Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Marsh
 oil on panel  9" x 13"

March Marsh, March Marsh, bet you can't say that ten times fast.  
There is a wonderful book in a series, "Monet By Himself". Its a compilation of his letters and selections of his paintings and at least half of the letters deal with his difficulties with the weather and how it affects his work. This Spring's weather has brought me to understand these difficulties more deeply. The weather has been much colder than normal and it seems every day begins overcast and clears and clouds over again. Don't get me wrong, it is my joy to paint out in the field - but this spring is testing me. Then a day comes and you get a good light and no wind and things are looking terrific -  and every where I go is posted 'no tresspassing' or with stone walls right up on the on the roadside so that no one could stand there and no place triggers a compelling visual moment and my doubts creep in as I push my truck around these dirt roads aimlessly.    And then a discovery.   A place that is a frayed edge, a place no one cares for enough to post or wall in and the light and space is magic once more, even with the steady noise of traffic nearby or the pink flags marking the land for the coming bulldozers. For a compressed moment all is visual exploration and the struggle to find and process understanding and form.
The joy is returned. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Early Spring Cedar
        oil on panel  7 1/2" x 11"
I have rigged up a backpack with my new small paint box and brushes and everything else I might need, so I might hike in to places where my pick-up truck won't or can't go. So this is a first - this painting was made just a short hike down our dirt road to a little section of a farm that borders a tangle of undergrowth and wild cherry, oak, and maple trees. The cedars scattered along the fence line are deep green against the red and gray and tans of the just starting to bud woods. I carried my whole kit in my pack and it worked out nicely - the little 9" x 12" Guerilla Paintbox performed well.  Can't wait to hit the trails along the Blue Ridge Mountains with my new set-up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fence Line, March 22

March Fence Line
 oil on panel  7" x 10"
Just an overgrown fence line at the edge of the woods on the first day of spring. The rain was approaching and the trees in the background were beginning to show signs of budding. I'm pretty sure the vines on the fence greened up during the time it took to make the painting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Early Spring Sunset

Early Spring Sunset
 oil on panel 6" x 8"
A fallow field just beginning to show some green and the rain storm starting to be pushed off by a brisk northwest wind - all these elements conspired to give me a brief chance at bringing the space and structure within my grasp. The wondrous thing about such an image is that it requires absolute speed and focus without any of the devilish analysis that can paralyze.  These kinds of paintings must be a leap of faith, just trust your instincts and go for it. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wood Pile

Wood Pile
 oil on panel  8" x 11"
The hard slanted light of early March falling across the sections of a downed tree - a jumbled line of shadow and light that seems to catch the essence of this day. Spring is coming despite a call for snow this coming Monday - we're hoping for the crocus to show any time now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Early March Oak
  oil on panel  6" x 8"
One of the ten 150 year old oaks that surround our place - all of them are a source of visual incident on any given day, in any possible light.  As distinctive and majestic as they are, when I look at the drawings and paintings I've based on them, the work seems to reflect my mood and situation more than the 'thingness' of the subject. This is how it ought to work.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Far End of the Lake
  oil on panel  7" x 15"

This one was done yesterday from a charcoal sketch done up on Lake Pocomoonshine in Princeton, Maine. While sticking to the veracity of the sketch, it doesn't fill in every detail - and that is a good thing. Interesting to note here that Degas believed one should work from memory (after careful study of subject) - he thought that when working from a well prepared memory of a subject - all the peripheral material was discarded and only the essence of the subject remained.
I find it is certainly easier said than done - but still doable. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Last Light, February 27th
  oil on panel  6" x 8"
A painter I've admired for years once told me something that has stayed with me for sixteen or seventeen years. I happened to meet Eugene Leake one Saturday morning at the Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore. I had come up to see his paintings in a one man exhibit at the gallery when he came in - I introduced myself and he talked to me about his work  - he said he had come that morning to look at the paintings, after all the  pressure and hoopla about getting everything ready and hung and theopening and such - he had come that quiet morning to see his work and rediscover who he was, so he could get back to work. 
      This past Sunday dawned clear and promised to warm up into the mid forties - the first good painting day in months. I paced and worried and wondered where and what I could go and paint - I was at a loss and I knew I didn't want to waste the day.  I needed some way to get going, get back to work. It finally dawned on me - what I often did when I was stuck and uncertain (every year at this time) I went out front of the studio and house and looked up into the 200 year old oaks that surround our place. There it all was - form, space, color, shadow and light - the things painting has to be about before it is about any subject. as I became lost in the moment and place and the struggle to get a handle on those vital elements I realized all that I was doing was rediscovering who I was - what I loved - so I can get back to work.