Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Virginia Vines

After a season of painting Maine landscape, I've returned to the studio to continue work that I began in April at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, an artists' residency in Amherst, Virginia. Living in a location with a long, sustained spring gave me time to explore a landscape infused with a yellow-green palette, and entwined with tangles of vines.

Studio view - VCCA

I worked outside searching for images that I could not find at home, and found roads and fields lined with wild grape, honeysuckle, and kudzu. I worked with charcoal on yupo and paper, water soluble graphite, and conte crayon taped to a long stick, experiencing different ways to mark the surface with the movement of this landscape.

Wild Grape, charcoal on yupo

Honeysuckle, charcoal on yupo

Honeysuckle, charcoal on yupo

Honeysuckle, charcoal on paper

Honeysuckle, charcoal on paper

Wild Grape Studies, Option 1 and 2, water soluble graphite

The drawings led to paintings which have continued this fall with larger canvases. 

Studio view, work in progress in April  - VCCA, oil, 40x30

While at the residency I had planned to work on drawings of aerial landscape from previously taken photographs. When I hung the drawings of both the vines and the highways on the wall, I discovered the connection between them, their tangled structures, invasive qualities, and chaotic layers. The unchecked growth of both the vines and urban spaces connected these landscapes in ways I had not appreciated before. Whereas my aerial landscape had previously concentrated on specific places like Newark Airport and Boston Harbor, the new aerial studies were more generalized, and focused on marks made on the land by human civilization; a kind of monumental drawing across the earth’s surface.

Invasive sketch, 10x20, charcoal, 2017

Suburban Continuum #3, charcoal, 30x22, 2017

Suburban Continuum, charcoal, 30x90, 2017

Suburban Studies, gouache on paper, 14x12, 2017

Invasive Forms, 30x44, charcoal, 2017

It is with great excitement that I continue this work in my Bangor studio as I develop new large scale drawings and paintings fueled by my April experience. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Drawing In the Woods

Charcoal, 22x30

New Works is a September session at Haystack at which previous instructors are invited to work on their own projects. It's a wonderful time of meeting other artists, observing their creative practice, and working together in studios for four days, and for a landscape artist there's the additional excitement of living in a unique coastal environment. I was surprised by my activity since I usually gravitate toward the water, rocks, and distant vistas, but here I was captivated by the surrounding woods. My first drawing of trees from the studio on the rainy afternoon I arrived seemed to set the tone for the entire experience.

First drawing, Charcoal, 9x12

The last morning as others packed up and left, I remained in the studio for a few more hours responding with sketches and more developed drawings. 

Last drawing, Charcoal, 22x18

 Study, 12"x9"

During the time between I found many variations of complex spaces as I walked and observed. 

Conte crayon, 20x29


The glacial erratics are a signature element of the Maine coast, and Haystack has some stellar examples scattered along the shore and throughout its woods. 

Graphite on yupo, 18x24

Graphite on yupo, 11x14

The coast there is distinctive and stunning for its large granite boulders and sandy pocket beaches. I enjoyed walking and swimming in those areas and making occasional sketches. 

But I always returned to the woods where I tried to figure out how I saw the space. Quick charcoal gesture studies helped me to internalize my subject and sometimes provided me with structure for a more developed drawing or painting. Negative space, rhythm and movement, and limited marks of essential forms were my focus during this intense four day session. 

Charcoal, 12x9

Charcoal, 9x12

Charcoal, 12x9

Friday, September 1, 2017

Summer Gouache

I've been curious about gouache for a while and decided to use it this summer to see where it would lead me. Using gouache is like drawing with liquid color and seems to suit my expressive needs. I enjoy the range of surfaces from transparent to opaque that develop from varied applications.

Driftwood Beach 2, Great Spruce Head Island, gouache on yupo, 11x14

My early experiments were small color studies from memory. I worked with different papers and a variety of brushes. Discomfort with the process eventually gave way to freedom of exploration. Eventually, I worked outside where I sometimes overworked paintings, but aspired to the same minimal approach that accompanied the memory paintings. I like gouache for its clarity of color and directness of process, and approach it as I do drawing, making marks in response to what I see, and searching for essential shapes and forms.

Memory study, East Side Road, Late Afternoon10x8

Memory Study, East Side Road, 3x3

Morning, Bernard Marsh, 7x9

Bernard Marsh 2, 5x7

Addison Lupine, Pleasant Bay, 7.5x9.5

Addison Meadow, Wahoa Bay,  7.5x9

August brought a visit to Great Spruce Head Island where I stayed for five days painting with friends. Hiking around to favorite spots on the island, I drew and painted on paper and yupo.

From the Porch toward Butter and Barred, gouache, 9x12

Driftwood Beach 3, gouache on yupo, 11x14

Driftwood Beach 1, gouache on yupo, 11x14

Late Morning toward Bear Island, gouache, 9x12

Foggy Beach, Great Spruce Head Island, gouache, 11x14

South Meadow, Early Evening, gouache, 9x12

Tide Pool 3, gouache on yupo, 5.5x6

Tide Pool 2, gouache on yupo, 5x6

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 https://www.elizabethmossgalleries.com/letnaturesustain