Thursday, March 9, 2017

Warming Up

"Blues Alley" 20x16 oil on panel

        Like many of you on the East Coast of the US I have been enjoying the warm, early spring weather and that has been reflected in my choice of palette for recent paintings. This painting outside Blues Alley, a popular jazz club in Georgetown in an alley of the same name, was originally planned as a moody nocturne. However, I was inspired by the weather and chose instead to paint early morning light, sort of a "morning after" narration of the scene.

        In fact the original, on site sketch was created in morning light last May. It was a quick ballpoint sketch in the 4x6" sketchbook I like to carry with me. I didn't think of it again until last fall when I did a color study for it using the morning light from my sketch and then decided to shelve the painting until I could view the scene at night as I thought a nocturne would create a more fitting mood for the scene. Then flipping through my sketchbook looking for inspiration late in February I decided to go with what I had and add some atmosphere to the strong contrast of light and dark of the morning light. I am pleased with the outcome but I still want to do a moody Blues Alley at night!
        Below are the little 4x6 inch sketch from last May and the color study from the fall. I like working from these better than from a photo because they represent what was important to me in the scene, sort of a short hand of everything that was there.  Incidentally, I originally added the overhead wires in the painting but felt that they did not add to it and were just literal elements so I painted them out to  strengthen the composition.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Black and White

"Rain, Lexington Avenue" 16x12 oil on panel
     New York City is a great inspiration for black and white paintings. I really enjoy doing these as it is relaxing to concentrate on the values and forms just using a tube of titanium white and ivory black. Over the years I have experimented with different blacks and have also mixed my own chromatic blacks to good effect. However this time I wanted simplicity (just out of the tube) and the warmer tone of the ivory black.  For this painting I toned the panel first with a midtone mix of the titanium and ivory and then just dug in when it was dry.

      Needless to say this was not painted on site.  What I like to do when I have the itch to paint NYC and can't be there is go to Google maps street view.  That way I can walk up any avenue to whatever view I desire.  This view up Lexington was from downtown, I think I was at about 36th street. I wanted to go far enough down to get a good image of the Chrysler building which is why I chose Lexington Avenue.  I think the Chrysler is one of the best buildings in New York.  Of course the weather was my invention. The view on Google maps was of a bright, sunny day.  Once I have a general feel for the placement of the buildings I just take some characteristics of them and then invent. I have been painting rainy day street scenes for a long time so I can just create that on my own. The idea is for the scene to look right to a New Yorker but on close view they would tell you that building isn't there or that one doesn't really look like that. They would, however recognize the Chrysler which even though it is shrouded in mist was the reason for the painting.

    Here is the sketch I made before starting the painting. I did this from sitting at the computer on the Google street view I described above. It is the next best thing to being there!  I will be entering the painting in the 2017 Black and White Exhibit at the Salmagundi Club on 5th Avenue in NYC. I wonder what the New Yorkers will think of it.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


"Morning at Libby's Cove" 9x12 oil on panel

"Fog Lifting at Libby's Cove" 9x12 oil on panel

"Northeast Wind" 6x8 oil on panel

    The Annual Thumb Box Exhibit continues at the Salmagundi Club for the 108th year!  This is a REALLY BIG little show :-)  Both the Main Gallery and the Lower Gallery at the Club are filled with hundreds of small paintings no larger than 9x12 inches (image size). The show opened on Monday, November 21st and it will run until January 1st 2017.  The public is invited to a reception on Thursday, December 8th from 6:00 to 9:00PM.
    I am happy to say that the first painting above, "Morning at Libby's Cove" has received a "Certificate of Merit"!  I am really honored to have this painting singled out considering the number of really good paintings hanging on those walls! I am particularly pleased because these paintings were truly labors of love. 
     The first two paintings (the Libby's Cove paintings) were painted from memory. Like many of you I have "go to places" in my mind that I can image during times of stress to remind me of better days. This cove in York Maine is one such place as is the beach in front of the beach house we owned for 20 years on the Outer Banks of NC.
      The cove was my summer playground as a child. We spent our summers in a bare bones, one room cabin (camp as Mainers say) atop a hill overlooking this cove for the first 15 years of my life. This is where I first learned to oil paint and I could sit on the porch and paint the cove right from the cabin. Later in life the same would be true on the Outer Banks.  The house was much larger but the porch also afforded an unobstructed view of the ocean.

        My 15 year old dog, Lucky, was dying when I painted the upper two paintings.  I would not leave him alone during the beautiful fall weather so instead of plein air painting outdoors I painted in the studio from the images in my head while he slept next to me. I worked quickly with the palette knife and let the love of place come through as best I could. I will always think of him when I see these paintings and only I will know how much love is in them.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The 88th Grand National Exhibit!

"Jesse Waiting" 20x16 oil on panel

     I think a trip to NYC might be in order as my painting "Jesse,Waiting" has been selected for the 88th Grand National Exhibit sponsored by the American Artists Professional League!  The exhibit will open this Sunday, November 6th at the Salmagundi Club at 47 5th Avenue, NYC and will be on view until November 18th. A reception will be held on Sunday, November 13th from 12:00 until 5:00.
     This has become my favorite national exhibit as it includes paintings, drawings and sculpture by artists from around the country. The work is always high quality and I love that drawings are included as they so rarely are. The drawings selected in prior years have been very good but this year there are some really extraordinary pieces to see! I don't envy the awards committee as selecting winners in all categories will be a challenge. This is my 6th year participating and I am thankful the jurors have once again chosen one of my paintings, particularly this one.

     This is a painting of my eldest granddaughter painted a couple of years ago. I rarely do figurative work as it is difficult to find sitters but Jesse was a willing model and a good one!  I painted her in a wistful mood with my mother's silver sitting on the window sill. Actually the sitting was shared with three other artist friends of mine and we all contributed props and clothing. We used the main salon at a local private school as it provided a variety of views and antiques as well as a terrace.  We all did photo shoots of Jesse and created CD's of our photos which we shared with one another. I had the advantage of being able to have Jesse available to me here at home when I needed live reference for the painting :-)  I hope you like this one!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pennsylvania Avenue at Freedom Plaza

Pennsylvania Avenue at Freedom Plaza, 24x30 oil on linen panel
     This summer was a challenge.  Family events prevented me from spending the amount of time in the studio that I would have liked.  I made up for that by doing small, plein air studies from my home and some of them were posted to this site. 
      I had started this painting in June with the intention of completing it quickly as it was flowing along nicely.  I wanted to work wet into wet when creating the sky and the wet pavement. I was able to get the sky in at once and a good start on the rest when work ground to a halt. By the time I got back to it there was no choice but to work wet on dry and this time it might have worked in my favor.

      Painting wet roads for me means keeping it loose. To get back into it I just started applying paint with a palette knife and then dragging it around with a credit card, rolling through it with an interesting inch wide wooden roller I found at the hardware store and leaving marks or pulling it around with a squeegee. I ran a brush through the paint to create the marks made by the cars or the flow of water. It was a lot of fun!

     The most fun, however, was adding the lights!  That is why most of my cityscapes are evening or night scenes. I LOVE, the reflections and refractions. It is interesting when I study the roads during and after a rain that the reflections don't always show up where you think they will. There are so many fascinating dimensions!
      I hope you enjoy viewing this one as much as I enjoyed painting it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chasing the Light

"Illuminated Trees"8x10 oil on panel

My vantage point.

     Chasing the light is a common phrase heard from plein air painters. It is a challenge! All summer I have been admiring the evening sunlight as it hits those trees at the edge of the woods behind my house. I kept promising myself I would paint it but the intense heat wave we have been experiencing this month kept me from doing so. Finally, the night before last we had a cool, breezy break in the weather and I didn't hesitate.
     I started painting around 6:15 and finished at 7:30.  I took the bottom photo before adding some warm tones to the dark tree trunk on the far right. I wanted to be sure to get the photo while the light was still strong on the trees.
     These little studies are great lessons in seeing and getting down the important stuff. The small format is perfect for this. I have been keeping my pochade box set up right inside the door so I can get out and paint at a moments notice. There is quite a bit to see in my own little world just off the deck.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Summer Change of Pace

'Summer Tapestry" 6x12 oil on panel

"Summer Flowers. Evening" 6x12 oil on panel

"Hydrangeas in the Afternoon" 6x12 oil on panel

      I have often said that it is unusual that I hardly ever paint gardens. It is unusual because I am a graduate of the Landscape Design Program at George Washington University in DC and ran my own design business for years.  I used to call it painting with plants.

      Lately I have been doing a lot of planting and beginning to redesign my garden which will become a larger undertaking in the upcoming year. Landscape design is a lot like painting in that I am thinking of composition, color and texture. In the summer months I have 6 huge planters on my deck and I mix perennials with annuals and herbs. They are my color laboratory.

     While sitting outdoors enjoying a comfortable evening a couple of weeks ago I felt compelled to set up my plein air easel and paint some of the flowers. The first two paintings are of the flowers in two of the planters on my deck. The third is a little study of the front garden and my enormous Annabelle Hydrangeas.