Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Watermelon Eaters

Yep, pulling out those reference shots from last summer and longing for this one! Kids at our annual Fourth of July block party chow down at the watermelon eating contest. They are so into it and enthusiastic that I was inspired to create a setting that reflected that enthusiasm. Splashes of Opera on the tabletop and the same color reserved with masking fluid splatters in the background helps to convey the action.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I don't quite know what it is about clothespins, but I had some out to work on the previous painting setup and I kind of liked them. So I threw a handful into this ceramic planter, and here we are. Quirky.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Remains of the Feast

Yes, it's odd. One day this summer, I came out into my backyard and found these most incredibly beautiful wings on the glass-topped table there. Some bird must have had himself a feast and left the wings behind. I'm not sure what kind of insect they come from, but I felt compelled to paint them, even if a bit macabre.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Child's Play

I found this great little antique watercolor set in a junk shop probably about 25 years ago. The place it came from was along Route 13 in Delaware. It was a small building back then. It has grown over the years with additions added on, and is now a serious antique store. I probably can't afford anything in it anymore! But I cherish this worn and battered old set. It had no paints left in it except a vestige of a crusty ring of pink in one pan. You can tell that it was well used and loved by some child.

The funny thing about this is the little militaristic figure. I suppose he is supposed to be the art instructor. I don't know about anyone else out there, but if I had ever had an art instructor as forbiding and uptight looking as he is, I would have been running the other way!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tidal Race

Another sunny, warm moment from Center Island. Yet again, moving water and reflections. One of my favorite subjects.

I love this little footbridge over the inlet with its weathered pilings and retaining wall. It is such a pretty, tranquil area.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Zippo Lite

This is this week's Daily Paintworks Challenge painting. The challenge was to paint the Zippo lighter with only 3 colors: Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna and White. 

I welcomed this challenge because I use those exact 3 colors all the time. I never create grays with black and white paint. I almost always use this combination because they make beautiful grays that can easily be adjusted to be either cooler or warmer according to the proportions of UM or BS used. Even what appears to be black in most of my paintings is not black paint. It is usually a mix. It is a key to creating more life and variety in darks and shadows. Many beginners make the mistake of not really looking at shadows and darks and will render them as grays mixed from black and white only. They paint what they think they know, not what they really observe. The result is always disappointing.

I added the flame to the painting so that it would not be a straight rendition from the challenge photo. I thought I was going to be less than successful in painting the flame convincingly without yellow and red, but I was happily surprised.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Into the Marsh

It's snowing again today. Looks to be about 3+ inches so far. On a cold day like this, it makes me feel good to hold an image of warm summer days in my mind. So here's one better than that, a tangible one of a marsh inlet. This just happens to be on Center Island near Oyster Bay, NY, but it really could be almost anywhere.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Moment of Reflection XV

This painting is worked from the same reference as one I posted much earlier. I found the reflections on both sides of this boat interesting and worthy of developing into separate paintings. Again, a very abstract presentation.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pop Caps and Pop Art X

Here is another homage to Rosenquist with more of my soda pop caps. Love Dad's Old Fashioned. That's a really retro design on the cap. I'm thinking this would be a fun image with a jelly jar as well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lauren with Pollywog

This is the essence of my friend's daughter. Lauren had no problem when I asked her to pose for me with a pollywog on her nose. Perfectly normal request, right? But what she gave me with her pose is so her, the glance from the corner of her eye and the barely suppressed laughter. She is beautiful, fun and funny.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Goliath Felled

This statue is on Huckleberry Island and sadly, was vandalized years ago and has lain off to the side in the brush. It is a statue of a Native American, life size. He is made of cement over a metal armature with a lead sheathing that was painted and had the details modeled into it. Most of his missing appendages seem to be around as well as most of the lead sheathing.

I look at him and can't help but draw correlatives to the way the Native American has been treated in their native land and pushed to the side. At the same time, I look at him and see a stalwart, quiet dignity and endurance in spite of all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Drama

Here's my submission to this week's Daily Paintworks Challenge. The DPW Challenge has added another level of engagement with my daily paintings and it has been fun to see all the different artists interpretations.

I knew this week's challenge would have something to do with Valentine's Day, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed that it was a ubiquitous red rose. My personal challenge was to try to elevate it above the mundane via the use of my textural technique and some unexpected coloring, while keeping to my preference for realism.

How did I do?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kiss Me

Just to get into the Valentine's Day mood...

(My favorite thing about this painting is the semi sheer quality of the paper strip.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pickin' Up Sticks

I just happened to be on a friend's boat as one of our local City Island characters strode down the dock with a bundle of pickup sticks over his shoulder. I snapped off a quick shot of him that was completely blurry, but recorded enough of the basics for me to use for reference. I changed his surroundings to simplify it and direct the focus more strongly onto him.

Those unfamiliar with City Island would not believe that this is a scene in the Bronx and not somewhere in New England. Islanders, however, are well aware of how fortunate we are to have this haven in the Bronx waterfront.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dockside Sugarland

We escape from New York and the snow, and what happens in NC? Snow! The difference here is that it doesn't last more than a day, it's never deep by our standards and you don't have to own a snow shovel. 

The snow here was damp and so it clung to everything, even building up on the marsh grasses. Just a wonderful, frosted vista of the lavender and browny grays of winter diffusing into the distance.
I wasn't really happy with this image as first posted. So, in violation of the alla prima nature of all the others posted so far, I went back to this painting and made some changes. 

The method is so forgiving that it is easy to wipe off anything I don't like and rework the areas. I was not loving the underpainting color I used in sky and so changed it from a teal to a straight ultramarine. Then, the woods on either side of the creek receding into the distance were too warm and pinky-purple. I cooled them off considerably and reworked the expression of the snow covered boughs. Much better, I think.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moment of Reflection XIV

I can get lost in the delicious reflections in water. I never get tired of painting them or looking at them. I imagine them as a window into another dimension where all natural laws are turned on their ear.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Frozen Rhodie

With the snow and ice storms we've had this winter, there have been amazingly beautiful scenes and formations everywhere. This ice encased rhododendron branch is right outside my front door. While so many are running about grumbling over all the snow and inconvenience, I'm running around with my camera and filling my eyes with what looks like an enchanted land coated in clear sugar candy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sir Gawain & Kahn

This is a little corner on my front porch where I love to sit and paint or read in fair weather. There's a wonderful, worn cement bench support that we found underwater, covered in barnacles off of Hart Island, and a metal casting that I found in a shop in Hudson, NY. 

One day I was relaxing on the porch rereading several of my favorite art books, and I placed one about my former teacher, Wolf Kahn, to the side against the bench end. Voila! An unconventional and unplanned still life set-up. the colors of Kahn's painting on the bookcover seemed to work so well with the varicolored bricks, and the repeated rectangular elements looked great too.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Murder of Crows


I've had this painting in my head for a long time, planning to do a large version of it. I pass harvested corn fields all the time near my house in NC, and one morning I saw a thin blanket of snow and black crows picking about. The coloring was so beautiful. The golden corn stalks, the white snow and the black crows with a touch of iridescence to their feathers. 

Now, here is where the guys can stop reading. 

Ladies, here's where the title of the painting comes from. If you have a gynecologist with a sense of humor, as I did, he or she probably put posters on the ceiling that you could entertain yourself with during your examinations. Mine had a poster that listed what names were given to groups of animals. Like a pod of whales or a murder of crows. It stuck in my head. I find crows foreboding and iconic anyway. I have probably read one too many Poe, King, Koontz, Rice, etc. novels.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dig That Tailight

This piece is a departure for me in a few ways. First, it is not biographical in the sense that it is something that I have seen with my own eyes and/or photographed nor is it from my personal surroundings. It is my entry in the Daily Paintworks Challenge which can be seen here:

The premise is that a photo is posted weekly (or sometimes it might be a theme) and artists enter their take on it. It is not a competition at all, merely a fascinating peek into the minds,  methods and interpretations of different artists. I will tell you that it is worth clicking on the individual paintings to see the larger versions because the coloring seems dimmed in the smaller versions.

The second departure for me is using this technique which I developed many, many moons ago, for a small daily painting. I usually reserve it for MUCH larger pieces. But part of my reasoning for engaging in this daily painting project was to push myself into trying some new things: subject matter, viewpoints, mediums, etc. So I thought, why not? 

I am very happy with the results. The very nature of the artist's crayons does not allow for fine detailing on such a small textural surface, so I had to loosen up which was fun and different for me.The day I, (or any artist for that matter), think that I have nothing more to learn or investigate with my art, is the day I should hang it up and not consider myself an artist any more. Art is nothing if not a constant process of growing and searching and learning.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Christmas Village House Wrap-up

Packing away the trims and ornaments for another year. Here's another of the handmade houses that my uncle created. A pretty church this time, being protected by the Russian Tea Room and Classified ads.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Boat Trim

I know it's funny to add this now, but I painted it weeks ago, set it aside to dry and did not jump it in to the postings. You'll see another tomorrow from packing away my ornaments that I had also set aside and kept forgetting.

I just love the iridescent effect and the way the bulbs really seem to glow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Colonel Mustard in the Ballroom with the Revolver

Mademoiselle Scarlett: "Colonel Mustard, je vous accuse!!" 

This breaks the rules with the only spot of red almost dead center, but still, the eye travels around the piece. I think it is because the revolver is rendered so realistically, that your eye gets pulled to it and then from there to the strong graphic of the card.

I like to break rules.