Friday, April 29, 2016

Bluebirds of Happiness

Happiness 6x6

These bluebirds were part of a much larger photo reference which included other birds, a birdhouse, fence and greenery. I used two birds from the photo to compose a simple little painting with a blue/orange harmony. The pair brings memories from years ago when my Mom and I used to watch the bluebirds in the apple trees where we played tennis. I get bluebirds at the bird feeder here in winter if the winter is harsh. In the good weather they are fairly elusive since we cut down our apple trees. I love their color and the fact that they are associated with happiness. The world needs happy reminders sometimes. As an artist, I need direct and simple at times. I simplified the surroundings and their perch focusing only on the birds and their relationship to one another.  I did this in one quick session.

Pink Hydrangeas

The Pink Hydrangea 11x14

Pink Hydrangea with teapot 12x16
These pink hydrangeas stayed looking great for so long that I ended up painting them twice. Such is the advantage of a potted plant over cut flowers.The first painting I did with a simple pitcher  and focused on the plant and the lighting. I am a big fan of red and love the warmth and harmony of the set up. The second time I painted the hydrangea with more items concentrating  on the overall movement and color harmonies while still keeping the lighting a major element. The fluted and undulating surface of the teapot  added a challenge that the more simplified pitcher did not. The grapes withered half way through and had to be completed mostly from memory. I like the simplicity of the first, but enjoyed the challenge of the second.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Boston Public Garden Delights!

"Elo and the Ducklings" 24x30 oil
My 2 year old granddaughter, Elouise, lives near the Boston Public Garden. I think she thinks  of the Garden, the Common, and the Esplanade as her backyard. We have frequented the "Make Way for Ducklings" sculpture since she was born. Her first spring, summer and fall was spent sitting on the blanket and watching other children climb and play on the ducks. We would pose her on a duck for a photo now and then. By the following spring she was walking and couldn't wait to explore them by herself. I have loved them for a while, but have never spent so much time there until the past two years. The sculptor, Nancy Shon, has brought much delight, not just to children, but to adults too. Robert McCloskey's book delighted generations and inspired the sculpture. The book is a piece of my childhood, and it and many visits to the sculpture inspires me as an artist. My first painting of the ducklings was without  Elo, but now I am adding figures in to my landscapes and Elo is a favorite. I find the duckling compositions work from many different angles and the subject  matter has great appeal. The sunlit bronze reflects surrounding colors and is so tactile. I hope my painting inspires viewers to visit them too, or to recall a memory made there. They'll keep you forever young!

Aptos evening

"Aptos evening"  12x24 oil
My daughter recently moved to Aptos, CA. We drove cross country from VT to CA in January and after seeing many magnificent places along the way, we arrived at her place in Aptos. I felt she had about as perfect a view as anyone could have. The beach in front of her condo is magnificent from the moment the sun starts to rise in the morning until it sets at night. Rain and fog only add another mysterious dimension. Even in the dark the sounds and smells are a sensory delight. This painting is from our very first evening there. We walked to the bottom of the hill and watched the sun set towards Capitola. The birds were all lined up along the beach and the colors were vibrant and constantly changing. It was a different feeling than an Atlantic sunset, each with it's own special beauty. Each night after, the scene would repeat itself in one form or another and I will probably paint a few more while it is still fresh in my head.

It's Bird Park again

"Contemplation" 11x14 oil

Certain subjects will always be in my repertoire. Bird Park is one of them. No matter how often I go there and paint there, I never will be "done". I decided this time to try something a bit different from previous paintings of this bridge and put a figure in the landscape. I continue my relationship with using light as a compositional  and unifying element. When I had my friend pose on the bridge, I intentionally viewed her from the back. Most anyone can relate to having the sun on their shoulders, contemplating nature and listening to the sounds of summer. As someone who frequents the park,  there is a magical connection. I worked with analogous colors mainly-blue green, blue, and blue violet, using orange in the light for a harmonious effect.

Winston Flowers

"Winston Flowers"  11x14 oil

When my friend received these flowers, she pleaded, "You have to paint them!" I was a little resistant because I knew I would have to get it done that morning or they would be dead before I saw her (and them) again. But the petite bouquet was so perfect, and the packaging made such a statement, that I decided it would be worth giving it a try to see if I could do it justice. When studying the tiny little vase of flowers, all I could think was "Good things do come in small packages". It was such a perfect little arrangement! The flowers composed the painting by simply setting them in front of the gorgeous package they arrived in. Although the bag was very dark, I continued my efforts to make the light entice the viewer  and add movement. The tiny little fern like patterns in the greens and the meandering ribbon and cellophane added a nice rhythm to the piece.
Update 4/12/16-I just received news that this painting was awarded first place at the Foxboro show at the Gallery at Patriot Place. I am honored and happy I accepted the challenge!

Still life variations

"Havest Glow "

"Tea for Two"  11x14 oil
My focus recently has been to try to bring more exciting light into the painting. Moving the paint around, playing with edges, exaggerating colors and pushing the contrast has all been part of my experimenting. I am always drawn to reds and like the warm feeling it imparts.

Take me out to the ballgame....

"Buy me some Peanuts and Crackerjacks"  11x14 oil

Everyone is familiar with the springtime favorite; "take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the park, buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks...". Applicable to any team, the subject matter has universal appeal for the baseball crowd. It  appealed to the fan and the artist in me and was a really fun experience to paint. Because of the familiarity of the box, much of the design is suggested rather than detailed. The peanuts are used to lead the viewers eye into and around the composition. I made the baseball glow with warmth so the viewer wants to pick it up. The predominate reds may have a little Boston bias, but what can I say-? I am from Boston after all.