Back to Making and Sharing Art

It has been so long–months– that I have allowed myself to get sucked into the vortex of earning money on a timed and output basis.  I had intended to work a part-time job preparing tax returns for the clients of H&R Block, but part-time became full-time (even some overtime) and the clients became mine.  I hardly had time to do laundry and cook.  Recorded TV programs mounted up.  I would try to watch TV when I got home after 9 o’clock, but I kept falling asleep.  But now I am free again and so grateful for the privilege.

The only art I kept up with during this period was the Saturday life sessions, so I have photographed my favorites for discussion purposes.  First, I’ll show you the ones that could not be finished because they were only 5 or 10 minutes poses.  Works in progress  help illustrate my approach to drawing the figure.

The first thing I try to capture is the “gesture”.  The gesture will underlie the finished drawing and is therefore critical to a good result.  I make a lot of errant lines as I splash around trying to fit the pieces together in correct proportions–all without losing the movement of the gesture.

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With a little more time, I can eliminate some of the errant lines and start noting where the shadows fall.  The shapes begin to acquire depth.

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The next stage contains most of the notes that I would need to bring the drawing to a finished state, but without the model in pose, I don’t usually get care enough to finish the piece.

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Despite the time constraints, occasionally I do finish a piece.  Such a piece will be one that contains fewer details or complexities–for example, the back of the figure instead of the front.  The pillows and fabric must be dealt with also.  The white pencil is a favorite tool of mine at this stage.

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Color is sometimes added to enhance the drawing when I have a lot of extra time.

Filling out the shape

I prize this last one highly for the sense of volume, of flesh, but regret the horizontal lines that have permanent ruined the piece as a whole.  They happened when I was preparing the paper with hard charcoal with flat sweeps that etched those dark lines.  How could I not have noticed before it was too late?  Oh well.

I have scaled way back on the number of places to exhibit my paintings.  I did that partly because of the time constraints and the “day job”, but also partly because I felt a little glum and pessimistic about the effort turning in sales.  Nevertheless, two paintings sold from the McGowan Gallery in February, and my contribution to the Currier Museum staff and volunteer exhibit has found a home with one of my fellow docents.  Opening next week is a 3-person exhibit at the Massabesic Audubon Center.  The emphasis will be on NH landscapes but I might sneak in an animal or two.  The Opening Reception is scheduled for Friday May 5, 5 to 7.  I probably won’t get there until 6 o’clock because that Friday is one of my Symphony dates–Trip to Boston for Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Symphony Orchestra matinee.

I have not advertised my participation in the Audubon exhibit much, due of course to the “day job”.  But I still hope to see some familiar faces at the reception when I get there.

Other places where you can still catch a few examples of my works:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Mesmer & Deleault Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America pages, which are, like this blog, way overdue for updating. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Exhibiting

I haven’t written a blog for two months.  I have thought about it a lot, but what to write about?

(1) It’s winter, and dreary sunless winter most of the time.

(2) I can’t go to Florida for my usual reinvigoration because I’m working at tax returns in order to support my art habit.

(3) As I get older, it seems as if everything I do has to take longer.  Five times longer.  I have turned into a snail.

As a result of all those factors, forget about blogging. . . I haven’t even been painting!

Two months–that’s December and January, and little bit of February, assuming I finish this start and publish it today or tomorrow.  During those months I was busy with a different aspect of the profession of art making.  I was exhibiting.  So I’m hoping that’s a subject that might be amusing for artists and non artists alike, especially since so much of that was compressed in that stretch of time.

There are two kinds of exhibiting:  juried and not juried.  For the juried ones, the process starts with the application or “entry”.  The artist obtains decent photographs of the artwork and sends the images electronically to the juror(s).   For the unjuried ones, the artist usually need only identify each piece by title and size.  For all of them, the artist must consider the logistics of getting artwork to the place of exhibit, and then getting pieces back home at the end of the exhibit.

Entering multiple exhibits requires some basic record keeping.  You don’t want to put forward the same painting in different, overlapping exhibits.  You can’t deliver paintings to two locations at the same time.  You can’t deliver paintings when you are tied up at work either.  Friends and families are helpful in this regard.

I was particularly busy with the business of art these past few months.  Maybe because  I was not getting many rejections, a turn of events devoutly to be thankful for.  The effort required for me to keep all my exhibit balls in the air sapped my energy to actually keep painting–with the exceptions of commissions of pet portraits and the re-creation of lost paintings.  Yes, on two occasions I submitted photographs of paintings that I could not find!   But let’s go back to the beginning.

In November, I responded to a call for art from a Boston gallery, the Bromfield, for smallish pieces to go in their annual Winter Show.  I have never exhibited in Boston before, so I decided to go for it.  Of 4 images submitted, 2 were accepted.  Both were 8×10 rather abstracted landscapes involving water.  Lake’s Edge, which was on my wall and on my business card; and Water Layers, which I distinctly remember seeing when I was offering 8×10’s for $100 each in Littleton’s Art Festival.  But I could not find Water Layers in any of my home places for stacking older paintings.  Thank goodness I tried to find it right after getting the acceptance, because that barely gave me enough time to paint a copy of it from my photograph of it.  Oil dries slowly.

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Water Layers, 8×10, plein air, half hour painting at Baboosic Brook in Merrimack NH

The exhibit at the Bromfield Gallery required three trips to Boston:  one to deliver; one to attend the opening; and one to pick up at the end of the show.  I took a friend with me each time because venturing into SoWa (South of Washington) arts district alone  intimidated this boondocks artist.  Yvonne, another artist, accompanied me on the first and third trips.  It wasn’t the neighborhood that intimidated me; it was the traffic and fear of accidentally getting on the Mass. Turnpike, because that has happened to me before when trying to find something in the South End.  Parking in the neighborhood of the Gallery was also a challenge better handled with another person riding shotgun.   Alas, all of our good luck in finding the place and scoring a parking place got washed out by a blowout of one of my snow tires as I was pulling into a dubious corner space.  I had rammed my poor tire into a sewer grate.  AAA to the rescue.  Yvonne missed a delivery of a turkey to her front porch back in Manchester.  Come to think of it, I guess I owe her a turkey.  Just glad I was not alone!

The middle trip, the one to the opening, was pretty darn delightful.  My friend from grade school in Wilmington Delaware, Jackie, accompanied me.  There was a Christmas crafts fair going on, and all of the galleries at 450 Harrison Street too, as was usual on the First Friday of a month.  As soon as we got here, about five o’clock, Jackie and I allowed ourselves to be seduced by a restaurant called 500 in Italian.  Cinquecento.  As we were investigating the menu posted outside, passersby stopped to encourage us and even advised which meal to order.  Since we did not have a competing agenda, we went for it and ending up spending a boatload of money, mostly for a carafe of wine that cost $35.  Good time, great meal.  Girls night out.  Christmas shopping got done too–later.

Let this be enough to whet your appetite for more show war stories.  Now that I have a toe in the water (to mix metaphors), I shall be more likely to wade on in.

Places where you might catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Mesmer & Deleault Law Firm in Manchester NH
  • McGowan Gallery in Concord NH
  • Armory Cafe Gallery in Somerville, MA
  • Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth NH
  • Currier Art Museum in Manchester NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

On Photographing Oil Paintings

I have, from time to time, complained about fog or glare appearing in my photographs of artwork.  I tried to eliminate glare by cutting down on lighting, but it didn’t always work.  The larger the painting, the harder it was to eliminate glare.  When I started, I didn’t have a lot to photograph so I would take the artwork outdoors to a spot where the lighting was indirect.  As I accumulated piles of panels to photograph, I wanted to be able to run through them relatively quickly–indoors and at night.  I would flood the studio with full-spectrum artificial light.  Instead of aiming lights at the artwork, I would bounce light off the ceiling, through a mirror, etc.  I thought the only solution was to avoid the light that rakes across the surface of a painting.  Yet my research on the internet kept producing advice to set up lamps aimed at 90 degrees from the artwork.

The result of my low lighting solution to glare was unsatisfactory color capture.  I started using my iPhone instead of my once expensive, leading edge digital SLR Nikon D70.  But all that is in the process of changing, since I attended a short workshop at the NH Institute of Art, conducted by the chairman of its Photograpy Department, Gary Samson.  I learned a new concept:  polarization.  I’m no scientist, as Republican climate-change skeptics are so fond of saying, so the explanation that follows may read like a Mother Goose tale to someone who actually understands the physics of light.

Rays of light have direction, and bounce off surfaces like oil paintings.  To polarize these bounces is to neutralize them, or counteract them, with filters that somehow deflect the bounces before they reach the camera.  You need a filter for the camera lens.   You also need filters between the light source and the art object.

I started by acquiring a filtering lens for the Nikon, and rephotographing some recent works that had troubled me.  Despite the fact that I could not figure out exactly what I was supposed to see through my new circular filter, the photographs did improve.  Compare the original hazy image with the new polarized image.

John Brown as gardener

John Brown, posing as gardener or farmer (FOG FROM REFLECTED LIGHT)

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John the Gardener  (NO MORE FOG; COLOR ALSO MORE ACCURATE)

But then I tried to rephotograph a painting that I had varnished with a high gloss varnish.  I could not get rid of the glare.  So I rummaged around Amazon and then eBay until I found affordable gizmos to hang filters from the spotlights, and a large sheet of polarizing film from which to cut out sheets to hang from the gizmos.  I don’t think it mattered whether the film’s polarity was circular, as with the camera lens, or parallel.  Circularity was necessary for the camera so that the camera could still autofocus.  I take that on faith since I don’t understand it.

Alas, the filters for the spotlights did not solve the varnish issue.  I am so sad.

Two other advances in my photo technique have resulted from that workshop:  I set the Nikon to take the photos in RAW format.  That’s super-large format to accommodate enormous amounts of data for the purpose of manipulating the data in the finished version (jpeg) of the photo; and I bought a photo manipulating program better than “Photos”, which comes free with all my Apple devices.  Adobe Lightroom, about $145 from Amazon, compatible with Macs and IOS.  Headache!  Powerful software equals massive learning curve, and hey,  I hated learning how to operate the remote control on my DVR.

As a result of all this upheaval, my diligence with blogging faltered over the past couple of months.  I’m hoping that by the end of January, I’ll have all the bugs worked out.  Meanwhile, here is a decent photo of a 16×20 painting that I did over the summer–from a reference photo I took in my neighborhood.

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Russell Street Roofs

Reminder for folks in the Chesapeake Bay area: see two of my animal portraits at the Annmarie Sculpture Gardern and Art Center in Solomons, Maryland.   The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run  through January 29.

Other places where you might catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH  (in January 2017)
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleault Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Plein Air in the North Country

In late September, I participated in the Littleton Art Festival, which placed me a little higher North than my usual stomping grounds.  The Festival event was Saturday, so I had Sunday open to scout a particular, new spot to paint, a spot I could not reach without the help of my friend and companion, Art (appropriate name, right?).   by means of indefatigable searching online, Sharon had discovered a location known as “Mossy Glen” in Randolph, NH.   She was considering it as a location for the upcoming Fall Artists Getaway Weekend.  We go up to stay at the Bartlett Inn at least twice a year and have painted all the best spots multiple times, so we are always on the lookout for something new and different.

Randolph is farther North, but the description of the Mossy Glen made it sound worth a trip.  So off we went, me and Art and Justice, the dog.  The directions were sketchy, but we ran into some native walkers who were glad to help us out.  We had to start out on a road marked “private”, then hike up.  Art carried my painting gear in my back pack.  I had only to get myself to the location.  I deployed a toothy cane that I had acquired to keep me on my feet during icy winters;  it performed the same service on the steep parts of the Mossy Glen path.  The terrain was delightful –up, then down, then up again, passing along the way an amphitheater constructed from mossy logs and mossy boulders. The Randolph hiking club, mountain club, held meetings there.  Impressive!  At the waterfall that marks the location called Mossy Glen I looked up to see another unusual object–a  Nepalese Bridge.  I struggled up a quasi-path to reach Bridge  level, and had to scramble to climb up onto the bridge itself, for I wanted to paint right on the bridge.  Which I did.

I reported back to Sharon that the hike into the Mossy Glen would be difficult for artists who were having to carry their gear.  Many of us use rolling carts to lug the stuff around, but this particular woodsy path was extremely cluttered with rocks and roots.  But no question,  the spot was worth some effort to get to.  The waterfall had just a trickle due to the drought.   In the Spring, snowmelt, assuming we get snow this year, will feed the waterfall and make the Mossy Glen doubly worth our attention.

Later on that Sunday, back at the cabin in Twin Mountain where we were staying, I painted one of the 12 hydrangea bushes that grew at the Patio Motor Hotel.  This is a variety of hydrangea that blooms in the Fall and seems to grow much larger that the blue of pink varieties.

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Hydrangea at the Patio Motor Hotel, Twin Mountain, NH

Only a few weeks later, I was back in the North for the Bartlett Getaway Weekend.  I returned last Sunday, bearing six  new plein air paintings.  The weekend was one of the best ever–the foliage and the weather cooperated.  Foliage usually peaks earlier in October, but it was late this year and apparently the whole world knew about that because the hills were crawling with tourists.  And the weather was extraordinary.  True, a little too windy at certain places, which sent me in retreat behind a wind-breaking building for one painting.  And Saturday night, our usual “show and tell” turned into a lively critique session, best one ever, that inspired me to improve upon my six paintings as soon as I got home.

I remembered to take photos of the six before improvements, so we will be able to compare the before and after of each.  Actually, one was not improved.

First, Friday morning atop something akin to a mountain, west of Jackson, lies the Hays Farm Land Trust, with a view to the North of Mount Washington and Pinkham Notch.  The wind gusts were fierce but I stuck it out as long as I could.

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The farmhouse provided some shelter for my second painting.  I parked myself there and just painted what I saw.

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We next headed farther up through Pinkham Notch to the Auto Road location.  My third painting was of the Auto Road.  Route 16 rises up and blocks one’s view of the section of Auto Road closest to Route 16.  It appears as if it goes under Route 16, but it doesn’t.  I got a tad frustrated with my inability to convey the actual layout.  At the critique I suggested a solution that everyone endorsed.

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Auto Road, WIP

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Auto Road up Mt. Washington

Saturday we started in Crawford Notch.  The parking lot where we set up was not overrun with tourists at all.  This is the same location where I painting the railroad trestle last May.  Saturday, because of the gorgeous foliage effects, I gave into the obvious–paint the notch.  this painting is the one that did not require improvement.

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From Crawford Notch, we reversed direction and drove all the way down to Conway, or perhaps Albany–to the Albany covered bridge.  Every now and then I have to paint a covered bridge.  This one was obscured by foliage.  It was really a foliage painting with a covered bridge in the background.

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Finally, the sixth painting: in “downtown” Bartlett, the intersection of Bear Notch Road and Route 302, where there is a blicking light, grows a very tall, very orange tree in front of a white house.  We set up in the church parking lot across the street.  I made sure to put the blue spruce between me and the orange tree because I wanted to partner the icy blue against the hot orange.  I knew I might not be able to keep the orange behind the blue.  I did the best I could, and came close, I think.

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Reminder for folks in the Chesapeake Bay area, if any there are: see two of my animal portraits at the Annmarie Sculpture Gardern and Art Center in Solomons, Maryland.   The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run  through January 29.

Other places where you can catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleaut Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

New Crop of “Figure in the Landscape”

For a third Summer in a row, I participated in the David Curtis offer of a model in his garden garnished with the light touches of his guidance and that of my fellow artists.  This year, we had July Sundays in addition to the August Sundays, plus an errant June Sunday to get us in the proper mindset.  We got rained out only once, giving me a total of eight Sundays, eight figures, eight paintings.   David’s home and garden is in Gloucester, an hour and a quarter drive from my home.  This year I had company on the trip.  I persuaded Cynthia Arieta to try it out; she prefers figurative painting too, and we met during Cameron Bennett’s Cornwall workshop a few summers ago.  She’s now as hooked as I am.

For models, we started with David’s wife Judy, dressed up as a Guitar-playing Gypsy.  This was the June Sunday.  The Rhododendrons were no longer in bloom, but David suggested I add blooms to the painting anyway, so of course, I did.

Judy with Guitar and Rhododendrons

Judy Curtis, wife of David Curtis, posing in their Gloucester garden

The order in which I painted the middle ones might not be accurate, but who cares about that, right?  I believe the second one was the Basketful of Flowers, featuring artist Marianne as our model.  For both of these first two paintings I used a 20×16 Raymar panel.  In the previous two summers, I had painted smaller, on 12×16 panels.  I had been easily able to complete those 12×16 paintings in the three hours allotted, so this year I thought I would challenge myself by going bigger.  As a result, the background of Basketful of Flowers was unfinished when I left that Sunday.  I worked on it at home and brought it back the next week for comments from the others.

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Basketful of Flowers

Not particularly happy with my first two paintings, I concluded that 20×16 was perhaps too large for me to complete in three hours, and I switched back to 12×16 for number three.  I call this one  Diamond Bracelet.  My titles are mostly hooks to remind me which painting I am talking about.  I could not use the dress color to identify this painting because, as you will see, another blue-green dress is coming up.

Diamond Bracelet

Diamond Bracelet

David objected to the downsizing idea:  As long as I was getting enough information on the larger canvas to finish at home, I should keep working in the 20×16 format.  Subsequently I also took pains to prepare the panels that I used with a dark ground.  Dark brown or rusty red were my usual choices for the ground color.  Without the pressure to cover up white grounds, I could get closer to completion each Sunday.  If I remember correctly, the ground for White Wicker Settee (number four) was close to black.

Reader on White Settee

White Wicker Settee

Our model, another artist,  for White Wicker furnished the settee herself and of course chose her costume.  David declares repeatedly, “Artists make the best models”, and surely their choices of accessories is a big component in their success.  He tried to recruit me to model next year, but I am reluctant to sacrifice my painting time.

Number five.  The next model is the daughter of one of us artists.  I had to fake the rhododendrons again.  From Gloucester to Manchester, we have been suffering from an extreme drought, and Judy Curtis, who is in charge of the garden, stands on principle in refusing to water her garden–ever.  So the rhododendron blooms would not be the only flowers we had to invent or exaggerate as the drought worsened over the summer.  Tablecloth and vase is the one of the eight that I am least satisfied with.

Reader at table with vase of flowers

Tablecloth and Vase

After the fact, I decided I should have filled the canvas with the figure instead of letting “figure in the landscape” govern my composition choices.  For future sessions, I resolved to get closer to the model and even, gasp, allow body parts to get cut off by the edge of the panel if necessary.  Meanwhile, David encouraged me to paint in the pattern on the tablecloth in order to create something interesting going on.  One of the most common praises he heaps upon me is that I “tell a story”.  I don’t really understand what he is talking about, but hope I can keep on doing it.

The next two paintings did not require me to cut off any limbs, but I did allow  major accessories to get cut off.  The first, George Martin, Painting (number six), started on a blackish ground.  Notice how his easel slides out of frame on the right?  The part I had the most trouble with was his eyeglasses.  The lenses caught quite a glare from the bright sun and sky above, but when I painted them like I saw them, it was too startling and distracting.

George Martin painting

George Martin, posing with his brush and easel

John Brown is a regular on Sundays and has posed in the past on Sundays when I could not be there.  I had envied the results I had seen, so was looking forward to his portrayal of Farmer John (number seven).  (Or should it be Gardener John?  Doesn’t have the right ring.)  I believe I can detect a red ground for this one.  His wheelbarrow leaves the frame on the right.  This painting was my favorite (and David’s favorite) up to that point, but there was one more week to go.  Could I top Farmer John?

John Brown as gardener

John Brown, posing as gardener or farmer

In this number eight, the last painting of the summer, the red adirondack chair makes its third appearance over the last two summers.  The model is engaged to marry David and Judy’s son.   Her names escapes me right now–so sorry.  But she also modeled for us last summer in a navy blue dress holding a red parasol–my least favorite painting from any of the summers.  So when she appeared again in navy blue, my heart sank.  I prepared myself for a disaster of a painting.  But surprise, Navy Blue with Red and White proved to be a winning combination!  And to celebrate, I cut off her feet!

Combining red chair with white parasol

Navy Blue, Red and White

A major contribution to the success of this painting is the shadow pattern on the parasol.  The sun and the tree gave me what I needed to tell that story, whereas the shadow pattern in Diamond Bracelet was, well, no pattern at all.  I may have to go back and fix that.

Reminder for folks in the Chesapeake Bay area, if any there are: see two of my animal portraits at the Annmarie Sculpture Gardern and Art Center in Solomons, Maryland.  Opening reception will be October 7, which I cannot attend.  Alas.  Maybe I will make it down there before the exhibit ends in late January.  The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run from October 7 through January 29.

Other places where you can catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleaut Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Catching up–Bartlett Style

I have been not performing, blog-wise, up to the standards I set for myself this summer.  If I had met those standards, two topics would have been set before you already and the third would have been pulled together for today.  The problem, as often happens, is just when I gather my thoughts and my photo illustrations, I notice something in one of the paintings that I must, MUST fix.  Then after the fix, a new photo must be taken.  It has been a summer of revisions and regrets.

One topic was to have been:  best and worst plein air (marine) painting of the summer, covering  why I thought one was good and the other not–but wondering how I could have rescued the one that was awful.  A second topic was to have been the rest of the works resulting from the Stuart Ober course–you’ve seen the portrait of Sparkle, but I did a bunch of other stuff that never would have got started but for the impetus of taking a course called “Explorations in Oil Painting.”   One of them could have been a topic in itself, as I worked on a 12 by 36 of “Impressions of Manhattan from the Whitney Museum”, a complex skyline with streetscapes that can always be improved or added to.  I’m still adding.

This week, I hoped to be posting all the Figure in the Garden paintings from David Curtis’ garden, 2016 edition.  Those paintings are finished, but the last one still needs to be photographed.  I scaled up to 16×20, making the photographing more challenging.

And now, as topics pile up, I just got back from a workshop up North with Michael Chesley Johnson, for which blog I made promises.  I feel a little like Mickey Mouse must have felt in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.  (Disney movie “Fantasia”)

I am going to take the advice I always gave my tax delinquent clients:  do current returns first, then the past-due ones.  Therefore, today without further ado, without messing about, I am posting photos of the three plein air paintings from the last two days, showing what I can accomplish in the approximately two hours available for each, before stopped by lunch and/or rain.  Raw footage, as it were.

Excuse me while I go snap photos of each one with my iPhone.

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Eight students gathered at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH to learn plein air painting from Michael Chesley Johnson, of Campobello and Sedona, for perhaps the shortest workshop ever–two days.  We were lucky with the weather, in that the rain held off Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning until I was able to get one painting each time close to completion.  I produced a third painting during the Wednesday rain. . .storm is too strong a word.  Rain Event. More of that later.

Tuesday morning MCJ opened with a demo of how to paint rocks.  We piled into a gazebo near the Jackson Historical Museum– it was shaded, just the right size for 8 students and a teacher, next to a rock-filled Wildcat River, and near our next stop: a preview of the museum’s upcoming show.  Then lunch at a local deli, then back to the Wildcat, a river responsible for the phenomenon known as Jackson Falls.  We got some sun, but mostly clouds, so we got experience with painting en plein air on overcast days.  How to find a “hook” when there are no lights and shadows to create drama?  Well, falling water is always interesting.  Unfortunately, New Hampshire has been suffering a record drought, so instead of impressive, thundering cataracts of water, we got meandering trickles.

(MCJ photographed me working at the Falls and posted it to Facebook, if you are interested.  I was wearing my usual distinctive hat, so everyone who knows me recognized me.  I could probably link to it, but I don’t have time to learn how to do that!  Got to get this post done.)

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Jackson Falls, v. 5 or 6

Day Two, or Wednesday as most people know it, we headed down into the Valley to experience the location of Albert Bierstadt’s  “Moat Mountain, Intervale, New Hampshire”.  That is why I have titled this painting Bierstadt Meadow.  Most of us chose to paint the ledges that are to the right of my scene, but I’ve a bee in my bonnet all summer about the pinky-purplish grass that shows up at this time of summer.  It is most prevalent along highways.  It was not present in this meadow, but there were other plants sporting colors in the same family, so I thought I would try to fake it.

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Bierstadt Meadow with Bluebird House

We were treated to very little sunlight, but the weather forecast did not include rain.  Nevertheless, Sharon (Sharon Allen, who organized this workshop and spends half her life painting around Mt. Washington Valley) “felt” it would rain and urged us to move to a sheltered location–under a bridge in Conway from which we could paint a red covered bridge from below and to the side.  When we got there, most of the river (Swift and Saco merge near here) was, well, absent.  We were going to get more practice painting rocks.  However, a puddle under the bridge reflected the red covered bridge, and I chose to make that the subject of my painting.

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Under the Bridge, of Another Bridge

All of my paintings were painted on the carton paper sold by Judson’s plein air supplier.  The paper slows me down a little because it absorbs paint, making it harder for me to cover the surface.  But once my surface is juicy with paint, I can go to town.  The geometric shape on the right is the stanchion [is that correct term?] of the overhead bridge.  When the rain blew in [is Sharon  a witch?], it disturbed the puddle and handicapped me.  Oh, well.  Had to fake it.

Since I probably will not get to the topic, best and worst marine painting, and I cannot NOT show you the best, I will now show the best.  Two “tall ships” came to the Portsmouth area.  August 12 was the day I chose to visit them.  One docked in Portsmouth for people to tour.  The other docked in New Castle for people to ride.  I would have bought a ticket to ride if my timing were better, but as it was, I had to wait for the “Harvey Gamache” to return to port before I could grab a photo of it.  Meanwhile, I painted its expected path from New Castle’s Grand Island Park.  In my studio at home, I added the sailing ship using my photo as reference.

Harvey Gamache passing into New Castle

The Harvey Gamache Passing into New Castle

I have some happy news:  two of my pet paintings will be part of a nationally juried exhibit in a museum!  The museum is the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in a place called Solomons, Maryland.  The Sculpture Garden is affiliated with the Smithsonian!  The two honored paintings are “Sparkle”, which had been sold but the owners have agreed to lend the painting for this exhibit; and “Partners in Crime”–the two tuxedo cats on a cat tree.  IMG_1568

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run from October 7 through January 29.

Other places where you can catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleaut Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

The Prodigal Cat Returns

In 2004, before I even started painting, I read an article in a cat magazine, while I was waiting in the veterinarian’s office, about what a great cat this newly recognized breed, the Pixie Cat, was.  Smart, friendly and almost dog-like in the way they connect to people, Pixie Bobs look like a small version of a wild bobcat:  short tails, spotted markings, tufted ears.  I was intrigued, and set about looking for a breeder in New Hampshire.  I found just one, and as luck would have it, she had a kitten with a “bad” tail that was in need of a good home.  The tail was bad because it was too long and ended in a crook.  I reimbursed her for her veterinarian fees and took title to the little fellow.  He was about 10 weeks old.  He had been named “Winchester” but we were not about to call him that.  My granddaughter decided his name should be “Freckles”, for the little spots on his muzzle.

Freckles as kitten

He came to me already microchipped.  We had at least two cats already, and there was a cat door available for free travel in and out.  The other cats weren’t much into going outside.  Freckles, however, was an adventurer.  Once, a neighbor, who happened to be a firefighter, had to climb up a tall pine tree to retrieve him.  Another time, he went missing for a whole week, so I posted laminated posters all over the neighborhood with his picture and a description of the crooked tail.  Almost immediately, I got a call from an ex-neighbor who had just come to check out the vacant property she had for sale–he was stuck on her roof! She was ready to take him to her new home when she noticed the poster.

Frequently he could be found chilling’ on the rocker on the porch of a house up the block; they wanted to claim him as theirs too, but fortunately he had already acquired a rep and most neighbors knew where he belonged, even if they didn’t know me.  He enjoyed car rides and would hop right into one without invitation.  But I figured he was safe, because of  his microchip.  Sadly, I now know that for a microchip to work, it has to be looked for.

Freckles was one of my very first attempts at a cat portrait, and that painting is still one of my most successful, if you measure success by how quickly viewers fell in love with the subject.  I had used that portrait as him Missing Cat poster photo.

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Then in December of 2010, when Freckles was six years old, he got caught outside in a snowstorm.  I never saw him again–until last week.  All these years, I had hoped that he simply accepted a car ride with someone who decided not to check him for a microchip.  (Vets do not routinely scan new patients for microchips.  Asked why not, one vet answered that it would appear distrustful of the pet’s guardian.)  But I realized he more likely was dead.  I would look up at that portrait of him and feel my loss every time.  He was my most special cat, the only one I ever sought out to buy from a breeder.

Monday morning I got the news that someone had scanned a stray cat in Nashua (about 20 miles South) and come up with Freckles’ contact information.  None of my phone numbers was still good, but the fax number went to the firm I practiced law with–the firm that had often been visited by Freckles because I liked to take him everywhere with me.  By one p.m. the responsible cat owner who searched for his true owner, she’s my hero, Belinda, met me in a parking lot and turned over to me a somewhat confused Freckles.  He seemed content being with her and not very interested in coming home with me.  But being Freckles, he accepted it.  He did, after all, enjoy car rides.  Here is a photo that Belinda shared with me, of Freckles napping in her daughter’s bed.

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I had to quarantine him away from my other cats until we were sure he wasn’t carrying any contagious disease or parasites, but the vet declared him amazingly healthy for a senior cat on his own.  Actually, amazingly healthy for a cat of any age.  Even his teeth were good.  The cat door has not been openable from the outside ever since he disappeared six years ago, but he is getting enough stimulation from the four younger cats occupying my house.  He does seem to remember the house, not to mention the cat door, and he is warming up to me.  He seems to want to be in the same room with me.  The other four cats are showing him great respect, as is his due.  He has only to look at them, not even a stare, just a look, to claim his lofty position as No. 1.  His favorite perch, when we (my follower cat Milo and I) are in the TV room/art gallery is the top of a leather chair like the one that I sit in, so that we are on the same level.

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Note the painting hanging in the background.

Two more photos:  one to compare to his kitten photo and the other to mark his privileged occupation of my otherwise cat-free computer sanctuary.  He has found the printer-scanner-copier combo to be a good place to hang out.

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I’m not sure what all this has to do with my painting.  It’s just a tale I needed to tell.  A love note for my special cat.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!