Americana

Marshfield Hills General Store, 5x7, pen and wash

Marshfield Hills General Store, 5×7, pen and wash

Recently I visited family in Massachusetts and we stopped by the Marshfield Hills General Store which is now owned by actor and comedian, Steve Carrell. In a Boston Globe interview Steve, a native of Massachusetts,  explained that he saw this as an opportunity to preserve a little piece of history. He felt that the gathering places of general stores give people a sense of community. The Carrells have owned the store since 2009.

I remember going to this store in the early 60’s with my friend who lived nearby.  She and I rode horses, stopped and tied them outside on a post, and entered the store for a snack.   When I visited the store with my parents last week, it was a snowy afternoon filled with memories of the town where my father was once a high school  science teacher. How wonderful that Steve Carrell appreciates the importance of preserving this general store!  The Marshfield Hills General Store and Post Office is located at 165 Prospect Street in the Marshfield Hills Historic District.

Technical notes: Studio sketch from a photo of the Georgian Colonial General Store in a Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook, Micron pen and Watercolors by Winsor Newton and Daniel Smith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Harvest Moon Vineyard

Reference Photo Harvest Moon Vineyard

Reference Photo Harvest Moon Vineyard


It was this reference photo of a beautiful moon rising over a vineyard near my home in Livermore, California that inspired my painting. The soft pastel color of the sky contrasted with the strength of the vertical tree and vines.
Mid Stage Harvest Moon Vineyard

Mid Stage Harvest Moon Vineyard


I adjusted some of the color of the vines for visual interest. Also some of the color in the sky and outline of the distant hills were tweaked due to composition and value. This painting is included in a group pastel show at the Orinda Public Library.

“Harvest Moon Vineyard”, pastel, 12×18


Technical Notes: Wallis Sanded Paper (Belgian Mist), Various pastel brands, NuPastel, Rembrandt, Unison, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig, and Conte Pastel Pencils.

Waiting to Sail

“Waiting to Sail”, 12×18, pastel

 
“Waiting to Sail” is one of my recent pastels that just returned from the frame shop. It is a studio painting that I did this spring from a reference photo that was taken on Cape Cod a few summers ago. The scene was simplified since I thought there were more boats than were needed. I generally paint from top to bottom and left to right. However, this time I worked in more of a circular pattern. For some reason, the painting called for me to change my usual procedure. Here are a couple of process images:

Early Stage of “Waiting to Sail”


Mid Stage of “Waiting to Sail”

Technical notes: Painted on Uart #400 sanded paper mounted on archival board. The underpainting was done in a peach Rembrandt pastel which was then brushed down with water to give it some warmth. A variety of pastel brands was used in addition to Nu Pastel, Rembrandt, Unison, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, and Conte pastel pencils. I have eliminated elements in a marine painting before. It presents some challenges when depicting the reflections. I think the vertical masts and post on the dock help the composition which also has a few horizontal elements. Also, the water has many bright reflections which challenge the common idea that water is always blue.

I Brake For Sheep

Sheep (detail), watercolor

Sheep (detail), watercolor

On the road to the iconic Mont- St.- Michel, the island monastery off the coast of Normandy , the traffic came to an abrupt halt while we were on a family trip a few years ago.  We got out of our rental car as we saw others exiting the tour buses.  To our surprise it was not a car accident, but a flock of muddy sheep strolling across the ridge of the causeway to the abundant grazing land on the far side.

The moment that I saw the image in the camera, I knew that it was to be a future painting.  I did a study for a more detailed watercolor on an 11x 15 sheet of Arches paper.  I can see that the composition would be improved if I raise the horizon to the top third of the paper.  Also, I plan to add more details to the foreground puddles of water.  The water could also be improved by saving the lighter values for highlights. The color and the mist didn’t photograph well, but will also be strengthened. The sheep which are the main focus, could also be improved with attention to the details of the legs and facial features. Additional sheep on the right will also be included in the final painting. Can you tell that I am fond of sheep?

Sheep at Mont-St.- Michel, watercolor, 11x15( study)

Sheep at Mont-St.- Michel, watercolor, 11×15,(study)

Why Are Barns Red?

"Old Barn in Spring", pastel, 11 x17

“Old Barn in Spring”, pastel, 11 x17

It is February already! It is the month of Valentine’s Day when we hope someone thinks of us with tokens of love, the color red and flowers. January found me busy with this painting, “Old Barn in Spring.” The focal point of the painting is the red barn. The color of the red barn made me wonder why barns are painted red. They have been called “architectural poppies” that contrast with green grass. According to Catherine Bauer of Colorado and others that have researched the topic, early settlers in America painted huge barns that symbolized great hopes and plans for life in the New World. Farmers began painting barns after the 1700’s with skimmed milk, lime, and red oxide. Linseed oil and often blood was also added to the mixture. Some farmers thought that red painted barns kept them warmer inside in winter.

Red is the color of Valentine hearts. It is also symbolic of a zest for life. In design it is used to attract attention. In this painting I think the solidity and timeless quality of the weathered barn contrasts with the fleeting nature of the delicate pink of the fruit tree in the foreground.

Technical elements of the painting: I first blocked in the scene from a reference photo with pastel and set the under painting with a wash of water. The original scene did not have the pathway and foreground fencing which I added as a compositional element to invite the viewer into the painting. There were several vanishing points due to the various hills which made for a few challenges.

I hope the month of February brings you more symbols of the color red!

Winter’s Gift

Kyle with Painting

Kyle with Painting

"Deep Winter", 18x24

“Deep Winter”, 18×24


It was the first time that I done a painting based on another’s photograph. But, it was a photo taken by Kyle, my son and I had his permission to do a pastel based on his photo reference of a winter stream near Lake Tahoe. The deep blue of the river contrasts with the deep white snow. If I remember his description, the freshly fallen snow was deep and the temperature was fairly warm for New Year’s week.
The completed painting was framed and packed for my son’s move to Colorado this summer. When we visited him last month, it was also good to visit the painting hanging in its new installation in his home in Boulder. Indeed, paintings and the artist can seem like old friends. Like friendships, the pastel and I had our struggles and came to new understandings. There are other paintings in the New Year ahead. It was great to visit Kyle and my gift to him.

Sunday’s Bouquet

Sunday's Bouquet.

More Cohasset Harbor Reflections

Harbor Reflections, Cohasset, MA

Harbor Reflections, Cohasset, MA


The Class of 1963 of Cohasset High School recently celebrated their 50th high school. My sister, Janet suggested that I might consider donating a giclee of the pastel painting that I did of our hometown harbor for a silent auction whose proceeds were to benefit the local food bank. It seemed like a win-win situation, so I packaged and shipped the matted giclee print off to Cohasset for the event. As planned, the reunion weekend which was held this past weekend was a success. The Saturday night dinner was held in one of the galleries at the South Shore Arts Center. One of her classmates bid on the giclee “Harbor Reflections”. The Food Bank receives a donation, the classmate has a momento to give to his sister of their hometown, and I welcome the opportunity to keep the conversation going about my art. Yes, it is a win-win situation.

The Summer of 1973

Painting 1973

Painting 1973


Has it really been 40 years since the summer of 1973? What were you doing then?
I was taking an oil painting class offered by the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts at Tufts University. The professor made an interesting assemblage of found objects on the front table and it was the subject of one of the paintings. In the background we listened to the proceedings of the Watergate Hearings. No classical music for painting in “the zone”. It was the sound of the DNC, John Dean, and details of the break-in. It was not the “Sounds of Silence”. It was the Summer of our Discontent, the resignation of Richard Nixon, and the oil embargo.
That summer also was a time of change for me. Although, I had taken studio art and art history during college, nineteen seventy three was the year that I decided to change the course from classroom teaching to focus on Art Education and become an art teacher. It was a good decision and one that I have enjoyed over the years.