Monday, October 29, 2012

Pemaquid and Monhegan

This past summer I finally got to Monhegan Island! We went by way of a few restful days on Pemaquid where we rented a cabin on Johns Bay. We had planned for a simple overnight on Monhegan, but my children surprised me with a special birthday gift, an extra day there and a celebratory dinner at Monhegan House. It was great for me after all these years to get there and of course I returned with my brain swimming with ideas for new paintings, a couple of which I post here. You can see more on my website

Gull Rock Monhegan  Oil on canvas 16"  X 20"  $400
This is a well-known landmark on the island that must have been painted 1000 times. I did a lot of research on Monhegan painters and studied how they painted it and decided that my approach would be more representational than usual for me. There's a nice contrast between the smoothness of the "gull" and the more sharp and unforgiving foreground rocks. I also liked the back lighting and the slight halation that occurs as a result. But I went further with another famous rocky cliff

White Head Monhegan  Oil on canvas 16" X 20" $400
If you study the work of Henri, Hopper, Bellows, Rockwell Kent and others, you'll find that they create dramatic effects using sharp light and dark contrasts. When I studied this scene it was a typically bright August day, but I decided to experiment with what these artists did and congered up this light and dark scene. I didn't go as far as I wanted to (it takes some courage), but I got an acceptable result I think.

We've also decided to return to Monhegan next August  and I'll bring all my painting gear. It'll be a struggle to lug it out to these choice spots, but if the artists of my inspiration did it then why not I?

Visit the rest on my website and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's the Opera in ME

Continuing my series on portraits of characters in operas:

Cio-cio San
Oil on Panel 11"x14"
Cio-cio means butterfly in Japanese, so this is the Madama Butterfly from the great Puccini opera of that name. She is a fascinating character, one of the best character studies in all opera. In fact, this opera is one of the most "theatrical" in the repertoire.  I choose to picture her in the early stages of the story, full of innocence and hope--the delicate creature we meet in Act I. I should mention that this opera will be the one that PORTopera, the opera company of which I am a co-founder, will present in July, the 25th and 27th in Merrill Auditorium in Portland Maine. For more info visit

Oil on Canvas 11" X 14"
This is one of the main characters in Wagner's four opera "Ring" cycle. He is the troubled and suspicious King of the Gods who is in a constant battle to keep his power. I show him at the height of those powers in the first opera, "Das Rheingold." He carries the spear on which all of the laws and ancient runes are carved and the all-powerful ring gleams on his finger. Neither gives him much comfort we are soon to learn!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Recent Additions

A short trip to Florida and some nice weather here in Maine gave me a couple of opportunities for new paintings which I submit herewith:

Botanical Garden
                                                  Oil on Canvas 16" X20"
A visit to the Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota provided some wonderful colorful images, a few of which I combined in this picture. A nice trip for the imagination!

High Tide in Pond Cove

Oil on Canvas 16" X 20"
I used to live a short distance from this spot on Pond Cove in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It was a great place to sit on the rocks and enjoy the roiling ocean. The rocks are fascinating--almost like petrified wood. I hadn't been here in some years and was startled to find how storms had reconfigured the area with giant rocks tossed around like so much confetti. Still, there are some pretty inspiring views such as this day with the tide rolling in.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Idle mind

This winter has been weird--almost no winter at all, hence fewer opportunities to paint it. In a "dead period," I went back into my files and retrieved some tearsheets of fashion ads that I had saved. Now don't get the wrong idea. I use images of figures and faces in ads to work on painting figures and faces. Models in ads are posed and dressed (for the most part) so I can use them as models, instead of the real thing. If I can find some way to paint them to "comment," I do. Here are a couple of them:

Lady in Red
oil on canvas 9X12

This allowed me to work on gesture and facial expression. The "meaning" I intended is resting in my subconscious somewhere. I love the colors and I made her complexion very pale for contrast.

Model Levitating
oil on canvas 16X20

I was fascinated by the impact of this image. It was spread across two pages I imagine to shock the viewer. The shiny leather outfit was challenging to work with as was the unusual pose. I simplified it a bit, but I added the shadow underneath to make it seem as if she was floating in air. Perhaps Freud could explain it.

But in a sane moment I did come across this which caught my eye:

Looking Up Preble Street
oil on canvas 16X20

This is right down the street from where I live in the Willard Square area. I liked the houses "stacked" one after the other. Also, I tried to capture the low winter light and I am always attracted to bare trees in winter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Warming up to Winter

Winter usually sets in here in Maine around mid-December. It usually takes me time to shift from the brilliance of Fall to the grays of November to the contrasts of winter before I get my artist's eyes back. Then I start to see all the colors in the white of the snow and all of the other possibilities that the low, bright light of winter reveals. Herewith some recent examples.

Snow FencesOil on Canvas 16" X20"
This was a "pretty" snowstorm that came as a surprise one day. After it was over. I saw that the snow was sticking to branches, high wires, etc., the signal that there would be some interesting images to be had. I went to Willard Beach and found that my old favorites, the snowfences, were performing for me with their sinuous lines accented by the snow. This is the result. But there was more that day:

Snow Trees
Oil on Canvas 14"X 18"
This pair of Mountain Ash trees sits just behind the bath house on Willard Beach. This time of year they are laden with bright orange berries that clump together to make perfect receptacles for new fallen snow. I thought they were worth capturing, again with all of the interesting colors in the snow's reflected light. A couple of the berries sneaked through too. Next day, of course, the snow was gone.

Winter on the Beach
Oil on Canvas 11" X 14"
A day or two later, I was taking my usual morning walk on the beach. The tide was ebbing leaving interesting patterns in the wet sand. This view is looking north with the Spring Point Lighthouse just in view.
I did each of these three pictures with just one color and its complement, and all of the neutrals in between using white and black for light/dark. This was inspired by a book I read by Stephen Quiller called "Color Choices" which presents some interesting ideas on how to create paintings with color harmony. I recommend it for my artist readers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bonnie Scotland

Our last major trip was this past September when we travelled to Scotland. We drove around the entire country starting with Edinbrough/Glasgow, then clockwise along the western coast, up to Inverness, thence east to Aberdeen, Perth, St. Andrews and back to Edinburgh. It's an incredibly beautiful country with one scenic view trumped by the next. I took a lot of photos to which I referred when I began to paint them. Here are but a couple.
Sunset over the Firth of Lorn

This is near Oban on the west coast. We were sitting in a waterside restaurant when this sunset developed almost like magic. I hadn't brought my camera, but I saw a photographer outside. I went out and accosted his wife, gave her my card and asked her if he would e-mail me some of the images. Sure enough, the images were on my computer when we got home. The Scots are like that. His name is Barry Fisher and I hope he likes this result of his work.

On the Road to Skye

This was one of the magnificent views on this road from Ft. William west to the Isle of Skye. What wild country. So happens that remnants of Hurricane Irene swept the west coast of Scotland that particular day (U.S. hurricanes often end up there , we were told). It made for an interesting ride, but by the time we got to Loch Ness, it was clearing up and we saw a spectacular rainbow over the Loch. But I really wanted to capture this wild and stormy, yet beautiful landscape.

Bonnie on the bonnie, bonnie banks...

Couldn't resist this! We stopped to visit Loch Lomond which is indeed lovely. My wife, Bonnie insisted on this photo. I present "Bonnie on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond." Forgive me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rogues Gallery

I've been studying portraits and figures over the winter. Not ready for models quite yet, I settled on on painting characters in opera. I found images on CD covers, opera calendars, magazine and the like. My approach was not to duplicate the images, rather to interpret them as I felt they should be represented. Here are a couple with more to come later.

Otello Oil on Canvas 11" X 14"
"Otello" (Italian) is from Verdi's opera of that name which he adapted from Shakespeare's "Othello." As you know, Otello was undone by his jealousy. In the opera he is often portrayed as a vulnerable man and somewhat clueless. But I see him as more volatile, quick, reckless and powerful.

Flastaff Oil on Canvas 11" X 14"
A true rogue, Sir John Falstaff is a character which Verdi adapted from another Shakespeare play "The Merry Wives of Windsor." The opera is simply called "Falstaff." It was Vedri's last opera and thought by many to be his greatest. Falstaff is often characterized as a bloated buffoon, but I see him as much more crafty and sly, always plotting. But of course he ends up in a bad place, much deserved.