Monday, October 25, 2010

The Axiom

I’m not sure if this is a saying or not but it should be in so far as it applies to on site landscape painters. It would be worded along the lines of “it’s great to know nice, generous people who live on beautiful otherwise hard to get to property situated on the edge of Long Island Sound”. As sayings go this one might be a tad cumbersome but you can get a sense of my excitement.

Friends of my brother in law own just such a property and were kind enough to let me wander about and set up my gear this past Saturday morning. “East Toward Caumsett” was originally set up and designed as a vertical 12 X 9 because it was low tide and I had a lovely sandbar in the foreground that pointed very nicely toward my focal point tree in the middle distance. Then the tide began to come in…fast! It was as if a dam had broken somewhere upstream. My sandbar vanished in a matter of minutes! As a result my vertical 12 X 9 became a square 9 X 9. I read somewhere that it really is not a matter of survival of the fittest but more survival of those capable of adapting. If you paint landscapes on site you have to be willing to adapt…especially when the tide comes in and swallows huge chunks of your composition.

I felt an immediate bond with this beautiful piece of land and have been granted permission by my generous hosts to return which I look forward to doing from time to time.

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the “Paintings and Prints” tab and then on “Available Paintings”. The price includes shipping costs.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I was invited with a group of other painters to paint on the property of my friend Jamie Grossman in Palenville, NY. Palenville is about 3 hours north of me and is in the heart of The Catskills. I will jump at any opportunity to paint in Upstate NY especially during what is the peak of the fall foliage.

Jamie’s beautiful land features a small stream which courses over a couple of small waterfalls and empties into a beaver pond at the edge of the woods. Jamie led us on a short tour of what she felt were the best painting locales and I fully agreed with her assessment. Most people set up at the falls which was motif number one. Not being one to want to paint in traffic I thought I might like to paint the beaver pond but Jamie advised me that the afternoon light was much better down there.

Then, while walking back along the stream, I was suddenly taken by the effect this one old tree had on me. It’ old branches were covered with a copper colored lichen and it was not lit the way it appears in my painting. In fact there were a lot of broken clouds that day so the sun would come out blazing, go in behind the clouds, come out blazing, etc. It was almost like clockwork…every five minutes it would change. It was not until I had my easel set up that the sun first hit my tree and I was even more amazed than I had been initially by the almost defiant last stand that this old fellow presented to the elements. As an aside I am very pleased to say that this painting has been named to the FAV 15% of entries in the October Bold Brush online monthly competition. This is the fifth time this year that one of my paintings has been honored in this way and the sixth time overall. It doesn’t happen too often but I like this painting!

After a bit of lunch and a rest in Jamie’s lovely house it was time to head back out to the beaver pond. Jamie was right…the afternoon light was great but I’m sorry to say that after about fifteen minutes of work the cloud cover thickened up and I lost my light. I rather liked what I had going and felt, as I always do, that the subdued light seems to match the feeling of the onset of autumn. It seems to make the colors more vibrant and real.

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the “Paintings and Prints” tab and then on “Available Paintings”. The price includes shipping costs.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Try as we might to stay focused, to stay on point, to try to follow our desires and to try to make progress…Well, everyday life has other ideas. John Lennon said “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

That entire preamble might be a bit overly whiny. All that I meant by it was that instead of going out to paint over the past few days I was caught up in a family wedding. Please try to understand that when I don’t get to go out to paint I will dissolve into a worthless pile of self pity and woe. A bit too dramatic? Maybe, but I take what I do very seriously!

Some months ago my brother in law asked me if I would be his best man at his upcoming wedding and I very happily said yes. I love him very much and was honored to stand up with him. I was even happier when I learned, as he was marrying a Bonnie lass of Scottish descent, that we would be wearing formal kilts!

It was a great wedding and we had a great time. My wife and her sister were bridesmaids, it was a perfect day weather wise, and a great time was had by all.

However I don’t like to spend too much time away from the brushes. The rehearsal dinner was Friday night and the wedding and reception was this past Saturday and, as you might imagine, Sunday found me feeling…well, let’s just say I was in no fit state to drag my painting rig out and about looking for suitable landscapes to paint. As the day wore on and the cobwebs cleared I wandered downstairs to the studio and started to think about moving some paint around. If I’m not going to head outside but still want to paint from life (as opposed to from a photograph) then the only alternative is a still life.

I have a rather large pile of silk flowers and arranged them on my still life table in a shape that I found pleasing. I’m rather dead set against painting flowers in a vase most of the time. This sort of arrangement that I chose feels much more natural to me as if they were cut from the garden and just brought inside and laid on the table while a suitable vase is sought. I began this painting in what is an unusual manner for me whereby I simply started bringing the focal point flowers to a finish and just let the painting grow from there so that “Sunflowers” is approximately 6 X 13 on, as yet, un-stretched canvas.

Note that all of these small sketches are available for sale directly from me via this website. Simply click on the “Paintings and Prints” tab and then on “Available Paintings”. The price includes shipping costs.