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The Green Monster


December 19 2015
Cox Reservation, Essex Greenbelt, Essex MA
Oil on Canvasboard, 12 x 16 in

I think it is because I have been so non-plussed by this unseasonal weather that the day I finally get out to paint happens to be one of the coldest ones this season, and again I make the fatal mistake of standing out of the sun and in the wind (in my defense, I was shielded from the wind initially, but not for long.)  It was a "I will keep painting until my hand can no longer grip the knife" day. I had wanted to practice clouds - trying to get a softer and more airy weight to them than I generally do with the knife.  I feel like I learned something about the subtlety of the value shifts within clouds, thanks to David Curtis who gave me key advice at a key moment.

December 7 2015
Done Fudgin', Gloucester MA
Oil on Canvasboard, 18 x 24in

It always looks odd to me, when the sky and water are bright and blue and the weather is mild and springy - but the trees are all bare and the grasses dead because it's actually December. I don't love this painting, but I love that I got out and painted properly.  I look forward to going again, with steadily improving (in my eyes) results.

Sunset, Ring of Fire
Nov 18 - 22, 2015
Oil on Canvas, 24 x 30in

This week is one of anniversaries and memories, and either the three months of shatteringly beautiful sunsets at the lake or a year full of endings - or an inspiring blend of both - has me very fixated on painting sunsets. 

Friday, November 13th
Cox Reservation, Essex Greenbelt Essex MA
Oil on Canvasboard, 12 x 16 in

I only had an hour and it was very windy, but David (the leader of the posse) had said they'd be painting today and I didn't want to miss yet another.  It was the kind of day where all the clouds and wind with patches of sun and sky mirrored my internal landscape. I used a small panel and painted on a clipboard rather than deal with the frustration of wind wiggling a fragile easel. I jumped in, painted hard, then packed up and came home. Something, ANYTHING, is always better than nothing.  Now I am off to teach but glad I decided to paint, regardless wind and time constraints, and mental tumult. Grateful David keeps sending the posse invites in spite of my poor attendance in recent months.

COMPUTER TROUBLES!  Sorry for the absence. Website should be updated and back on track within the next couple of weeks! (Nov. 10, 2015)

Summer 2015

July 5 2015
Uncle Bruce's Backyard
Treaty Island, Lake of the Woods
Kenora, ON Canada

(Summer 2015)
Oil on Canvas, 20 x 24 in

(Summer 2015)
Oil on Canvasboard, 18 x 24 in

(Summer 2015)
Oil on Canvasboard, 11 x 14 in

(Summer 2015)
Oil on Canvasboard, 16 x 20 in

What I remember about this was that it was freezing and very windy outside, but I wanted to paint.  I was seeing this scene with the woodstove in my mind's eye as a very cold and clinical but luminous realism, like a Vermeer. What I was actually able to execute looked more like a Spongebob Van Gogh. I raged and hated it and myself for a while, and then after hiding it from myself for a month or so I decided I kind of like it.  I mean, it's rather cheerful and rollicking - as a partnership between Spongebob SquarePants and Vincent Van Gogh ought to be. 

May 25th 2015
(Boathouse, overcast day - Sketch - detail)
Lake of the Woods, ON

I have been absent because I have been packing, and moving, and travelling.  Last Friday I finally made it to the Island, and yesterday I finally got to start painting. Only, I found I had almost no white paint in my paint bag - which meant I had to paint very sparingly, carefully controlling the amount of white I use (and I use white in everything, basically.) Painting sparingly is not nearly as much fun as painting liberally - so tomorrow I'll go to town and fetch the vast supply of spare paints in my car. From then on, I hope to be painting almost every day.  I'm very happy to have finally landed, and here especially.

April 18th 2015
Cox Reservation, Essex Greenbelt, Essex MA
16 x 20 in, Oil on Canvasboard

I was able to steal away from the tumult of my present life for a little oasis of painting. It was a beautiful day - especially when the sun was out and the wind was still - felt deliciously like spring. I focused on the buds and the promise of new beginnings.

April 11 - 12, 2015
12 x 16in, Oil on Canvasboard
Lake of the Woods, Kenora Ontario

Painting I guess is my bridge over troubled waters. I latched on to this image from last summer yesterday and today when I needed to paint. The view is of the boat dock at the island, while the floodwaters were rising steadily and I was doing all I could think of to keep the dock from potentially floating away. From what I understand, the island and the dock are still there.

April 7, 2015
Green Sky Moonlight
16 x 20in, Oil on Canvasboard

On Sunday night I stood outside staring at the moon and trying to remove myself from the context of the evening darkness enough to objectively see the colours in the sky.  When it's night, there's no way I know of to mix and match night colours - because you can't see your palette, and if you use a flashlight, it will tint your palette yellow, orange, or purple depending on the type of light you use.  So I guess you have to rely on memory. I was amazed the clouds in their centres looked ochre. This is how I remember it to look tonally. I had to throw in a lake and tree from my favorite place - also from memory.

March 30 - April 4
24 x 30in, Oil on Canvas

The time I have taken to work on this was stolen from other duties and tasks, but I needed to paint.  As usual when my mind is a mess of stress, worry and confusion, I gravitated towards a huge tangle of a project. It's not deliberate, but apparently my subconscious thinks if it can work out a snarl of leaves and grasses on canvas, it can smooth the internal snarl as well. At this stage of the game I'm not too sure of much progress on either count. The young spring buds, all sticky wet with life and color, were all lit up in the last shafts of early evening sunlight. I'm happy with the colours, tone, and atmosphere in this painting. I like that, in spite of the messy tangle, there is an air of softness and hope.

March 1 - 5, 2015
Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada
24 x 30in, Oil on Canvas

This has been a week of major upheval - and I spent it trying to work this painting out. Its from a photo of one of the countless staggeringly gorgeous sunsets I beheld at the lake this summer. I liked that the flat lake reflected the rosy sunset, but the waves were angles such as to reflect the blue dome of the sky. Blue and orange are complementary colours (opposites) so that creates a dynamic - as does the contrast between the clearer sky & sunset on the left and the storm clouds in tumultuous light on the right.

Saturday, February 28th 2015
Cox Reservation, Essex Greenbelt, Essex MA
8 x 10in, Oil on Canvasboard

Finally!  I got to go painting outside again! It was a beautiful day and if it was cold I didn't notice.  I brought my dog with me for  the first time (normally I leave him with my Uncle.)  I wasn't sure it would go too well, and I didn't want him to freeze, so I only did a very tiny painting. I'll get a picture of it alone tomorrow. You will notice a lot of pink in the painting that doesn't seem to be in the picture. It's an effect you get when  the sun is too bright, everything begins to look sort of pink, or the light bouncing off white has a rosy blush. If you've been in snow on a sunny day you've probably noticed it. One more point for paintings over photos in communicating the experience of "being there."

Loon At Sunset
18x24in, Oil on Canvas
(Lake of the Woods)

I have to fix the spots on the Loon's back, and probably will toy a little more with the water although I may not. This has been three days worth of frustration. I think I succeeded to some degree in what I was hoping to do (learn,) now I'm just sick of looking at it. 

Sunset Thunderhead
24 x 36in, Oil on Canvas
(Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada)

Again this week Plein Air is a bit of a misnomer, as it was painted in the warmth of a sunny living room while winter cavorted outdoors.  I was thinking of the island, and storms I've known there.  That's snow on the right hand side - picture was taken outside.

February 4 2015
18 x 24 in, Oil on Canvasboard
The sun set in the back yard one frigid and gusty day, blowing swaths of ice particles off the trees in plumes into the sky. I took a photo then, and worked from the photo but also from the yard. There are improvements yet to be made here and there - and then, on to the next.

February 2, 2015
24 x 30 in, Oil on Canvas
Sunset, Lake of the Woods (from a photo.)

I hope that bad things can be trusted to happen in threes. I am very sorry to have lost my uncle so suddenly. The blessing is that I will now have time to process all of these losses through the medium most soothing to me - colour. I took this photo in outside daylight.  Open Studio this Saturday, February 7th is a go, FYI! Perhaps I'll see you there. 

January 6 - 10, 2015
16 x 20 in, Oil on Canvasboard

This has been a fairly rough year so far - the most recent blow was the rather sudden demise of my beloved cat Penny.  Her name is short for Pentecost, which I named her because she was all grey and black except for one big tongue of flame on her forehead.  Painting her has been wonderful - a very fulfilling way to spend time thinking about her and our life together, to savor and celebrate her incredible beauty.  I think I may tweak this here and there, but it's basically done.  I hope now that there's a little routine & order to home life (and the care of my uncle at home in hospice) I will be able to get out and paint again soon.