Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The amazing KRUMMHOLZ

Rocky Mountain High 9x12 oil

The Amazing Krummholz 9x12 oil

When my brother first moved to Colorado, he took me hiking everywhere we could squeeze in in a day.
On one of our hikes up a 14,000 footer, where the air was thin,  the vegetation was amazing. He then introduced me to the krummholz and the story of how the tiny little trees persisted for years under incredible conditions. The wind and terrain and all of the things that worked against sustainable and favorable growing conditions created these marvelous twisted tiny trees that outlasted all the "normal" trees that lived at lower altitudes on the mountains. After that I became intrigued by the character of the trees that grew in the Rockies and in challenging conditions. These two paintings are of trees at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado. Not quite hovering close to the ground like the krummholz I had seen before, they displayed the twists and turns and color that set them apart from other trees. Short in stature and with limbs dying and broken, they displayed a tenacious spirit that kept them strong against all odds.
I loved the color harmonies of the landscape as well and painted both with the same limited palette. I was honored when "The Amazing Krummholz" won Best in Show at the spring 2018 show at the Artists Gallery at  Patriot Place in Foxborough, MA.

A Man and his Sunflowers

Be Still my Heart 24x30 oil
After painting the previous large canvas of sunflowers, my friend told me she was in love with the painting and interested in purchasing it. She told me the story of her father, her boys and the sunflowers they grew together every summer up in Maine when the boys were young. Later that day she sent me a photo of her father and the boys when they were young  growing sunflowers and creating memories. I decided right then to paint her father surrounded by sunflowers. When I showed her the painting, in reaction her words were "Be still my heart!". The painting now hangs in her office and I hope that she and her boys will cherish it and that her father will be happy he is honored in this way.

Sunflowers 6x6 oil

Happiness is a field of sunflowers

Tangerini's sunflowers /24x30 oil
Tangerini's farm in Millis, MA is not just an amazing farm with great owners and produce, but a mecca for artists. Artists are welcome to come and paint on the property and each week offers new subject matter as the fields come to life with flowers and fruits and vegetables. The flowering trees and bushes are set against the architecture of an old New England farm. The ice cream stand is buzzing with families and the picnic area is alive with people enjoying the food offered at their take out window. One of my favorite themes is sunflowers. To me they are a symbol of happiness and hope. They turn their faces to the sun creating  a spectacular display of color against the clear summer skies and a majestic pattern of shapes against evening sunsets.
My stars in this piece are the two sunflowers that rose above the others with the light playing off of their radiating petals. I kept the sky a clear blue to push the flowers out to the viewer. To keep the focus on the two stars, I left the jumble of leaves and other flowers soft and suggestive, hoping to create the sense of the crowded field. The perspective of the viewer is below the subject to emphasize the height of the flowers and sensation of being there among them.

NAPA Valley

The Blue Tractor/ oil painting
Napa vineyard/oil
We celebrated my daughter's birthday vacationing in Napa. After the fires of 2017, I couldn't stop thinking about the beauty of the valley and it's  people being devastated by the inferno. I used photo references and memories from our trip to paint what I hoped remained. The light and color of the vineyards was stunning that October visit. The paintings were a way to come to grips with what had happened.

Beautiful Vermont!

Another beautiful Vermont scene 18x24
Our friends live in Morrisville, Vermont. When we visit I am constantly finding scenes that make my heart skip a beat. This one is right down the street from their house. Each season it takes on a completely different feeling as the colors and moods change. There are several angles that offer great composition possibilities. I chose this one because I liked the vibrant foreground contrasting with the softness of the distant mountains. I  also was drawn to the light on the barn creating a a rhythmic connection between the two.
I began by blocking in the large masses with multiple thin layers in the dark areas. As more layers were applied to add definition to the scene, I was conscious of subtle color variations to define areas while keeping details at a minimum. I intentionally kept edges of the mountains soft, and foreground flowers as clusters of color and shadow to bring the viewer back to pause at the barn, but then to keep the viewer's eye continuing to move throughout the painting. The foreground tree also helps the viewer to focus on the barn.
Painting in a high key keeps the painting warm and cheerful, reminiscent of the day.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Making Memories

 Trips to California to visit my daughter always inspire new work. Living on separate coasts makes every visit special. We don't get to see each other too often, so each trip is a memory maker.
"Sharing the Moment"  16x20 OIL

Before my daughter leaves for work in the morning, a beach walk starts the day. After work, watching the sunset is a ritual for us. During the day I descend the steep cliff to paint on the beach while she is gone. Other days I paint from the top of Seacliff. The colors are amazing and always changing.  The colors are reflected in the water and wet sand and move with the rhythm of the sea. The sounds vary depending on the wind and surf. Along with artists and photographers there are couples, people with families, or with pets and sometimes just a solo person. The desire to experience and share with someone the beach magic seems universal. I love to capture these moments both to share with others and to internalize the beauty that each of these experiences brings. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Moody scenes

11x14 oil-"SOLITUDE" at Wild Dunes, SC

 Not all days are filled with sunshine and glowing color. But that's OK. Life isn't like that. On this particular day, I was on vacation in the Carolina's and had gone out for an early morning walk. No one wanted to go with me since it was the tail end of a storm and cold and windy. However, the surf was rolling in with huge energy and a roar. The "beach boys" had set up the chairs and umbrellas for the day, even though no one was venturing out. I loved the optimism they represented and the vitality that surrounded me. Although with an overcast sky I missed the usual play of light that I am so drawn to, the wind and noise and taste of salt in the air as it stung my face had a distinct moody appeal. I limited  my colors  to focus on the solo empty chairs, the deserted beach and the challenging weather. My goal was to capture the  mood.