Monday, January 31, 2011


40F! On the last day of January! Painting weather, so, naturally, I headed out to Caumsett State Park on Lloyd Neck to paint with a couple of my painting buddies. I even left my heavy insulated coat at home because I just didn’t think I’d need it which turned out to be true.

The hard part was getting to where I wanted to paint which is about a mile, or halfway to the beach, up what’s called the Fisherman’s Road. However, the Fisherman’s Road had not been plowed which is great news to the many, many cross country skiers and snow shoe enthusiasts but not welcome news to a somewhat overweight ex-smoker of over 30 years further bogged down with an easel a backpack and wet panel carrier.

We followed the tracks left by the snow shoes which were somewhat packed down but every ten feet or so one or the other of my legs broke through the packed snow and I sank in to about knee depth. Believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t take long before you get tired of this happening. I feel like I pulled the muscles in both legs!

If you read my blog often then you know that I don’t mind exerting unusual effort to get to a good painting spot and yesterday’s location did not disappoint. Great color and composition awaited me as did those wonderful two hours of painting in the muffled silence of a winter’s day.

However, there then loomed the prospect of the walk back…

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.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Clear Creek

This was fun for me to do. It was painted from a photograph taken by my friend Jack Sasson who lives in Colorado. Our families have been friends since before I was born. In fact I still call his folks Aunt Hilda and Uncle Jack. Jack shoots great images out in Colorado and he and I recently hooked up on Facebook where we get the chance to mutually admire each others work.

I am also friends with a number of plein air painters who live near where Jack lives. Because of the way Facebook works the painters were able to see Jack’s photos and have taken to inviting him along when they go out to paint. I am thrilled to know that they have all gotten together but just a bit frustrated that I can’t join in! I was in Colorado once and remember it being one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I look forward to the day, hopefully soon, when I can join them.

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, January 17, 2011

Plein Air Still Life

I would like to be a better still life painter but find that I suffer from one major drawback in this area…I hate setting them up! I hate finding elements that I think will look nice: perhaps tell a story, getting everything arranged, getting the light just right, etc. It all feels phony and contrived. I much prefer to stumble on elements that are in their natural setting, that have a perfect light upon them and that do tell a story simply because they are where they are supposed to be and at the precise time when they are supposed to be there.

I wondered if the fact that I can’t really be bothered to take the time to compose and set up the elements to make a perfect still life suggested that I had a streak of laziness running through me. But I have decided that this cannot be the case as I am willing, instead, to wrap myself in every warm garment I can lay my hands on (including my father’s old sailing coat which is a USCG approved personal flotation device and, as such, is the most wonderfully insulated coat ever conceived!) and head out into cold temperatures and even colder wind chills in the hopes of stumbling upon my perfect plein air still life.

I think this is why I have been doing all the tree paintings of late. The primary reason is that I love trees, I love their character and the way light hits them and how they all have such stories to tell. I have also decided that I am tired of always looking off into the distance for a wide panoramic view when there might be something just as beautiful right at my feet.

I set out a bit late in the day this past Saturday to do some painting. As I drove to my location there was a nice warm sun throwing great light and shadow on the trees and the snow. However one glance at the sky was enough to tell me that the sun wouldn’t last long, that it was just a temporary break through some gathering clouds. I had to get off of the plowed road and hike through some knee deep snow to get to the location that I felt offered good prospects for a nice painting. I had just about finished setting up when I noticed this wonderful warm glow in the sky beyond my horizon trees and I worked very quickly to get that established before it disappeared. I only had about an hour on this small painting as when the light started to diminish so did the temperature!

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.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Full Time

Noted landscape painter Stapleton Kearns recently wrote something to the effect that if one is an on site landscape painter and one only works during the warm weather months then one is only working part-time!

I loved this quote and took it as a challenge. I read the above in an article Kearns had written in one of the art magazines about painting outside in the winter. In the article he made many suggestions, both of a technical and practical nature, to help make what could be an arduous and very uncomfortable experience more comfortable and productive.

I followed a lot of his advice, not the least of which was the purchase of a pair of boots which are so well insulated that they claimed to keep my feet toasty warm in temperatures as low as -94 F! I also purchased my first ever pair of glomitts which are a kind of mitten that folds back to expose finger-tip-less gloves.

Clad in my new boots, my fathers old sailing coat (which is actually a well disguised personal floatation device and, as such, is incredibly well insulated) my earmuffs and my bright orange wool cap I set out last Sunday for The Planting Fields Arboretum which is not far from my house. My thermometer read 29 F which is not too cold…well within the advertised range of my new boots…but there was a stiff breeze, which I estimate to have been in the 20MPH range, bringing the wind chill down into the teens.

All in all I was outside of my car for two hours. I painted for about an hour and a half. Unfortunately the view which really inspired me also called for me to face straight into the cold northwest wind but, if I like what I see, I set up and paint it and worry about the comfort consequences later.

I am happy to report that my feet never came close to feeling cold. In fact the only parts of me that did get cold were my face and my fingertips and the fear of frost bite finally caused me to pack up and head for the warmth of the car.

But what a brilliant experience I had! Standing out in a field alone, painting on a cold January morning with a beautiful snow covered view stretched out before me. This is something I have thought about mustering the courage to do for quite some time and I am so glad that I finally did it. Thanks Stape, now I’m a full-timer!

Shown here are the sketch (above) which I did on site that morning and the same view worked up in the studio (below) which I painted while working from my sketch as well as photographs shot that morning.

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.