You can’t abstract if you can’t draw

Try reducing one of these paintings to a notan, and you’ll realize just how much drawing underpins this seeming simplicity.

Plein air painting by Tara Will, courtesy of the artist.

“Why are you teaching us self-portrait?” a student recently asked me. The human face is the most demanding subject to draw, because very slight errors make a huge difference. It teaches the artist to use angles and distance to measure. And we might as well start with our own faces, since they’re the ones we know best.

“But I’m interested composition and color, not drawing!” my student responded. That’s like saying you’re interested in literature without first learning to sound out your letters. Drawing is the foundation of everything that follows.

Tara Wills’ lily pond painting from this week, courtesy of the artist.

Yesterday, I came across the above plein air painting by Tara Will, a pastel painter from Maryland. I don’t know Tara well, but what I do know, I like—both personally and professionally. We met doing plein air events, where she created work that seemed fast, effortless, and stylish. That’s deceptive; her work is underpinned with strong fundamentals, and she works hella hard at it.

Like all great literature, Tara’s lily pond painting is a complex story told with great economy. Count the shapes; they’re limited. She’s abstracted her subject to its absolute essentials. That’s where uninformed critics of modern art sometimes go off the rails; they think simplified drawing should be easier than working out the details. In fact, it’s the culmination of years of thinking and winnowing.

Tara started with a perfectly-executed perspective drawing of the surface of the water. Note how she draws you back along that plane before crashing headlong into the far shore. Without that draftsmanship, the painting would have collapsed into an unintelligible mess. Lesser painters sometimes conceal their lack of drawing skills with a muddle of details. These ‘marsh paintings’ are drearily similar and uninspiring.

Plein air painting by Tara Will, courtesy of the artist.

It would be nice to be able to buy a box of pastels and immediately tap into this sort of vibrancy, but color is more complicated than that. Resting under Tara’s effortless explosions of color is a complex and well-reasoned value structure.

It’s been said that “value does all the work; color gets the credit.” That’s an absurdity, because value is just one aspect of color, along with hue and saturation.

However, it is true that value is the first thing the human eye and mind read when they see a color pattern. Our brains are strongly programmed to interpret value patterns, and great artists have always taken advantage of that. Think first of value, and you can substitute a range of hues and saturation for what’s really there. The viewer’s mind will interpret the pattern, and have fun doing it.

Plein air painting with strong contre-jour, by Tara Will, courtesy of the artist.

But, again, that rests on a solid foundation of drawing and pattern making. The more Tara deviates from what’s there in terms of hue and saturation, the more she needs a solid value anchor. That’s especially true of contre-jourpainting, where the light comes from behind the subject, as in the painting above.

I picked out four of Tara’s recent plein air works to share with you. Her studio work is here. Try reducing one of these paintings to a notan, and you’ll realize just how much study underpins this seeming simplicity.

Monday Morning Art School: landscape from abstraction

Create a drop-dead painting from a so-so scene.
Wreck of the SS Ethie, by Carol L. Douglas
Certain places are fascinating for something other than their pictorial value. The angle, the light, and the setting aren’t conducive to a great composition. An example of this was the wreckage of the SS Ethie in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. This is a lovely shipwreck story featuring a dog and a baby, but I’ve told it before.
I’d driven up the Great Northern Peninsula specifically to paint this wreck (and to visit the Viking site L’Anse aux Meadows.) When I arrived, I realized it was nothing more than a beautiful cove with a debris field spreading for thousands of feet along a rocky shore. There was no hulking wreck to paint, merely broken things lying around—much like my parents’ barnyard, in fact.
The actual debris field looks like this.
Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on us in the form of a blizzard, so I took photos and completed the painting elsewhere. However, I’ve used this technique successfully in plein air painting as well.
The cove itself is beautiful, and I could have painted a nice anodyne scene of it—lovely, but saying nothing about the wreck. I could have done a close up of one bit of machinery. Instead, I created an abstraction and fitted the details in to it. I do this whenever I’m feeling blocked, either because the subject matter isn’t fitting naturally, or because I’m too anxious.
Initial abstraction for Ethie, based on the word Maelstrom.
To do this, I improvise a series of shapes on a large canvas, much as if I were going to paint a non-representational painting. The only guidance I give myself is a word. In the case of the wreck, the word was maelstrom. When I demonstrated this technique last week for the Bangor Art Society, the word was mourning. Another painting I did recently started with a phrase, Dwight’s school bus. It was nonsensical; my son walked to school. That word is generally inspired by place or events, and it’s surprising how often the painting ends up reflecting the word I started with.
After the Bangor Art Society decided this was a tree, I turned it that way and started making it into one. Photo courtesy of Teddi-Jann Covell.
I start this process with a line. In the Bangor painting, it was a flat, thick line that crossed the canvas. In the Ethie painting it was rounded and rollicking. I never start this with a sense of up or down, and I often rotate the canvas while I work. This process can be the longest part of a painting. I’m searching for the composition from my subconscious, rather than from reality. Sometimes it’s based on my initial line and sometimes the line gets subsumed into something else entirely.
When the abstraction is done, I rotate the canvas to see how it might represent something real. At the demo, I asked participants to identify things they saw in my abstraction. Suggestions came fast and furious. I’d had them draw alongside me, so I then asked them to identify things they saw in their abstractions. Total silence. I asked them to trade with their neighbors and again the room was full of suggestions.
There’s a lesson here. We’re born with the capacity to recognize objects in abstract shapes; it’s part of what makes us intelligent and aware, and keeps us safe. A half-seen shape tells us, almost instinctively, when we belong on high alert. But we moderns tamp that down. We allow subliminal shapes to appear in our drawing, but then resolutely refuse to recognize them. That’s where turning the canvas is so helpful. The mind no longer sees it as ours, but as something new.
My demo painting for the Bangor Art Society. It’s not finished to a level I aspire to, but I was getting tired.
Once I find the objects in my abstraction, I hew to them fairly tightly, converting them into figurative art. But I don’t always solve all the corners of my paintings at the first run. After I’ve drawn in one thing, another suggests itself. And sometimes I change up passages on the fly.
“I feel like I had to understand a lot about light/shadow, perspective, and value before I could do an invented landscape with any authenticity,” a painter commented. This is true, but we all know more than we think we know. And painting from memory is a great way to expand one’s visual memory.
Furthermore, it’s not necessary to do this totally from memory. Try it outdoors, subbing in that rock over there or that tidal pool over there. You’ll end up with a sense of the place, rather than a literal transcription of the place. If you use photo reference, don’t start adding details until you’re well along in the design process. Remember that reality should always be subservient to design.
This reaching down inside yourself is difficult business. But it’s worth experimenting with. I hope you’ll try it and let me see your results.

Getting out of a slump

…and the chance to benefit Children’s Beach House with your holiday shopping.

Wreck of the SS Ethie, by Carol L. Douglas

“That looks like so much fun.” It can be genuine, or it can have the hard edge that implies, “unlike my job as a claims adjuster.” Either way, it’s usually, but not always, true. There are days when we approach our easels with exhaustion, trepidation, or stiff hands.

I owe my friend Peter Yesis a great debt in reminding me to do warm-ups when this happens. I have cases of 6X8 warm ups in the corner of my studio. At one time, I painted a tree every day; at another time it was a still life. But this commitment went by the wayside as I got busier and busier, and now I usually blog in the hour I once did these exercises.
Termination Dust, by Carol L. Douglas. The only realism in this painting was the chill in my studio when I started it.
Warm ups are like scales. They’re a requisite to being in good voice when we go out and perform.
Last week I was stuck in a particularly finicky commission painting. I feared all my painterliness was being sucked down the great hole of representation. I pulled out a canvas and did a fantasy landscape. This is a favorite exercise of mine, a landscape only loosely based on reality. One starts with an abstraction and builds a realistic painting upon it.
Glade, by Carol L. Douglas. I was interested in the terrible symmetry of a circle.
The painting at top, of the shipwreck of SS Ethie off the coast of Newfoundland, is an example of such a painting. I recorded the steps of its development here.
Shoreline, by Carol L. Douglas, is based on nothing more than a black shape.
Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World—the painting that put realism back on the map—is just an abstraction that uses three realistic objects to drive us relentlessly through its spare, rigid, Color Fieldconstruction.
Wyeth aside, painting from a wisp or suggestion is a great way to blow the cobwebs out of your brushes. I find myself anxious to put the computer aside and start painting every morning. The fun is back in my brushes.
Want to support a great program?
Home Farm, by Carol L. Douglas, is featured in the 2019 Children’s Beach House calendar.
Last fall I did the 2018 Plein Air Brandywine Valley competition, which benefits Childrens Beach House. I liked the CBH staff so much I’ve been trying to get my son-in-law to move to Delaware and work with them ever since.
My painting Home Farmwon an Honorable Mention. It was done at Winterthur and I hope it captures a sense of the old farms that were assembled to make this great American estate. 
Home Farm is also showcased within the pages of the 2019 Plein Air Brandywine Valley Calendar. 
For each $100 donation to Children’s Beach House, you will receive this incredible one-of-a-kind limited production calendar created by sponsor Dennis M. Wallace of Comprehensive Wealth Management Group. It includes all of the 2018 Plein Air Brandywine Valley painting and photography award winners. You can order directly on-line at 
100% of your donation goes to support the programs at Children’s Beach House. They provide programs for children with communicative disabilities (speech, hearing, language and other special needs) who are further challenged by living in poverty.  This calendar makes a great holiday gift for family, friends and colleagues.

The road home

How much of what we know is truth and how much is the convention of our times?

After the final cutting, Carol L. Douglas

In the 21st century, we are being driven inexorably toward higher and higher chroma (color intensity). This isn’t just happening in painting, but also in photography, home furnishings, and hair coloring. Occasionally an artist will take refuge in monochrome, but the delicately modeled colors of our predecessors are out of vogue. We live and die at 1280 x 720 pixels, and delicacy just doesn’t cut it on a computer monitor.
Yesterday, David Dewey spent a few hours with Clif Travers and me, going through a wealth of Joseph Fiore paintings. These are in storage and represent his entire career, from his studies at Black Mountain College until shortly before his death. Unlike most painters, Fiore didn’t run through clearly defined stylistic periods. He operated on parallel tracks of abstraction and realism, each informing the other.
Guardian of the Falls, 1983, Joseph Fiore, oil on canvas, 52 x 44, courtesy of the Falcon Foundation.
His folios are full of small studies in watercolor, oil, and pastel, now chemically stabilized. The majority are formal color exercises, many based on a mathematical grid of his own devising. David identified these as Bauhaus in character, which in turn takes us back to Paul Klee, Josef Albersand Wassily Kandinsky.
Klee closely connected color and music, making the connection between harmony and complementary colors, and dissidence and clashing colors (whatever they may be). Albers was a hands-on scientific colorist who taught at Black Mountain College when Fiore was there.
Field sketch forGuardian of the Falls (above), courtesy of the Falcon Foundation. It’s watercolor and about 12×16.
Fiore’s color studies are a balm to the eye starved for subtlety. There are grids of closely analogous greens and browns; grids punctuated with black. In addition to being beautiful, they fly in the face of our current color model. 
That just shows how much of what we think we know is the convention of our time, not eternal truths of painting. Take, for example, all of Kandinsky’s twaddle in Concerning the Spiritual in Art.  For much of the twentieth century, people took that seriously.
The artist’s job is to get through all that to the nut of the matter. The only way I know to do that is to paint—a lot.
David mentioned that he uses Arches 500 in his studio work, but mixes it up in the field. The accidents that ensue help him avoid staleness. This is exactly my goal in alternating between watercolor and oil in this residency, and in painting so big and fast. I am trying to shake up my oil painting.
I was able to maintain the truth of the landscape in my sketch.
Nature has a certain awkwardness. We landscape painters are taught to edit that away into a ‘better’ composition. After examining so many paintings, I wondered how much of that is also a fashion issue. I resolved to not do it in my afternoon painting, but to be completely faithful to what God and man had laid down in that field. I don’t think I succeeded. The personal impulse is just too strong to ignore.
But when I started painting, I succumbed to the urge to prettify.
With all that fizzing in our heads, Clif and I went back to the farm and returned to work. The lake was still unsettled from this week’s storm, so I painted the small private cemetery and its lane. The lake beyond made this very much a painting of the intersection between land, water and man.
Having spent the morning in study, I didn’t finish the painting to any high surface. It’s slightly easier to do that with watercolor, since it goes faster. But in either case, the pace is starting to tell on me. I’m getting tired.

What about Goya?

Who really invented abstraction? Everyone.
A dog engulfed in sand, 1819-1823, Francisco Goya, courtesy of Museo del Prado

A thoughtful reader sent me this essay yesterday, which nominates the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint, rather than Wassily Kandinsky, as the first practitioner of abstract art. Like Kandinsky, she was a follower of Madame Helena Blavatsky, occultist, spirit medium, and founder of Theosophy. Like Kandinsky, she believed her abstract paintings were, in fact, representations of spiritual ideas.

When I studied art back in the last millennium, the first abstract painting was attributed to the great Spanish romantic, Francisco Goya. The painting in question, now called A Dog Engulfed in Sand, or simply El Perro, was one of Goya’s so called ‘black paintings,’ from the end of his life. These are haunted works, reflecting Goya’s bitter disillusionment and fears.  He had lived through the terrible Napoleonic Wars and their political aftermath in Spain. He was elderly, nearly deaf, and had survived two brushes with death.
Seascape Study with Rain Cloud (Rainstorm over the Sea), 1824-28, John Constable, courtesy Royal Academy of Arts
Goya never intended El Perro or any of the other black paintings to be shown. By the 20th century, however, El Perro was famous. Pablo Picasso certainly knew it. Antonio Saura called it “the most beautiful picture in the world”. Rafael Canogar described it as the first symbolist painting of the West. The sculptor Pablo Serrano paid homage to it.
A study in pencil, ink, ink wash, brush and pen, for The Death of the Virgin, 1601-1606, Caravaggio
“The sleep of reason begets monsters,” wrote Goya about Los Caprichos. By the end of his life, the monsters were visiting him during the daytime, too.
Any meaning we ascribe to A Dog Engulfed in Sand comes from its title. That was added later, by art historians. None of the black paintings were titled. They were intensely private, painted as murals on his walls. And what a happy home that must have been.
The Monk by the Sea, c. 1808–1809, Caspar David Friedrich
At first sight, El Perro doesn’t seem to be a figurative painting at all. Two dominant blocks of color intersect. At that point a blob of grey paint, the face of a dog, represents all of Goya’s anguished humanity. We, the viewers, are being squashed between relentless forces.
“Abstraction” is a word Goya would not have understood, let alone used. But it is abstraction that gives El Perro its awful power.
Mountain market, clearing mist, Yu Jian, Song Dynasty, China
Many early artists used raw abstraction to work out ideas, or just to doodle, just as figurative painters still do today. I’ve included a few famous examples here, ranging from Caravaggio to Caspar David Friedrich. And that’s just in the western canon. In eastern art, the idea of the voidmeant that slavish adherence to representation was never a paramount virtue.

It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s that I don’t always want to.

The Wreck of the SS Ethie, by Carol L. Douglas.
You all know the Facebook game where artists are asked to post a painting every day for a week and tag another artist each day, right? (The one where, on the fourth day, you forget and never finish.) I love that game. I’m insatiably curious about other artists and their work.
Recently, my friend Elissa Gore played. She posted work from across her career, which has spanned four decades. Her early work was more detailed than her current paintings. That’s no surprise, since almost all of us are taught to paint literally before we learn to paint emotively.
Sometimes people who don’t paint make the error of thinking that non-realistic painting is somehow easier than strictly representational painting, that photorealism is the apotheosis of painting. “That looks just like a photo!” is not, in most cases, a compliment. Art is not about duplicating reality, but learning to step past reality and take your viewers with you.
The multi-colored shingle at Martin’s Point in Gros Morne National Park.
The problem with a subject like The Wreck of the SS Ethie is that it is already playing games with your head. The shingle on this lonely coast in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland is wildly-colored. What’s left of the boat is not an elegant wooden corpse subsiding into the surf, but its steel guts scattered down the shore. Simplifying or abstracting in my usual frenetic style would just confuse the viewer.
I love geology almost as much as I do painting. Each year when I do my workshop, I point out the basalt inclusions in Acadia and how they now shape the erosion of the granite bedrock. Sand might be easier on the feet, but rocks are exciting.
At times, rocks can be conveyed as rough, slashing brush strokes, but that only works for ‘normal’ scenes, where your mind can fill in the gaps. For the out-of-the-ordinary, more information is needed. The rocks at Gros Morne have been ground in the surf so hard, they look like they’ve been through a rock tumbler. Many are striped. That requires time and patient attention to detail.

Weathered parts of the Ethie are thrown everywhere.

While I wouldn’t want to paint like that every day, it felt good.

You can read about the wreck of the Ethie and the brave Newfoundland dog who saved her passengers here. I wrote about the abstraction that was the basis for this painting here. And you can read an ode to the wee pup himself here.

Shipwrecked? That was partly in my mind.

Unfinished painting of the wreck of the SS Ethie, Newfoundland, by Carol L. Douglas
When Mary and I stood at Martin’s Point in Gros Morne National Park, we knew there would be no work done that day. We’d driven there specifically to paint the wreck of the SS Ethie. This is a lovely shipwreck story featuring a Newfoundland dog and a baby, but I’ve told it before.  
However, Hurricane Matthew was rumbling up the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The beach was windswept, cold and wet. It was starting to snow. This was one of the moments in my trans-Canada adventure where I just took photos and moved on.
The Ethie’s hero, a Newfoundland dog, came from tiny Sally’s Cove, seen in the mist.
Sadly, my photos captured nothing of the grinding energy of the sea that drove the Ethie into the rocks in the first place, on a similar wintry day. Her iron remains are scattered along a surprisingly long stretch of rock-studded beach, but that doesn’t really work in a painting.
Occasionally, I like to let my subconscious do some work. I reverted to a technique I used frequently about fifteen years ago. I improvised a series of shapes on a large canvas. The only guidance I gave myself was the word “maelstrom.” I didn’t start this with any sense of up or down, and I rotated the canvas as I worked.
My underpainting.
One of my former students in Rochester recently broke his leg. He is using the time experimenting with abstract painting. “I have come to believe that representational painting is easier because there is some reference,” Brad told me. In some ways, he’s right. That reaching down inside yourself is difficult business.
I can grip on to reality too hard, and one of my current goals is to let go, at least a little bit. There are important things to learn in the completely subjective side of painting, and it’s been too long since I’ve visited it.
As interesting as this was, I had to set it aside and return to my regularly-scheduled work. I’ve just bought a new laptop. My old one was, like my old dog, falling down regularly. It had developed the whiff of corruption in its hard drive and did not want to give up its secret gnosis, by which I mean the more than 32,000 images I consult on a regular basis.
Parts of the Ethie are scattered along the shore.
I’m not good at logical, hierarchical work. For one thing, there’s too much sitting. I just get mad and punch buttons until something happens. However, two days of pacing and swearing at a machine did give that abstraction time to settle in my head. Last night I sat down and converted it to a realistic painting—of sorts.
It’s not that I literally took the abstraction and applied it to the painting, or that I took my reference photos and applied them to the abstraction. The underpainting was my sense of the motion of the surf, and I plugged in details of the wreck where I wanted them. I’m pretty sure I can make something of it.

Color and meaning (color temperature, part 2)

Composition VII, 1913, by Wassily Kandinsky.

Three artists arrived at the idea of pure abstraction at roughly the same time: Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Kazimir Malevich. This was not coincidence; all three believed in the spiritual properties of abstraction, an idea they got from the rich stew of spiritualism swirling around turn-of-the-century Europe.

One of the chief promoters of the Fourth Dimension was Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii, a follower of G. I. Gurdjieff. Ouspenskii believed our consciousness was evolving, which would ultimately lead us to perceive the fourth dimension, and that art and music were the path to this evolution.  In the fourth dimension, reality and unreality were reversed, and time and motion were revealed as illusions.
Theosophy was Madame Blavatsky’s occult movement. She described it as “the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization.” Madame Blavatsky taught that color had spiritual vibrations which would awaken the dormant spirituality within a person, and that art should begin in nature, a nature that would be found in a world-birthing apocalypse.

A fully realized theory must include the proper colors for shapes. The passive and dull circle deserves a correspondingly dull blue. The energetic triangle ought to be rendered in a dangeresqueyellow.
Rudolph Steiner’s spin on theosophy was called Anthroposophy.  This postulated the existence of an objective spiritual world accessible through inner development of the clairvoyance and intuition that modern man had lost as he developed rational thought. Steiner focused on the symbolic and synesthetic properties of color.

And then there are angles, which should be matched in aggression with their colors.
Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912) is both turgid and broad-ranging. Let me just hit his major points about color:
  • Colors evoke both a purely physical effect on the eye and a vibration of the soul or an “inner resonance.”
  • The elements of color are warmth or coolness, and clarity or obscurity. 
  • Warmth means yellow, and coolness means blue, so yellow and blue form the first great contrast. Yellow has an eccentric movement and blue a concentric movement; a yellow surface seems to move closer to us, while a blue surface seems to move away. Yellow is a terrestrial color: mad, disturbed and violent. Blue is a celestial color, deeply calm but sinking toward the mourning of black. The combination of blue and yellow (green) yields total immobility.
  • Clarity is a tendency towards white, and obscurity is a tendency towards black. White and black form the second great contrast, which is static. White is a deep, absolute silence, full of possibility. Black is nothingness, an eternal silence without hope (death). 
  • The mixing of white with black gives gray, which possesses no active force and is similar in tonality to green. Gray is frozen immobility; dark grays tend toward despair, but even lightening gray yields very little hope.
  • Red is a warm color, forceful, lively and agitated. Mixed with black it becomes brown, which is a dull, hard, inhibited color. Mixed with yellow, red gains in warmth and becomes orange, which irradiates and energizes its surroundings. When red is mixed with blue it moves away from man to become morbid and mourning purple. Red and green form the third great contrast, and orange and purple the fourth.
In short, Kandinsky’s color theory is a magnificent exercise in hooey. Still, it has had a long-reaching influence, with overtones in fashion, industrial design, and every other area that touches our lives.

Message me if you want information about next year’s classes and workshops.

What you do when nobody’s looking

Ellwanger Berry Garden, 12X16, $650, by Carol L. Douglas.
Sure, I get to drive around and visit with fascinating people and go to interesting shows and occasionally pick up a brush and paint something, but I spend more time than I’d like on bookkeeping and that bugaboo of all sales: inventory control.
Stu Chait and I are putting the final details together for our upcoming show at RIT-NTID’s Dyer Arts Center, which opens July 11 from 4-7 PM. If you’re in town, you should really find a way to get there, since this is a sprawling show.
Manipulation in Red by Stu Chait.
Stu and I met at the Ellwanger Garden here in Rochester. We were the only painters there, so we stood at opposite ends of the garden and painted facing each other. I’ve long since sold that painting, but I painted another painting with him at the same place, which will be in this show.
It’s been years since I pulled out all my work to organize a show, but since the passage of time is part of our theme, I inventoried every piece of work I have in play right now. That is nearly a hundred pieces, which is less absurd when you consider that I have three separate bodies of work: landscape, figure, and faith-based. (Even with all those paintings, I am actually scant on work to meet specific summer commitments.)
The Servant, 36X40, $3000, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas.
What surprised me even more is how many paintings are no longer in my inventory.  Next winter I’m going to go through my photo archives and sales records and try to piece together a comprehensive catalogue. I loathe that kind of task, but if I don’t do it soon, I’ll never get it done.

I have three openings left for my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available 

More on our student show

Carol L. Douglas Studio Annual Student Show

The VB Brewery, 6606 New York 96, Victor, NY 14564

Opening reception, Sunday June 8, from 1-4 PM

Kitty’s Dog, Moke, by Christine Long
I have an elderly Jack Russell terrier with whom I have a love-hate relationship. Yes, he is pea-brained, attacks small animals, and tries to bite the mail carrier, but he’s also affectionate and loyal.
Yesterday, one of my students, Christine Long, dropped off this painting for our student show. It could be my Max, with the breed’s characteristic pose and slightly worried expression. It will be in our student show in June at the VB Brewery in Victor.

Three abstractions, by Cath Bullinger, Brad VanAuken, and Carol L. Douglas. We’re auctioning these to raise money for the Open Door Mission.
In April of last year, Cath Bullinger, Brad VanAuken and I collaboratedon three abstractions. With the passage of time—and the addition of frames—I think they were quite wonderful.
Of course, they were an experiment, so when I was asked whether one of them was for sale, I was nonplussed and dropped the ball. They’ve been hanging around my studio since.
The three of us have decided to auction off the three paintings to benefit the Open Door Mission here in Rochester. They’ll be hanging in our student show. Just stop by in the month of June and pencil your name and bid in on the silent auction form. At the end of the month, the highest bid wins. And with an opening bid of $50, you have a decent shot of getting a nice painting for a great price, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping a great organization.
Camden Harbor Reflections, by Pamela Casper.
Two of my 2013 workshop students have graciously volunteered to send work for the student show. Both are working artists. Pamela Casper lives in NYC and has shown extensively in the United States and Europe. Nancy Woogen paints, teaches and exhibits in the Hudson Valley.

There are still a few openings in my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.