Tuesday, December 17, 2013

“Thinking of an Old Friend today”

George Jones and I in the late eighties
 Today I was going through my flat files in the studio looking for needed storage space, and I pulled out an old illustration painted by my old friend George Jones, who passed away in the early nineties.  George was in my opinion one of the really fine illustrators of that period.  When I knew George, he was working mainly for Pocket Books, and Harlequin Romance out of Canada.  I also painted many Romance covers for Harlequin and George was very generous with his knowledge and expertise…..particularly when it came to painting beautiful women.  He had the ability to take what was already a beautiful model and enhance that beauty like very few artists could.  George loved to talk about painting, art in general, and the Illustration business.  He taught me a lot about painting romance covers in the late eighties and early nineties…..of course, my covers never rose to the level of his, but I did learn much from my old friend…..and certainly got a lot of laughs. 
When George and his wife Cynthia decided to leave the New York area and relocate to North Carolina, he gave me a historical romance cover of his as a token of our friendship. 

 "The Naked Huntress" by George Jones
 His intention was to go down south and paint his first love, the old steamships.  He had several of his steamboat paintings displayed in their home.  They were all beautifully painted, framed and each had its own special lighting.  Sadly, he never really got to do much more of that due to illness.  He became ill shortly after moving…..and within a year, I had to serve as pallbearer at his funeral.  I think of George as I’m sure many of his old friends do and when his name comes up…..its always with admiration for his talent and his fun nature.

I was fortunate to be attending a liquidation auction in Ct., and was able to purchase one of George’s steamboat paintings.   This painting and the Harlequin Romance painting shown above have been some of the favorites of our modest collection of art.  I always intended to frame the romance piece and display it.  Now, I think it is time after all these years.  Thanks old friend!

"The Long Branch", 19x32 oil, by George Jones
And, thanks for listening to my Ramblings!                                                                                                                          

Monday, November 18, 2013

A little Sunday morning painting,"Across the Way" 9x12 oil on linen panel.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

 Step 4

There are only four steps to this little demo, because it was painted rather quickly, and I barely remembered to take any shots of the process!  Anyway, I managed to get four steps.  I am doing some small things for small works holiday shows.  This is one I might use.  The process might be of interest to someone.  Thanks for listening to my ramblings!   

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013 Plein Air Painters of the Southeast, PAPSE, returns to Charleston!

I just returned yesterday from a fun week in Charleston with the PAPSE painters.  It was great seeing everyone again and painting with friends.  The week long get together culminated in a Friday night opening at three galleries on Broad St. in Charleston SC.....the Coco Vivo Fine Art, 25 Broad St., where my paintings are exhibited until the 16th of Nov., Edward Dare Gallery, 31 Broad St., and Galerie on Broad, 29 Broad St.  If anyone is around the Charleston area, this definitely something worth seeing.....some great on location paintings from some very accomplished artists.  I very proud to be associated with these talented group of really nice people.
This is Dee Beard Dean, Katie Dobson Cundiff and myself painting a guy we talked into posing for us at Cherry point.  Fun morning! 

This is the finished framed painting still wet, and one of the three paintings I chose to exhibit opening night at Coco Vivo.
My second painting at Cherry Point that day!  
This is a little 9x12 painted on Queen St. in Charleston. 
Framed wet and ready for Coco Vivo Fine Art!

This was the most windy day of the week for me, trying to paint a wave painting.  This one was not one of the three exhibited opening night, but is available at Coco Vivo!

This was another fun day at Shem Creek.  I had never painted there before, and it offered nice boat subjects to paint for everyone!
This was one of my three that I chose to exhibit opening night.  It was great week, and I look forward to future events with this fun group of painters!  Until next time, thanks for listening to my Cajun Ramblings!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Five New Small Works for Annual Small Paintings Exhibit".

"Waiting on a Fare", 8x6 oil on linen

These five new paintings are headed to Travis Gallery for their "Annual Small Paintings Exhibit", Nov, 30th thru Dec, 22nd, 2013, travisgallery@comcast.net  215-794-3903. I usually do these small paintings as studies for larger pieces, but sometimes I feel they hold up as finished pieces....although small and usually only appropriate for small works shows, like this one. 

The interesting thing about doing paintings this small is the need to simplify.  It forces me to get the essence of what is there with economy of brush work, and encourages suggestion and indication of the subject....rather than using elaborate rendering.  I have been doing this for a long time, but I am always trying to learn how to improve my methods of expressing myself with paint. This is how I prefer to describe the subjects in my  paintings.  The challenge and trick for me, is to get the same simplification in larger works without going to far.  I feel there is magic line where one can over simplify to the point that it is no longer interesting for me.  I personally want to see more suggested detail.....indication of the tactile quality of a surface, etc.  Sometimes over simplification does not satisfy that.  It is not an easy thing to do....in my opinion, but certainly a worthwhile pursuit, and not necessarily something all artists might be interested in....or concerned with.
"The Green Tractor", 6x8 oil on linen

"Autumn Gold", 9x12 oil on linen

"Mary's Place", 9x12 oil on linen

"Nice Toss", 6x8 oil on linen

Another possible issue with working small, as it relates to Galleries, is the pricing aspect.  Gallery wall space is very expensive...as we all know...and Galleries might prefer larger, more substantially priced paintings in general for display on their walls.  I'm sure that is not a universal attitude, but I certainly understand galleries that might feel that way.....so, thankfully some galleries still have these annual small works shows,holiday events with small works, etc.  There are always outlets for these size works.  These are my opinions and do not necessarily reflect any universal attitudes on this subject.  Until next time, thanks for listening to my Cajun ramblings! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Waterfalls", Painting moving water.

 "Camden Falls", 12x16 oil on linen 
 These are recent  paintings of waterfalls from my 2013 summer trip to Maine.  I find painting water……especially moving water interesting, fun and difficult.  It is a tricky subject, and one of the more difficult to paint.  Of course, I can only speak for myself.  The difficulty is in capturing the feeling of movement, or eminent movement.  It is in a way similar to painting other subjects that have the capability of movement, like eyes or mouths in a portrait, or head study.  Everything else on the face is relatively stationary and doesn’t move.  If the eyes and mouth are painted in a rigid or hard manner…..with a hard line through, or around them, it eliminates the feeling that they might move at any moment…..something that is commonly seen in students work.  There should be an appropriate softness in the eyes and lips.  It’s the same thing with water.  Often, one sees paintings of moving, or splashing water painted with every little droplet depicted  as frozen in mid air…..looking more like the photo that it was painted from than it should.  Reference photos of water subjects should be used for interpreting, and not copying verbatim…..in my opinion.

 "Cascading Falls", 18x24 oil on linen

"Acadia Falls", 16x12 oil on linen

Anyway, that is what I consider when painting water subjects.  I'm not always successfully, but it is always my intent from the beginning to make it seem as animated as possible.  It always comes back to observation skills and the ability to interpret what one sees.  This is ultimately more important than knowing the subject…..of course, that is always helpful, but if knowledge alone is used……there is the possibility of it becoming a formula, or every thing looking the same.  Paint what you see, not what you know…..I heard or read something to that effect once.  I think it’s valid, but I might prefer interpret what you see……be it from life or from photo reference.   Again, these are my personal thoughts and opinion on this subject and may not reflect any universal ideas about this.  Until next time, thanks for listening to my ramblings.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Painting Vistas"

"Work in progress", 18x24 oil on linen

I had a recent conversation about landscape painting, and the topic of Vistas came up.  I have never really chosen to paint vistas.  I seem to be more attracted to the intimate in nature.  The more heroic panoramic type of scenes somehow always got overlooked by me. …I don’t know why that is.  Maybe it is the lack of confidence that I could pull off something that beautiful in a painting.  This summer I was exposed to some of the most magnificent vistas in Maine.  The mountain tops in Acadia national park are breathtaking to say the least.  I have so much reference from that trip.   I decided to give them a try.  This is my first official Vista painting.  I don’t want it to fall into the pretty, postcard of Acadia Park genre….hopefully!  I will do a couple more after this one is finished, and who knows…..if I don’t hate them, they may develop into another subject that I can enjoy painting. 

"Starting with a definite plan, but sometimes just letting go!"

"Untitled", 18x24 oil on linen

It has been my experience that having a plan of some sort when starting a painting produces more consistent results.  Over the years, I have learned that intention is an integral part of success….or at least elevates the potential for a painting to be successful.  This is not to say that one should not just let it fly and experiment occasionally.  I think this can produce discoveries that might not otherwise be revealed by practicing only the tried and proven.  The scenario that seems to work best for me is to start with an idea, or plan of what a work might be in the end, and during the process remain open to the possibilities along the way.  That keeps the door open for changes and hopefully an occasional improvement on the original idea.  There are of course never guarantees of success when starting….only hopeful optimism. I don’t necessarily agree that the end justifies the means, because I enjoy the process so much….I would not embrace a method that was not fun for me personally just because it was expedient.  This pertains mostly to studio painting where one has time to ponder and play around with things.  This is the thing I like about studio painting. 
The more immediate interpretations that I capture on location in field studies, or from life are somewhat different….for me personally.  Aside from the obvious benefit of practicing painting from life, in these situations I never have time to do much except race to try and capture something that is fleeting….like the changing light, or an expression on the model’s face, things that constantly change, etc.  I can only speak for myself…of course!

Step 1.

Step 2.

Step 3.

"Off the Beaten Path" 12x16 oil on linen

It is sometimes fun and interesting to start with a rather undefined end game, and just see what happens.  The painting “Off the Beaten Path”, 12x16 oil on linen is sort of an example of that.  I started this with a vague road map of shapes that left me openings to change easily by not being married to a more resolved drawing, or specifically defined shapes that can sometimes become to precious to change.  On the other hand, “Memories of Summer” 18x24 oil on linen, as one can see in the easel photo with the monitor….I did not depart from the original idea except to open up some of the inky shadows in the reference caused by the camera, and add a few seagulls.  The information in a digital shot is great, but the experience of painting from life allows me to correct the deficiency in a photo. 

"Memories of Summer", 18x24 oil on linen, on the easel
I guess this goes to the discussion about how to start a painting in different ways, and how that keeps one from relying on formulas in one’s approach to painting.  I find that some students seem to want formulas, or quick solutions, rather than be willing to make some of the discoveries themselves by putting in the time experimenting on their own.  This is getting into another topic….for another post.  Until next time, thanks again for listening to my ramblings.    

Monday, August 19, 2013

Maine Summer Trip Field Studies, 2013.

Well, we just returned from our annual summer trip to Maine.  It was, as usual, a welcome change from Florida’s summer heat, and always much fun.  We visited with Marilyn’s relatives in the Portland area, and attended a family reunion at a beautiful park near Brunswick Me.  I painted one small painting at Willard beach….below.

 Painting at Willard Beach in South Portland Maine.  A 9x12 Field study, oil on linen Panel

 Most of our time was spent in Port Clyde, where we shared a large, old Craftsman style house with artist’s friends, Mary Erickson, Roger Dale Brown, Beverly Ford Evans, Daniel Ambrose and Mary Burns Stevens.  The first week was spent with Mary Erickson, Millie, Gloria and Karen Hagan.  We painted, explored the area, and sat around a large dinner table each night and had great conversation about art and other experiences.  If you have never tried this type of vacation, I would recommend it highly.  Of course, someone has to organize these get-togethers!   Mary Erickson is the organizer in this group.

We took a day trip to Acadia national park with Roger Dale Brown and Beverly Ford Evans, and their two little dogs Buddy and Rachel.  This was a great photo opportunity and we did one painting in the park.  Marilyn and I stood on the same spot we visited on Cadillac Mt. forty seven years ago.  The vistas were breathtaking.  I think the last time I visited this place; I was too young to appreciate what I was experiencing.   Roger and Beverly are really great folks and fine artists.  This is our second year sharing a house with them, and we got to know them better.  I’m sorry that we won’t be in Maine in September for Roger’s show at the Haynes Gallery in Thomaston Maine……should be a good one!  I saw some of the paintings in the flesh, and they are really great…..this Roger fellow can paint!

Pond at Acadia National park.  9x12 oil on linen

 I painted the pond alongside Roger and Beverly.  This was really a fun day!

Below are just a few of the locations that I painted this summer.  Photos as usual, are courtesy of my wife Marilyn.  Were it not for her following me around unselfishly documenting everything…..good and bad, I would have no digital material for things like this blog.  Thank you Marilyn…..you are the greatest!  Thanks for listening to my Cajun ramblings!

Rock Study at Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde.  This a 11x14 oil on linen Field study.

A great afternoon at Marshall Point Lighthouse.

This is the Fisherman's Cabin from across the water at low tide in Port Clyde.  This is one of the easel setups I used this summer.  The untitled painting is a 9x12 oil on linen panel.

On Co-Op road in Port Clyde.  12x9 oil on linen field study.

I painted "Lonesome Birch" 12x12 oil on linen on the side of the road on the way to Port Clyde. 

"Lonesome Birch", 12x12 Field study, oil on linen panel

Painting Duck Pond on horse point road in Port Clyde.

"Duck Pond", 16x12 field study, oil on linen panel.