Our first GALA Plein Air outing of the year was this past Saturday at Lilacland in Pelham, MA. This private property is planted with many different varieties of lilac, and the owner opens it up for the public’s enjoyment. The day was overcast and a bit cool, but the lilacs were all in bloom and it was beautiful. I found a spot with a view of the old barn through the lilacs and did this oil painting.
Today was Fresh Paint day. This was my fourth straight year participating in this fundraiser for the Copley Society of Art. Artists go throughout the city or surrounding areas and create a picture in one day. The resulting works are then auctioned off.
I chose to work today in the Public Garden. After taking one circuit around the park I settled on a scene with a flowering cherry in full bloom spreading over a path. I was working on an 8x10 scratchboard. I started at 9:15. I finished drawing the basic scene on the board with a white pastel pencil by 9:30. At 2:30 I declared the piece finished and went home.
It was a beautiful day and the park was full of people enjoying the sunshine. The tree I was drawing was particularly popular. At least three couples had their engagement pictures taken by it over the course of the day, along with a girl in a tutu dancing around its base for a photo shoot.
Shown below is a photo of the scene I chose, followed by the initial drawing, and then hourly updates at 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 1:15, and then the final piece.
I finally put away the snow shovels today, and took out my sketchbook, and walked down to the Thousand Acre Brook. The sun was bright and it was warm for the first time since the false spring in February. The melted snow had filled the brook and the water was roiling as it cascaded and tumbled over the rocks. I have an idea of doing a large scratchboard of the scene, so I took a lot of pictures and then sat down to draw. It was a complicated scene so I started out using a 4H pencil to lay it out before coming in with a softer lead. Well, I was there for two hours before I got the whole thing down and only had a few minutes to add a little darkness with an 8B pencil before I had to head home to get there before supper was served. The resulting picture is a little light, but not a bad start for the year.
I was asked to contribute a picture for a collaborative work of art and literature based on the local history of the small New England Village of East Princeton. My subject was the pre-settlement forest. With a short deadline, the woods outside covered with snow, and having no old growth forests nearby, I had to work from my imagination, which is something I don't often do. I went through my photo collection and searched others on the web for ideas, then started sketchin some ideas (shown below). The editor liked where it was going, so I drew it onto a board and started scratching. I finished the piece today, but can't show it until the book is published in early 2018. Making up my own scene was a lot of fun, so now I'm planning on putting together a larger piece in much the same way.
I spent four days in Denver last week. I expected some beautiful mountain vistas, but all I could see from my room was the reflection of my hotel on the hotel next door.
I was stuck in meetings most of the time so I amused myself by sketching the various speakers.
On the way home I sketched some planes and people while waiting at the Denver airport.
Some people pass the time doing crosswords or jigsaw puzzles. I like to pass the time drawing. We were in Boston this weekend for the Women’s March for America and stayed in a hotel on Atlantic Ave. On Sunday morning I had some free time and this scene from our 12th floor window to challenge me. I had not brought any sketchpad or pens, so I made do with the hotel stationary and pen. The cluster of buildings framed by two tall buildings in the foreground was much like solving a puzzle – putting all the different pieces together to create something that made sense. It kept me out of trouble for a good hour too.
This was the image I used for our Christmas card in 2009. I always thought of it as my sad Santa picture, but looking at it now it doesn’t look as sad as I remembered. 2009 was the year my brother Craig died, so that probably colored my perception of it. I know I felt sad when I drew it.
Christmas is for me a time of reflection. I find I am never completely sad or completely happy. There is sadness in the happy times and happiness in the sad times. I am happy in the thoughts of people who I have shared my life with and sad at the thoughts of those who are no longer here. Some, like Craig, or my brother Bob, or my father, are gone forever, and others who, for whatever reason, are just no longer part of my life. There are those who I wish to be friends with, or who I miss greatly, but have not found the courage to tell them. Then there are those who are still here, regardless of what has happened, and for them I am eternally grateful.
Whichever you are, whether we spoke last week, or it has been several years since we shared a laugh, I think of you often and I wish you only the best. Merry Christmas.
A few years ago my father picked up a box of art supplies at a yard sale and gave it to me. Within it was a little stub of deep blue chalk that was really nice to draw with. I had no idea what it was, but it acted like blue charcoal. Unfortunately there wasn’t much of it. I went into an art supply store recently and described it to them and they directed me to a product called Nu Pastel by Prismacolor, and that was it! I’ve been using it lately at figure drawing. It’s even better having a full-length stick in my hand rather than trying to draw with a little stub. I was particularly happy with this sketch from last night.
Some of the best work I've done isn't hanging on a wall; it's sitting in a box in my closet that's full of my old sketch books. I fill up one or two books each year. Some of the sketches end up as a basis of a more formal work, but most don't. They’re more important to me as a pictorial diary and also as on-going training; learning to really see and to understand shape, light and color.
This blog is to share my sketches as well as my sketching experiences.