Friday, June 29, 2018

Iceland Residency - Big, Wet Landscape

Skogafoss, gouache on yupo, 11x14

During the month of June I lived in an apartment above Hafnarborg, a small museum in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland. Aside from the persistent clouds and rain, it was glorious to spend time in this country of powerful, evocative, and varied land. Two short trips, first to the south coast, and then to the Snaefellsness Peninsula, provided stunning drives and hikes. Sifting my interests from all the images that I had collected was an ongoing process of looking, sketching, drawing, and painting.  Everywhere I saw tall rock cliffs with fragments cascading below, solid, angular mountains surrounded by a jumble of moss-covered lava, and rock ledges with water pouring from their heights. Iceland is a land with brooding structures that seem to be in constant flux. Sketches helped me to identify my interest in the solid vs. fluid and whole vs. fragment.

Hafnarborg, Hafnarfjordur

Hafnarborg studio

I could not have been more surprised by my attraction to waterfalls. I began sketching, then painting variations, ten in all. It was a way to represent the movement that I was seeing all around me, and to express the relentless rain that made them full and omnipresent.

Skogafoss 2, gouache on yupo, 14x11

Oxnarfoss, charcoal, 11x14

Oxnarfoss, gouache on yupo, 11x14

Charcoal on paper, 8x10

Seljalandfoss 4, acrylic on canvas, 24x28

Charcoal on paper, 11x14

Gouache on paper, 11x14

Pingvallavatn, Gouache on paper, 11x14

Charcoal on paper, 11x14

Friday, April 27, 2018

Square Tangles - New Directions with Invasive Vines.

Entangled Dance, 16x32, oil on canvas, 2018

It's a gift to find a subject that allows for play, and encourages variation and expansion. These vines  seem to be one of those discoveries. The square format has resulted in new compositions, and various ways of making marks to represent the movement and complexity of this form. 

Entangled Composition 7, 24x24, mixed media on yupo, 2018

Diptych, 12x24, oil on canvas, 2018

Entangled Spring, 40x40, oil on linen, 2018

Tangle Improvisation 1, 24x24, mixed media on tyvec, 2018

Tangle Improvisation 2, 24x24, mixed media on paper, 2018

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Variations on Tangled Trees

Entangled 3, 60x48, oil on canvas, 2018

Winter brings concentrated studio time. I like these days spent out of the cold in my studio where painting from observation shifts to painting from drawings and photographs, removed from the source, and responding to the painting itself as it progresses. My interest in Virginia's invasive vines has led to experimentation with drawing, using a variety of materials. 

Tangle study, mixed media on yupo, 2017

I'm enjoying working on large canvases (60"x48") and the freedom of paint application that it allows. I've just completed the eighth painting of the this series. The first five were done from more objective observation while I was in Virginia last spring, while these three large paintings focus on movement and variation. 

Entangled 1, 58x46, oil on canvas, 2017

Study for Entangled 2, graphite on paper, 2017

Entangled 2, 60x48, oil on canvas, 2018

I require more preliminary drawings for a large canvas to help determine my direction. The drawings aid the decision making process as I search for composition in the painting. While I do not often use the drawing directly or exactly, making them before I begin to paint prepares me for placement of the subject, mark making, and development of form, as if I have uploaded a map of the potential process. 

Tangle Study, mixed media on yupo, 2017

Tangle Study, mixed media on yupo, 2017

Tangle Study, mixed media on yupo, 2017

Tangled Trees, Study, graphite on paper, 2017

Details of the large paintings emphasize the movement over the subject and context. That may be my next direction. 

Detail, Entangled 2

Detail, Entangled 3

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