Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Red Boat

"The Red Boat" on Cape Cod, Harwich, MA

When driving along Rte 28, this red boat and beautiful marsh scene beckon me at every season. I usually pull over and take a few photos or pull out the sketchbook. Sometimes I just sit and enjoy. When I went there this summer and saw that another boat was there with the formerly solitary red one, I felt like the mood was changing. I decided to paint the feeling it evoked before the addition of the second boat.  I loved the peacefulness and serenity of the place. The pop of the red boat was like a jolt of adrenaline.  Perhaps soon I'll do the new scene with the two boats.  It still has the wonderful red/green harmony and layers of receding landscape. I like it, too. It's just a whole different feeling.
I hope you like this one!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Beacon Hill is Quintessential Boston

Acorn Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA   16x20 oil on linen

When I was asked to paint a wedding present for a couple moving to CA from Boston, all sorts of ideas flooded into my head. The groom had lived in Boston and especially loved Beacon Hill. Perfect! My son and his family just moved to Beacon Hill last month. It was a part of the city that embodied all the elements of "old Boston".  The brick buildings, cobblestone streets, old fashioned lamp posts that are on day and night, the window boxes and iron work all exemplify my image of old Boston. Almost every doorway demands to be admired and photographed or painted. I was excited to have a destination in the new family neighborhood. I spent the first day photographing all the streets, crisscrossing up and down the hills and looking for possibilities for future paintings as well. I repeated my steps and process that afternoon so I could examine morning versus afternoon light. I broke out my sketchbook on Acorn Street and did some preliminary studies. I hoped this would be the setting for the painting. After contacting the couple to be sure this would be to their liking, blocking in the masses commenced. I took advantage of the lamplight to brighten the colors somewhat as the street is narrow and dark. I chose the spot where the ancient green vine grew up the building to capitalize on the red/ green harmony and echoed this harmony in the window boxes. The colonial American flag that flew above the street clinched my choice of scenes as it defined the character of the neighborhood, being  repeated on other streets around the hill. The flag provided a point of interest to move the viewer down the hill while letting other detail and color diminish in the distance. Although the street was very crowded with tourists on my weekend visits, I decided to leave the people out of it.  I wanted to portray it as I saw it on weekday visits; a quiet, well kept and serene neighborhood with a lot of history.  Next stop- Louisburg Square!

Monday, September 29, 2014

"The Ultimate in Peace and Solitude-" Lake Champlain, VT

"Afternoon glow" 11x14 oil

my painting spot!
Causeway crossing 11x14 oil
Majestic Solitude 12x24 oil

I was fortunate to spend a week on Lake Champlain in Vermont far north of  the noise and bustle of Burlington. In the morning I enjoyed watching the loons glide undisturbed as I had my first cup of coffee. I was even fortunate to observe a great show put on by a group of 11 baby loons. I decided to add loons to one painting as it gave it a sense of place. A few times during the week I saw a sailboat go by. In the evening my daughter and I enjoyed paddleboarding on the glass like surface all alone and undisturbed.  I decided to add the sailboats to the panoramic painting since they were the norm and I didn't see any other paddle boarders all week. I wanted to keep the focus on the distant mountains and the mood and feeling of the spot and not make the loons or boats the subject matter of the paintings. During the day I set up my easel and paints and painted in the morning facing the causeway that joined the mainland to the Islands. The sun would rise behind the Adirondacks which created a beautiful constantly changing skyline in the distance. The misty purples and blues were captivating and I tried to capture the serenity the place evoked. After a mid-day break for lunch and a long walk to photograph the surrounding area, I would return and set up facing in the opposite direction. Afternoons were for painting the rocky shoreline and the glow created by the setting sun. I exaggerated the blue violets with the warm oranges to heighten the effect. By the end of the week I was in love with Milton, VT.  I may have to return to paint some of the amazing sunsets that we enjoyed each evening directly across the lake.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's all about the light!

"Afternoon Glow" 16x20 oil-Rock Harbor, Cape Cod, MA

One of our rituals when on vacation is to find the "perfect place" for viewing sunrise and sunsets. The hour before is a glow of great shadows, strong light and a warmth that inspires. Rock Harbor provides a multitude of great views with almost sculptural marshes, distant land masses that seem to dissolve on the horizon and a channel where boats come in at last light silhouetted against the purples, blues, reds and oranges of brilliant sunsets reflected in the ocean.  What caught my eye on this particular afternoon was the yellow orange marsh contrasting with the blue violets of the shadows and distant trees. The people strolling on the clam flats were all waiting for the sunset and gave scale to the painting along with the house being struck by a strong last light. I loved the abstract feeling of the distant masses juxtaposed with the detail in the foreground, but most of all, it was all about the light!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bird Park Beckons

Welcome to Bird Park 12x24 oil

Painting the entrance to the park is a favorite of mine. I intend to paint all the different seasons, so I planned it for the late afternoon early summer sun. Inspired by the light reflecting off of the wrought iron gate, I headed down around 4:30 pm to get the right  angle. The summer afternoon sun makes the entrance glow with a welcoming warmth. Since the last time I painted this gate, a local boy scout working on his eagle project here, removed plantings and added new ones. On this particular day, other folks  were there taking photos and posing in the open gate on the right.  The reddish blocks along the walkway are a hallmark of the park and harmonize well with all the lush greenery and expansive lawns. The stone walls and iron fencing enhance the earthy tones and fit in beautifully with the park design. I used the panoramic format this time to accentuate the horizontal expanse of the entrance.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain Sunset- 9X12 oil

My daughter lives in VT and we spend many hours on and around Lake Champlain. By far, one of the most mesmerizing times is days end, when the sun sets. The lake glows with vibrant color and ripples create patterns of light in the water. The NY Adirondacks  become a bluish silhouette  and the vast lake becomes a hypnotic and seductive sight. This is one of many visual delights to be found by the shores of this beautiful, vast lake. It is a sight that I will always treasure seeing and I'd swear to you that no two sunsets are ever the same.

Sunflower surprise!

Sunflowers!  8x8

I arrived home the other day to a gift bouquet of sunflowers. After a cold and rainy spring, they felt so warm and cheerful that I knew I would be painting them before they faded. The next morning I set them up by the window and worked for several hours on an 8x8 painting. The flowers turned naturally in every direction giving multiple views of the same colorful "faces".  I decided to offset the dominant yellow orange subject matter with the blues in the negative areas. The small panel is a gallery wrap canvas, so the petals extend around the edges. They looked so happy that I, too,  felt happy upon completion. I think this painting defines a "sunny disposition".

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quick and Loose

The Rhody is the star!  12x16 oil May 2014

Painting some fragile pieces from the garden I knew would be a one-and-done session. I began, after a quick thumbnail, by mapping out the composition with a few broad strokes. Then I massed in the darks with a thin layer of paint. I knew I wanted a yellow-orange/blue violet harmony so I was able to mix some puddles of paint to blend with and start layering it on, blocking in my shapes and values. After, I was able to start applying the paint thickly and quickly to make the rhododendron the star, pop the colors and sharpen and blur edges to move the viewers eye rhythmically around the space. The rhythm corresponds to the manner in which I painted it: quick and loose.


Living the Dream-2014 oil on board 9x12

Once again the Bruins were getting everyone excited with their post season series. The playoffs bring inspiration as excitement builds. A few pieces of memorabilia and team colors give the viewer enough information to know what it's all about. Unfortunately, I finished the painting just as they lost the series; but, as my friends tell me, it timeless. Go Bruins-there's always next year.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Red Sox!

"Painting for Sox"  9x12 oil

When you grow up in the greater Boston area, there is a certain passion that gets ingrained at an early age. Going to Red Sox games has been a lifelong treat; first with my grandfather as a very young child, later with tickets from First National Bank when I worked there after college, and always with friends and family over the years. The Red Sox are part of who you are if you are from Boston. I do believe a bit of seasonal art is essential to one's surroundings; and now is the season. Go Sox!

Vintage Themes

"Chopsticks" oil 11x14

"Vintage" oil 11x14
 Vintage themes are inspired by several influences. My mother and grandmother were both antique dealers. I grew up loving learning the history of unusual "things" that magically appeared in our home. We had beaver top hats, crank handle coffee grinders, and flow blue china. Delft tile,  tiles of Sculley Square and  half boats were on our beach house wall. None of my friends had stuff like this in their homes. There was always a story that went with it. Our Norwood Art Association gallery is in an old factory turned "antique mall" and I find myself once again surrounded by the type of items that intrigue me. In the still life above, the blue fan grabbed my attention partly because of it's vibrant color and partly because it reminded me of the Japanese influence on American artists at the turn of the century. The vintage hat, frame, fur and silver hairbrush are reminiscent of my grandmothers and the items that adorn our guest room now. They are more conversation pieces than utilitarian, but they tell a story of our ancestors and a life before throw aways. I was attracted to the fur, feather and lacy textures and the brights reds that made the subject matter become warm and alive.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Clark's Pond in Walpole, MA 16x20 oil
Driving home when the sun is setting is always a special time. There are days when I just have to pull over. This was one them. The sun coming through the trees and radiating out across the freshly fallen snow prompted me to make a U-turn and savor an impressive sight. I tried to evoke that feeling in this 16x20 painting. The weeds were growing up along the roadside and the bright orange contrasted with the blues of dusk. The stand of trees was vibrant and glowed in the distance.

A Boy and his dog.

When you are feeling down there is nothing like a dog to comfort you. Seeing the boy feeling blue and his dog faithfully by his side brought up so many emotions. I raised Malamutes at one time and this dog reminded me so much of my Kiska that I had for 16 wonderful years. To put the focus on the relationship between the boy and his dog, I eliminated most of the detail in the scene. I left enough to let the viewer know they were on the couch without making it site specific and to focus on the relationship between the two. I made the red-orange  and blue/green combination a central part of the color scheme to reflect in the fur and on the boy's face to draw you right into the scene. I liked that it was more narrative than portrait. I think the owner agrees.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stop and smell the roses!

Valentine surprise  12x16 oil
Once in a while I am drawn to something immediately. The combination of the shoes,  purse and flowers grabbed me right away. It all looked so "girly" ! I figured the roses would fade and get droopy before I finished the painting, so I worked diligently on them the first day while still blocking in all my shapes and values. It is usually best to work up everything at the same time, but with something like flowers, I have to make an exception. Because of this, the painting has a somewhat spontaneous quality and freshness that I really like. Be sure to take time to stop and smell the roses.

Pet Portraits

Brittany 11x14 oil
PITA  6x6

As an avid animal lover who raised dogs and cats I like to try my hand painting pets. When my children brought home a stray needing a home, I always caved and our house has been home to many and various animals over the years. When I was asked to paint a dog for the Brittany Rescue Foundation I was really excited and honored. I warmed up painting PiTA the cat while I was thinking about what to paint for a Brittany. I was torn between doing the face only or the entire animal. I settled on the face because there is nothing more touching than a dog's precious eyes looking soulfully out at you. The interesting part doing this was the markings did not follow the contours of the head. Color changes made the modelling somewhat more of a challenge than painting a dog like a golden or lab that is all one color. The dog sitting in the car with the light hitting one side made it work with the highlights and shadows helping to define the form and counterbalance the patterns in the fur. I intentionally left off the dog's collar so it would not be identified as a particular persons dog since it was for the foundation.