Sunday, November 2, 2008

57) Snow Lines

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper
Not For Sale, click HERE for reprints and cards

This work is out of order, painted from a picture taken two years ago the day after Christmas. Georgia and Max stop to share a scent … I often think that instead of taking the girls (Georgia and Max) for a walk I should take them for a “smell” as they constantly keep their noses to the ground.

The wind had blown much of the snow away from the still green grass, leaving the truck and tractor tracks hardened with snow and ice. These lines of snow formed wonderful patterns that swirled and cut through the picture.

Standing at the end of the runway looking north towards the southern sky just before sunset. The light above the trees amazed me with a show of primary colors (yellow to red to blue) and cast a golden glow on the trees.

Friday, October 31, 2008

56) Autumn Splash

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

The last Sunday in October, an unusually warm day allowed me to find an unexpected opportunity to paint outside. The autumn colors were still bright through the oranges and yellows or maple and birch. Blurring my eyes created an interesting effect where the grass of the field looked much like water with the dead grass and tire tracks resembling shadows from the trees. On the left side of the work can be seen the northern most rows of apple trees. On the left side displays a rail fence that forms the northern border of the orchard.

I tried to paint quickly with large swaths of paint. Being comfortable with a more abstract technique, I chose not to use purple and black outlines as with earlier works. The large dead tree in the left upper side reminded me of a neuron cell.

55) Autumn Crates

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

Middle of October painting on the run way, half way down looking east. Rows of crates had been spread out blocking the young trees from public pickers. Most of the trees were turning orange and yellow. The hard lines of the crates worked well with the flowing outlines of the trees.

54) Autumn Half Moon

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

Early October back in the old orchard near the Gate House looking southeast. The older tree on the right came out well including the early evening light changing the purple gray bark to a rosy blue. The center of the picture turned out muddy as I tried to capture the autumn maples and the flowing willow tree sandwiched between them. As with the prior work (Elder Lady 3) I needed to leave the orchard due to darkness and return a week later. During that time the moon went from a near complete half size to its full phase. I settled for representing the moon in the way I saw it the first time, halved in a beautiful crystal clear sky.

53) Elder Lady 4

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

Mid September in the eastern corner of the old orchard looking south. I was intrigued by this old tree whose form was mostly two trunks arching low to the ground. Despite her age, the smaller branches were loaded with apples. It was late in the afternoon and I painted until it was too cold and dark to continue. Four days later I returned to finish the work only to find all the apples gone (harvested).

Vines of dark and light green leaves spiraled up the main trunk, a cool pattern to paint. Despite the disappearance of the apples between sittings, I was able to capture the multitude of fruit from this elder lady.

52) Late Summer Early Evening

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

My favorite time of the day is just before sunset through twilight. As the sun moved quickly down upon the Adirondacks the light shifted across the orchard with an endless spectrum of gold and pink. Sitting on the east edge of the runway looking southeast, I observed the woody elements of the work (tree trunk and tall poles) morph from gray purple to pink purple. I feverishly tried to capture the fleeting hues while combating the looming darkness. In the end my favorite part of this work is the tall trees of the background, which benefited from a fast application of the paint that I laid down anticipating the changing light.

51) Dock

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

Late August sitting on the shore looking south on Nick and Cindy’s dock. The water was very high (more than usual). While sitting I observed the water to be a montage of blue, green and purple circles, which fascinated me more than any other aspect of the painting. The sail boat came out nice with small shapes and lines of blue representing the hull and mast. I made several mistakes with the perspective including the front lines of the dock and the shore line (the land jutting out to the left of the sail boat should have been much farther back), though I suspect the layout works just as well regardless of my lapse in capturing the reality of the picture.

50) Sumac by the Gate House

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

Looking north late August sitting on front lawn of Tom and Katra’s house (the Gate House) at picnic table with Katra painting. The center of the work is a large stand of sumacs with apple trees to either side and in the background. Hazy rows of high clouds floated slowly over the warm summer day, soon harvest will arrive.

Monday, August 25, 2008

49) Peaches and Pears

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

Late August near the rows of peaches and pear trees. The peaches are obvious from the tree on the right while the tall light colored trees of the background are pears. I did not realize the pear trees were as such until after packing up and walking close. Light from the midday sun created a rich dark red hue on the peach tree bark. The grass was a mesh of swirling green and yellow. For the first time in weeks there was not a cloud in the sky.

48) Shadows and Mowed Grass

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

Aug 17 sitting at the north end of the run way looking west. The hanger in the background inspired me with the shadows and hanging ivy. From a distance I could only make out the rough image of ladders stacked in the center of the hanger. Later I took a break and walked close to the hanger with Georgia, I was amazed at the difference between the objects I saw from a distance and what actually was stored in the hanger (crates, old windows, rows of benches). Painting what one sees and not what one perceives is fascinating to me. As I sit and observe then commit paint to paper I begin to see shapes and shades instead of objects. This happened in several places including the burn pit of the foreground and the fence along the right side of the work. When I observe and see instead of interpreting objects the flow changes, I am present and not lost in thought (the interpretation of the objects).

Sometimes I see a place or something and say “I want to paint it”, yet I am unsure why. As I move through the painting I suddenly discover why, and that occurred here. The composition allows for movement with connecting colors and contrasting values. The red from the hanger roof curves across the upper painting, which is picked up by the barely exposed gate on the far right then back towards the center from the streaks of dirt in the burn pile. Complementing the reds are the variety of greens in addition to the oranges of the mowed grass and the blues of the sky. Remnants of branches missed from the burn jut out from the purple/red dirt and blue ash.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

47) Apples and Peaches

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - not for sale

August 13 in the southern part of the orchard looking north between a row of older apples and peaches. The color from both the peach and apple fruit graced the waves of deep green leaves and yellowing grass. It was late morning that bled into early afternoon with a few shadows cast from the sun overhead. Row upon row of small clouds lined up southwest to northeast in addition to a long mass of giant clouds sitting far to the north. It has been a long time since I have seen a cloudless sky.

Sitting closer to the apple tree I could capture the variation of red and green in the tree, unlike the peaches that were at a distance and were flatter in color (though later when walking through the rows of peaches I could admire the rich blending of crimson, orange and yellow). The purple branches of the apple wove back in forth between the waves of leaves that shot out in all directions, reaching for sunlight. The leaves of the peaches are very different than that of the apples, long and slender, lighter in shade. As I painted both apple and peach leaves I was reminded of the difference between the two brush strokes, the apple like quick darting and pointed dots while the peaches felt like flicking minnows across the paper. The smells of the cut grass in addition to the occasional sent from the peaches as the wind changed added another element to the time that I can only hold with memory and these few words.

46) Crates and Delivery Truck

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

Looking north from the Packing Shed. The apple collection crates are stacked high in front of the delivery truck. The rain came on the first day I painted (8/8/8) forcing me to retreat and to return two days later. The second day brought with it the threat of rain too, fortunately the storm clouds stayed far to the north.

For some time I thought about painting this scene and hesitated due to the fact that painting the crates in prior works caused me to deliberate far too long in representing the stack, this time I chose to attack the crates quickly using a broad undercoating wash of all the crates then filling in the details of darker values after. The truck turned out well and my quick work with the crates benefited my capturing the truck as mid way through the work Nick needed to drive the truck away.

There is so much color that appears when I sit and observe. Not at first, gradually the reds, purples and blues make their way through the greens of grass. The reds and oranges of the earthen tracks made by truck and tractor, the blues and purples from the gravel road in the foreground. Even the rusty bumper of the truck offers a warm burgundy shade that cuts across the green grass connecting the reds from the truck lights and balancing the apples and dirt path to the left.

Each day brings patterns of new and amazing clouds that tower and billow, as they travel across the sky I try and capture their spirit and movement.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

45) Homestead and Adirondacks

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

From the deck on the back of the office looking west. Early August. Nick and Cindy’s house in the background surrounded by a variety of trees including willows and a few apples in the foreground. The clouds hung low partially obscuring the Adirondacks. I struggled with contrast for the greens.

44) Five Young Maples

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

July 29 sitting on the runway looking north. On the left are five young maples while on the left a row of apples. The oranges are from the freshly mowed grass. There is so much green after the weeks of rain.

43) Elder Lady 3

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - not for sale
Click HERE to purchase a reprint or cards 

Sitting in the old orchard on July 18 looking west. The angles and curves of the old trees are worth the work. I tried to capture the “sheet-like” quality of the willows in the background. The apples were the size of golf balls half red and green. As the afternoon light shifted the bark of the apple tree turned from purple blue to purple red.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

(42) Burn

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper
$125, click HERE for reprints and cards

July 2, 2008. One day after my frustrated attempt to recapture my first water color at the orchard, I returned to the same area looking south down the run way. In contrast to my work just 24 hours earlier, this painting felt more alive. Nick had pushed pruned branches into a pile to burn. The pile had been much larger from prior days of burning. As I started to set up Nick arrived with his tractor and moved the remaining branches into one small pile leaving behind a large patch of scorched ground and ash. The patch was rich in color reminding me of the puddle that I painted just a few weeks earlier. Purples and blues wove through the dirt and ash. Heat from the burn in addition to the sun turned the grass just beyond the borders of the burn into embracing arms of orange and yellow.

An amazing thing occurred while I contemplated how to capture the few puffs of smoke that floated upward from the smoldering leaves and branches. Suddenly from the middle of the pile an eruption of smoke billowed up and with a southern wind I was engulfed in a thick gray veil. Ash fell around me sticking to the wet paper. Then, as quick as it came, the smoke lifted showing only a pillar or smoke rising from the center of the pile. A beautiful braid of yellow and pink smoke twisted through the center of the column. What an incredible site! As the yellow and pink faded, the tight column began to spread outward into a hazy cone.

As I progressed through the painting, I realized that the rows of apples on the right side of the work looked very much like green flames leaping from the earth. What a cool analogy. To the right of the pile can be seen a row of young saplings and the Packing House, a swath of red emerging from the smoke.

It is no wonder that fire and smoke can stimulate our imagination and inspire our soul. From Apollo and Prometheus of ancient Greek times, to the Spider Anansi of the Congo, to Attar (“ashes of roses”) from ancient Persia, to the Indian practice of keeping fire pits adorned by flowers and the noble colors of the kings (Arya)
, to the bible “Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke” (Song of Solomon 3:6).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

(41) Year Two - Day 1

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

July 1, 2008. After one year from the first water color that I painted at the orcarhd (exactly one year to the day) I sat in a similar location looking west onto the Adirondacks, the lake and the small clearing just south of the huge Sumac stand. Moriah painting with me. As with Katra who I painted along side earlier in June, I enjoyed the conversation and company while creating.
My hope was to capture the same feeling that I experienced the prior year, which was not a good idea. As in other aspects of life, one can not truly capture the feeling of past moments. The attempt to relive this moment in time distracts from being fully present, which showed in my work. The colors became muddy as I worked to build contrast and unlike my painting a year early, this rendering was tighter and too technical. The paint seemed to plop on the page instead of flowing. Moriah’s painting jumped off the canvas in color and shape, mine sank into the paper like Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner’s Albatross.

(40) Puddle

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

June 7, 2008. Sitting in the organic orchard looking north following days of rain. Puddles formed in the ruts from the tractor, which I attempted to capture in this painting. The water of the puddle at first glance seemed only to show shades of brown, then gradually a variety of other colors materialized. Light orange and greens flickered on the edge of the water while slivers of blue wove around the blades of grass that pushed through the puddle’s surface. Small stones, gravel and dirt emerged as purple and blue patches.

On the right side can be seen a vanishing row of young saplings (“whips”). I enjoyed painting the tall grass on the left side of the painting and as the sun brightened so did the yellow grow throughout the space between the whips and the puddle. I used black in addition to purple to outline the water’s edge and tree borders. This was a fun work as I worked freely once the colors came to light.

(39) Willow Row

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

June 7, 2008. Painted with Katra outside her and Tom’s house looking northwest toward the row of Willows. Surrounded by row upon row of apple trees are the majestic willows. Their grace and sweeping yellows melding with green make a wonderful subject. In the foreground are gnarly apples and a hill-like mound of compost. The smaller trees just above the compost rows are young peach trees. The conversation with Katra made the sitting go quickly.

Friday, May 30, 2008

(38) Experimental Organic Tent

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

Click HERE to purchase a reprint or cards 

May 17, 2008. Sitting in the organic section of the orchard overlooking an experimental project to protect trees from insects. The wooden frame is draped with special cloth that will enclose the trees as opposed to spraying with pesticides. On each side are rows of newly planted saplings (“whips”).
Contrast was important with the folds of the cloth, the shaded grass and background trees.

(37) Curly Willow and Bloom

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

May 15, 2008, sitting by the office looking west. Three young curly willows overlook the orchard, lake and mountains just north of the office. In the background is the orchard in bloom. The bloom is an amazing time where the visual of what seems like endless blossoms competes with the sweet aroma of future fruit. While sitting in the orchard off and on over the previous several days, I deliberated on how to capture the white bloom with water colors. Capturing the many shades of white was daunting. When posing this dilemma to Cindy, she suggested doing so in an abstracted way, so, I chose to portray the multitude of white blossoms as light blue clusters.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

(36) Bee Hives 2

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

Mid day just south of the Packing House on May 13th, 2008. The visiting bees (see Bee Hives 1) were hard at work pollinating the orchard in full bloom. The swarm was log jammed in front of each box as there was only one entrance (the small black holes). I tried to capture this swarm using tiny orange dots to represent the bees. My attempt was feeble and could not capture the sheer number of bees (multiply the painted dots ten-fold for a more accurate representation of the bee cloud).

(35) Bee Hives 1

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

Late afternoon on May 12th I sat up in the middle of the bloom near a bee stand. Due to a lack of native bees, Nick must truck in hives from Middlebury. The hives are stacked in three strategic areas around the orchard, this one was almost in the geographic center of the orchard.

I forgot my water color paint palette creating an anxious moment. Instead I sketched an outline of the painting and completed the work from memory at home. What started out as a mistake (forgetting my palette) turned out to be an opportunity to experiment with pencil and paint.

The view is looking south. A north wind blew over my head and created a natural highway for the bees as they flew back to the hives. It was amazing to have them fly so fast over head, a constant stream of traffic zooming back as their work day ended. The light was fading and I tried to capture the dusk with my pencil. During my sitting a jet flew across the sky leaving a gray trail that split the blue and the sun, a red tailed hawk circled occasionally - I captured both the jet trail and the hawk, a cool combination.

(33) In the Pink

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

The buds just opening on May 9. As the buds swell to open they show a little red color at the tip, hence the “pink”. This short time preceding the bloom is called “In the Pink”. The view is looking west from the run way about mid way down the run way. The Adirondacks and Lake Champlain can be seen through the branches. I decided to take Georgia with me, tying her to the leash, which she did not like. With her surgery recovery she cannot run loose. She tried to be patient, though in the end I needed to pull up stakes and finish the painting at the house.

(33) Elder Lady 2

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

May 2, 2008. Nick brought me out to the oldest part of the orchard just south of his and Cindy’s house. He estimated that these few trees will be 100 years old in 2010. This estimate was determined by counting the rings of a fallen tree from the same section. The trees were once numerous, now there is just a hand full in the orchard. Compared to the trees in other sections, these are huge with at least four major trunk sections.

The branches were still just sprouting leaves and the bark gave a reddish glow in the late afternoon sun. I did struggle to capture the light and contrast. In the background is the Gate House (home of Tom and Katra).

(32) Babies

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

May 1st around noon. A row of new trees just planted in the organic section. These are called “whips” as the new branches are pruned to force new growth into the root system … with no branches they resemble a whip. According to Nick each whip is 2-3 years old.

The view is facing southwest. I struggled laying down the paint with too much of my head (being too technical) in the painting and not enough feeling. Continued to experiment with larger areas of wash and few lines to represent the brush and trees of the background, though sometimes I felt the areas of wash were too expansive or that I used too many lines in the center of the background.

I was visited by several hopping insects and let them explore the canvas, another sign of spring. Did not bring Georgia as she is still recovering from her knee surgery, which may be one reason why I was not as present with my work at the time (many thoughts of Georgia being back at home, especially as she was with me most of the time last year).

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

(31) First Leaves

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

Late April, 2008. I am fascinated in how the mind interprets images. From the outer world (visual environment or what we see) our images cross each retina (if we have two eyes) then stream through nerves to the geniculate region of the brain and finally reach the primary visual cortex towards the back of the brain). What happens when the images reach the cortex? Why is it that what we see is not what we comprehend? All last year I saw branches, twigs, and leaves flanking many of the images I painted, which caused me a great deal of anxiety. How do I paint such a mesh of objects? I balked at painting images that seemed like so much work and impossible to represent. My eyes took in the images from the outer world and my mind saw only chaos.

Then I came upon a painting, actually a reprint of a painting, by Monet “The Reader which hung above a bathroom sink in a building where I was teaching a one day class. While washing my hands at the sink, I began to examine the painting. I saw the main subject of the painting (a young girl with a furled dress) sitting against a thicket of brush and branches. Suddenly I realized that what I saw was actually a wash of color (gray, green and brown) with well painted lines to represent the branches. It suddenly made sense to me. What I saw and what I interpreted was not the same. My retinas saw a wash of color with angled lines while back in the cortex my experiences said "thickets of trees". At a cognitive level I knew this, however, my fears kept me from relaxing and see the “washes of color” from the trees.

With this new interpretation of my outer world I sat down later that day (April 25, 2008) in the orchard, facing west just south and west of the runway, and painted an apple tree with just a week’s worth of leaf growth showing. In the background are the trees and young growth of spring with only a flush of foliage. I applied the washes of burnt sienna and gray with a few strokes to represent the trunks and branches. The sky was streaked with dark blue and gray clouds. Mid way through the painting a small triangular rainbow appeared just above the tree, which I desperately attempted to capture. I found enjoyment swirling the paint as I represented the twisting bark of the apple tree. And yet it was the new found freedom in representing the wooded background with broad swaths of color that made the painting for me ... I imagined my cortex smiling.