Thursday, April 3, 2008

Searching for Subjects

Just back from a cultured-filled few days in New York visiting my son and his wife, and for some opera at the Met, MOMA, Broadway, Metroplitan Museum of Art to take in the Poussin exhibit and wander through the Impressionist galleries, a wonderful Gustav Klimt exhibit at the Neue Gallery, plus much food and drink. Whew!
Before leaving I was really in a creative funk, but now my head is filled with all kinds of stuff, so there will be no end of posts. And--hours before leaving for NY, I got another commission--a sunrise over the ocean. All I have to work with is a tiny photo, so I have to create the setting from other work I have done at the site and put it all together. Will post that, too.
In my dry period, I was reduced to wandering aimlessly around looking for subjects and I show here what I came up with.

Seen Better Days
Oil on Masonite 12X9

There is an area on the South Portland Maine waterfront near where I live, that is not developed. It still could be called a working waterfront but there are a lot of old buildings such as these in total disrepair about ready to collapse. This is one group. I painted loosely, tried to concentrate on the structure closest to me, and tried to suggest a certain starkness with very dark shadow areas. That tree in the distance is really there. It makes you wonder what was here before. There's an irony here, too. On the other side of these buildings, nearer to the water, there is boat storage and a couple of marinas. These are BIG boats worth hundreds of thousands--quite a contrast. When I can get into the boat yards, I'm going to try capturing them.

Windy Day Off Kettle Cove
Oil on Masonite, 11X14

This is an area a few miles down the coast from where I live. There's a small beach here and a grassy area on a point where people sit and read or have picnics. This day, there was a blustery wind so there was a lot of chop in the water. Also, I was facing into the sun. The water had a greenish cast and there were some interesting cloud formations over the island. I painted this almost exactly as I saw it, trying to capture the wind effects and the unusual colors. Really laid the paint on!

Calla Lilies, Pewter Cup and the Mystery Golden Bottle
Oil on Masonite 9X12

I must have had too much wine for dinner when I dreamed this one up. In our family we've had this bottle of Cemballos Sherry from Spain for several generations--I'm sure back to the 40s at least. It has been passed around, but I ended up with it. It is full, never opened and is covered by a kind of gold foil, so you can't see the contents. I Googled "Cemballos" and all I could find was someone on what appeared to be Spain's eBay trying to sell an antique Cemballos display. So the bottle is probably antique. I decided to use it as a subject in a still life and added the lilies and a pewter cup from Bonnie's collection. I have a piece of burgundy velvet so I put that in as it related well to the lilies and worked well with the pewter. I added the greenish background as it seemed to help the gold and worked with the foliage. A strange array of colors, but it seemed to work for me. It was tough to get the gold right--many reflections and there is more green in it than you might think.
So I post these to show there are really subjects everywhere, even when you're in a funk. Don't despair!


Frank Gardner said...

Great to get another post out of you Jack. Glad you had a good trip to the city.
Nice group of paintings. I wish there was something to balance the rightward slant of the lines in the first one. Other than that I love it.
Number two is great all around. Great light on the water. Nice chop.
Good still life too. Lots of color. They work well together. I want to know what is in the bottle.

Jack Riddle said...

Frank--yeah--a little heavy on the direction in the first one. When I can get into the boat yard, I'll have more to work with--I think a sleek sailboat would be a great foil for the rundown buildings--and a different shape.
The sherry bottle seems to have a bit of seepage around the cork, so we may have to open it soon:). A bit of the seepage got on my finger and it tasted pretty good. So maybe it's OK. I hate to open anything that's so old though.

Kathryn Law said...

I love the intense color in the still life, the deep value contrasts are very effective. And the first one, with the strong diagonals, reminded me a little of Giorgio de Chirico's work. The water in the ocean scene is top notch. Can't wait to peruse the rest of your blog! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had a good time in the city. I like all the paintings in this post, especially "Seen Better Days." ;-)


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

An unopened bottle...ohhh, the mystery of that! It's been a pleasure catching up with you again.

rob ijbema said...

Jack the winday is a gem,the light is brilliant and i love the green/greys.
the barn also packs a punch of light,great stuff!

rob ijbema said...

Jack the winday is a gem,the light is brilliant and i love the green/greys.
the barn also packs a punch of light,great stuff!

Jack Riddle said...

Kathryn--thanks--I'm glad to have found you and urge readers here to check your blog out.
Paz--I am working now on a "city series" mostly Central Park which I found to be more beautiful than ever. Will do some more on the "Better Days" theme too.
Vee--Thanks. I'll let you know if we do open the bottle!
Rob--you can relate to the sea, I'm sure. Thanks for the nice comments.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I love the boat one. The water sparkles in this!