Thursday, December 20, 2007

(30) Hay and Foliage 2

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper
Not for sale - click HERE for reprints and cards

18 x 24 oil on Bristol paper - Sold

Late October sitting in the north east corner looking north. The foliage was turning including the red of the sumac. Paths were cut through the tall grass allowing for ease of access by pickers. While painting I heard a variety of voices from the trees, all pickers from the public searching for apples towards the end of the harvest. The voices were indistinguishable (male, female, adult and child) and melded together much like the colors of the trees. Despite the dark clouds in the northern skies, a pale yellow light was cast across the grass (short and tall).
The oil allowed me to play with a variety of textures. The trees of the background and sky being flat, the tall grass (hay) thick curving vertical lines and the grass of the foreground small patches and dots of paint.

The tall hay appears to my imagination as the top of a huge brush stuck in the ground handle first with only the very tip of the bristles exposed. Even though the water color is lighter in tones, my memory of the day was much darker, the oil represents this cool cloudy autumn afternoon more as I remember it.

(29) Hay and Foliage 1

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125

Middle of October sitting in the corner of the orchard just north of Nick and Cindy’s house facing north. More foliage color, still less than expected for the time of year. Clouds and field of tall grass create a swirl (an “S” movement). Max and Georgia with me, not very patient as in the past causing spills of water jars and much flailing of my arms to protect the paint area, which caused quick work that I finished later at home. In the end the outcome was good including the complimentary colors of purple and yellow, red and green.

(28) October Light

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125

Early October on a Saturday morning in the corner of the orchard just north of Cindy and Nick’s house looking west. In the lower right corner can be seen an opening in the trees looking onto the field that borders the neighbors property. Bright yellow light with shades of orange in the tall trees. Slight hints of red in the sumac.

(27) Hayfield and Hanger

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125

October 3rd mid morning. Looking northwest from the tree line just west of the runway. First hints of foliage color, which seemed late in the year compared to past seasons. Fields of tall grass were turning quickly from yellow to brown. The hanger was good. Tried to capture the little “window” between the hanger and the trees of the lake. Lots of visitors came by while painting including apple pickers, orchard workers, and a horse back rider from a nearby stable. Unusually warm for the time of year.

(26) Apple Crates

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125

Mid September, late morning. A quick work of apple collection crates just north of the Packing House. Harvest was well under way with pickers using these crates to collect apples. I was in a hurry to keep an appointment with Nick with first lesson on making cider donuts at noon. The limited time forced me to quickly lay down paint with broad areas of wash and the use of purple lines to show forms.

(25) Organic Trees and Adirondacks

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $75

Mid September sitting in organic section looking west towards the Adirondacks. Not my best effort, apple tree on the right too stiff (labored far too long here). The sky came out well, just laid down paint here. The tall brown/orange grass is too stiff and not flowing as I had hoped.

(24) Old Orchard Looking North

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125

Early September sitting in old orchard, south eastern corner, looking north. A better job with contrast. I like the distant rows of trees, though a muddy transition in the middle of the work. The yellow light on the trees and grass continues to amaze me. Slight hints of orange and red appear in the grass.

(23) Food Fest Tent

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125

September 9. Set up just south of the Packing House and office looking north onto the tent placed between the two buildings. This tent was temporary and in anticipation of the Food Fest (and other harvest festivals at the orchard). Again, I had to work to bring in dark colors. Struggled with the “balled trees” on the left of the road. The tent and tractor came out well. Tried hard to work the negative space of the tent. The office is hidden behind the “balled trees” and chose to use negative white space between the trees instead of painting the dark colors of the office building, which would have washed out the leaves of the trees.

I had fun painting the swirling clouds and the picnic tables in the dark space of the inner tent was a cool find. The light of the late afternoon was magical and I failed to capture the gold and orange glow or the radiance of the leaves as the sun approached a summer dusk. This time of day and year is one of my favorites, the hours of pre dusk and dusk.

(22) Hayfield Ridge

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125
Click HERE to purchase a reprint or cards 

September 6, early morning. Sitting in the hayfield at the intersection of paths close to the sumac stand by the lake. This was the first painting using watercolor paper instead of drawing paper (a gift from Cindy). The paint absorbs and moves differently than on the drawing paper. At first I was timid with the changes, however, I quickly found that I was able to place more paint on the paper and therefore increase the contrast.

I was enchanted with the movement of the paths through the tall grass. The sound of the wind through the grass was constant and as amazing as the visual element of the field.

(21) September First

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

Mid runway looking south to Nick and Cindy’s house (building in the background is the roof of their barn). First hints of autumn in young tree (red tinged leaves) and shades of yellow in trees on right side of work. As I sat the colors became more and more vibrant. The field of tall grass had amazing variations of yellow and green. This yellow contrasted with the purple from the sky, mountains and winter cuttings (right lower corner). Continued to include black with purple to increase contrast and outlines.

(20) Almost Harvest

11 x 14” watercolor on paper
Not for sale, click HERE for reprints and cards

End of August, late afternoon. Two trees just north of the willows that run parallel with the driveway to Nick and Cindy’s house. I sat in the shade of a neighboring apple tree to hide from the heat of the sun.

The tree trunks came out well, for a change, with greater contrast and expression. The apples reminded me of stellar constellations while the yellow wash over the leaves worked to capture the light of the sun. Used a little black for a change instead of just purple to outline elements of the work.

(19) Two Poles

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - Not For Sale

Late August. Two poles by the runway just north of the Packing House. The poles raise guide wires high enough for tractors to pass from row to row. The guide wires support young trees.

I struggled with contrast. The poles break up the horizontal lines of the tree tops, Packing House and clouds. I was so amazed at how young trees can bear fruit, regardless of the age of a tree they continue to focus on the continuation of life.

(18) Elder Lady

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

August 22nd early morning. One of the few old trees in the orchard’s south east corner. While painting I was visited by Cindy riding Mickee along with Max. I left my painting and walked to talk with her, while returning to the painting I noticed something on my right shoulder, a Praying Mantis. This was the first time I saw a mantis for many years. She stayed with me resting on my knee while I painted for over a half hour while I continued to paint.

I tried to capture the vibrant patterns of leaves, which seemed more like an attempt at Pointallism, though not a conscious attempt at the time.
The tree trunk is too “worked” and stiff compared to the rest of the painting. The tiny brown blotch below the orange tree in the background is Mickee before Cindy took him from pasture to ride.

While I sat painting this Elder Lady, I thought about her curves and twists. As she aged the branches turned to the sun including curves from years of pruning compared to the young tree, which is straight. The older tree has wonderful twists and turns, a lesson for my body as it ages.

(17) Moriah and Pat's Garden

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - Not For Sale

August 20th. Sitting by Moriah (Cindy and Nick’s daughter) and Pat’s vegetable garden nestled by a sumac stand near the path to the lake. I was drawn to the bright red-orange blossoms of the peas, which are lost in the sumac stand.

(16) August Rows

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

August 15th, early morning. Looking north towards Nick and Cindy’s house, far in the background are the willows that run parallel with the driveway. I struggled to capture the early morning sun light that kept changing as the sun and clouds moved. This struggle to paint shadows with contrast became muddy.

(15) Hanger

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

Early August. Sitting just west of the hanger looking at the vine covered wall that faces the lake. This was an opportunity for me to paint what I saw and not what I perceived. Most of the hanger shape is obscured by the vines, my mind wanted to paint the lines of the walls under the vines while I worked to only paint what I saw.

Max and Georgia were with me, they were not so patient and forced me to hurry as they ran circles around my pad and materials. There was a struggle in capturing the vines as they had little definition …one large mass of green, yellow and purple. I love the shape of the hanger, a curve tilted to one side while embracing the climbing vines.

(14) August 10th Apples

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

Early August. The apples were just turning from green and red to mostly red. Trees in the background are peaches, the tall dark trees on the right is a huge sumac stand. The black curve at the base of the tree is an irrigation hose used to water the trees. The breeze created a little dance with the branches, which I tried to capture.

(13) Shore 1

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - Sold

Early August. On the beach looking up the shore at the lean-to, canoe, kayaks, and sail boat. I spent over two hours working on this piece. Suddenly I heard a rumble to my left (over the lake) and turning saw very dark clouds racing northwest up the Adirondacks and New York side of the lake. I was so focused that I did not notice the clear sky turn to storm. Barely made it back to the car before the downpour. The wooded area is an abstract collection of greens and yellows.

(12) Balled Trees

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

July 31st. The young trees in the back ground are “balled” – the roots are wrapped in burlap with rope in preparation for sale. The large oak in the background stand just west of the office. It was mid morning and hot, Georgia is in the painting (small black blotch in grass on right side, her head jutting from the tall grass as she rests near an apple tree). Was tired and muddled the flowers in the grass.

(11) Honey Crisps

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

July 30th. Mid summer growth. At first my attention was drawn to the bright apples that seemed out of proportion to the trees. As I painted I began to “dot” the leaves in a more abstract way, which then led to my eye moving more towards the grass. The grass slowly became flowing lines as my focus moved from thought to feeling of what I saw. This led to the decision of splashing yellow across the grass and trees. On reflection I suddenly realized that this experience was of great importance with my thought being less important than my feelings. As with my earlier works, I became lost in time, however, I honored my feelings and not just what I observed.

(10) Homestead and Willows

11 x 14” Watercolor on Paper - Not for Sale

18 X 24" Oil on Canvas - Not For Sale

Mid July.  Nick and Cindy’s home with row of willows along the drive leading to their house. This was an opportunity to lay down large swaths of color then use purple lines to bring out form (willows and clouds). The apple tree in the right foreground shows early fruit.

With the oil version I used small and long strokes to create motion along with contrast. I expanded on the left sided apple tree from the water color so as to frame the work … since the water color was made the tree was cut down. The oil is warmer with more reds, oranges and yellows throughout the foreground grass and willows.

(9) Apple Wagon

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $125

18 x 24” oil on paper - Sold
Click HERE to purchase a reprint or cards.

Mid July. Apple selling wagon flanked by farming equipment just north of the Packing House, a threat of storm clouds over the lake and Adirondacks. I worked hard at developing contrast. The apple trees were done quickly (from the fear of the pending storm) and therefore more abstractly than prior works.

The oil was both challenging and at times exciting. I struggled with the value of the sky. The watercolor was much lighter than my memory recalled. My first attempts were to create an almost black sky at the horizon connecting the heavy values from the cart. Just before completing the oil I applied small strokes of light and medium blue across the dark clouds, which gave the suggestion of the on-coming storm along with a lighter contrast compared to the cart and shadows of the box.

I decided to use the small dots of color for the grass and tractor ruts. The tall grass appears to push out of tiny holes where the dots of paint might have been. The trees are abstract in the form of bulky objects versus the more realistic mass of long spindly branches. I like the counterbalance of colors. The broad upper half of the painting is a variety of blues while across the middle of the painting (actually just a little below the median) are several objects of orange or reddish orange. The purple and yellow mixture of dots add complementary colors to the composition.

It is my hope that I developed a visual movement with this work. Each end of the cart forms a “V” shaped border drawing the eye towards either the orange/red fuel tank or the orange/yellow cart to the right. The ruts in the ground swirl and hopefully bring the gaze back towards the sides then up again.

(8) Adirondacks and Young Willow Frame

14 x 11” watercolor on paper - $75

Mid July. Set up next to the office looking west onto Lake Champlain. Two young curly willows served as a frame for the picture. Early storm clouds appear over the mountains. The purple of the road in the foreground and mountains balance the light yellow shades.

(7) Young Trees, Old Oak

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

Mid July, sitting just south of the shop on the small ridge looking north. Young apple trees in the foreground, in the background are oaks (one with the tree house, hidden in the branches). I was frustrated in how I captured the young trees though I fell in love with the clouds while the mature apples and background trees look good, loose and quick.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

(6) Packing House Looking North

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

Mid July, sitting in the shade under the cherry trees looking north. The red of the Packing House was brighter than the prior works. I still couldn't seem to paint the trees without overworking them, though the traveled portion of the grass (foreground) came out agreeably. My life is like my painting, tight and controlled. I want the work to be freer and less restricted, which is a struggle.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(5) Packing House Looking South

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - Not For Sale

Mid July, sitting on the runway looking southward at the Packing House. I like this work. More contrast with the trees would help. The purple and blue boxes are apple crates awaiting the harvest, they look good (free and quick painting). The orange truck did not end up the way I wanted while the yellow wash on the road turned out to be a nice effect. When I struggle with the trees I used the purple lines and yellow wash to revive them … great mistakes turned around.

(4) Packing House East View

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

18 x 24” oil on paper - Not for sale

Mid July, the first painting that includes the Packing House. I sat just north of the willow row with my back to the lake. A large swath of red against the varieties of green is catching. I tried to work the trees less (still a struggle) and was content with the willow. It was a hot day and finding a spot in the shade was one reason for this location. The sun late in the afternoon lit up the Warehouse while casting a dark shadow under the willow. I was too timid with the intensity of the red. My first attempt to paint the rows of apple trees.

The oil builds on the swirls of warm and cool colors in the grass and trees adding to the circular effect countering the hard lines of the red Packing House. The pink tint in the clouds and fountain “look” of the willow tree offer a different life compared to the water color.

(3) Cherry Trees

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - not for sale
18 x 24” oil on paper - not for sale
Click HERE to purchase a reprint or cards.

Mid July and the cherries were in abundance. I became overwhelmed trying to paint the endless red dots ... after much labor gave in to a depiction of the fruit. The base of each tree is surrounded with heavy plastic mesh to protect against girdling by small animals that chew away the bark.

As the cherry trees were too dense, I did not use the purple line, however, the apple trees in the background benefited from the outlining. I like the apple trees in this picture the most, they have simplicity and character, the "ladies" as Nick would call them seem to be ready to spring into dance. I used a yellow wash to bring out the sun light in the trees, it worked well.

The oil version includes much darker colors, especially the shade from the trees. I worked far too long in this piece, especially the leaves of the cherry trees. Unlike the water color that used white space to bring out the leaves of the cherry trees, the oil did not need this. The lack of white allowed a blending of the green shades of the cherry, apple and trees of the far background (which was much more of a reality than the water color). Here I found myself using more senses than just my eyes … “children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way all over again.” Eudora Welty.

(2) Tall Grass and Winter Cuttings

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - $75

18 x 24” oil on paper - Sold
Click HERE to purchase a reprint or cards.

Early July. The tall grass only partially obscures the winter cuttings (pruned apple branches). I sat in the mowed path providing a frame to either side of the picture. The flowing lines of the grass wind through the middle of the painting. One reason for this spot was the vibrant contrast between the purple (cuttings) and the yellows (the grass and sun cast light on the trees). I over did the trees, though the purple and blue lines help to define the shapes, especially the clouds.

The explosion from the grass and cuttings work well.
The oil version included an intentional technique of using small dots (Pointillism) though unlike true Pointillism that uses specifically primary colors, I used a variety of colors in the foreground path. This choice was to create a shimmering effect in the shorter grass.

As the trees evolved in this oil, I was reminded of Cezanne (though I will not dare to compare my work to his) and his ability to marry nature with geometric shapes. Paul Cezanne was quoted as saying:

“… treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, everything brought into proper perspective so that each side of an object or a plane is directed towards a central point. Lines parallel to the horizon give breadth ... lines perpendicular to this horizon give depth. But nature for us men [and women] is more depth than surface, whence the need to introduce into our light vibrations, represented by the reds and yellows, a sufficient amount of blueness to give the feel of air.”

Sunday, December 9, 2007

(1) New Eyes - Day One

11 x 14” watercolor on paper - Not for sale
Click HERE to purchase cards.

18 x 24” oil on paper - Not for sale
Click HERE to purchase cards.

On July 2, 2007, I became unemployed for the first time. As was such, I made the intention to do something for myself. This "something" meant painting at the Shelburne Orchard owned by Nick and Cindy Cowles. Walking for some time with my companion dog Georgia during the mid morning, I finally found a spot just off the orchard's "runway" (airplane landing strip) looking westward towards Lake Champlain.

It had been some time since I attempted to paint "en plein aire". I found myself stuck on the yellows of the grass (short and tall). Trying to paint quickly I laid the paint down in a loose fashion, which was challenging as I tend to "think" in my work. The mountains benefited from the quick work, however, the trees were overworked while I found the values bleeding into each other. This value problem was solved by using purple lines to define the trees, this "drawing with the paint" technique was new for me - a great accident/mistake. This "purple line" led to a liberation in that I could paint more freely and quickly without the fear of color contrast and values.

The movement of color was purposeful with an "S" of blue/purple mountains sweeping across the top and then curving downward and through the lower half of the "S" via the path. The shades of yellow and red on the ground and grass became more and more vivid as I sat.Instead of that Monday being marked by my not working, a challenging memory, I look back in a happy way ... new life, new eyes, a new day.

The second image is my first attempt at converting a water color to an oil based version. I could play with the colors and express the image in different ways with oils. The water color provided a quick way to capture what I "saw" at the moment and was intimate in being "there", as opposed to the oil where I set up at home and worked for over a week.

I expanded the colors of the mountains to include green and purple while I tried to solidify the trees, though they are still dark without drastic contrasts of green (as they were at the time of the painting). The whimsy of the tree shapes was purposeful, more from feeling than observation.