Merry Christmas!

My male friends can go back to alphabetizing their Beatles collection. My middle-aged women pals will recognize this as a bottle angel—what we were making while they were building forts and playing that ugly Danelectro guitar in the family room.

She was made in 1968 or thereabouts, which is why she is wearing a chic turquoise burlap gown with cotton batting for trim. She’s bedraggled and filthy and her dress is unraveling, but she has been on our Christmas tree ever since my mom decided I was finally old enough to take care of her (I was 35 or thereabouts). This year my mom gave me her own tree angel, a delicate porcelain doll with batiste skirts that glow in the tree lights. My own bedraggled angel moves over to join the psychedelic reindeer and the blonde German Santa in the niche.

My friend Kristin Zimmermann paints portraits of sentimental things that must move along—her Kitchen-Aid mixer, her Christmas ornaments, and her Singer Featherweight sewing machine, among other things. They are delightful paintings. I’m trying to paint a small still life every day before moving on to more important things—6X8, not to take more than an hour. I think I’m going to borrow her idea for a while.

Rained out!

I love October in the High Tor wildlife management area south of Canandaigua Lake. This area is full of deep ravines with waterfalls, such as this one:

You can get some unusual fall colors there, such as these pink trees:

But it is the muckland at the bottom of the lake, with its tawny reeds, that most fascinates me, and today I painted it from above.

About a decade ago, M. and I braved a driving October rain to work down among the reeds. Perched on the footings of a collapsed bridge, we tried to ignore the driving rain and wind until our paintings were literally washed off our boards. Since then, we’ve painted in a lot of stupid settings, but that remains the epitome of cold to both of us. Even painting in deep snow in a hilltop vineyard didn’t seem as cold (although M’s paint froze; a real inconvenience).

Today, we were both prepared for cold and wet. Waterproof boots, thermal underwear, rain gear, mittens. And we still couldn’t handle the 42º F driving rain. Especially when it again threatened to wash the paint off our boards.

Tomorrow is another day. Unfortunately, there’s rain on the forecast.

New classes starting this weekend

Studio in Art and portfolio preparation—starting Oct. 2, 2010

Saturday, 11 AM-2 PM

(Oil, pastel, acrylic, watercolor)
This class focuses on still life as a fundamental tool for developing drawing and painting technique. It is appropriate for both beginning and advanced students. Instruction emphasizes direct painting, where paint is applied solidly rather than through glazing. For watercolor and acrylic, the emphasis is on alla prima techniques.


Uninstructed Figure Workshop—starting October 8, 2010

Friday, 1-4 PM

Model fee. Please contact me if you’re interested.

Rye Art Center 10th Annual Painters on Location

Boston Post Road Bridge, Mamaroneck, 24X20, oil on board

The Rye Art Center Painters on Location is my favorite event of the year, a fundraiser for an excellent organization that takes good care of its artists. It includes many excellent New York regional plein air artists, and it’s always wonderful to see my friends and paint in such a lovely location.

This is a site that’s intrigued me for several years. It’s a creek that releases into the harbor. Nothing exotic about it, but I love the sense of mystery about what lies behind that bridge.

Here is my setup, below the Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck, looking back at a bait shop and its boats. I am working very large for an on-site painting—about 24X20, so I have my pochade box and another easel. They are tied together with a bungee cord and on this day I was glad for the weight of that guerrilla box, as the wind threatened to take my painting into the harbor.

Boats in a tidal harbor present a dilemma: either you’re on a floating dock moving up and down with the boats, or you’re on land watching them go up and down (and compensating for the constant changes). I prefer to be on the dock. But it makes for an impressionistic painting, since floating docks are constantly rocking and rolling.

There are about a hundred paintings I could do in this location, including this wonderful stone wall.

This is at the end of my first day, about twelve hours into the painting. Frankly, the lighting scheme was more coherent at this point than in my final painting… something that happens when you paint in the same site for two days.

End of my first day painting.

And here is Bruce Bundock with his fine painting of Rye Nature Center—by a fluke hung right above my painting.

Bruce Bundock with his lovely painting of Rye Nature Center.

10th Annual Painters on Location, Rye NY

Low Bridge ( Erie Canal at Gasport)
30×40 inches – Oil

The Sentinel Tree (Keuka Lake)
30×40 inches – Oil

Here are my two submissions to the silent auction at Rye, NY this month. They can be bid upon long distance: contact Emilia Del Peschio at [email protected] or at (914) 967-0700 x33.

Both are 30X40, framed in gilt hardwood. The first is a sentimental painting for me; that’s where I spent the better part of my childhood and the years after my oldest kids were born, and that’s my (now adult) Julia on her bike in the painting. The vineyard near Keuka is one of those magical places—they grow vines on rock shingle that one can’t imagine supporting anything.

To see other work from this fine show, go here. And if you’re in the Long Island Sound region on September 24 th and 25th, come watch the artists at work.

Painting at the Irondequoit Inn in Piseco, NY

Beaver Dam near Speculator, NY. 14X18.

Canoes at Irondequoit Inn, 8X10.

Apple tree at Irondequoit Inn, 8X10.

Piseco Outlet in a spitting rain, 14X18.

Reed beds at Irondequoit Inn, 16X20.

Here are some oil sketches I did this weekend in Piseco and Spectator, NY. It was unseasonably cold, ranging down into the 40s at night to the high fifties during the day, and spitting rain non-stop. I did six sketches and gave one to the innkeeper, and here are the other five.
I plan to do a workshop at the Irondequoit Inn next autumn (the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise). It will not suit the person who wants a Jacuzzi and a thousand cable channels. But if you prefer rockers on a veranda with a million-dollar view, free-range eggs and organic pork sausage for breakfast, beautiful vistas, access to miles of hiking trails, wonderful kayaking and canoeing, and above all, fascinating company, this is the place. I’ve stayed and painted there twice now, and recommend it highly.