Thursday, November 11, 2010

Summer Fields
30" x 38"
oil on canvas

The thing about central Loudoun County, Virginia, is that you can still find places that seem to be in the middle of nowhere - empty and rural and quiet - and yet just a mile or two away are towns and houses and traffic and population. My task is to search out these places that seem to be beyond the times and temporal business of today. This painting was made at one of those places, somewhere near Hamilton and not far off from Leesburg, yet on a dirt road and away from everything. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Barn at Fields' Farm
oil on panel
10" x 15"

Another view of the same barn.  I loved being able to roam around that old farm. It had been sold to the county for a new school but then the construction was held up for five years. I was always completely alone and able to choose my subjects and work in complete serenity. Unfortunately, the county managed to push through the school's construction and now the old farm is completely gone. The wise person said "nothing is gained without giving up something else."  

November Woods
44" x 50"
This big painting started out on site, bungee corded to an old, large aluminum easel with my french easel used for a balast / anchor against any breeze that might come up. After struggling with it for a couple of visits to the small creek not too far from home, the finishing work was done in my studio. Degas wrote that first year art students should draw for a year from plaster casts with the second year students moving up to actual still life subjects. Third year students would draw for another year, this time from the human figure. The study and application from the first three years should be such that the fourth year students would work only from memory of what had been seen.  I had to go back to look again and again on this one. Maybe modern man's memory just isn't as supple.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Empty Barn
oil on panel  6" x 8"
As far as I can tell, this barn sat right about where the middle of a new high school just north of Purcellville, Virginia now sits.  It was a great place to work - I could drive my truck back in among the sheds and barns and fields. No one around and interesting subjects to work from. In this one I've just tried to keep it simple and minimize brushwork, trying to catch the light pouring in around the edges.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On The Way To Middleburg
oil on canvas
28" x 50"

Early fall, brisk weather, and a runaway sky full of nimbus clouds racing overhead like a stampede. working in a brush - dropping frenzy, trying to grab hold of being alive in that moment. 
About as good as life gets!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Blue Baking Dish, Apples, and Knife
6" x 9
oil on panel
I'm including this painting now because of the knife. a week ago this morning I had rotator cuff surgery on my good (right) shoulder. Thus the knife.  This morning at the doctor's they told me I won't be back 100% for 12 months.   I'm not sure when I'll be able to paint anything, which is distressing (to say the least) but I'm thinking about maybe getting pastels out and working small things with my arm still in the sling for now. We'll see. (I've considered non dominant hand (left) knife paintings. Seems to be too desperate.   
One thing's for certain, it won't heal any faster if I sit around and mope - so watch this space for new works. Without the set-back I'd be burying this place with good stuff by now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

better than ever awards

Hammers and Coffee Mug
oil on panel  8" x 6"

Well, so long to the class of 2010 and before they get too far down the road I'm announcing the Art Awards for this year.  Just imagine an award named after each of you, given in honor of you each being the best you we have ever seen. No one has ever been a better Sophie or Hannah or Agnes or Amelia or Jacob or Yaqub or Crysta or Meg or Alexis or anyone else in our group. Because when it comes down to it, the only award that can really matter is the one you give yourself secretly when the process of making art takes you away from the everyday and your heart, eye, and hand come into alignment for a golden moment.
So guys, get out there and learn something and keep up the life-long search for that award
that really means something.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Glorious day

Glorious Day
oil on canvas
36" x 40"
The title says it all - sometimes in a great while, if you work at it regularly, you will be standing before the easel out in a field or right there at home and you are present as the magic happens.
This was one of those days

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Study of a Young Woman
oil on panel
10" x 8"
I've recently embarked on a series of studies of students - working rapidly and wet-in-wet to avoid too much busy work on detail while holding to the visual reality as much as I can. If I've learned anything of value in 32 years of teaching, it is simply that making art requires an abandonment of what one thinks one knows, as well as ignoring the idea of (or concern with) a finished product. Each work requires a leap of faith that process will lead to results - and that process must be a commitment to visual exploration as if everything encountered is absolutely new to the artist. This requires a focus that borders  transcendance (forgetting time and place) and requires total absorbedness with a shadow / light / space / shape / form sort of awareness. Sounds a little flakey but that is actually how / what artmaking seems to be. It just so happens that this kind of work encompasses the human mind and spirit functioning at the highest level - no matter what the pursuit. Bill Walsh, late coach of the San Francisco 49ers and respected football innovator, titled his book "The Score Takes Care of Itself". Pretty much sums it all up - involve yourself in the process fully with command of the fundamentals and the results will be there waiting for you - as if by magic.
"A Glance"
oil on panel
8" x 10"
"Oil Study / Young Woman"
9" x 11"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Folding Chairs
16" x 22"
oil on canvas
This one was done in a one shot demo for a class of high school students a few years back - I just came upon it in the studio a couple of weeks ago and today it just seemed a good break from the winter posts of late. I've been thinking a lot about the processes involved with making paintings and choosing subjects and my teaching - I'm retiring very soon (after 32) years to paint full time and a lot of stuff is churning up in my head. I keep coming back to something I find I'm often saying to my A.P. Studio students when they question me about color schemes or composition or any other of a dozen things in their work - I turn their questions back on them by asking -"what are you in love with here? What is the star of the show? What simple wonder are you bringing back to show us?" Just as this painting is not about folding chairs but instead is about the light and shadow as it carves repeated similarities in shape and space and directional angles and creates a battle between foreground and background / negative and positive space - we can discover what all painting is really about - the experience of a visual exploration and the record it leaves for others to explore. I think more than subject, style, or effect - painting has to have its origin in what Avigdor Arhika called "the integrity of every mark" - what each work must be"about". That humble task of exploration without concern for product - discovering what I love about being alive and attempting to paint that joy- will be my concern as I move from daily teacher to a daily painter.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Two December Trees
oil on canvas
20" x 24"
These two giants stand guard over our home and I wish I had a nickel for each time I've just gazed up at their massive structure in awe - at any time of year. In winter though, the bare bones are revealed and the gestural quality as they sway and reach far above me is amazing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

December Stream
oil on panel
6" x 8"
The same place more or less where many of these paintings occur - beavers have created this little pool of freezing water and another beyond. The chaos along the left bank made up of fallen saplings and mud and ice and snow and the reflecting pool of ice skim and water all set off the light up on the right - hand bank. A real gamble of a painting that seems (to me) to work while staying as loose as I dare. This is how I love to work.
Slow Melt
oil on panel
8" x 10"
This one was done on one of those days right after a light snow and the temps went up and slowly the ice and snow began to shrink away from the grasses - I love the blonde and orange grass and pine needles against the cold light and shadow of the snow. Captures a moment in time by compressing an hour or so.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Autumn Treetops

Autumn Treetops
oil on canvas
5" x 10"
This little one came out of a blustery, cool fall day and the waving trees were still holding on to most of the foliage. Place and time and the immediacy of being and trying to grab hold of all that - that is the subject of the work always - the subject is simply the trigger.