Friday, June 16, 2017

"Let Nature Sustain"

Nina Jerome Paintings at Elizabeth Moss Gallery      June 1- July 8, 2017

   "Fish Point in Fog", 16x20, oil, 2016   

I listen to radio while I paint in the studio. I have covered my drawing table with phrases, book and song titles, authors' and composers' names, travel tips, and other items of interest. At some point during the last year I jotted down the linked phrases “let nature sustain” and George Sand. What I remember from the radio discussion is that Sand’s last words to her family were “laissez verdure”.  One translation of the phrase is “leave the green” and the other that I prefer is “let nature sustain”. I responded to this story, first, because I was so impressed by Sand's profound statement as she lay dying, and second, because the phrase seemed to relate directly to me, my work, and my interests. 

"Lagoon at Loon Point", 18x24, oil, 2016 - center

I am inspired by observation of the land, by structures of things that grow and create layers along the earth’s surface. I like intimate, distant, and aerial spaces and am interested in how humans shape their space, “leave the green”, and are inspired by their surroundings. Experiencing, observing, and responding to nature by drawing and painting renews my spirit. The act itself, the process of observing and responding, revising, and completing makes me feel like a witness to both life and the nature around me. As a result I feel more human by documenting my surroundings and sharing my responses with others through my painting and drawing.

"Backshore, Painting from Drawing #1", and "Back Shore Improvisation"

“Let Nature Sustain” is the title of my current show of paintings from Great Cranberry Island at Elizabeth Moss Gallery in Falmouth. The phrase found its way from my drawing table to my paintings as I recognized its importance to my work. I thank George Sand for the phrase and I am very grateful to the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation for the opportunity to live and work on Great Cranberry Island for the month of September. Waking up every day with the knowledge that I had an entire island at my disposal provided both geographical limits and infinite inspiration. My month-long immersion was a continual focus on plein air painting and drawing that led to many new paintings in the studio.

Great Cranberry Island landscapes at Elizabeth Moss Gallery

"Fish Point, Incoming Tide, ", 24x24, oil, 2016

"Bickford Afternoon", "Blowdown", and "Twilight"

"Backshore Improvisation",  "Morning Light from the Studio", "Beach at Long Point, Low Tide"

"Bickford Point Afternoon", and "Blowdown, Long Point"

"Late Afternoon, Toward Acadia", 24x24, oil, 2016

"Fish Point from the Window" and "Morning at Old Cove"

To see individual paintings, please visit gallery website


Monday, January 30, 2017

Painting Great Cranberry - After the fact

The powerful influence of Great Cranberry Island has continued through the fall and into the winter. Paintings develop from both drawings and photographs, coupled with the memory of that light-filled September experience. While living there, the paintings reflected my complete physical and emotional immersion in the space, and my experience of direct observation of its specific places. At home, the influence of the island has remained with me, but has been filtered through the lens of routine activity, thoughts of daily life, and current situations. The structures of the island became part of my visual landscape vocabulary and can now be translated into more personal images.

Previous posts have featured the drawings that resulted from my residency, as well as the process of creating new work from them. ( I continue that work on paper interspersed with periods of painting on canvas. They inform each other.

Twilight, The Pool - September, 24x30, oil 

Evening Surge, 24x30, oil

Backshore Rift, 56x60, oil

Painting and drawing juxtaposition showing the original drawing source with the larger finished painting.

Deadman's Point, Upside Down, oil, 48x60

Blowdown, Long Point, 24x30, oil on canvas, 2017

My painting process often involves underpainting the surface of the canvas to provide a colored ground with which to interact in the first stages of the painting. It helps me to build the composition and to establish value and color contrasts. This painting is in progress and has not been completed.

Choppy Morning Ferry Crossing, stages in progress

Choppy Morning Ferry Crossing, 24x30, oil on canvas

Monday, November 28, 2016

Drawing from Drawings

This fall I have been using drawings done on Great Cranberry Island in September as a resource for larger paintings and mixed media works on paper. This process is a shift for me since working from observation of place is my usual approach. I have enjoyed the freedom of this process, experimenting with materials (charcoal, gesso, acrylic paint) and allowing the marks to lead to new formats. There have been a variety of results, and as always, the opening of doors to new directions is the goal. I work until each piece feels a certain amount of resolution, choosing selectively from the drawings and searching for the essence of movement and structure.

Backshore Variation #1, mixed media, 26x40

Graphite on yupo, 11x14

Backshore Variation #3, mixed media, 26x40

Graphite on yupo, 11x14

Backshore Variation #4, mixed media, 26x32

Graphite on yupo, 11x14

Backshore Variation #2, mixed media, 26x36

Graphite on yupo, 11x14

Backshore Variation #5, mixed media, 26x32

Graphite on yupo, 11x14

Backshore Variation #5, detail

Monday, October 31, 2016

Rediscovering Drawing - A Conversation with the Landscape

My focus as an artist has always been painting. However, during my years of teaching in high school, middle school, and college, I developed many exercises, assigned year after year, introducing beginning classes to drawing. Personally, I drew when I was puzzling out a new subject, constructing a composition for a painting, or working outside.

That changed this year. I retired from teaching and had more time for making art, and for playing around with an idea before starting a painting. I began to appreciate my drawing as work that stands alone, and does not rely on a painting to give it value. And, after all those years of demonstrating and talking about making marks in my classroom, I have embraced those lessons myself, and transport my work easily into their language.

I wrote an earlier post about Drawing in the Desert
( in which I described exploring unfamiliar landscape in Tucson, Arizona. Again, during my stay on Great Cranberry Island with the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, drawing was a primary part of the process. I drew every day, sometimes in preparation for a painting, but often to identify my interests or to mark my presence in the environment, a kind of conversation with the landscape.

I drew from my studio - from the windows or in the immediate area.

Tree at the Pool, 11x14, charcoal

 Fog in the Cove, gouache, 5x8

Morning Fog, gouache, 8x10

I drew as an activity of recording what I saw as I walked along the shore on Long Point or at the south end of the island.

Beach at Long Point, charcoal, 9x12

Long Point, High Tide in Fog, water soluble graphite, 8x10

The View from Long Point, 9x12, charcoal

Toward Dead Man's Point, charcoal, 9x12

I drew both the land along the shoreline and the incoming tide, curious about how to capture the movement of the water as it coursed into the area of the pool and crept closer to the shore. Although there are paintings related to some, I consider the drawings to have their own identity.

Incoming Tide on Long Point, charcoal, 9x12

The work that most connected me to the drawing process were the pieces that I made on the Back Shore, a place I returned to many times to observe the chaotic jumble of rocks beside the sea. 

Back Shore 9/25, graphite on yupo, 11x14

Back Shore 9/25.2, graphite on yupo, 11x14

Back Shore 9/28, graphite on yupo, 11x14

Back Shore 9/28.2, graphite on yupo, 11x14

Each day when I returned to the studio, I hung the work completed that day. Gradually, the wall filled with drawings; drawings that I considered to stand on their own as a record of my curiosity as I explored the island. 

Studio wall in LaHotan Studio, varied materials

Studio wall, water soluble graphite on yupo

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Painting Residency on Great Cranberry Island

Poster for our slide talks during the first week of the residency

I spent the month of September on Great Cranberry Island as a resident at the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation. John Heliker and Robert LaHotan lived and painted on the island during the latter part of the 20th Century and left their home and studios, located on The Pool, as a place for artists to live and work every summer.
The La-Hotan Studio

I shared a house with two other artists, painted in the La-Hotan Studio, and rode a bike (for the first time in years) to explore the numerous beaches and sites on the two and a half mile island off the coast of Mount Desert Island.  Every day, the entire day was mine for exploring, selecting, and responding. This freedom imposed the burden to choose well and to focus on ideas that would lead to compelling work. As the three of us sat at breakfast each morning, we enjoyed the calm of each other’s company until the decision had to be made – how to use this day?

After initial exploration, I settled into favorite spots. Long Point on the north side of the island provided views of Acadia to the north and The Pool to the south.

Painting in progress on the north beach.

Painting in progress at Long Point

September Light, Toward Fish Point, 16x20, oil

Fish Point from the Shore at Long Point, 24x24, oil on canvas, 2016

The Big View at the south end of the island looked across fields and multiple bodies of water toward Acadia National Park. It's a popular painting spot, and I had to take my turn. 

Painting in progress

24x30, oil on canvas

I loved the beach at Birlem Cove on the Back Shore, with its chaotic combination of jagged basalt and smooth, rounded pink granite boulders. 

Back Shore beach

The Beach at Birlem Cove, 11x14, graphite

 Drawings and paintings of the Back Shore and other sites

Painting in progress on the Back Shore

I also worked from the comfort of my studio, where there was always something dynamic going on with shifting light and tide outside my windows or along the beach out front.

The Pool from the LaHotan Studio

Unsettled, 11x14, oil on paper

Painting fog from the studio

Breaking Through, 12x12, oil on canvas, 2016

Morning Fog, 11x14, oil on canvas

Shore Along the Pool, 24x24, oil, 2016

Open Studio on the last day of the residency

The light of this visually rich environment was varied and magical, providing continuous presence of painting possibilities. I began a series of paintings, a response to the shifting light and color that surrounded me, and completed more than thirty-five drawings, a short-hand gestural record of my daily explorations. Now, in my studio at home, I observe the paintings again, seeing them on their own, disassociated from the place I observed and enjoyed. Some require revision. I make decisions and resolve not to overwork, and to retain the visual concepts and sense of place that prompted them. 

I feel tremendous gratitude to the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation for this gift of time and place.

Sunrise on The Pool at the end of The Lane, the road where I lived for the month.