number of techniques and to follow a more complex pictorial strategy.

 And, of course, the longer time will enable me to show much more of my process.

So please think about coming, and do share this with anyone you know who might find it interesting. It's also posted on Instagram and on Facebook (which you could share, please!)

If you're interested in coming, please write Sarajean Graham at

Hope to see you!

p.s. Sometime this evening, the 50,000th visitor will visit this blog. Thank you!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Doorway Update

A Wee Bit of Press

Thanks to the eagle eye of WWB, I found out about this just-published bit of press, following the Armory show in New York.

It's from Antiques and The Arts Weekly, October 25, 2013, page 59.

Does this mean I was clever--- or merely that the passersby weren't paying attention?

Regardless, I'm blushing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Licenses Valid through March!!!

It became apparent to me, at the the time of The Dirty Eleven, that a number of artists are skirting the law. Don't be fooled into thinking that, as the weather gets cooler, the authorities will turn a blind eye.

Print yours, and carry it whenever you are painting outside. Set an example for your children.

Don't be a good painter gone bad.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Aboard the Appledore

Sailing! Sailing! Over the bounding main....

Many years ago, I sailed with friends in Gardiner's Bay aboard the schooner Appledore.

Today I found again this watercolor drawing which I made during our sail. I'm wondering if I could make it into a painting? The problem is that I'm not very nautical, and I haven't explained the various items in the watercolor very well. 

An ancestor of mine was the master of this schooner, the Robert McClintock.

It plied the Chesapeake Bay, and up and down the East Coast, carrying lumber and all sorts of things.

A website,, is offering a 1:64 double-planked model of the 86-foot long McClintock.

But, even had I the necessary scratch to buy the one-off model, it wouldn't be the Appledore.

All said, I figure I can't really do this. The learning curve is just too steep.

So I'm going back to this 16x20 that's been on and off the easel recently. 

I may call it "After the McClintock had Sailed".

I wish you fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Dirty Eleven

Riparian Fellowship

Eleven painting friends convened at Deer Island today, in the middle of the Merrimack River between Newburyport and Amesbury, Massachusetts, for some fresh air, laughter and, yes, some painting.  Thanks to Todd Bonita there were plenteous muffins and, thanks to Tom Bailey, a vat of hot java.

There was river fog to begin, but soon it brightened up, becoming a sunny day at 72 degrees. Here's a photo of the view downstream, toward the ocean.

And a photo of the assembled group...

L-R, Back Row: Barrett McDevitt, Stan Moeller, Frank Hyer, DJ, Tom Bailey. L-R, front row: Brent Rosko, Alastair Dacey, Chris Volpe, Todd Bonita, Nick Corvinus, Mike Dorsey

Barrett, Stan, a sliver of Tom, DJ....all hard at work

Todd, Frank, Barrett, Chris, and a sliver of Stan...all equally hard at work.
Mike, Chris, Tom, DJ, Brent?, and Alastair, discussing the meaning of life.   

Todd demonstrating that real men aren't bothered by high tide

Chris and Alastair

What's His Name
Nick getting his feet wet


Apologies to Stan and Tom, to whom I didn't say goodbye as I slinked off.
Thanks to Nick for his great photos.

We shall do it again.

Friday, October 11, 2013


ItaliaDead PaintingsArmory Show, etc.

Casa Giorgio Bianchi, oil on panel,  ca. 10x12, 1980

Above is a plein air sketch done near Radda, in Chianti, on my first Italian painting trip in 1980. I've learned a few things since then, but it still has a charm for me.

I post it now because the Newburyport Art Association and I are seeing about hosting a plein air painting adventure in Italy for 2014.

 Elena Bachrach has been fielding interest. We already have a number of artists who don't want to miss this. If you're thinking a Tuscan holiday might be just what the doctor ordered, write to Elena, soon (it's filling), to tell her of your interest . Nothing is yet set in stone, so your feedback will be very helpful.

This odyssey will include airfare, accomodations, some meals, and tuition. So get in touch with Elena, pronto!


Here are a couple of photos of paintings which you've seen before. But this time they're installed at Arcadia Contemporary's booth at the Avenue Art Antiques and Design Show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York (this weekend only).
I knew the Dutch doorway would be there, but Le Chemin de Pont Chevalier was a surprise (for BT). It's the one called "the vertical one" in old blog posts. At the time it seemed very tall and narrow, at 72" x 48". Now after the Door, at 89" x 44", it looks portly.

Peeking out on the farthest wall is a 24x36" painting, The Road to St. Pierre.


There are two DPS Sessions scheduled in October. The one on Friday, October 18th is full, but there are two places remaining in the session for October 25th. If you'd like to sign up, please write Sarajean Graham at


I posted this photograph on Facebook the other day. It features this artist picking up some landscape ideas, about 1947. No wonder I'm tired, now that it's 2013.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Visiting Hours

Hollanders in the Big City

Jannetje and the little girl have made their way to New York. Thanks to Maris's superb boat-handling skills, nobody got wet.

If you're in New York over the 10-13 October period, please go say hello to them. I'm not sure that I will get there, so please, if you do manage it, send me a photo or two of the setting, etc. If you can find anybody who likes the painting, take a photo of them too, please!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jacob Maris Lends a Hand

Setting Off this Week, and a wee, Moonlit One

As you may well imagine, getting the large doorframe painting to New York presents a sizeable (sorry) problem.

But the confraternity of artists, not to mention the Sint Lukasgilde, prevailed upon Jacob Maris (Dutch, 1837-1899) to offer his ferry boat. Here you can see us making a trial run.

Worked on some different things today, including this 10x12" (25x30cm) panel.

After all the attention to the doorway, it was nice to not have any straight lines, and no obvious perspective.

Hope you're all painting well, and that you're getting set for DPS---- and for the October Weekend Workshop.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vermeer and the Dutch Boy

A Portrait and a Film

In 2000, Kim and I bought this Dutch portrait in Paris. It lived in our house in Burgundy. The pensive young man is now owned by friends in France. It has no signature, but is dated 1649. 

My friends have sent along a photo, of which this is a detail. It's very blurry, but you may get the idea.

I spent some time trying to determine by whom it was painted, but I couldn't find a match. My supposition is that he hadn't yet reached his majority, suggested by his gray costume... a bit older, I surmise, and he'd be in black. If I get another, better photo, I'll post it. I'd like you to be able to see the detail in his lace collar and to have a better idea of his face.

Also on the Netherlandish subject, Mary Graham writes that she will be going to see the National Gallery (London) film about Vermeer, in Peterborough, New Hampshire, on October 10th.  (Thanks, Mary).
I've bought tickets to a more local theater for the same event. Perhaps you can find a theater near you. Here's a link to the distributor of the film. 
Remember, it's only being shown on October 10th. 

Classes! Classes! Classes!

October Classes

Now that the doorway painting is preparing to be off to New York next week. thoughts turn to the three classes scheduled for October.
Kate Bonita, just getting warmed up
There will be a weekend plein air workshop, Saturday, 19 October and Sunday, 20 October. For more information, or to register, please email Sarajean Graham at

There will be two, separate sessions of the world-famous Dead Paintings Society, Friday, 18 October and Friday, 25 October.

Here's a painting, before resuscitation, from a previous DPS session, and a photo of it, resting comfortably, after the class.

You can see more about the DPS session featuring this painting here.

If the DPS is new to you, you can read more about it here.

The only difference in the two upcoming classes is that I'll be demonstrating on my own dead paintings. Resuscitation begins at home.

To register for either or both DPS sessions, please email Sarajean at

Finally, here's a photo from my old Newburyport studio. I'd figured out my compositions on these canvases in charcoal. The largest are 18" x 24" (45x60cm)

Paint well!
Hope to see you in class.