Acadia: 14 paintings in 6 days

On October 6, I drove to Acadia National Park in Maine to take part in “Fall Color Week” (third annual) promoted by the publisher of Plein Air Magazine, Eric Rhoades.   I’d been feeling a little down, not wanting to get outside and paint, so when the invitation came, I decided it would be a Good Thing to Do.  Expensive,  but worth it in terms of the facilities.  At least I could drive my own car to get there.  Most of the 60 participants flew into Portland or Bangor airports from the West Coast, the South, the Midwest.  To those participants, the fall color foliage was particularly alluring.  For all of us, the idea of Acadia conjured up visions of Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, Thunder Hole, and other visions of Mt. Desert Island memorialized by master artists.

Alas, I discovered when I got there that the section of Acadia National Park where we were was entirely separate from the section to be found on Mt. Desert Island.  We were on Schoodic Peninsula, housed in the Schoodic Research and Educational Institute.  Bar Harbor was an hour’s drive away, taking the short cut–more of which later.  Besides, Mt. Desert Island was overrun with tourists.  Big cruise ships were making calls there.  Busloads of visitors.   Schoodic was a much more desirable place to be, with easy access to fishing villages and other vistas, but  before reaching that conclusion, I would have to try to paint on Mt. Desert.

We arrived at the beginning of Columbus Day Weekends, the traditional peak of foliage season, planning to explore Schoodic for a few days waiting for the tourists to leave Mt. Desert.  The Peninsula offers a lot of rock, both along the road and extending out to sea.  Fir trees dominated all tree lines so there was less “foliage” there than back home.  My first stop was Blueberry Hill.  (Blueberry bushes do provide a large proportion of the red foliage  up there.)  At Blueberry Hill, I chose to look outward, at a fir-covered island while the sun struggled to break through a very clouded over sky.

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I spent a long time on this, my first painting of the week.  So often my first painting of a series turns out to be the best, and I gave it my all, dabbing away at the clouds and rippling waves until I was sure I had captured their variety within what was a relatively sedate range of colors.  As it now turns out, Blueberry Hill was indeed one of my more successful efforts.

After lunch (a bag lunch that I made up from stuff laid out for us at the dining hall), I went looking for some color along the Schoodic Loop Road.  I found a roadside brimming over with reds and yellows and greens, near the bike trail called Bunker Harbor.  Feeling inspired to make a masterpiece, I got out one of the bigger panels, 12×16.

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To top off the day, I set up on Schoodic Point, where roseate rocks spread way out into the sea.  Artists were sprinkled all over the landscape.  I had to set up at the edge of the road because my balance is not good enough to get me and my gear across such uneven surfaces.  I did not give this second effort as much attention.  Sketchy.  But I think you get the idea.

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I was proud that I had produced three paintings on the first day.  Better than most (only in terms of numbers–there were some very accomplished painters there).

The next day, Sunday, was extremely foggy.  Eric had suggested that we drive over to a fishing village called Corea.  About 45 minutes to drive there:  20 minutes to get off the Peninsula, turn right (North), then East again down another long arm into the ocean.  I got there early and could not find other artists, or any parking spots.  We had been warned about respecting “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs.  I drove around and around until finally I made a desperate move:  I turned into a dirt road that led to the harbor, despite the sign that said “Ivy’s Way Private Way”.  There were two wooden walkways into the water (docks?), surrounded by boats and fishing gear (lobster cages, in particular)–and a small cottage.  I knocked on the door with some trepidation.  The door was answered by a couple from Missouri (!) who have rented the cottage every summer for the past ten years.  The owner lives in a building across the main road, and quite the building that was.  Modern, large, industrial, Bauhaus in flavor.  The owners rent the water access to the fishermen and  “wouldn’t mind at all” if I set up to paint there.  The fog had lifted slightly and I was able to spot a white house way up on a hill that was solid rock, with a lobster boat moored below.  I had my composition.  The fog continued to lift until it was all gone by the time I was finished painting.  I left the background trees in the fog.

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I believe the next “assignment” was to be a lighthouse that was near Corea.  I went there and waited for some other artists to show up, but none did, and the wind was too fierce for me get out of my car.  I took a nap.  Then I returned to Schoodic, Frazer Point, and painted this little quickie.

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That night, after dinner, someone got one of the artists to volunteer to model for portrait.   I watched for a while, then realized my gear was just outside in the car and I should have brought it in to paint the portrait.  After all, I’d rather paint a figure than rocks any day.  I would be ready the next day.

Monday, Day Three, the day we hoped to paint on Mt. Desert Island.  I got set, started out early.  The shortcut required finding Mud Creek Road, which I had no trouble with.  But Mud Creek Road ended in a “T” intersection and, not knowing which way was correct, I chose left.  (No reception for cell phone meant my GPS was no help at all.)  I ended up on Marlboro Beach Road in or near a town named Lemoine, staring at a very special view of Mt. Desert Island.  I pulled over to get a good look, and was also able to get GPS there.   I was not on the correct route to Mt. Desert, so I backtracked and got to Thunder Hole, where we were supposed to gather, about 11 o’clock.  Almost the whole morning was spent driving around.

At Thunder Hole, I doped out a spot where I could set up to paint without getting out on the rocks, but to what end?  I could not see the Hole from there.  In fact, the Hole was pretty darned dry in not-high-tide.  So I went to the next recommended spot, Otter Point.  Parked and got my gear out of the car with a determination that, after all this driving around, I was going to produce a painting here no matter what.  I stopped on the side of the road looking down.  I painted until the rain started.  Something to do with hurricane Nate?

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I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area by car, and drove back to Schoodic in time for dinner.  After dinner, our portrait model was Rick Wilson, a painter that Eric had recruited to keep us entertained by playing guitar and singing.  As a model, he was not trying to keep still for the portrait painters, but I didn’t mind.

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Tuesday, Day Four, another Mt. Desert attempt.  We were supposed to all be on top of Mt. Cadillac by three in order to be photographed en masse.  Meanwhile, I wanted to paint that scene I discovered on Marlboro Beach Road.  I invited others to join me, but there was a spot on Mud Creek Road that was pretty attractive, and nobody got past that.  (Nobody seemed anxious to go all the way to Mt. Desert.)  Anyway, I easily re-found Marlboro Beach Road and got permission from homeowner to set up and paint his view.  It went quickly, despite the fact that I used 12×16 panel.

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After Marlboro Beach, I headed for Jordan Pond on Mt. Desert.  Again, it was the suggested site for painting prior to Mt. Cadillac.  The Pond was downhill from the parking lot.  It took a lot of patience to snag a parking spot.  I had to lurk.  (There was no way I was leaving without getting a crack at the restroom!)

It was going to be hard to get my gear back up that hill but I was determined to paint there.  To reduce my burden, I left my chair in the car, hoping to find a suitable rock to sit on.  (My back does not allow me to stand long enough to complete a painting.)  Down by Pond’s edge, I found the perfect sitting rock, but I had to face up the hill, not at the pond.  Well, it was only water and rocks and trees anyway.  Uphill I had trees and shadows.  Another artist from the group, with his wife, showed up, but not painting.  Still it was nice to see a familiar face.  When I went to leave, I got halfway up the hill before a kind couple took pity on me and dragged my cart up to the top.

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At that point, I was looking forward to the top of Mt. Cadillac, but I never got there.  The Park Rangers had barricaded it because the parking lot at the top was full, and the line waiting to get into the parking lot had filled the road.  No room for anyone else.  Wow.  I headed back to Schoodic, glad I had at least got one painting done on the Island.

After dinner, I painted another portrait–this one of Vicki.  Vicki kept very still.

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Wednesday, Day Five:  Beautiful day.  Two of us shared a pullout in the Schoodic Loop Road–my companion looked out upon the water and a tiny fir-covered island; I was taken by the combination of rocks and shadows over the rocks and road.  This is probably my favorite painting from the week, 12×16, unretouched.  My experience was marred by voracious flies that bit right through my clothes.  (I added two more layers the next day.)

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After lunch, I went exploring the little fishing towns between us and Corea:  Prospect Harbor had a big regional lobster pound, very industrial-looking building.  I drove in and around and behind it where I had a view of a funny little lighthouse.  Remembering how awful the conditions were for that other lighthouse, I figured why not, it’s a lighthouse.  Why not is not a good reason.  It was my worst painting, even after I retouched it.  I’ll show you Before and After.

Before

Before

After

After

Thursday morning, six a.m.:  Sunrise scheduled to be 6:45 so I figured I had plenty of time to get out for a sunrise painting.  There was a good spot right at the entrance to our Institute buildings.  Eric was already there, said the best light had already gone by.  I didn’t believe him.  About six more artists were also clustered around easels.  Eric was using a little easel light.  I had not thought to bring one with me.  Didn’t matter, by the time I was set up. there was enough light to see sort of what I was doing.  Couldn’t really see it until I got indoors.

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Thursday was our sixth and last painting day.  I decided I needed more boats.  On the Loop Road, there was a restaurant called Bunkers Wharf, and it looked down on Bunkers Harbor.  There were already a few artists painting there and I had heard talk of some painting inside on one of those really bad days.  I joined the group outside–there were four of us.  Of course I had my usual bag lunch, but the others were ordering food and I could never resist steamed mussels.  Lunch was a lovely experience.  I went inside to order the mussels, but the young man  brought them out to me when they were ready, and later came back for the empties.  He told us of his plan to buy some real estate and put up condos to lease out to Acadia visitors.

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After Bunkers Wharf, I wandered around Winter Harbor but never felt the urge to set up and paint.  After dinner that night, we set all of our paintings out for everyone to view.   It was too much to absorb.  Incredible works of art all around me.  I felt exhausted.  And I feel exhausted all over again now.  Hope you enjoy!

The Duke of Manchester

Milo at Home

So, what are we going to do now?

This is Milo.  He has been living with me ever since my granddaughter brought him home about three years ago.  He is one of five cats living with me.  I have the Diva aka Isis The White Goddess, Blue the Fearless Scientist who is also King of his domain, a timid little bit of fluff called Grace who modeled for my gigantic portrait of her (Nap, Interrupted), and the Elder Stateman called Freckles, now 13  years old.  Milo has lately inspired more paintings that the rest of them altogether.

The first painting of Milo shows him with his pal Blue the Explorer, in a piece I call “Partners in Crime”.  Blue is on top; Milo, on bottom.

2. Partners in Crime

The next Milo picture is this full head shot, which I later had  transferred by Fine Art America to a pillow for said Granddaughter, who left it behind when she moved out.  Granddaughters of a certain age care only about their social network and their appearance.

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Milo picture no. 3 is the regal pose I opened with.  Milo is a cool cat, alert but relaxed.  He is always looking at me, checking out my reaction, hoping for a lap to snuggle in.  When he finds such a lap, he purrs and becomes very hard to dislodge.  Milo does have a flaw, however.  He likes to chase the girls (Diva and Grace) and make them cry.  Well, Isis caterwauls and Grace hides.

Finally, I made up a series featuring Milo.  The idea (not mine actually but my teacher Peter Dixon’s) was to use the same reference photo for 3 to 5 different paintings, forcing myself to employ different techniques for each one.  All were to be Oil paintings sized 9×12, but the treatments were to be unusual, new and untried by me.  The first three are complete:

I started two more, but I’m not ready to let you judge them.

Thinking outside the box when  you don’t have a clue what exists outside that box — is hard!  The last one, the abstract one, was fun to do, but I had no idea whether it was going to be good once it was finished.  Turns out–I like it a lot.  But I don’t know that I can ever do it again.  I will try.  Is this how the great abstract artists of the mid 20th century started out?  Almost all of them first learned how to draw and paint realistically, traditionally.  Probably most tried to jump on the abstraction wagon but many just couldn’t stomach it.  The latter are the artists who kept traditional, realistic painting respectable for folks like me.

Figure, Garden, 2017, Part 1

This is the fourth summer in which I have had the privilege of painting in the Gloucester garden of David Curtis. [For a taste of 2014 click this; 2015, here; and 2016, here.]  I was worried for a while–David was quite sick with an infection that landed him in the hospital for weeks and he is still recuperating.  Is it selfish to be concerned about one’s own personal loss when a friend or colleague is undergoing a crisis?  How can you not think about that!  But I feel guilty.  I’m so relieved that he has survived, for his sake and mine.

So in May when I heard that David was running a 3-day Figure in the Garden workshop at St. Gaudens National Park in New Hampshire, I couldn’t sign up fast enough!  The famous sculptor, Augustus St. Gardens, had his home and studio in Cornish,   It’s now the only National Park in New Hampshire unless you count the Appalachian Trail.  Cornish is northwest of me, close to Vermont, just South of Hanover, about an hour and a half’s drive, a doable commute.  And I got lucky and interested local artist Rollande Rouselle in also attending the workshop, so we drove up together.

In the mornings of the workshop, we did landscapes with some input from David’s assistant, Connie Nagle.    In the afternoon, Connie was our model, taking the same pose for all three afternoons.  The third afternoon, Friday, got scratched for Rollande and me due to rain in the forecast.  (David offered and we accepted the substitute of three Sundays in Gloucester.)  So the painting below represents the two afternoons plus some perfecting touches in the home studio.

At St Gaudens' Studio

At St. Gaudens’ Studio

The next three Sundays we painted in David’s Gloucester garden.  Connie was back as the model for the first two Sundays, and held the same pose both days.  I chose to try a portrait of Connie on the second Sunday instead of working on the garden painting.  That portrait is still not fit for public viewing, but the Garden one is, I believe, successful.  In my studio, I added a few objects to the painting that weren’t there in fact:  frog in the foreground and child in the background.

Connie behind the Giant Tree

Hide ‘n Seek

The third Sunday was this past Sunday.  Our model was Maryanne Thompson, another artist.  She wore the same dress that she posed in last season in the painting I called “Diamond Bracelet”–see it here.

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Maryanne in Blue

All three paintings are 16 by 20.  All are for sale.

Tomorrow I will be down to Gloucester again.  The weather promises the best.  If I do nothing all summer other than these Sunday paintings, it would be enough.  (However, I am doing other stuff–landscapes and cats, grist for another blog.)

EVENT:  July 23-30 only!  “Beyond the Visible”, an art exhibit expressing our concerns about the environment.  I have two pieces in the show:  Enchanted; and Hammock in Winter (renamed for the show as “Extreme Seasons”).  The location is Azure Rising Gallery, 628 So. Main Street in Wolfeboro, NH.  Because Wolfeboro is pretty far for me to drive, and because I have to sit the gallery on Friday the 28th (1 pm to 3), that day will be the only day I’ll be up there, but here are the other hours:  Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 11-3.   Reception and Art Walk, Saturday, July 29th 5:00-7:30.  Catch it if you can.

Round up

I’ve done some good work over the past few months but I’ve been too lazy or something to produce a report.  My mood is picking  up now, since meeting with my doc and getting the thyroid replacement dose increased.  Tellingly, much of the work I have done recently (last few months) has been prompted by a workshop.  So thyroid correction notwithstanding, I worry about my low degree of self-motivation.   There’s this nagging thought in the back of my mind, that age is taking its inevitable toll, and I’m not going to be able to reverse it.  Not at all what I had planned for my golden years.

The work that I have produced has mostly been fast draws–2-3 hour pet portraits and plain air landscapes.  But one is a two-afternoon Figure in the Garden, a 20×16 masterpiece.  Another is a studio landscape from a Cape Cod photograph that I started last fall and left untouched on my easel all winter.

I will start with studio landscape that I can now claim “took me months to complete”.  It’s the coast guard station at Race Point.  I had painted a small version of the building en plein air, but I also took a photo of it that dramatized the late-afternoon clouds and sunlight.  I used a 18×24 canvas, making this one of the largest landscapes I’ve ever wanted to paint.  The inspiration came not from the building but from the sky.  I felt totally in sync with Constable, who obsessed over his clouds.  Looking it over now, I think I wanted* to make the building even smaller in relation to the sky.  Perhaps I will have to do a third version.

Coast Guard Station at Race Point

Coast Guard Station at Race Point

*Why didn’t I?  The painting took over control.

The other landscape  that I am pleased to show you was my first plein air effort since last Fall.  Our NH Plein Air group were invited to the grounds of Bedrock Gardens in Lee, NH.:  Acres and acres of plantings of shrubs, trees and flowers; sculptures interpersed.  With all that drama available, I chose to paint a field that was virtually featureless–just to get at the red roof in the distance.

Red Roof at Bedrock Gardens

Red Roof at Bedrock Gardens

Sorry about the blue tape.  I still have not mounted the painting onto a panel.

My next foray into paint was a 2-day workshop at the NH Institute of Art with a new,  young instructor named Katie Swenson.  Her specialty is animals and maybe that’s my specialty too.   I actually didn’t believe anyone could teach me anything new about painting animals, but I knew that was a pretty arrogant assumption and one likely to be proved wrong.  Whatever, I love to paint animals and this was sure to lift me out of my funk.  Well, turns out that Katie is fabulous and the other students were like-minded and I hope those connections  will bear fruit in the future.  (She has a Facebook page but not a website–I don’t know how to link to FB.)  As for the two days of the workshop, I started with Rocky, a dog belonging to my friend Jackie, and then I portrayed Freckles (my cat who was gone for seven years) in a pensive mood.

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Rocky, in a moment of doubt

Freckles

Freckles, in reverie

I’m going to save my Figure in the Garden for next week, when I should have another of the same kind ready to show.  I don’t want to overload  your senses.  Hope you love the cat.  Feel his woolly coat.

A bit of news:  East Coast Colony had its 14th annual Petals to Paint at LaBelle Winery last week, and my painting got chosen by a brilliant designer, Jeanne Popielarz, who won the Peoples Choice vote.  No actual prize but much glory!  Here is my photo of the combo:

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Creeping Shadows morph into delightful floral arrangement

Meanwhile, I have been pulling back from marketplaces.  I closed my display at the NH Antiques Co-op.  I have been showing paintings here and there (Armory in Somerville MA, Currier Museum in Manchester, Massabesic Audubon Center, Wolfeboro Library, Pease Library in Plymouth) through all the seasons, but there is nothing major going on.  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!

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!