Monday, June 30, 2014


Today, I went scouting for a place to paint, and drew instead.  The first drawing (all are 9x12 and charcoal pencil) is at the bottom, from a location at the top of Luce Road.  I posted a drawing from there a few days ago.  The second drawing is from Field Farm.  The third and fourth drawings were done at the end of Hopper Road, where there's an old barn and an ancient and beautiful red and yellow truck decaying into the ground.    So I think I will paint at the end of Hopper Road.

Friday, June 27, 2014


The top 9x12 oil on canvas I did this morning at Sweet Brook Farm.  The middle 9x12 oil on canvas I did at a spot to the right last Saturday at Sweet Brook Farm.  And, alas, I felt I had to revise just a bit the "Near Five Corners" 9x12 oil on canvas that I did earlier this week.

Painting outside can be a pain.  I had to take off my apron and my shirt at one point today to get rid of some stinging bug that was caught between the fabric and my back skin.  But suffering for art, it's ok.

The weather has been so glorious for the last week or so that I feel like I've discovered clouds for the first time.  Usually they bring rain.  I did some other work outside today, which hopefully will bear fruit in the next few days.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Greylock and Hopper from Sweet Brook

A 12x12 oil painting that I started a while back and completed recently, but haven't posted until now.  You can clearly see why Greylock, on the right, used to be called Saddleback.  The view is from the field at Sweet Brook Farm.  No,  I didn't get out today.  Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Near Five Corners on Wednesday

The sky was threatening, and the light was hazy, and I did exaggerate the incline of the mountains in the background, but that's how they appeared to me.  When I get back there later this week, hopefully it will be sunnier, and everything will of course look different.  Even the mountains will be less steep.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Drawing on Tuesday

This morning I arrived at a wonderful place to paint, just as the wind picked up and the dark clouds moved in.  So I moved on.  Later in the day I did this drawing while walking up Luce Road above the farm.  I will try again tomorrow morning early, since there are showers moving in later in the day.   The great painter Charles Sovek said that painting wasn't a performance sport, and I agree with him.  But the other day when the wind blew my painting into my palette, I decided to let chance have some say in the outcome.  You wouldn't see it, unless I pointed it out.  I did some scraping and wiping (and whining), which sounds like the behavior of a bad dog.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Painting on Monday

Today I spent the morning and the afternoon outside painting.  Top is 9x12 oil at Sheep Hill, and bottom is 9x12 oil at top of Stratton Road.  Bright, intense, and green.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Morning

Early this morning I visited the Rosenburg Center at Hopkins Forest where I painted the above 9x12 oil landscape.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Paint Tubes in a Cardboard Box

A 9x12 charcoal and pastel drawing of a cardboard box with paint tubes in the studio.  This time it's sitting on the floor.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Even a Kitchen Sink

The studio has a kitchen counter and sink.  The above objects are depicted as found.  The scissors may seem like a quote (they are), but that's where and how I found them.  The above is an 11x14 charcoal and pastel drawing on gessoed paper.  Tomorrow's drawing, if I can pull it off, will be even more interesting.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Studio Table 20

A 12x9 charcoal and pastel drawing on gessoed paper of a table in the studio from this morning.  This is close to what I am trying to accomplish.  Maybe a little looser, a little more variableness in the forms. At least they are fun to do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baby Al

Baby Al, born yesterday, probably has a real name by now.  I did the bottom drawing earlier today in preparation for a painting, but then realized that the image doesn't give any idea that the newborn is only about three feet high.  So I did the 11x14 oil painting above, where the baby is surrounded by adults.  If you go to the Facebook page for the Sweet Brook Farm in Williamstown, MA, you can see a short video of the birth.  Pretty amazing.

Monday, June 16, 2014


These two drawings may not look impressive, but I wanted to see what they would look like.  The sun has to be shining, and it has to be mid-morning to see this effect.  The doorway is the entrance to the studio.  Both are 12x9 on gessoed paper.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Drawing, Drawing, Drawing, Gone

There's only this one drawing that I did earlier today, a 14x11 charcoal and pastel on gessoed paper.   I wanted to put the weight at the bottom.  Again, a still life as found in the studio, arranged unconsciously by Thor Wickstrom.  You could call it an 'act of Thor'.  I like the artificial atmosphere of an art studio.  Of course, doing studio interiors and studio still lifes has a long tradition.  But the artificiality is the same as the artificiality of art work itself.  But is there much real life without artificiality.   And vice versa.   You will notice that the drawing is of the same table as the yesterday's drawing, but from a different angle.  Old skull is still there.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Haley House

A 9x12 oil on canvas of Haley House, otherwise known as 23 Dartmouth, at the corner of Dartmouth and Montgomery in Boston's South End.  I spent much time in this building many years ago.

Studio Table 18

This is obviously a 'serious' drawing, but also just another studio table drawing.  I drew just what I found: no setup, nothing moved, etc.  I did select the view.  I also discovered an interesting way to proceed:  I was doing a prep drawing intended for painting in oil on gessoed paper, but the way the charcoal went on the gessoed paper was so nice, I decided to just make the drawing.  I plan on doing more studio tables with just charcoal on gessoed paper.  I did 'fix' it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Under the Gowanus and Changing with de Kooning

A particularly successful composition masquerading as a 9x12 oil painting of an automobile under the Gowanus Expressway somewhere around 24th Street.  Though I am now working on a South End painting, I feel compelled to return to Brooklyn, since there is no place like it that I know. I will be alternating with the emphasis on Brooklyn.

The following is a succinct quote from the Shiff book on de Kooning, a book you must read if you have any inclination towards de Kooning as a painter:

"'You have to change to stay the same.' Although de Kooning maintained variants of this thought throughout his life ('I like the type more than the original.'), it is as good a candidate for his final thought as any.  We associate the statement with his last decade of his productivity, the 1980s; this is when he repeated it with the greatest frequency.  Such a thought possesses ultimate openness along with its course-of-life finality: you change, but you always remain your same self, you, a person, this person (not some other), who changes.  Was this a painter's 'bright idea', or was it a bit of absurdity de Kooning knew he could throw back at interviewers who had foolish, pretentious notions about his work? His line may be a corruption of the adage, 'The more things change, the more they stay the same.'  De Kooning was known for malapropisms as well as witticisms, and often the difference was indiscernable.  Perhaps he meant to repeat the cliche, but it emerged garbled.  The spontaneous result seems to have amused him,  and presumably others as well; so the expression remained with him, imprinted (a cause of his reputation for repeating himself with uncanny precision).  De Kooning's aberrant phrasing has no fixed origin, existing only in its frequent reiterations.   His version of adage seems to call for some kind of action, rather than resignation with respect to the perpetual state of things.  He rarely left things as they were, even when complete.  His reluctance to finish led him to technical extremes as he attempted to keep his paint wet for revision (to 'do the same thing over and over').  He preserved records of his process so he could move backward as well as forward.  He merely wanted to move, to change.  His exhibited paintings have an unfinished look but lack a typical rhetoric of the 'unfinished' (such as artfully distributing drips and rhythmically spaced bare spots).  Such a rhetoric. were it present, would convert a lack of finish into an end--this was an irony in which de Kooning took no part.  It might be accurate to say that rather than finish works, he discontinued them for the sake of other works.  This was his 'I just stop'.  As long as he was alive and painting he would avoid stasis.  Keep moving, keep changing, stay alive."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Last Piece of Wallis Paper

Only a single 8x10 pastel tonight of a South End location, the corner of Tremont and Dartmouth, but, alas, I used my last piece of Wallis paper.  The previous seven pastels came from the same pad.  Pastel artists all know that because of "production problems" they can't get Wallis paper now, and maybe never.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Visual Translations and What de Kooning Was About

The top is an 8x10 pastel and the bottom a 9x12 oil, both of South End locations, interpreted.

In the Shiff book on de Kooning, he quotes an anonymous reviewer who wrote, "[de Kooning's] real subject is the aesthetic sensibility as it responds to the shock of the beautiful buried forms and rhythms in the objects and processes of the world...He has never been exclusively an abstract or figurative artist."  So there it is.  Now you know.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Two South Ends and One De Kooning Joke

I could only manage to make two pastels of the South End today.  Both are 8x10 as the previous group.

I've been reading a fascinating book, Between Sense and De Kooning by Richard Shiff, that explores De Kooning's painting philosophy with many detailed and nuanced examples.  Hopefully, I can write more about it later.  I did want to mention one more De Kooning phrase that Shiff repeats, one I hadn't encountered before.  De Kooning can be wonderfully irreverent.  He once said that the paintings of Mark Rothko were "blurred Albers".

Monday, June 9, 2014

Studies of the South End

This past weekend I visited Boston's South End, where I used to live years ago before it became gentrified and outrageously expensive.   I spent hours walking about taking a few hundred photographs.  From this group I made the above four pastel studies.  Unlike Brooklyn, which is a mixture of old and new with lots of patina,  the South End is fairly uniform and residential, but I think I can still make some interesting images.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Spring Views

The bottom 12x16 oil painting is the one that I've been struggling with all week.  The top painting, a 14x18 oil, I started and completed today.  The key is always the starting composition.  I'm still not sold on the bottom one, but I like the top one.  With the painting I posted yesterday, I am done with spring views for now.  Actually it's getting to look and feel more like summer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Barn and Garage

For the last week I have been struggling with another related painting, so I wanted to do something simple to see if it can help me work out of the problem.  I  also want to give the Italian postcards a rest.  The above is a barn and garage at the 'homestead,' a group of loved but neglected farm buildings.  Maybe the problem painting is unresolvable or it can lead to something better.  We will know soon enough.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Portovenere from Chiesa di San Pietro

A 9x12 oil on canvas of the view from the Church of St. Peter in Portovenere early in the morning.  It's like a propeller, which is what grabbed my attention.

Monday, June 2, 2014


If you take the cable car from Bolzano/Bozen, you reach Soprabolzano/Oberbozen.  From there take a small train to the end of the line at Klobenstein/Collalbo, and then walk up to a small church, Maria Saal/S. Maria.  On the way you will pass by the above house and garage, though I can't guarantee that the car will be there.  It's a hoot that everything on the map in this region has two names.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Drawings of Florence

Two pencil drawings done in Florence.  You can see the Duomo in the top one.  I added pastel to it.  Both are 9x12.  I don't have any paintings to post yet, since I spent the last two days in Brooklyn.  It was a fruitful trip.  I mean the one to Brooklyn.