God Bless the Animals

Oliver Twist "Please, sir, may I have some more?"

I call this painting “Oliver Twist”, subtitled “Please Sir, may I have some more?”  The plaintive expression connects with me on some underground level, and that goes a way toward explaining why I have not been keeping this blog up to date.  I have not stopped painting altogether, but I slowed down considerably, and the only explanation I can give  is emotional.  I just didn’t feel like it.  No, more than that–I had no reason to paint.  I wasn’t selling much, wasn’t winning much.  I began to face the facts:  I am competent.  I am sometimes outstanding.  I am mostly unremarkable.  I want to be more but I will never be more.  Please Sir, couldn’t I be more?  No, ma’am, just be grateful for what you got.

Cats and dogs are probably my favorite subject.  I swear I feel as if I am inside the head of an animal that I am painting.  For a while there, I thought I might make a career out of animal portraiture.  I tried a little bit, but it never took off.  I even painted a commission that never got collected and paid for.  I thought it was a successful painting and it found a following when I offered it as part of a raffle benefiting East Colony artists.  A Siamese cat:

Siamese Cat portrait

The photo isn’t very good, but I captured the animal.  I do dogs too.  After painting a portrait of her cat Pebbles for a friend of mine, I found I had a good photo of her dog Rocky that I wanted to paint.  My friend wasn’t interested so I did it for myself.  Rocky was afflicted with the dog version of ADHD, and it had been hard to get a snapshot of him not in motion.  But this one view caught him noticing me, wondering what the heck I was up to–he paused long enough to register puzzlement.  I call his portrait “A Moment of Doubt”.

Rocky

Rocky, in a moment of doubt

The portrait of Pebbles was not nearly as interesting.

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Pebbles, for Jackie

Recently I finally completed a portrait of one of my granddaughter’s cats, which commission had been a Christmas present for her.  The family pronounced it successful.

Bella, for Natalie

Bella, for Natalie

In the course of painting Bella and Oliver Twist, I asked for advice from Gloria Najecki, an outstanding dog portraitist.  You must check out her website, here.  I asked her, how do you handle whiskers?  I was having great difficulty finding a balance between superrealistic whiskers and sloppy whiskers.  I had not learned a technique for the realistic portrayal of whiskers and was worried that my sloppy suggestions of whiskers was detracting from an otherwise pretty good animal.  Gloria admitted that whiskers aren’t all that important for dog owners, but cat owners put great store by the cat’s whiskers (rightfully so, in my opinion).  I carried on with sloppily suggestive whiskers.  What else could I do?

I can’t stop talking about animals without revisiting one of my all-time favorites, Sparkle, a champion white British retriever of some kind.

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Sparkle, champion English Retriever

I pulled off this 8×10 portrait of Sparkle in the course of two hours;  I had found the Zone.  Compare that effort to the months I spent on Bella.  Maybe dogs are easier. I do love dogs a lot, but I love cats too.  My next animal portrait is likely to be a new resident, a puppy brought into the house by my other granddaughter.  This is Orla, a Bernese Mountain dog mix:

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Still trying to find . . . ?

I have taken the equivalent of a sabbatical, I guess.  The beauty of being one’s own boss, one can do that sort of thing on a whim, with only your friends and followers to answer to.  I went on that wild weekend to Acadia last fall, wherein I diligently painted at least two paintings every single day, and then I just lost interest.  Except for a few pet portrait commissions, I did not pick up a paintbrush all winter.  I did draw diligently, every Saturday at our life group sessions.  And last weekend I made the annual pilgrimage to Bartlett so as to make the end of winter, forcing myself out in the open to paint en plein air.

Today, therefore, I am here to report on a few of the drawings and all four of the Bartlett paintings.  Which first?  I just now photographed the four paintings so I’ll start with them.  Only the last one was actually painted in the Town of Bartlett, near the Inn where we have always stayed.  The first one is from our way up.  I went up with Sharon Allen, and she needed to make a few stops in Tamworth, where she had doped out some good views during a week-long event just finished.  I decided on a close-up view of a small waterfall, thinking to explore shapes and colors–something out of the box since I should have grown less prone to habits.  I tried, I really did, but if there’s anything outside the box here, I don’t see it manifested.

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Tamworth Waterfall

I worked and reworked the colors found in and under the water until I just about drove myself crazy.  Why, if I apply the matching color in the correct spot, doesn’t the water resemble nature?  I concluded that it has to be done in layers–simply not possible with oils en plein air.  So when I got home after the weekend, I tried again to duplicate what I remembered.  No, a layering technique can’t be superimposed.  Pause for reflection:  Do I really want to be a super realistic painter?  My forte, if I have one, had been speed and spontaneity.

Onward and northward:  The next day after our hearty breakfast at the Bartlett Inn, we debated where to go to paint.  There were seven of us, and although we never all of us agree on location, we like to keep tabs on where we are all heading–except for Byron Carr, who still goes for obscure, hard to navigate spots that none of the rest of us can access.  First stop for four of us was the alpaca farm in North Conway.  The owner suggested that we set up behind the house and barn, which was downhill and away from the livestock.  That was OK with me as I had no idea what kind of subject would snap me out of my lethargy.  It turned out that a building was a good choice.  We had good light when we started and I tried to keep it in mind as I filled in the shadows.  The part that pleases me the most, however, is the accumulation of stuff piled in front of the barn.  I decided I would depict the piles as piles, with just enough articulation to suggest the nature of the stuff comprising the piles.  I hope you get that.

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Farm in North Conway

In the afternoon, we headed West to the Franconia Notch–I don’t remember what the reasoning was.  It is a far way to go since Bartlett is South of the Crawford Notch, and you can’t get to Franconia Notch from there without first driving North.  In between is national forest timber and trees and maybe a few logging roads, and somehow when you get to Franconia Notch, there are mountains all around, extending back to Crawford Notch.  Hmm.  That does seem to compute.  Anyway, we finally settled on a spot on Profile Lake, near the area where our iconic mountain man profile once lived.  (It crumbled quite a few years ago but we still pay homage.)  Like I did in Tamworth, I decided to focus in on a small patch of stream and shadows and reflections and, most importantly, sunlight glinting off the water and trees.  Water layers again, but I was more worried this time about the drama of shadow and light.  A passerby complimented me on the expressiveness of the painting, and I thought, yes!  I’m getting it.  When I got it home, however, I decided to simplify the composition by bringing the water down to the bottom of the painting, wiping out the sandy shore.  I did a great job on the sand, but it was “de trop”, as a Frenchman might say.

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In Franconia Notch

Rain was forecast for the next two days of our weekend.  When the sun was nevertheless visible in the morning, we hurried to the most local of possibilities, a road that runs along Saco River in the Town.  But there is no river in my painting.  A rivulet feeder into the Saco is implied by the presence of rails on a road, which takes a sharp curve to avoid running into a white house.  Not exactly a view that dreams are made of.  But I thought I had a good composition and hoped I could present the elements–road, trees, railing and house–in such a way as to draw the eye.   It was a good exercise but did not result in a painting that anyone is going to want to put on their wall.  (If I’m wrong about that, it’s yours!)

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House at the Curve in the Road

I promised some kind of narration about the drawings.  I wouldn’t have thought to mention them at all but for a Call for Art coming from Exeter for representations of nudity.  I spread a bunch before me and selected five to photograph and three to submit to the Call.  All three were accepted, so then I had to get them framed.  Shot myself in the foot there.  The exhibit was very nice, very short and open only on Saturdays for the duration.  Now I have three framed nudes (beautifully framed, thank you Grace of Creative Framing Solutions) looking for homes.  The price for each is $150, or best offer.  Each is roughly 11×17 not including mat and frame.

 

. . . Myself.  Still trying to find Myself, meaning what kind of art is in me?  I have been struggling with this polyglot art for many years now.  What are the common strands?  Representational in subject matter.  Impressionistic in style.  I feel urges, to break free of representational, to jump into a bath of expressionistic paint.  Yet when I am confronted with the specific task, I revert to representational impressionistic images.  Stay tuned.  Something might change.

Thanks for staying with me.

A Splurge of Cats

It so happens that I undertook an obligation to fill a small table with salable artwork (by me) in the NH Institute of Art holiday sale.  Mostly I paint large, unsalable items.  As a result, I had a stack of small canvases and panel just awaiting to discover their purpose for being.

Meanwhile I have been in another slump.  I knew I needed to do some painting, if only for this sale, but Inspiration was hiding somewhere over the hill and far away.  The only solution was to paint cats.  I live with five cats, and with their help, I have amassed a number of interesting feline images.  For cats, one needs no Inspiration.  Cats are per se Inspiring.

So last Friday and Saturday I painted six little cat portraits.  They will be dry for the sale, which occurs on Sunday December 3.  (Ugh!  I can’t stand it–winter already!  Christmas shopping already!–if only all my friends and family members were as nuts about cats as I am.  But then I’d have to find something else to sell next Sunday.)

In addition to the six new cat portraits, I’ll offer a portrait that I painted as a demonstration last summer at the Art Jam on the Bridge in Manchester.  I used as reference a photo of my cat Isis, who is not what you’d call “sociable”, although she feels entitled to most of my attention.  She really wants to live in an one-cat household, and after eight years she still makes up to new people coming into the house as if hoping for a rescuer.  Because of her imperious attitude with me, I have dubbed her “My Diva”:

My Little Diva

My Diva, 12×9, $400 oil on treated carton paper; unframed; $450 framed

I love My Diva (the painting, not so much the model) so much that I paid $35 for a new iPhone cover with this image on it from Fine Art America.  So worth it.

The six new cat portraits range in size from 3.5 x 2.5–(calling card size)  magnetized for sticking to refrigerators and the like, to 6×8.

Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb, 2.5×3, $45, on magnetized canvas panel.

Worried Kitten

Worried Kitten, 6×6, $75; oil on gessoed panel hangable without frame

Ninja Cat

Ninja Cat, 6×6, $75, oil on gessoed panel hangable without frame

Playing "Gotcha"

Playing “Gotcha”, 8×6, oil on stretched canvas; $175 unframed

Clowning Around

Clowning Around, 7.7×6, oil on gessoed panel, $150 unframed

Somethin's Moving Over There

Somethin’s Moving Over There, 7.7×6, oil on gessoed panel, $150 unframed

I’ll be adding the series of flopped cat based on my Milo, and a 6×6 portrait closeup of Milo.  I discussed the series here, and I guess the price will be $250 each or $200 if multiples are purchased.  The higher price I am asking for the 9×12 of My Diva represents the degree of my unwillingness to part with it.

In addition to all available feline paintings, I’ll select the best landscapes that are 9×12 or smaller, and offer them at rock bottom prices.

It would be really nice if  you could come check out my wares.  Here are the specifics:

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And the day after, in virtually the same space, I will be officiating at the Manchester Artists’ Association monthly meeting, which is another interesting event that is open to the public:

Rhonda McCune Poster December 2017

After that, I will retreat back into my hermit hole with my 5 cats.

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 After.

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.

Rocky

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!

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.

.  .  .  .

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!

Portsmouth Paintings

Since my last post, I feel as though I have been feverishly busy, but most of the painting time has been studio time.  Not  many of my plein air landscapes have come inside without need for improvements.  I am enjoying the process of making improvements–well, I hope what I’m doing improves the paintings,–but worry about why the need.  Am I getting pickier?  Am I getting slower?  What’s up with all this tinkering, etc.?

I hope I’m getting smarter, that I see more ways to improve when I get the painting home and can assess its defects dispassionately, without being influenced by reality.  I suspect I am also getting a lot slower in painting, as in everything else I do.  I can’t even get dressed in the morning without straying off the rails into some distracting musing.  Maybe that’s late onset of attention deficit disorder, but when I am painting, I am able to keep my focus on the painting and the scene.

So, last weekend–oops, two weekends ago!–I participated in the annual Portsmouth paintout put on by the NH Art Association, which is a Portsmouth outfit.  I believe that makes the fourth year of my participation and I haven’t missed a year yet.  I couldn’t complete the event on Sunday because of my commitment to Sundays in the Gloucester garden of David Curtis, but I managed to produce three 12×16 paintings, which is pretty large for plein air.

The first painting took me from about ten in the morning until about two in the afternoon.  The heat was enervating.  I had a good concept for my painting:  under the drawbridge with the drawbridge raised to allow a tugboat to pass through.  My brain wasn’t working in top gear, however, so it took me a while to realize that if I took a photo of the raised drawbridge, I wouldn’t have to wait for it to be raised to see how that changed the elements.  The product as “finished” in those four hours (a pretty long time for me to need for a plein air painting) had good bones, but it was rough–very rough.  The sky paint did not even cover the gray ground.

The second painting was from the same vantage point but a different perspective–closer to being under that drawbridge, which is called Memorial Bridge, with a view of the other two bridges from Portsmouth to Maine:  another drawbridge and the elevated highway bridge even farther back.   Someone called me on the phone about one o’clock and commented that I did not sound well.  Interesting.  Did I mention it was very hot that day?  I told her I was fine.  As fine as someone who has become dehydrated without being aware of that fact.  It was a hint, and eventually I took it– I got the elements of those three bridges down in an hour and then quit.  As you would expect, with all those excuses, I had to do a lot of improving when I got the two back in my hands.  Here are the finished versions:

Comin' Through (Memorial Bridge, Portsmouth)

Comin’ Through

3 Bridges, Portsmouth

Three Bridges, Portsmouth NH

For my third Portsmouth painting, conditions were better.  I didn’t even try to get started before noon.  I spent only two hours.  I was in the shade.  There was a breeze.  For those reasons, perhaps, I have not felt the need to tinker with the painting produced at the Elks Club of Portsmouth:

At the Elks Club

At the Elks Club in Portsmouth

Just a few days ago, I went back to Cape Cod to pick up the painting that had been shown at the Addison Gallery’s show “Found my Park”, and to paint something new somewhere on the Cape.  The old painting looked better than I remembered it, so there’s another example of getting ‘er done outside, but it was 11×14, much smaller than the Portsmouth ones.  Here is what I’m talking about:

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

To find another good spot for painting, we watched for likely signs–to beaches or parks.  We chose to explore Nickerson State Park in Brewster.  An amazing and huge tract of wildness.  No ocean, no dunes anywhere, but glimpses of water.  I finally went online with my iPhone and found a map that got us to Cliff Pond and Fisherman’s Landing.  There was nobody there when I set up my easel, but soon we were inundated with children and dogs.  I had a dog with me myself.  It wasn’t a problem, but I did not feel inspired.  After I got home and had a chance to sleep on it, I knew what I had to do.  I had to add stronger dapples of shade and sunlight throughout, including on the figures of my companions.

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

I have to confess that my dappling in this painting may have been influenced by my recent trip to the Peabody Essex Museum’s exhibit of Childe Hassam’s Isle of Shoals paintings.

I want to thank all of my followers who took me up on the offer of free paintings.  I am grateful because can you imagine the humiliation if I couldn’t even give away my paintings?  Ouch!  But it’s just a drop in the bucket, so if you have been hesitating because of some reluctance to take advantage, the offer is still good.  I am limiting to paintings 11×14 or smaller, simply for ease in mailing.  The priority mailing cost is $12.00.  Stake your claim!

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!

A Spate of Painting Leads to Opportunities for Rescues

The clouds have lifted, the sun is shining, and I find myself back in the groove of painting. It’s a good feeling.  I’ve ordered in a huge supply of panels.  If I fill them all with paintings, my problem of finding homes for them is going to be exacerbated.  This problem is similar to the problem of cat and dog overpopulation.  On the one hand, puppies and kittens are so lovable.  On the other hand, dogs and cats take up space and require some minimal maintenance.  Curbing the reproduction of the animals via spay-neuter programs is the solution to that problem.  Will I have to curb my production of artworks?

I am painting for the joy of it, not expecting to make a living at it.  Once the painting is finished, my happiness does not depend on keeping it nearby.  In fact, I’m happiest when I find a loving forever home for my artworks.  If  you would like to give a home to one of my puppies, let me know.  I ask only that you pay for the shipping.  Of course, exceptions will have to be made for certain special projects, ones that I want to give to family members or submit to an exhibit or prize competition.

My latest crop (litter?) includes a bunch of plein air paintings and the still unfinished Manhattan Project, which I had hinted at in the last blog.  (Surely that term is not copyrighted after all these years.)  I’ll delay discussion of the Manhattan Project until it has been completed.  I just hope the final result justifies the suspense that I am building.  Suspense is building, right?

Continuing the practicing for a weekend paint out in Portsmouth, I painted this street scene, which truly was empty of people and cars most of the time:

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Bottom of Court Street, Portsmouth

I added the telephone wires after the painting had dried.  I discovered that if the brush left a glob of excess paint, I could pick it up with the brush and my medium (Gamsol), thereby thinning the line and keeping it wispy.  I won’t be able to do that during the paintout since the underlying paint will not be dry enough, so I’d better pick a different scene for the paintout.   This fact is disappointing because my other choice involves lots of little lines–bridges.  Maybe I can come up with another fine-line technique because once I get a subject into my head (inspiration strikes), nothing else will be good.

Last week, Sharon Allen, Betty Brown and I responded to a call for artists to paint the Cape Cod National Seashore in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the National Park System.  We found a charming B and B in Eastham to put us up two nights.  Of our three days on the Cape, only two halves were dedicated to serious painting.  The rest of the time we were reconnoitering.  And eating.  Good place to visit if you like seafood.  Duh!  Just before we headed up North homeward bound, we stopped to paint at a town landing which didn’t qualify for the national park paintout.  So I have a total of three paintings to show for the trip.  My “best” one got left there at the Addison Gallery for the big reception.  It was also the first one I painted:

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

My eye had been drawn to the drama of the light green sea grass (that’s what I am called the grass that grows in the dunes down there, and around the salt water pools) against the deep blue sea.  Add the interesting group of buildings perched (precariously, I am told) atop a high dune, and you’ve got solid inspiration.  I set up in a traffic island in front of the Coast Guard Station.  To my right and way down a hill (guess that’s obvious) there’s a beach full of people and umbrellas.  That was a second choice for a subject, despite the view  being severely limited.  Sharon nevertheless took it on.  Betty, meanwhile, climbed the fire escape and perched herself with her easel up there to create a semi-abstract rendering of marshes and pools.

My second serious painting portrays another Coast Guard Station, this one at Race Point.  The perspective bothered me so I tried to correct for it, but I’m still dubious.  I had intended the front of the building and all lines parallel to it to be level with the horizon, which is what appeared to be the case. But now I think I should have superimposed an imaginary vanishing point off to the left–that is what my eye was reaching for, demanding, despite the evidence of my level.

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Race Point Coast Guard Station

Here is a reference photo that I took of the same building, showing the way I really wanted to paint it.  I’ll do it too, but on a larger canvas:

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Doesn’t that evoke Hopper?  Edward Hopper lived on the Cape and painted many of the buildings.  I haven’t been able to find that he painted this building, but I’ll bet he did.  How could he resist?  Yes, I moved the flagpole.  Had to be done.

The little quickie I did on our way out of town owes its life entirely to the lavender color of the turned-over boat I spied.

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Orleans town landing: Readiness

The other thing that is going on here is the attempt to convey the peekaboo effect of the foreground tree, hanging over the two boats.  It’s not easy.  You can’t really paint each individual leaf, but you can’t mass them together too solidly either.  I’m not sure I got the balance correct here.  If only the sun had been coming in another direction, I could have had shadows of leaves on the boat.  That would have been cool!

The other thing I’ve got going on is Figure in the Landscape, like last year.  Every Sunday in David Curtis’ Gloucester garden.  I will wait until I have four accumulated and do a separate blog about them.  The trouble with painting a lot is it leads to writing a lot in the blog.  I coulda been paintin’ instead!

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;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program;  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!

 

 

Meet Sparkle

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This is a dog named Sparkle.  I met her at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op;  we kept each other company while waiting for our respective companions to finish their business.  I was struck by her beauty, and with her cooperation, took a bunch of snapshots of her with my iPhone.  From about 20 shots, I chose one to use as a reference for this portrait. IMG_1245

I am about as pleased with Sparkle as I can be.  My main goal was to render her soft white fur as softly as possible–with invisible brushstrokes.  But her big liquid eyes and her charmingly pinkish nose could not be denied either.  Like so many other times when I have painted an animal portrait, I felt identified with Sparkle.  When I finished and stood back from it, I was filled with pleasure, the pleasure of accomplishing exactly what I had hoped.  That is so, SO rare in painting.  Most times I have to wait a week or two to get some distance from the actual painting experience in order to appreciate what I accomplished.  (Provided it is worthy of appreciation)

My experience with Sparkle leads me to believe that I was meant to be a pet portraitist.  To fulfill my destiny, I am henceforward going to nag people for opportunities to paint their pets’ portraits.  Getting paid for producing such portraits is not as important as simply producing them.  Already I have started–this cat Pebbles belonging to friends in Merrimack will be my next subject.

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Pebbles

In the meantime, I will continue my plein air activities.  Here are two recent painting from the grounds of the John Paul Jones House in Portsmouth.

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Corner of Garden at JPJ House

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Entrance to John Paul Jones House in Portsmouth

I am also starting a biggish project inspired by my recent trip to New York City.  There I had about 8 hours to explore and eat, and the bulk of that time was spent at the new Whitney Museum.  At least four of its eight floors have decks off the exhibit space, from which you can get a variety of views of the City.

 

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View of the Whitney from the High Line

From the top deck, you can even make out the Statue of Liberty at the mouth of the Hudson River.  From lower decks you get good perspectives on modernization of the older buildings with modern penthouses and superstructures.  From all decks you can overlook the High Line.  My Manhattan Project involves all of those perspectives.  Further I saith naught.

 

 

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;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program;  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!

Six Years of Incubation

In order to keep something going on my easel, I am taking a summer class at the Institute with an instructor new to me.  Stuart Ober is leading a course called “Independent Explorations in Oil Painting”,  a scope broad enough to cover just about any subject matter and any style.  If I want to, I can switch between new abstraction experiments and long-shelved  realistic projects.

First up:  a double portrait that I started maybe six years ago, before my first class with Cameron Bennett.  I had been using a photograph as reference, and so lost interest in it after being introduced to the joy  and challenges of painting from life.  But it was a quite large canvas, gallery-wrapped too, so not something to be discarded.  It had haunted my studio from the window sill, and one of the cats had thrown up on the top, so the dried up vomit cascaded down the front of the canvas.  Charming.  My first job was cleaning off the vomit.

I do have photographs of a small study I finished all those years ago, when I was still more of a fumbler, and the start of the larger painting.  You’ll have to imagine the vomit for yourself.

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Study, 9×12, of Two Girls

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Charcoal start to large painting of Two Girls

The girls are my two granddaughters, Tabitha on the left and her younger half-sister Natalie on the right.  At the time of the photograph, Natalie was about 13 years old, yet she looks older than her 22-year old sister.  Photographs do lie.

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Photo of two sisters on Newbury Street

Newbury Street in Boston was the location of the photo.  I had taken the two girls down to Boston for a First Friday tour of the South of Washington art scene (SOWA)*.  To get them to accompany me, I had to promise a nice dinner out on Newbury Street.  The wall between the restaurant and the street had been removed. We were lucky to get a table next to the sidewalk.  Over their shoulders you are seeing the lights of street activity.

At this point, I have spent two classes attempting to bring the large portrait to a conclusion.  It is so much better than it was when I cleaned it off, and even if I never get around to perfecting it, I’m not embarrassed by it.

Two Sisters, on Newbury Street

After photo taken in Newbury street restaurant; Tabitha and Natalie, probably 2009

But I long to “finish” this painting in the academic sense, examining every edge.  Too hard?  Too soft?  There is no deadline.

*Originally I had written (erroneously) “Market” for Washington, lapsing back to the days when I haunted San Francisco, where the Market Street delineated the artsy area from the more commercial areas of the downtown.  SOMA is San Francisco, SOHO is NYC (South of Houston St.) and SOWA is Boston (South of Washington Street).  SOWA is to be distinguished from the higher rent artsy district found on Newbury Street in Boston.

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;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; at the Bedford Library; at Bentley Commons in Bedford;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

ONLY A WEEK AWAY:   Wednesday, June 22 is the reception at Labelle Winery in Bedford for the Petals 2 Paint show whereat floral designers create live flower arrangements inspired by a painting by participating East Colony artists.  This has been an annual event of the East Colony Fine Art artists for many years.  Since the live flowers last only a few days, you might as well plan to come for the reception (5-8 Wednesday), but the paintings and their floral complements will be on view the next day.

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!

 

Abstracting the landscape, Part 3

Faced with two conflicting imperative tasks this morning, I chose the more unpleasant one:  unburden myself of excess items of apparel so as to unjam my closets and drawers and feel I could die without embarrassment.  The accomplishment of such a task has such great rewards in terms of mood.  I feel ever so virtuous, and lighter.  More rewards in terms of delightful discoveries:  By giving away half my wardrobe, I have unearthed a new wardrobe.  With all that out of the way, perhaps I will be able to write a better blog, or at least a more cheerful one.  (Finishing this blog post was the other imperative task.)

I have three new plein air paintings to discuss this week.  Ummm, mostly plein air.  I have made corrections in the studio to all of them.   In cases 1 and 3  I had to eliminate exasperating details and in case 2 I actually added details that I could not see clearly on site.

Cases 1 and 2:  Friday a small group of artists from the NH Plein Air group collected on the seacoast, morning in Hampton and afternoon in Rye.  Our snowbird, Flo, joined us for the first time this season.  Flo and I chose to paint the same scene, the rocky shoreline with a sliver of beach curving around to create a small cove.  Instead of trying to describe it, here is a photo of it.

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Hampton Beach NH

I reverted to my usual style, not trying to do anything but translate the scene to paint:

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work in progress

After a day of contemplating the above painting, I came to the conclusion that the houses ought to get smaller in the distance, and fuzzier.  Godlike, I brought the sky down over the more distant buildings.  Then, and only then, did I refer to the photograph above.  Ouch.  The painting was accurate before I tinkered with it.  I got out the OMS and wiped out what I had just done.

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Hampton Beach painting, final

The layer underneath was partially dried, so it stayed put. The buildings got fuzzier.  Fuzzier was good.  However,  my current struggles to steer my subconscious artistic leanings in the direction of abstraction can claim only the smallest victory in the case of this painting.

Having got that impulse toward reality out of the way, I was ready to abstract when we set up at the Odiorne Park boat launching area.  A thin strip of bright green caught my eye across the marsh–the golf course on New Castle island.  The sky was intensely blue, which blue was reflected in a few pools of water in the marsh.  The trees in the distance made dark bars against the green of the golf course.  The pattern was pleasingly haphazard.   Using a palette knife, I quickly moved paint onto my canvas to compose these abstract elements.  But something else made a play for attention:  a herring gull posed on a large isolated boulder in the middle of the marsh.  He stayed there pretty much all afternoon, making short trips off to do whatever, once calling on his mate to join him for a few minutes, always facing in the generally westerly direction.   We speculated that he was watching over a nest so carefully hidding in the marsh that we could not see it.  For a member of the animal kingdom, he was a very good model.  However, he was too far from me for me to capture more than his shape and shadows.

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the herring gull at Odiorne park

When I got back into the studio with my gull, I worried about some of the finer points, like, where should the eye be, how long is the beak really.  Enlarging the photos I took weren’t helpful, so I studied all the images I  could find online.  Wouldn’t you know, none of them matched the position of my gull, but I was able to refine his eye.

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On Guard

I think it’s OK to abstract the background and refine the focal point in the foreground.  I’m the artist and I can do what I want, even if rules get broken in the process.

Case 3 comes from a farm.  Sharon and I drove (well, she drove) all the way out to Keene, west of Keene actually, to Stonewall Farm.  We had been invited to paint there Sunday.  Rain was in the forecast but we took a chance, and lucked out.  Although we went hoping to improve on our cow-skills, we both ended up painting the horse yard and the Belgian horses–two brown and one light tan– in the yard.  Here is what the horses and the yard looked like.

The tan (palomino?) horse was the one posing for me.  One of the problems I had was the background–a large tan (straw-covered) surface upon which to paint tan-covered horse.   I knew that wouldn’t work.  I could have made the ground more of a dark brown, as if muddy, and kept my horse a light tan.  Or the opposite, which is what I chose.  Of course, the difficulty of getting the horse’s anatomy correct when his position would change every few minutes is painfully obvious.  Plein air painters are taught not to chase the light, i.e., we don’t adjust the light and shadows just because the sun has moved.  I tried not to change my horse’s leg positions just because he moved them.  Then there was the bloody fence.  At first, I welcomed the fence, thinking it would provide some interesting patterns.  But getting it to cross my horse’s body where I wanted it to was proving impossible.

I was so unhappy with my painting that I couldn’t wait to tackle it at home.  Unfortunately, in my zeal to get started deconstructing the painting I forgot to photograph it.  Take my word for it, every element in the painting got sacrificed to abstraction and simplification.

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Horse Yard, Stonewall Farm

My proudest moment was when I painted out the bloody fence.  Now you have to imagine where it might have been.  Now nothing comes between the viewer and the horse.  Also, by blurring the edges of the horse, I imparted, I hope, a feeling of movement.  More movement than in fact there was, but don’t tell anyone that!

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;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Please save the date of Wednesday, June 22 for a reception at Labelle Winery in Bedford of the Petals 2 Paint show whereat floral designers create live flower arrangements inspired by a painting by participating East Colony artists.  This has been an annual event of the East Colony Fine Art artists for many years, but this 2016 show seems likely to be our last as a group.  Since the flowers don’t last more than a couple of days, you might as well plan to come for the reception.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Abstracting the Landscape, Part 2

Having recently come off a weekend devoted to abstracting the landscape (see previous post), during which we painted from photograph, imagination, memory, music and purely abstract concepts, I resolved to apply my newly acquired abstracting skills to actual landscapes.  No, more correctly expressed:  I resolved to TRY to apply those abstracting skills to actual landscapes.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  The spread of nature’s delights is so seductive that it is almost impossible to reduce a painting to a few good non abstract ideas.

The photo on the left is the result of my painting for two hours at Upper Ammonoosuk Falls, getting sucked into the whole nature thing, trying to capture all the rocks and water rivulets.  Fighting with myself.  Until finally I heard myself remarking to another artist, by the way of encouragement, that depicting falls, boulders, etc. was hard because of the clutter.  Clutter.  Such an important non abstract concept.  I went back to my painting and swept the water down over all my clutter.  And it worked.  So what if the scene never looked quite like that!

This morning I went over all four of my weekend paintings to see if any adjustments were needed.  In the photo on the right you can maybe detect minor but important touches:  the large rock slab in the virtual center was grayed back so as not to compete with the white of the falling water; the indeterminate brown area in bottom right was darkened and sharpened so as to clarify that it sits higher and in front of the falling water.  I also added a few strokes of white water to the cascade, just to gild the lily.  (By the way, while spell-checking Ammonoosuk I discovered YouTube videos of this spot, featuring reckless youths diving into the pools.  Here is one of them.)

But did I really abstract my landscape?  I did a better job than usual in reducing details.  It’s a start.  Maybe I’ll do better on the next one?

The next one turned out to be a panorama of intensely green fields dotted with intensely  yellow dandelions, backed by periwinkle mountains, covered by gray clouds threatening rain.  Because of the high chance of rain, we had driven south to Conway, where there is a bridge overpass that could provide us shelter from the rain while giving us a river’s edge view of an old-fashioned covered bridge.  But we each of us got sucked in by the dandelions, and set about creating rain shelters within which to paint.  I was riding with Sharon, so we had to find two ways to create painting studios out of one SUV.  She had the tailgate.  She also had the bright idea of creating a shelter for me out of my big yellow poncho and the two doors of her vehicle.  Here’s a photo of me getting set up  under my yellow tent.  20160513_152644

The tent cast such a strong yellow light over my painting (but not my palette), that I thought I was losing my mind when every time I scooped up a big blob of white paint to use in the sky, it turned yellow as soon as it hit the sky.  The  yellow tent had to have affected the rest of my painting as well, but it was only obvious in the sky.  As a result, I had not much of a good idea of how my painting was coming along.  This is not a good situation to be in, for a painter.  However, I was trying to be abstract, so maybe, I thought, hue doesn’t matter.  I blocked in the elements I wanted:  the intense green pasture, the intense yellow dandelions, the intense blue mountains.  Added a few tree and shrub features.  Still a result not so abstract, but the important thing was, I was thinking abstractly.

The one on the left is the painting as it was on Friday afternoon; the one on the right received some help today.  It needed more  yellow in the dandelions since it no longer had the benefit of a yellow poncho glowing all over it.  I cleaned up the sky a bit.  The photos do not do justice to the yellows and greens.  Oh, well.  Just keep in mind ALWAYS–the original looks so much better than the photo.

For my third painting, I was fortunate to be able to pick the group’s subject of the morning, and paintings always go better when one is inspired by the subject.  There is a railroad that goes from North Conway north through Crawford Notch to a station near the base of the Cog Railway that climbs Mt. Washington.  To get through the Notch, the train must travel on rails cut into the granite sides of the pass, and in this particular place, also bridge a gap in the rock face.  Especially with the morning light casting a shadow of the rails onto the granite, the tracks create a pattern both arresting and intriguing.

On the left side is what I got done on site.  We were painting from a parking lot surrounded by growing things in various stages of greening (the trees budded out almost before our eyes–not just overnight but over lunch), so my view of the area below the trestle was obscured.  I had installed rough representations of that obscuring growth, but I was bothered by the fact that you could not tell how far away the trestle was, nor how high it sat on the side of the granite face.  So I scrubbed the growing things and tried to transform them into rock face.  At home, today, I tried to improve on that aspect, as well as the rock formations above the trestle.  I’m not convinced that my changes improved the perspective.

For our last outing, we chose a spot not far from our home base (the Bartlett Inn).  As before, I resolved to think abstractly, just capture the shapes and colors that represented the site.  The color for this one was blue.  Intensely blue sky, intensely blue water reflecting the sky.  A nice snaky curve in the waterway, good aerial effects for the more distant mountains.  Simple elements that I should be able to use for an abstract landscape.  Alas, the landscape had other ideas.

As an abstracted landscape, a pretty miserable failure.  But more than passable as a normal plein air landscape, so I forgive myself.  The changes I made this morning to the earlier version on the left were mostly in the light greens and the sandy shores.  I don’t understand why the blue of the water looks so different now.  I think there might have been too much contrast in the first photo.  You can tell I have played around with the photo’s color cast, trying to match up with the original painting.  The truth of the water lies somewhere between the two versions.

My companions for the weekend were my roommate, Betty Brown; chauffeur, Sharon Allen; colleague from Snow Camp, Suzanne  Lewis of Rhode Island; young artist Stephen S from Hooksett; new members Leslie and Paul, from Massachusetts, and of course, the esteemed organizer of this semi-annual Getaway Weekend, Byron Carr of Contoocook.  Some if not all of these people have websites where their paintings of the same scenes may or may not be posted.

If you are a regular reader, you have noticed I am employing a different format for the paired photos.  WordPress has added new options, and I am learning  how to use them.  You can click on the above photos to enlarge them and to read their captions.  Do you like this format?

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;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Please save the date of Wednesday, June 22 for a reception at Labelle Winery in Bedford of the Petals 2 Paint show whereat floral designers create live flower arrangements inspired by a painting by participating East Colony artists.  This has been an annual event of the East Colony Fine Art artists for many years, but this 2016 show seems likely to be our last as a group.  Since the flowers don’t last more than a couple of days, you might as well plan to come for the reception.

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!

Kickstart

I have continued to be Very Bad and Unrepentant.  Finding oneself takes time.  I had to write an artist’s bio last week, and instead of reciting biographical facts about myselves, I skipped merrily over past incarnations to state affirmatively–I’m all mixed up but happily so.  Here is how I put it:

Pursuing a profession in the arts is inevitably a struggle because excellence is never actually attained. One is always reaching. Aline has found herself reaching in more than one direction at a time, which for a long time has confused her and perhaps worried her followers. But she now has decided to embrace the diversity of her subject matter and styles and celebrate each on its own terms. Her style ranges from loose and impressionistic to refined and deliberate. Meanwhile, she has served notice that she will be experimenting with abstracted landscapes as well.

And indeed I do today have something to show for that last bold statement.  I attended a three-day workshop on Abstracting the Landscape with Barbara Danser, who teaches at the NH Institute of Art but last weekend (yes, including Mother’s Day) was teaching for the Currier Art School (an offshoot of the Currier Museum of Art, which I serve as a docent).  Barbara started us off slow, with a photograph that we chose from many that she had ready.  Then she had us paint the same scene without referring to the photo.  I believe the purpose might have been to divorce us from the details and focus us on the big picture  (so to speak).  Also to this end, I believe, she imposed time limits as a way of weaning us away from detail in our paintings.  In the beginning, the limit was fifteen minutes for each effort.  Later on, she allowed us 30 minutes, perhaps even more when she saw us close to accomplishing something.

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From Photo

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From memory of photo

After that one use of a photo for inspiration, Barbara gave us “Prompts” as inspiration.  The first one involved a female walking on a beach in the mist.

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Beachwalker in the mist (6×6)

For the next one, she played some music.  I wish I could remember what it was–classical for sure.  Debussy?

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From a musical prompt

I deployed my palette knife more than usual because that is a faster way to lay down lots of paint.  Once I had the paint on the panel, I could move it around.  I had been using paper to paint on, but with the one above, I used a panel that I had previously painted on.  There is no trace of the original painting showing through.

After lunch on the first day (Friday), Barbara gave us another photo to work from:  that of a wave.  We had a choice of waves.  I chose the more dramatic of the two:

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Wave from photo

Naturally, we then had to paint the same wave from memory:

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Wave from memory

After the wave, we got no more photos to use as references, but we examined the works of other abstract landscapists to get us in the mood.  I also found myself mentally referring back to paintings I had painted years ago, which was a little spooky.

The sequence of the next seven paintings, and the specific prompts for each one, has gotten a little muddled in my mind.  What I can remember about each one I have put in the caption, which I believe you will be able to read if you click on the image.  All of them were either 8×10 or 9×12, but I have accepted WordPress’s suggestion for varying the apparent sizes.

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;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

And save the date of Wednesday, June 22 for a reception at Labelle Winery in Bedford of the Petals 2 Paint event whereat floral designers create live flower arrangements inspired by a painting.  This is an annual event of the East Colony Fine Art artists and seems likely to be their last show as a group.  The flowers don’t last more than a couple of days, so  you might as well plan to come for the reception.

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!

Who Am I?

I’m still in a funk.  Not depressed–I am very active, working 20+ hours each week in gainful employment (preparing tax returns); going to classes, art receptions, movies; picking up and delivering artworks for exhibiting; playing bridge one afternoon of each week; cooking and cleaning (as minimally as possible); watching way too much TV.  But I haven’t picked up a paint brush for weeks.  Months.

Nevertheless, every waking moment not required by the above-mentioned activities I ponder, to paraphrase Gauguin: Who Am I, Where Am I Going?

This concern over direction started long ago but I have suppressed it, hoping I suppose that the answer would eventually reveal itself without any extra effort by me.  In December I took a 2-day workshop on how to behave as a successful professional artist, and the difficulty I had in composing an Artist’s Statement brought home to me the quandary in which I find myself.  I paint landscapes en plein air.  I paint figures and portraits from live models.  I paint animals from photographs.  I paint impressionistically.  I paint realistically.  I paint post-impressionistically.  Every now and then I even try to paint abstractly.  I struggled to find a common theme that doesn’t fall back on metaphysical or philosophical musings.  There isn’t one.

At this point, after some months into aforesaid hard pondering, I see myself with one toe in the Realistic Realm and a whole foot in the Van Gogh Wannabe Realm.  Is it time to lift that foot with the toe in Realistic Realm and swing it around to plant it perhaps beyond Van Gogh–perhaps as far beyond Van Gogh as . . . Tommy Thompson?  Eric Aho?  Just as soon as I try to imagine that happening, I start to regret my animal portraits, my nude figures, my painted portraits, all that I love about capturing a real life moment.

Clearly, nothing can happen until I pick up a paint brush again.

Meanwhile, I am keeping fit by continuing the class with Deidre on Advanced Figure Drawing.  Three hours a night, once a week on Tuesdays.  Here is my output since the last blog:

The Guard Unclothed

The Guard, Unclothed

The Guard Unclothed was  a 2-week pose, and I used the extra time to perfect the modeling of his body and to describe the background.  Standing poses are the most challenging to me, perhaps because I would prefer a pose that no model could hold for more than ten minutes.  Standing poses are academic and boring, which may be why I worked so hard on the background.

Two Views — of another pose that spanned two weeks.   Two Views are not a matched pair.  The paper is different, true, but they differ mostly in my handling of the modeling and background.  One has background but little modeling.  I have no title for it yet.  The other, which I am calling “The High Priestess”, has no background and a lot of modeling.  I think I prefer the first, rougher version, but that might be my preference for a back view.  Breasts are so complicated.  I love the head and shoulders in Priestess.

Next time, there will be another pairing of two views of one pose, as I finished this week’s drawing (below) and next week will move to the other side of the podium, whence I might avoid the breasts by doing a head and shoulders portrait.  At least it’s not a standing pose:

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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 Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen;  at the Audubon Massabesic Center in Auburn, as part of an exhibit of Manchester Artists Association paintings and photographs;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; 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!

Sabbatical?

Bless me Father, it has been three months since my last confession.  Forgive me please?  (My Catholic upbringing surfaces at the weirdest times!)  Or maybe we can just say I was on Sabbatical.  Artists are notoriously moody, say some people.  I’m not sure that’s true–or appropriate under the circumstances.  After all, this was my first Sabbatical in ten years.  Heck, I’m not even sure I can call myself an artist at this point.

However, I am sure of one thing:  when people create something they like to call “art”, they desperately want to share it, unless they fall into a very small category of Hermit Artists (I’ve only known one in person).  Trouble is, in sharing their creations with others, artists become vulnerable to failure of reception, even rejection.  Take me, for instance.  Ten years working hard toward greatness, not there yet, not even close– must be due to a lack of talent.  That no-talent suspicion caught up with me last December.  I didn’t stop all creating.  I slowed down, and I didn’t feel much like sharing any of it online.  It didn’t seem important anymore.  I considered becoming a Hermit Artist. That is still an option.

Two other changes have impacted my ability to blog:  First, I’m working the tax season at H&R Block, preparing tax returns.  When I was still practicing law, preparing tax returns was what I did to relax–it was nice to have a moderately challenging puzzle to put together and call it complete.  But the hours working are hours I can’t create either art or blog entries.

Second, I’m obsessed with solving a problem faced by all artists–display opportunities.  East Colony Fine Art is virtually kaput, although we will go out with gusto, putting on a final Petals to Paint at LaBelle Winery in Bedford, sometime in April.  We (East Colony) couldn’t keep our gallery open because the artists had to cover expenses such as rent and utilities, but, after nine years of experience, it became clear that the sales were not sufficient to justify the expense for artists, not all of whom had trust funds to support them.   Something was fundamentally wrong with that whole model.  Artists should not have to pay to display their works, however much they crave to do so.  The display of artworks–not only those by famous artists in museums but also those by the local artists–benefits the community.   Such public benefits should be supported by public means.  I am working on a model (working on it only in my head so far), and am investigating grant possibilities.  Just don’t have enough time right now to formulate a concrete proposal.

Meanwhile, to pick up where we left off in December, perhaps you would like to see what became of the Work in Progress I was calling “After the Wedding”.  It is currently to be known as “Two Takes.”

Two Takes

Weeks had gone by without an opportunity to complete “After the Wedding”, so when we went to paint Natalie in a new pose in the same chair, I decided to place her in the foreground of “After the Wedding”.  I kept my strokes quick and intuitive so as not spoil the spontaneity that I had enjoyed in “After the Wedding.”  I now have an unusual product for me, one trending toward the loose, barely suggested, portraits of Caroline Anderson, which I admire so much.   (Mine leaves a lot less to the imagination than hers does.)  It has been suggested that I darken the hand and chair on the right side of the picture, to keep eyes focussed on the actions in the center.  What do you think?

Here’s a charcoal drawing I did last night in Deidre Rilely’s class at the Institute (NH Institute of Art), Advanced Figure Drawing:

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New model (Jon), new paper (Niddegen), and dramatic lighting combined to inspire a pretty good job of it.  So that kind of brings you up to date.

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 Audubon Massabesic Center in Auburn, as part of an exhibit of Manchester Artists Association paintings and photographs;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; 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!

 

The In-House Model

When, a few months ago, I faced the fact that not enough artists were coming to my Monday morning life sessions to cover the cost of the model, I struck a deal with the model who lives behind my garage:  my 19-year-old granddaughter Natalie.  She now sits for me for free in exchange for her room behind the garage, and still gets cash when other artists join me for a particular session.  She does not pose nude, but frankly, I was getting weary of painting the nude body anyway.  Moreover, as I never tire of pointing out, paintings of nude bodies are difficult to exhibit.  Americans are such Puritans!  Except for museums, which unfortunately do not have room for a learner such as I, people running exhibit spaces are paranoid about the possibility that children might clap their wide eyes on a picture of a nude human being.

So you will see Natalie more often now.  For the first pose pursuant to this arrangement, I had her dress up in her mother’s wedding gown.  The gown had been hanging (literally) around since we cleared out attic and closets for a big garage sale that I had in early October.  I retrieved it from the sale items along with some vintage items of clothing that deserved to be memorialized in paint.

Natalie was at first resistant.  The gown was old-fashioned with lace and puffy sleeves, and covered her up to the neck–definitely not something that a modern girl like her would choose to wear anywhere, much less to her wedding.  But the gown fit her like a glove, and after a while she got into the costume spirit of the enterprise. She has now spent a total of four Monday mornings in the thing.

The first week was just me and one other artist, so access to a good perspective on the model was not an issue.  I chose a 18×24 panel and took my time, expecting to get a few more sessions with this pose.  But more artists showed up the next week, so we had to move her out of the corner to get more good vantage points.   But I have not given up on the first pose.  I like the concept of the bride with her bare feet up, hair all frowsy, head thrown back in exhaustion:

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The Wedding is Over (WIP)

The second pose is more formal.  Natalie applauded the change because it got her closer to the fireplace and was more comfortable than the first pose. We all five started on portraits that were, at most, 3/4 length, so what she did with her feet was immaterial.  (The feet were clad in slippers and resting on a toolbox stepstool.)  I took photos at the end of the second and third weeks, then took a photo of her so that I could finish the piece using that as my reference.  Today, I fixed some details and took another photo, its status today, which might be final.  All four stages are shared with you below:

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The bridal portrait (WIP)

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The bridal portrait (almost done)

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Bridal portrait–the real thing

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The bridal portrait–finished, maybe?

Two days ago, we started on the third pose.  Two other artists were with me, and we agreed to go at it again next Monday, but I think I’m finished with the face and hair at this point.

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Snuggled up by the fire (WIP)

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The snuggle for real–photo of the model in her pose

Natalie is all wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fire, the best pose ever, according to her.  Next Monday I need to rearrange the folds of the blanket for the sake of the composition, bringing the back folds across her body instead of running down into the corner.  Also, I feel that the blanket should be more in the shadow, competing less with the light on her face.  I don’t want to bring the face into a more “finished” state.  In fact, I’m afraid I have already lost a certain fresh quality.  Here’s an earlier state of the painting:

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snuggled early version

Another part of the scene that bothers me is the chair.  I’m thinking maybe I should get rid of it.  Or change the color.  To what?  I hate it when I find myself in a color quandary.

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 Center for the Arts in the New London Inn; at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  My painting “Darkly” (link to it here) has  finally donned a frame and can be viewed at E.W. Poore Framing Studio in Manchester, as part of the Manchester Artists Association “Artist of the Month” program.

Continuing through December 24 is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square on Route 101 in Amherst, NH, open Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5.

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!

 

 

Explore, Express . . . Exploit?

I have been taking a class at the NH Institute of Art with Patrick McCay.  He teaches this class every semester for the Community Ed students like me (not going for a degree or a certificate), and I have taken it before (twice) because it’s not the kind of class where you get taught something specific.  The idea is to bring in your own project with the goal of exploring, expressing and exploiting.  The class is not over yet–we may have three more meetings before the end–but I thought I would catch you up on my doings there.  In the course of doing that, I will catch you up on a painting that I started some years ago in the first iteration of EEE, as I have come to call it.  It is the huge (for me) painting of the top of Mount Washington at the end of the bicycle race.

To reprise the tale:  My son had competed in the bicycle race up to the top of Mount Washington, and I was at the finish line watching for him.  I took a lot of photographs that day, and I used quite a few of them later as inspiration for paintings, but this last big one was supposed to be my magnum opus.  It was very ambitious.  I originally intended to include lots of figures of cyclists and the crowds cheering them on, but when the class ended before I finished the painting, I stopped working on it.  Then I forgot about it except occasionally when I would come across it and try to dredge up a desire to finish it.  Whatever had been the inspiration, it had fled.

So this year for my first EEE project, I brought in the MO (magnum opus) resolved to bring it to completion by simplifying the composition, and abstracting and subtracting most of the figures.  The cyclists are now represented by bicycle wheels. Clouds have been deployed to obscure the foreground so as to focus attention into the center of the canvas.  I am titling it “The Finish Line.”

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The Finish Line, 24×36, oil

It may not qualify for the soubriquet “magnum opus”, but it is a few baby steps down the road toward more abstract representation (if that isn’t too much of an oxymoron) of landscapes, something I long to achieve.  In this regard, J.M.W. Turner is my hero.  Although Turner is not considered to be an abstract painter, I feel that he found ways to represent nature that were not strictly observed.  He painted emotionally, which is odd when you consider what a brusque, rude man he could be, according to the movie.  (“Mr. Turner”, a must-see movie in my opinion.)

My second project in EEE was to create a large painting from a plein air painting.  Many, many landscape artists do this routinely:  they paint outdoors only to produce “studies” from which to create the large masterpiece of the same scene.  Me, on the other hand, I paint outdoors on the chance I might make a good finished painting.  For this project, I chose “The Start of Winter “,  see previous post from October, Artists Getaway Weekend.  The title of the bigger version is “Winter Arrives in the White Mountains.”

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Winter Arrives in the White Mountains, 18×24, oil

What next?  I was getting desperate for ideas.  Looking around my studio, I noticed an old painting on a panel that had been sanded down in preparation for becoming an entirely new painting.  But  the composition of the old one was good, and its ghostly image remained on the panel.  So I decided to re-paint the scene as a new me, using palette knife and greater energy and contrasts.  I also eliminated one element in the old painting that was just getting in the way of a scene that was already busy enough.  The subject matter is a little waterfall feature in a private garden.  The owners, Tiffany Gardens in Londonderry, had added a Japanese lamp or icon alongside the waterfall.  It had looked pretty in its place, but in the painting, it subtracted attention from the waterfall.

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Reconnected Tiffany Waterfall, 14×11, oil

For my most recent class, I used a charcoal drawing from last Saturday at the Saturday Life Group, intending to replicate it in paint using a more expressionistic approach than my usual figurative work.  The drawing shows the model’s head, shoulder, arm and hand–from the side and back.  Her arm was over a chair that blocked my view of the rest of her body, but I made a virtue of my limited perspective by drawing her almost life-size onto my paper.  Unfortunately, I did not have the same size canvas for the replication, so the composition is not as perfect.  Jokingly, I promised to connect and paint an inch of extra canvas to the bottom of my painting, but in fact, I wonder of any composition is as perfect as it could possibly be, and we have to accept merely “good” sometimes.

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Joey’s Head and Shoulder, 14×11, oil

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 Center for the Arts in the New London Inn; at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Continuing through December 24 is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square on Route 101 in Amherst, NH, open Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5.

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 Appeal of Sunflowers

Sunflower Bouquet

Sunflower Bouquet

This bouquet of Sunflowers and small blue companions was a gift from another artist (thanks, again, Flo) for whom I was doing a small favor. I started the painting the same day that I received them, when the flowers were fresh, but it took me a few weeks to finish i; the flowers had all died in the meantime. So this painting is from both life and from memory. My tea mug just happened to be there when I started, and it filled a compositional need, so it got to stay.  The blue of the companion flowers is picked up in the cat’s eyes  on the mug.  No, I sure don’t know the name of the companion blue flowers.

What is it about sunflowers that makes an artist want to paint them?   Their sunny color, their sunny symbolism, their over-the-top size are all hard to resist, but I was also drawn to the complexity and variety of the brownish, greenish centers of the flowers.  Until I had a bunch of them in my hands and could examine them close up,  I never realized that the centers were variable in color and have quite a lot going on, design-wise.

My sunflowers were mostly dark brown in the center, but on the periphery of the center, little green and yellow shoots were pushing through the brown matrix.  Gosh, I really need to find out what all that stuff is, and what it is called.  Excuse me, I’m off to Wikipedia to learn.

OK, I’m back, more confused than ever.  But I gleaned that the yellow petals are called the ray florets and are not really the flower of the thing.  The flowers are the tiny rosettes that grow from the brown matrix.  Wikipedia kindly provided this picture isolating the flowers from the (dead) ray florets.

Sunflower_disk

An even more intriguing statement is this one: “Sunflowers are especially well known for their symmetry based on Fibonacci numbers and the Golden angle.”  If ever there was a secret formula for attracting artists, that has to be it.  Thank god I finished the painting before I was made aware of this aspect, or I would have got hung up on the idea of depicting the Fibonacci sequence and Golden angle, which are present in the way the rosettes swirl from the center outward, in a closely knit spiral.  Here it is, simplified:

spiralsBlack I don’t really understand how those two math concepts produce the sunflower design, and I’m so glad I don’t have to understand it as it was beginning to make my head hurt.    Here’s a website on the subject that you might enjoy.  Or not.

My Sunflower Bouquet is for sale.  It is painted on a 20×16 stretched canvas and I am asking $925 for it, unframed.

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;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.   For the month of October I have two paintings in the Womens Club of Concord, part of a three-part 20th anniversary exhibit by the Womens Caucus for Art.  However, the hours during which the WCC is accessible to the public are unpredictable.  You can visit another of the 20th Anniversary exhibits at the Kimball Jenkins carriage house through the month of November.

Opening this week, with a reception Friday night, 5-7, is the 2015 Regional Juried Show of the Center for the Arts in the New London Inn.  Also on Friday night, 7-9, is the reception for the Womens Caucus for Art annual 6×6 exhibit at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH.  Opening this week as part of NH Open Doors is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square in Amherst, NH, Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5, from now until the day before Christmas.  This Sunday, as part of the NH Open Doors, I will be painting a demo at the store.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases 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!

October 2015 Artists’ Getaway Weekend.

WordPress keeps track:  it has been 21 days since my last post.  Oh, dear!  I could look back at my calendar to nail down exactly what happened in these three weeks, but I know you’d rather not hear about physical therapy and closet cleanouts and yard sales.  Or mishaps with cars.  That last event will have long-lasting repercussions.  My auto insurance company does not want me as a customer anymore.  I feel humiliated.  I’ve had a bunch of smallish accidents–fender benders, we used to call them–followed recently by my backing out of my garage with the hatch back still in the upright position.  For safety reasons, cars crumple when they meet resistance, so the old-fashioned fender bender is now a very costly proposition.  I never used to have any kind of accidents; in fact for many years I went without auto insurance and I never had reason to regret it.  But now I am leasing a car and boy! that insurance coverage is a necessary resource.   I am now thinking I need to find a way to survive without the luxury of car ownership.  I won’t have to decide  until June.

Last weekend Sharon Allen was my ride.  She took me and my painting gear with her up to Bartlett for the Fall Artists’ Getaway Weekend.  Besides Sharon and me, and Byron Carr of course (he organizes the event), we were joined by Betty Brown (Wolfeboro), Michele Fennell (Kensington), Suzanne Lewis (Rhode Island), Morgan Murdough of Henniker, Sean Carroll, Elaine Farmer of Amherst, and Beverly Belanger with her husband Joe.  Our best day was the Thursday travel day.  We painted from overlooks first on the Kancamagus Highway and then Bear Notch Road, which is a shortcut to Bartlett when it is not closed for snow.  Sharon sold one right off her easel.  While she was working on her 6×12 vista view, I was working on a tall tree portrait on a 16×12 panel.  The blue peak in the far back is Mt. Chocorua:

Portrait of a Tree in Autumn

Portrait of a Tree in Autumn

Our next stop on Bear Notch Road produced this one from me, more of a vista on a smaller panel (9×12), very representative of my style.

Bear Notch Road overlook

Bear Notch Road overlook

Friday we spent the day at train stations, first the depot in Crawford Notch, then the big station in North Conway.  The weather was threatening rain all day, so we chose spots where we could seek shelter and still paint, ergo, train depots.  My morning painting never got finished, but it has potential.  Trees need skeletons to hold up those leaves.  Note the tiny hikers emerging from the path up Mt. Willard.

At Crawford Depot, WIP

At Crawford Depot, WIP

It was not finished because after only one hour, all of us agreed that it was simply too cold for us, and besides, we were hungry.  We returned to the Inn to eat leftovers from Thursday night’s dinner and get ourselves warmed up for the next round.

The weather seemed somewhat improved after lunch–the rain seemed to have ended and all we had to contend with was clouds and wind.  We did not need another train station for shelter, but for some reason, we ended up there.  Silly artists!  After the afternoon train pulled out of the station for its leisurely trip north to Crawford Notch–the very spot we had abandoned that morning–three of the four of us started a painting that depended on those tracks remaining clear of trains.  What were we thinking?  And I had deployed a 20×16 panel to work on–way too big to finish in an hour, which is about how much time we had before the train was back.  Not a good day in terms of results.  But did we learn anything?  Beware of tracks bearing trains.

Block-in; clouds over N. Conway

Block-in; clouds over N. Conway

Friday night most of us dined together at the Red Parka and returned to the Inn to drink wine and talk, talk, talk.  I held out until the end but it was getting pretty hard to keep the eyelids propped open.  It wasn’t even ten p.m. and I usually stay up past midnight.

Arriving late to join us was Ginny Barrett, an artist I know from the Manchester Artists Association.  Ginny is not a plein air painter.  She was there to do a story about plein air painters on her local access TV program.  Her videographer was to join her Saturday and they would be conducting an interview with each artist over the course of the day.

Saturday:  Interview Day.  To keep all of us in the same general area for the sake of the interviewers, we gathered at the meadow west of North Conway, via the road signed as “Balcony Seat View”.  Albert Bierstadt was somewhere near this spot when he painted “Moat Mountain”, a beautiful and accurate vista that hangs in the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester.  I learned something about the sun, my eyes, and the deceptions practiced upon me by both.  You see, I had discovered years ago that when the sun shines directly on the surface of my painting, I paint too dark.  So I avoid that situation, sometimes by using umbrellas to shade my work space, sometimes by turning my back to my subject matter and peeking over my shoulder.   And sometimes by facing the sun so that the panel creates its own shade.  Saturday morning I could have used an umbrella and faced White Horse Ledge, but I decided to face the opposite direction, and paint what I could see in that direction, which meant the third option:  I was looking right into  the sun.  Imagine my shock and horror when I later discovered that my painting was just as dark as if I had the sun shining directly on it, instead of into my eyes.  Michele said it probably had something to do with the narrowing of my pupils in the sun.  Here is the result–the painting looks like a nocturne (painting of night scene).

Accidental Nocturne

Accidental Nocturne

The cold and wind chased us out of that spot too, so the softest of us (that would include me) decided to try our luck at Glen House.  In January a few years ago, when Sharon and I tried to paint en plein air up north in the dead of winter, we had sought shelter at this oasis across from the Mt. Washington Auto Road, and they allowed us to paint inside, looking at the weather through their floor-to-ceiling windows.  This time we came in with four painters plus Ginny and Paul (the photographer), but we were again allowed to set up and paint inside.  Having already wasted two 16×20 panels, I wisely brought out a 9×12 to use for a modest painting of the clouds and peekaboo mountains.  It was snowing on top of Mt. Washington, and the clouds swirled in and out, obscuring then revealing first this ridge, then that one, and the sun occasionally found a hole in the clouds with which to torture us with brief glimpses of light.

The Start of Winter

The Start of Winter

This was a fun and rewarding project–from the inside, where we were warm and sheltered from the wind.  Outside there was rain, there was sleet, there was hail, and of course, some snow.  I’ve decided I paint much better when I am not totally miserable.  Must be age.  Used to be that a little misery took me out of myself and allowed purer artistic instincts to emerge.

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;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.   For the month of October I have two paintings in the Womens Club of Concord, part of a three-part 20th anniversary exhibit by the Womens Caucus for Art.  However, the hours during which the WCC is accessible to the public are unpredictable.  You can visit the other two parts of the 20th Anniversary exhibits at the Kimball Jenkins carriage house and the Concord Chamber of Commerce.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases 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!

When Something Ends . . .

Something else comes along to fill the vacuum.  Last week, I had to announce to all on my list of figure artists that I was ending the Monday Life Group, after more than five years I think.  It does not work as a drop-in kind of thing unless a sufficient number of artists are willing to show up a few times a month.  I needed five artists to break even at the other studio, three to break even at my home studio.  When times were good, more than the minimum would show up, and I would have extra money to tide me over those weeks when not enough artists showed up; but when  you get down to three, there’s just no slack to work with.

Being forced to paint every Monday from the live model was very good for me and for my progress as an artist;  I feel lucky to have had that experience for so long.  There is a silver lining though, in the opening up of a whole half day in my calendar.  I’ll have more time to lead tours at the Currier, work on my blog and finally get to more floral paintings.  Perhaps flowers will replace figures.

So here is the last of the MLG output:  my granddaughter Natalie.

Natalie on arm of sofa

Natalie on arm of sofa

I booked her for only two weeks, and it just proves that two weeks is not quite enough to complete a portrait, no matter how loose the style.  I would have like to do more work on the hair and skin tone, but I pressed to get a face in. It is a pretty nice likeness, right down to the pained expression.  Her hip was hurting.

My other output last week was in Canterbury, the town center of Canterbury.  I have many times painted in Canterbury Shaker Village, but never before in the town of Canterbury.  We (plein air artists) were invited to paint during the Farmers Market and bring some works to sell, but Flo Parlangeli and I went out there in the morning, before the Market, so as to have something of the town to show, maybe sell.  We were warmly welcomed by the people of Canterbury, especially the hospitable librarians.  Chocolate cake with vanilla icing left over from a library anniversary party the night before!  And bathrooms!  The Market itself takes place in the Library parking lot.  To paint our first painting, however, we set up outside the general store, called the Canterbury Country Store.  I later learned that the Town owns that store, probably because it’s not really a going proposition.  But it sells good ice cream!  There was a constant stream of residents stopping in for one thing or another.  That was when we noticed one coming out with the ice cream cone.  We had to immediately take a break and try the ice cream.  Also the storefront looks adorable:

Canterbury Country Store

Canterbury Country Store

Maybe I can count this as a floral painting.

We moved downhill to the Library and the Market mid-afternoon, where we were joined by Sharon Allen, Mary Crump and Ann Traynor Domingue.   The Market was fun.  School kids were given some kind of scavenger hunt which required them to ask an artist what “plein air” meant.  That’s why we were invited!

I was at that point a little tired, and being pleased with what I had already painted in the morning, not in the mood to stretch myself.  I looked for a convenient subject, one that allowed me to keep my easel shaded and the table with my paintings for sale nearby.  By facing toward the sun, I can keep my painting shaded, and the painting itself keeps the palette in shade.  The subject I found when I faced the sun was Sharon:

Sharon at Canterbury Market

Sharon at Canterbury Market

I don’t know why she needed two things protecting her from the sun–her canopy chair was backed up by her ShadeBuddy–but my depiction is accurate (as always).  Notice the plastic bag that she throws her oil-smeared paper towels in.  She uses those blue shop towels, as do I, because they are much sturdier that ordinary kitchen paper towels, even Viva, and I wish I had got the blue towel more prominently present in the picture.  Sharon has burned her name onto the back of her Guerrilla pochade box.  See that orange straw coming out of the plastic cup?  Sharon keeps Dunkin Donuts in business single-handedly.  I believe, but am not positive, that Sharon was painting the musician who was playing his heart out just behind me.  I could have done him instead, but it would have been complicated since I could not use my ShadeBuddy on the hard macadam surface where I was so comfortably chilling’ out.  Yeah, I was just lazy.

The rest of my week was taken up with so much interference:  meetings, exhibit chores (I was appointed chair of an exhibit in Concord — see below), physical therapy (I’m going to solve the new knee problem and maybe even the old lower back problem that keeps me from standing to paint).  At my age, because of my age?, I am productive only half the time I am awake; the rest of the time I am chillin’ out.  I like to think of chilling out as restorative, but worry that it’s not restoring anything useful.

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;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  I have also had a painting at the Red River Theatre all month, which I had overlooked in previous posts, but it comes down at the end of the week.  And for the month of October I have two paintings in the Womens Club of Concord, part of a three-part 20th anniversary exhibit by the Womens Caucus for Art.  However, the hours during which the WCC is accessible to the public are unpredictable.  You can visit the other two parts of the 20th Anniversary exhibits at the Kimball Jenkins carriage house and the Concord Chamber of Commerce.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases 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!

Fresh Air painting

We hit two locations last week: Wednesday at St. Gaudens National Park in Cornish, NH; and Sunday  near Mt. Washington and Crawford Notch.  Both times I was with Sharon Allen and Betty Brown, and on Sunday, Mary Crump and Jim O’Donnell joined us.  Sunday was Day Three of the annual International Plein Air Painters (IPAP) paintout.  I had to skip Days One and Two because of schedule conflicts.  I think that was a good thing–I was fresh and rarin’ to go on Sunday.

Augustus St. Gaudens was a sculptor.  His two most famous sculptures are the Shaw Memorial, which sits outside the State House in Boston; and Diana, the largest of which lives at the top of Madison Square Garden.  A small Diane graces the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH, and another large one is on display in St. Gaudens’ studio.  This is the view of her that I could get from the doorway; I was not allowed inside because of my canine companion, Justice.

St. Gaudens' Diana

St. Gaudens’ Diana

Justice was with me as a treat for him.  When I leave him at home, I have to lock him in the bathroom because nothing else seems to contain him when he gets the urge to defecate in the living room.  To the list of outdoor painting problems, therefore, I have to add the possibility that your dog will scare off strangers who might want to see (maybe buy?) what I am painting.  He was pretty good on Wednesday; only chose to bark at two people.  Nobody was interested in what I was doing anyway–they were there to see St. Gaudens.

The statuary found in the gardens outside his home were not his pieces.  However, he chose the statues to decorate his garden, so they must have enough artistic merit to justify a painting of them.  For my first painting at St. Gaudens, I followed Betty’s lead and painted a statue of Pan standing over a fountain of sorts and surrounded by plants with huge arrow-shaped leaves, similar to a house plant that I used to cultivate but whose name has slid out of reach in my memory.  Here is my photo of the statue, followed by my painting.

Pan's Garden

Pan’s Garden

Statue of Pan

Statue of Pan

Mind you, the light had changed between the time I took the photo and when I got to the point of lighting my composition.

For my second painting (usually I paint two in a day when we are out for the whole day), I wanted to include St. Gaudens’ house.  I also fell in love with the light hitting an ornamental grass that graced flower pots that line up to lead down from the house into a semi-secluded outdoor room.  Here is my first taste:

Line of ornamentals

Line of sun-struck grasses 

Just as I got set up to paint, a rain cloud arrived and slowly passed over.  I checked my iPhone, and as far as it was concerned, the sun was still shining.  So I sat tight, using two sun umbrellas to shelter in place.  Justice was not pleased.  I suggested to him that he could get under the chair I was sitting on for pretty good protection, but no, he had to rely on my easel/palette tray.

Here is what my subject looked like for about 20 minutes.

St. Gaudens home in the rain

St. Gaudens home in the rain

As a result of the rain shower, and perhaps also the complexity of my subject, I could not finish the painting of the house and garden.  I may use photo references of the grasses later to complete the floral grouping in the foreground.

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

Justice did not accompany me on Sunday to Crawford Notch.  On Saturday, a friend took him away to Massachusetts for sleepovers, but that left the Great Dane, Honey, all alone.  I lined up a few people to let her out periodically.

On our way up to Franconia Notch, the weather was concerning–cloudy, drizzly.  Then it perked right up as we continued north of the Notch, on past the Mt. Washington Hotel, which coincidentally was hosting a major art fundraiser for the northern forest.  We had to get to the Willey House because Betty and perhaps others would be meeting us there  for IPAP.  The weather deteriorated.  Clouds were very low, and it felt as if it might drizzle at any moment.  But it didn’t!  We stuck it out.  My painting seems to have darkened as it dried, which is odd.  If I had had sun lighting my canvas, I would have painted too dark, but I certainly had no sun that time.

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

The ducks were bobbing around back and forth all day, and whenever a new person approached the duck food (actually fish food but apparently good for ducks too) feeding station (25 cents a pop), they would swarm toward that person.  I had to have a few ducks in the painting.  Those white blobs represent the white feathers.  The rest of them–grays, browns– kind of get lost in the water.  Here is a different photo of the painting, a little too red but without that bleached out spot and better for discerning ducks:

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

After having lunch at the Willey House, we headed up to the Mt. Washington Hotel.  The sun was still shining on the Hotel, but the mountains were still obscured with clouds.  In addition to sun, this spot had wind.  Most of the artists who were there painting not for IPAP but for the fundraiser were set up on the leeward side of the wide veranda that encircles the hotel.  Betty and Mary joined them, while Sharon, Jim and I went in search of an angle from which to paint the horse that we had spotted as we drove into the hotel.  It wasn’t easy because of the distance the horses were from the road, and the impossibility of getting any closer.  That last line of defense for the horses were cattails, ergo wetlands.  The closer vegetation was probably infested with ticks.  Wimps we were.  And when I sat to paint (which is how I have to now), my line of sight on the horses did not include any legs.  Perhaps just as well. I have not painted many horses, and all I had to worry about was the body, neck and head.  Legs and feet can come later.

Horses under gray sky

Horses under gray sky

I painted the horses on a panel toned with cadmium red.  You can see hints of that red here and there. The sky was the last piece I put in.  I liked it with the bright red sky.  I hated the whitish gray sky.  So before it dried completely, I tried wiping out the whitish gray.

Horses with Pink Sky

Horses with Pink Sky

Red appealed to me I think because it is dark, and I wanted a dark value in the sky so as to increase the attention paid to the field.  It is hard to determine the value of red as juxtaposed to other colors.  I supposed I could make a dark blue sky.

So that is what came from two days of painting outdoors in the fresh air, sunny and cloudy and sometimes wet.  Before I close, I know that Bad Cat acquired some fans, so here is another shot of him in my bed.  His real name, by the way, is Blue.  Bad Cat Blue.

IMG_0804

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;  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, iPhone cases 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!

Fabulous!

Duveneck Reader

Duveneck Reader

“Fabulous” was David Curtis’ word for this painting, completed in his Gloucester garden as the last figure-in-the-landscape event.  As if to prove he was not using the word casually, he added that it was a “prize-winner” (or “award-winner”–same thing except some awards don’t come with any prize other than the glory).  I took that pronouncement as a challenge–I went home and entered it in the Artist Magazine competition for Artists Over Sixty.  Doesn’t that narrow the pool so as to benefit my odds?  On the other hand, artists who have been painting all their lives are pretty darn good by the time they attain the age of sixty, which hurts my chances.  If/when I get passed over, I get to tell David Curtis he has been overruled.

The title, “Duveneck Reader”, arises from the fact that the book her right hand is resting on is titled “Duveneck”.  It is an art book about the painter Duveneck, who was affiliated with the Boston Painters.  As such, he occupied a middle ground between academic painting and impressionistic painting–pretty much what I do too.  Anyway, David was so pleased that I included the book and actually thought he could read the word “Duveneck” on the spine of the book in my painting, that he might have been biased in his assessment of the overall quality of the painting.  Hence, I felt I had to include the name in the title of the painting.  (There’s not much logic involved in titling paintings.  Numbering them seems like a cop out to me, so if something just pops into my head, I accept that as a valid title.)

For the competition, I didn’t rely solely on the one painting.  As long as I am entering, I might as well include two more of my recent figures (at the cost of $20 per image).  I chose the Bridal Gown as one, and a nude that I have just completed after three Monday sessions.  The nude furnishes a good example of how very tiny adjustments can improve (I hope!) the overall effect of a painting.  First, here is the painting after the end of the first session:

After one session

After one session

I knew I was going to have two more sessions (each is three hours) with the model in this pose, so I concentrated on getting the proportions and angles correct, in other words, the drawing of the figure.  I could afford to leave the skin tones, facial features, hands, and drapes for another session.

After session two

After session two

After two sessions, the painting seemed almost complete.  Thinking back onto Steven Assael’s demonstration, however, I knew I could improve on the skin tones.

At the end of the third and final session, I had this.

After session three

After session three (try to ignore the shadows at top, from my easel)

My artist companions thought the hands were too small.  The size of the hands had been on my mind throughout as problem areas, and I had measured them against her face, taking into consideration the fact that she does have small hands, and at least one of them was extremely foreshortened in my eyes.  But I accepted the verdict of Laura and Nancy, so after they left the studio, I opened my palette back up and got to work enlarging the hands.

American Beauty (final)

American Beauty (final)

Nancy had suggested I just make the foreshortened hand wider.  I did so, and also blurred the left edge.  The other hand, which had been so difficult to render in the first place, now had to be re-rendered without help from the model’s presence.  Insane.  But the very fact that I had painted it dozens of times with her present enabled me to recreate a slightly larger version without her present.  I think it actually turned out better.

You might have noticed that I hardly touched the red drape after roughing it in the first week.  The shapes of the drapes changed drastically not only between weeks but also between poses–even during poses at one point.  During the second session, one of my cats became enamored of my model and the drapes.  He explored the possibilities and ended up carving out a napping spot behind her hip.  Wiser the following week, I locked all four cats up in my bedroom.

Bad Cat

Bad Cat

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

This week I have hardly painted at all.  I’ve had three doctor appointments, several projects left over from when I was a tax lawyer (translation:  I’m still preparing tax returns for old clients), and various minor household emergencies to deal with.  Nevertheless, I do have something to put out there for your consideration.

I have been messing around with older paintings that never made the grade.  On two of them, I painted an abstract landscape over, and inspired by, the painting underneath.

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Purple Mountain Majesty

Purple Mountain Majesty

On yet another, which had failed to excite because it was a party scene with no people in it, I set about inventing people.  Seems to me that I should be able to come up with a method for faking believable people in a loosely painted scene. I have looked at some of Sargent’s paintings of his friends logging about on picnics and such, and I observe that there are many spots in his paintings that are totally undefined.  Sargent could paint loosely with confidence.  I am thinking that if I start by just getting figures in the frame, I can worry about developing a confident style later, after I have the general technique down.  This attempt is actually my third; several years ago when I was on my-bike-race-up-Mt-Washington kick, I included crowds of people in the backgrounds of two paintings.  Both attempts were highly successful.  Both were largely abstract.  It should also be noted that I had photographic references for both.  I am pleased to show you:

Andy with bike

My son, the biker.

Fans

Fans

This, my third attempt, could not be abstract because the people are the foreground and the building in the background is pretty sharply delineated.  The buildings started out as the focal point, and now I’m trying to plop these figures in front of it and have it come out looking kind of reasonable. I made up my mind that this exercise did not have to result in a successful painting.

I started with an ocherish color on my brush, and painted in silhouettes of plausible figures.  I found it hard to invent animated gestures.  Maybe that will get easier with practice.  Then I painted other colors, representing clothes and hair, on the silhouettes.  I threw in a few floppy hats and one striped striped.  Here is the result:

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

I hate to admit this, but I also tinkered with a couple of paintings that I had deemed presentable enough to post on this blog as decent achievements.  With the tinkering I have spoiled them.  I would go back and restore what was obliterated, but I am afraid the paintings will never get back the freshness that made them so pleasing to begin with.  What can I say?  Lesson learned.  Oh, you want to see?  Here is the saddest one–I did have to fill in the background, which is what got me started with the tinkering.  First the original posted version, then today’s:

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Natalie after Retouches

Natalie after Retouches

All I can say is, thank God I didn’t touch the hair.  But isn’t it curious that by toning down the natural redness of her cheek, chest and arms, I drained the life from her.  Surely that is another important lesson:  let the color chips fall where they will.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Color Me Encouraged

Last week I was bellyaching about how dissatisfied I was with my paintings, and Fate apparently paid attention, showering me with encouragement this week.  Just a little, no “tens” on the ten-point encouragement scale but maybe, considering all, a solid seven.

First, I partook in the 4th Annual Essex (Massachusetts) Paint Out on Saturday.  It was my first foray into this event but I had heard that the auction was widely supported.  We painted Saturday and handed in the wet paintings before leaving Essex to go home.  On Sunday we returned (I was already in Gloucester for my Figure in the Landscape workshop with David Curtis) for a Silent Auction (4-6) and a Live Auction (6 -7).  About 18 works had been preselected for the Live Auction–works by popular local artists.  About 100 paintings were entered in the silent auction.

Here’s how a silent auction works:  the artist declares a value for the painting (in my case, $325 for each 9×12 wet painting, unframed); the authorities (actually, some computer, they alleged) use that value to peg the minimum/opening bid (in my case, $125).  Each painting is accompanied by a bidding sheet.  The top line states the opening bid.  A bidder writes his/her name on that line.  Thereafter, other bidders could come along and bid higher by writing their names on the next line, and stating the higher bid next to their names.  The first bidder must lurk in the area, watching for such an eventuality so as to strike back with another bid if he/she really wants the painting.  So that is the Sunday scene.

Now back to Saturday.  Flo Parlangeli and I sought out a scene with marshland (for her) and buildings (for me).  Based on a tip I got at registration, we drove to the end of the appropriately named Water Street.  From there, we had a view upriver (the Essex River) to the Town of Essex (buildings, including a steeple, de rigeur for a New England town), and a view downriver toward the bay, eventually toward the ocean.  Downriver was Flo’s choice.

View of the Town

View of the Town

Essex River--Highway to the Sea

Essex River–Highway to the Sea

The edges of the Essex River are very marshy.  Its pace looks relaxed, and its path meanders and splits off to form separate pools here and there.  When the tide is low, mud flats are exposed.  The Town is celebrated for its clams, dug out of those mud flats.

We were welcomed by two brothers who had inherited the house at the end of Water Street, and encouraged to go anywhere on their land, either side of the road, despite the No Trespassing signs.  They also regaled us with inside stories about our location and the town.  The bottom of Water Street had once been called Callahan Point, Callahan being their great grandmother’s maiden name, or Clay Point for the industry of brick making that once thrived there.  Associated buildings are long gone and the land is now all under conservation never to be despoiled again.

Soon we were joined by another artist–from New Hampshire!  Total coincidence.  She was a pastelist and left after lunch, never to be seen again.  We looked for her painting at the auction but could not find it.  I suspect she was a victim of Dissatisfaction.  Speaking of lunch . . . Wow!  I volunteered to go collect the lunches for all three of us since I had finished my first painting.  That turned out to be quite a project.  They served clam chowder (of course), tossed salad, sandwiches of every description, homemade chips, cookies, water and condiments.  I had to choose what kind of sandwiches and figure out how to transport three lidless clam chowders cups to Water Street.

Flo was working all day on one larger piece looking downriver, and didn’t finish until about 4 o’clock.  With that extra time to think, it occurred to me that between us we had two extra tickets to the auction event, so we offered those to our hosts.  One of them said he  would bid on my upriver painting, and indeed he did, and he won it for the opening bid.  My other, downriver, painting also sold, to a local art photographer whose stunning sunset-over-the-marshes view was in the live auction.  (Unless he got outbid–I have not received any word yet of the final bids.)  Unfortunately, Flo’s painting did not find a bidder.  Indeed, a quick glance around the barn of the items up for silent auction suggested that less than half were finding bidders–not exactly what had been anticipated based on prior years’ performances.  I suspect the large format of Flo’s painting might have put off savvy buyers, who are all too familiar with the cost of framing.

We stuck around for the live auction, at first because David Curtis had one in it and I thought I might get a David Curtis painting for an unrealistically low price–what a coup that would be!  However, I fell in love with a different painting and had to go my limit ($300) to get it.

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

This artist spends half the year in Florida, apparently.  I guess she was not at the auction.  Neither was David Curtis, and by the time his piece came up for bidding, I had “shot my wad”.  Sorry, David.

Riding on the crest of my Essex success, yesterday I embarked with Sharon Allen and Jim O’Donnell on trip up to Wolfboro for the annual paintout sponsored by the Governor Wentworth Arts Council.  This paintout also ends with a sale of some sort, sometimes an auction, other times, a straight sale.  One time, I sold in the silent auction format–$100 for an unframed 8×10, which I had to split with the host organization.  My buyer that year had guarded my painting so that no one else could get near the bidding sheet to compete with her.  I didn’t really mind, because it’s not about the money for me.  I was flattered.

This year we were allowed to set a price, and to be consistent, I put the price of $325 on my 9×12 painting.  Yes, only the one painting.  We had to turn them in at 2 o’clock and I had picked a difficult subject that took almost all of the 4 hours available to me.  There were no buyers for $325 paintings.  $60 paintings, yeah.  I would have attributed my failure to find a buyer to  buyers choosing against me, but for the fact that I WON People’s Choice!!!  I now know how Sally Field felt accepting the Academy Award for Norma Rae.  I had not even voted for my own painting, assuming it wouldn’t even be in the running.  Instead I voted for Jim’s excellent painting of the water vista.  And Jim came in second!  I am so glad I voted for him.  Fate rewarded me.

Proud Winners

Proud Winners

My painting was of a statue in Cote Park called “Sharing”.  1934839_106878732190_121261_n It features two bronze figures and a park bench, which visitors use like a bench for photo opportunities.  If only they’d stay long enough for me to incorporate them into the painting.   The title of the sculpture must refer the “sharing” of the experience of eating ice cream cones by grandfather and boy.   It should be noted that there is a place to buy ice cream down at the docks.  After handing in my painting, I availed myself of a cup of something chocolatey.  A rather large cup.  Turns out, I deserved it!

A Moment to Treasure

A Moment to Treasure

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction seems to happen like depression–is it a result of some mysterious collision of hormones or synapses (I’m not a scientist!), or is it justified by perceived failure?  I am of course referring to my art.  I can look at a painting that I created and quite admire it if I pretend it’s not mine.  But knowing it is mine, and it is not completely successful in terms of what I had hoped to achieve, I am dissatisfied.  This is very discouraging.  The only way to escape discouragement is to find encouragement from the outside world.  The best encouragement–say the “ten” of encouragement–would be if multiple admirers were competing to purchase a painting.  A “one” on the encouragement scale would be sincere praise.  I don’t mean to devalue sincere praise, but let’s face it, like is not the same as love.

The search for encouragement is why artists exhibit and seek to sell their paintings.  (If they are looking to make a living, they teach, or pursue a career in illustration or graphic arts.)   I think encouragement is also a prime factor in artists taking workshops from other artists; sure, you go to learn, but what you hope to learn is how good you already are!  It’s as if we need a constant infusion of encouragement to keep us going.  I know there are hermit artists whose work sees the light of day only after they are gone (gone=dead or institutionalized), but I cannot imagine how they keep plugging away with little or no input from the outside world.  Such people must be so strong willed, propelled by such an inner vision, that they can only be compared to saints, as celebrated by the Catholic Church.  (I was brought up Catholic and was a pretty devout one until I got out in the Real World where, after two children, birth control became a necessity.)

All is this is a preamble to this week’s collection of recent paintings with which I am not satisfied, completely.  First, here is Margaret back again, after a three-session pose:

Margaret in Blue

Margaret in Blue

Three sessions is long enough to get it all right.  I had to repaint her leg and arm in the third session because I had the perspective so wrong that her leg looked as if, in the words of a fellow artist, it were coming out of her belly.  So it is correct.  But is it inspired?  After the first session, there was (I think) a freshness and spontaneity that is now lost.  How did Sargent manage to labor over his portraits and produce paintings that seem to have been painted casually albeit perfectly with the first stroke?

Two more figure in the landscape paintings have entered the world as the result of workshops in the garden of David Curtis in Gloucester.  First, the orange one:

Figure in Orange

Figure in Orange

She was holding a red parasol, the same  parasol that I painted last summer, but this time, we had sun flowing through it.  The two-piece dress is Indian, a saffron yellow-orange.  Do I have enough light?  No, it does not  pop like it should.  Is the green unrelenting?  Maybe, but it’s not the problem, is it?  Orange and green should produce quite an impact together.  Perhaps the figure should have been bigger.  So I resolve to go bigger with the next one:

Figures in White

Figures in White

This set up is similar to last summer’s red parasol.

Did you speak?

My angle on the figure is so similar, but this time I have more of the face.  Red has been replaced by white.  We are all thinking about Sorolla, who was especially admired for his whites.  The first impression of this painting is pretty good, I’m hoping, but I hate the little area where her right hand comes to rest.  And I wish the parasol sun dapples came across better.  Wish?  That’s what I’m reduced to, wishing it were better.  OMG!

That’s enough dissatisfaction for this week.  Last week, I enjoyed the highly encouraging turnout for my reception at the Firefly last week.  I didn’t count heads, but the place was full and I didn’t have any leftover food to take home.  Thank you, all who showed up and seemed to like it.  For those who didn’t quite get there Monday night, you can still view the paintings at Firefly before September 9, and I recommend you make a reservation to eat in the gallery room.  Their food is excellent!

This weekend there is an event in Essex, Massachusetts, that you should consider attending.  Saturday artists will be crawling all over the town making paintings, and Sunday these paintings will be displayed and offered for sale.  Essex Paint out and Auction Facebook page with all the details.  I am getting up extra early Saturday morning in order to drive down there and participate.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester (reception August 3–5:30 to 7:30–all are welcome); 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, iPhone cases 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!

Must Love Green

Landscape artists complain a lot about the overwhelming greenness of the summertime landscape, and I am no exception.  There are many strategies for avoiding the Green.  Paint seascapes.  Paint buildings.  Paint flower gardens.  When all else fails, “step on” the green of your palette with some red paint.  That last is hard to do when the landscape virtually pulses with bright greens,and you’ll never notice a bright green in an the old master’s landscape.

Vermont is not for nothing known as the Green Mountain State.  Vermont is where I was last weekend.  St. Johnsbury, Newbury, Bradford. Even across the River into Haverhilll and Piedmont, New Hampshire. the greens dominated.  I found I lacked the discipline needed to “step on” my greens.   So if you are going to enjoy the paintings I came home with, you gotta love Green.

First was Friday’s take on farm road behind the Four Corners Farmstead, where we loaded up with salad makings for the weekend.  Just to set the mood, here is a shot of one display in the Farmstand.

What's for sale

What’s for sale

Instead of painting that bounty, however, we three all chose a version of the hill and road behind the farmstand.  (Three is myself plus Sharon Allen and Betty Brown–we met up at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum and caravanned in two cars down Route 5 to Newbury, then Bradford.)  While we were painting our bucolic road up the hill, it became time for the cows to come home.  They moved from the left, down the hill, across the road, into the meadow on the right and in a line, to a barn way off our picture planes.  Sharon snapped photos to serve as references.  I smeared some cow color and shapes onto my path and hoped they would translate “Cow” to the viewer.

4 Corners Farmstand

4 Corners Farmstand

But what you see is a later version.  The next day, with a little time left at our Saturday venue, I tried to improve on the cows.  From my memory of cows.  Squarish bodies, small triangular heads.  How much leg?  Do they have ears?  After messing with it, I put the panel away in a RayMar carrier, unaware that somehow I had a) dropped a glob of white paint in the middle and b) inserted it wet side to another painting, instead of wet side to the air.  What you see now is the result of rescue attempts made last night.  I had by then a better idea of w hat a cow looks like, thanks to the last painting below.

We were staying with artist Nancy Griswold, at her home in Bradford, Vermont.  Saturday all of us spent the day at the home of another Vt. painter– Robert Chapla.  We were there last year too, see this blog, in which I talk about Robert’s place.  Here is a picture of my easel with two paintings going at the same time.  The background shows what I was looking at.

2 at a time

2 at a time

Although both paintings had significant focal points that were decidedly not green, I felt like the green was out of control.

Robert's Barn

Robert’s Barn

Robert's Rock Garden

Robert’s Rock Garden

Neither of these photos do justice to the intensity of the greens.

Finally, on Sunday, we went exploring the other side of the Connecticut River, where Nancy had scoped out a spot where we could get cows against the backdrop of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  It turned out that, at the farm she had staked out, the corn had grown too high to see over!  So we reverted to a farm Sharon and I had seen the night before when we were searching up and down Route 10 for a gas station at NH prices.  The Winsome Farm in Piermont had cows and a view of the Connecticut River.  Nancy and Betty, certifiable vista painters, painted in the fields with the river view, while Sharon and I went down the road to get up close and personal with a few cows.

Winsome Cows

Winsome Cows

Sharon says these are Guernsey cows.  I could not verify that.  In fact, I could not find cows like these on the internet. They have a cute topknot, reminiscent of a Mohawk cut.  Cows don’t move a lot, but they do change positions.  Standing one minute, then lying down for an hour.  So I wasted no time getting the cow shapes onto my panel. After having studied these two, I was better equipped to fudge the cows in the first painting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of July at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester (reception August 3–5:30 to 7:30–all are welcome); 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, iPhone cases 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!

July in New England–outdoors in the heat of the sun

I feel a little as if I have been running around without purpose, just answering one call after another to paint outdoors.  But now, looking over my output, I see  there must have been other things absorbing my  time and attention.  Nevertheless, you are not likely to want to see the entire three weeks’ of artworks, and I am in the happy position of picking my favorites to talk about.  I have painted in Manchester, Goffstown, Newport, Portsmouth, Rye, and Newington, all of New Hampshire, plus Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Here are the best of the lot:

Uncanoonuc Garden

Uncanoonuc Garden

This location is on the side of a hill called Uncanoonuc.  Actually, there are two hills by that name, next to each other, and even Wikipedia avers that they are “mountains” with impressive views of Manchester to the east, the Wapack range to the west, and on a good day, Boston to the south. From Manchester, the Uncanoonucs resemble the mounds of a woman’s breasts, and Uncanoonuc is a native American word meaning just that.  One Uncanoonuc boasts a road upwards.  Along the way is a retail plant nursery that has installed groupings of shrubs and flowers to show its customers how lovely is a good landscaping plan.  The blue spruce caught my eye, in part because much earlier in my painting career, I had recreated another Little Blue Spruce.

Little Blue Spruce

Little Blue Spruce–Putney VT 2008

Well, I don’t think I can say my blue spruce technique has improved at all since 2008!  The earlier blue spruce was growing at the studio of the “Putney Painters”, where I was taking a workshop with Albert Handell.  Albert liked my spruce but thought I had crowded it too much with the other trees.  I usually take the advice of masters to heart, but maybe 20 percent of the time, I stay true to my own original intent.  I see his point, but I also admire the pluckiness of the baby spruce staking its own territorial claim under less than ideal circumstances.  I’ll bet today it is crowding that building in the background.

In Newport, in the course of delivering and picking up a painting for the regional show at the Library Arts Center, I got myself invited to participate in the Garden Tour, as a painter.  They had about ten different gardens open for tour, each with different attributes.  I told them I cared only about the flowers, not interested in mountain vistas or water features, so they sent me to the site of an abandoned gravel pit.  The homeowners have been reclaiming the land patch by patch.  As each load of topsoil was dumped into a pile, stuff got planted . I chose to paint the pile devoted to the memory of a beloved dog who had passed the year before.

A Boy and His Dog . . .

A Boy and His Dog . . .

The message set forth on the rustic sign reads “A boy and his dog are joined at the hip and heart forever.”  So instead of flowers, I found myself focusing on hardscape elements of rocks and sculpture, so easily is the artist’s intention waylaid.  When I had finished A Boy, I made another stab at featuring flowers.  I went in search of a floral closeup.

Flower Box

Flower Box

I knew I was doomed to fail at the task of matching the glowing fuchsia reds of the petunias, but set out to try anyway.  The next day, after the paint had set up a little, I was able to add cleaner, brighter color here and there so as to convey the sense of color, even if the exact color remained elusive.  The  straw strands in the basket came mostly out of my head, or rather, out of my memory of my favorite painting by Jamie Wyeth–Hay Bale.

haybalejwyeth352-300x214

Isn’t that the most lovingly portrayed hay bale ever?  A living, almost breathing, hay bale.  Don’t you feel like you could stab it with a pitchfork right on your computer screen?  Just imagine how it looks in person, as I saw it on the wall of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last year.

I have one more Exeter painting to show–it was painted “live” just before a lawn party at the Exeter Inn.  I painted another during the lawn party, but I don’t love it so much.

Exeter Inn

Exeter Inn

I was pleased with the flowers in this painting, and I hoped my handling of flowers in the landscape might be improving.

Portsmouth and its environs saw a lot of me the past few weeks.  And I saw just the tiniest fraction of paintable spots, so rich is Portsmouth in architecture and marine attractions.  I accumulated three favorites:

Inlet

Inlet, Boat ramp

Entering Prescott Park

Entering Prescott Park

The Zinnias are perhaps too carefully depicted.  Reality is my downfall.

Wentworth by the Sea

Wentworth by the Sea

The biggest challenge here was the shoreline–how to show the transparency of the water’s edge lapping on the rocky beach.

Again this year, David Curtis is giving his workshops on painting the figure in the landscape, in his garden.  Our model was dressed as a bride:

Bridal Portrait

Bridal Portrait

I’m growing weary of green!  Note that the landscape portion of this figure in the landscape is not much more than fuzzy suggestions of landscape.  I felt it had to be thus.

But not all work was done outdoors.  Our Monday life group met twice:

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Sheridan

Sheridan

All in all, the lesson I have taken away from these three weeks of fairly intense painting is renewed awareness that I still suffer from a deficiency that has plagued me all along.  I’m not “loose” (messy) enough.  Is it that I’m so fast a painter that I end up wasting my time on “cleaning” and straightening and perfecting?  For example, the windows behind the window box were never “finished” because, thank the lord, I realized I could not improve on their rough state.  But examples of overpainting are too abundant.  When will I ever learn?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of July at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester (reception August 3); and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  Also, on July 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., the doors to all art galleries in Manchester are open and served by a old-time trolley.  I am participating as a member of the Manchester Artists Association in a one-day exhibit at the Rines Center, on the Trolley route.  It’s all free!  See the Open Doors Trolley Night website for more information and a list of venues that have a show going on that night.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases 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!

Urban New Hampshire

I have saved up a number of challenge paintings for this post.  The challenges came from the subject matter.  Although landscapes in general are less demanding than other genres because nature is so variable in its beauty, the same cannot be said when architecture, vehicles or people become prominent in the scene.  Perhaps I have been setting myself up for a higher failure rate.  But I can’t learn if I stick to easy subjects.  I’m not sure which of these are failures and which are the successful embodiment of a new direction in my artistry.  I’m feeling my way, so to speak, across the landscape of my creativity.

Newport

First, a large (20×16) rendition from a photograph taken when I realized I had forgotten my chair.  I simply cannot stand to paint for two hours at an easel.  Old bones, or something like that.  So I photographed my inspiration and tried not to become a servant of the photo.  This is a vacant mill (it is for sale) in the Town of Newport, New Hampshire.

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

The lead in to this view of these sunken buildings intrigued me the most:  that curvy downward driveway must have been a nightmare when shifts changed.  The river that powered the mill flows out of sight in the back of the buildings.  I believe that same river is the waterway that led to my next Newport painting.  A one-lane covered bridge next to a rolling park is a kind of hybrid between straight landscape and architecture, but no one can deny a bridge is a construct subject to the laws of perspective.  It was threatening rain the day I was in Newport for this painting, and after I scouted the various aspects of the bridge, it did rain, furiously.  I waited.  After all, I was several hours away from home and there wasn’t any reason to hurry home.  After about 20 minutes I got lucky.  The rain stopped and the sun even came out intermittently.  For an hour.  Suddenly–that means without warning–it started raining hard again so I packed up quickly and headed home.

Newport Covered Bridge

Newport Covered Bridge

I studied the quick block-in long and hard.  I knew the perspective was probably wrong.  The bridge was level, but looks as if it is slanted upward in my painting.  The reflection reinforces that notion.  I consulted the photograph taken when I was scouting, and it shows a bridge going straight and level.  But I really, really wanted to trust what I blocked in at the site.  After all, I was seated while painting, and I had been standing to take photographs.  If I changed the bridge and the reflections, I would have all those stripey shapes that I hate so much.  Ergo, slant stays.  For the good of the art.

Exeter

Again this year I participated in the paint-out fundraiser for the American Independence Museum in Exeter.  I had scouted locations the day before, when I was delivering paintings to our pop-up gallery on Water Street, and spied a good riverfront vantage point on private property that had a sign warning “No Trespassing Fishing . . . [other forbidden activities]”.  There was nevertheless a guy fishing .  I asked him about the sign, whether it was vigorously enforced.  “What sign?” he asked.   He had never noticed, but it didn’t matter:  he lived in the condo complex and gave me permission to paint there the next day.  First, I painted the buildings across the river, but I included a vigorous evergreen that partially blocked my view, instead of moving to the right where the shrub would not block my view.  That meant painting a close up of a potted plant, in addition to the architecture in the background, not to mention the river itself and a boat tied up to a landing.  I felt it might be possible because I had chosen a large panel, 16×12, for the project.  But the evergreen defeated me.

Exeter Riverfront

Exeter Riverfront

Almost from the same spot, I found a charming bridge that I wanted to paint.  The evergreen was in the way again.  For this one, I did stand up, because I really had to in order to see over the shrubbery.  But I knew I only had a hour to paint because the wet paintings were due back at the Museum for the wet paint sale, so I figured, for an hour I can stand.  Note the different treatment I tried out for the same shrub in the second painting.

String Bridge, Exeter

String Bridge, Exeter

Neither painting found a buyer, but in my haste to set up, I mispriced them as if they had been framed.  Just as well, because when I got them home, I improved on the shrubbery.  Not so much but I was happier.

Last week, I was back in Exeter to see if the pop-up needed any help.  It didn’t, so I went up Water Street and painted the scene looking down and back to where our gallery is.  Shrubbery was replaced by automobiles.  They moved in and out of the parking spots in front of me.  What can you do?  I never got a good enough handle on what existed behind the cars, so I had to include the cars.  Maybe I can develop that into a specialty!

Water Street, Exeter

Water Street, Exeter

Portsmouth

Market Square in Portsmouth was the site of an organized paintout last Wednesday.  Only four painters that I was aware of, which including me and Flo, actually participated.  Flo and I settled on the shady corner kitty-corner from the dominant building, North Church, whence I included North Church and the street running to the right and down.  Blocking my view on the right was a tree and Flo, who painted the picturesque row of storefronts behind me.  It would not have been realistic to paint Market Square without vehicles or people.  So I grabbed a few impressions–one trolley and one van for vehicular traffic, and two couples for the human sort.  Traffic is so annoying; it moves.  The parked cars in Exeter were a piece of cake by comparison.

Market Square in Portsmouth

Market Square in Portsmouth

New Boston

Last is the painting I did at the Farmers’ Market last Saturday in New Boston.  A call had gone out on the NH Plein Air list inviting plein air artists, and I answered the call.  I was the only one to do so.  I’m not sure, in retrospect, whether the idea was for the artist to be selling artwork or to be creating artwork.  I had assumed creating, because in years past I had done the same at the Bedford Farmers Market.  So I created.

Under Dogwood, New Boston

Under Dogwood, New Boston

For a little while, I had a group of musicians in the gazebo, but alas, they had to leave after an hour, and without warning!  Well, challenges, right?  Another difficulty was the Dogwood tree.  Since it was in the foreground, like the nasty evergreen shrub in Exeter, I felt I had to do more than suggest a generic tree with white blossoms.  It should convey the idea of a dogwood tree.  Conveying the idea of musicians was much easier!  Go figure!  (Pun not intended.)

So there’s an assortment.  Is anything happening here in terms of this Painter’s Progress?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of June and all of July at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the NH Institute of Art, 77 Amherst St., Manchester; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Lupine Worship

Every year in June, our NH Plein Air group organizes an outing to Lupine country.  “Lupine country” in NH means primarily Sugar Hill, because Sugar Hill encourages the propagation of lupines in support of its annual Lupine Festival.  Sugar Hill is a drive of about two hours from Manchester, where I am.  But great lupine patches do exist elsewhere.  You might therefore think we are a little mad to drive for two hours to find paintable lupines when we could find a closer patch, or even create our own patch at home, given proper conditions.  But we plein air painters are a travelin’ sort, and we would hike into the wilderness for miles when younger and just as mad.  For an example of such a mad artist/hiker/camper, see this blog.

(“Lupine”, also spelled “lupin”, is pronounced with a short “i”, although one online authority allowed as how the long “i” is OK when the word is used as an adjective.  For example, we went to lupIne country to find lupins.  I only bring it up because there seems to be a difference of pronunciation in these here parts.)

My companion on this year’s lupine hunt was Flo Parlangeli.  As if a two-hour drive wasn’t long enough, the adventurous spirit in which we set out Wednesday morning motivated us to take a detour around the Pemigewasset Wilderness, through Crawford Notch, where we had heard of a glorious lupine patch in years gone past.  Alas, tales of its demise had not been exaggerated, but enough remained to justify a quick painting from each of us.

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Flo's Crawford Notch lupines

Flo’s Crawford Notch lupines (a quick iPhone snapshot)

Lupines are predominantly blue or purple up here, but pink and white exist in small numbers.  As you can see, I prefer blue lupines to purple lupines, so I exaggerate in that direction.  The blue of lupines has been something that has frustrated me from the beginning.  Back in 2009 on my first foray (just before I started blogging, so there’s no entry recording that experience), I thought it was the Ultramarine Blue that was preventing me from getting just the right shade of violet.  Today, looking back, I realize that my red must have been the culprit–it must have leaned toward orange, so when mixed with blue, the hues were neutralized toward brown.  My next stab at lupines occurred in 2011, with better results, I just revisited my blog entry and found this tidbit of wisdom, which I had forgotten between then and now:

  • I have never been satisfied with the color of my lupines in paint, but got a clue from Michael Chesley Johnson in his recent blog on painting lupines in New Brunswick: when the blue of the flowers is applied to a surface of wet paint, the blue sinks into the paint underneath, muddying the blue; so the painter must go back after the oil paint has set up a little bit, with fresh blues to represent the glorious blue of the real life flowers. This I did, and I also blended in a tiny portion of a rose color that I don’t take outdoors with me, to achieve the purply blue lupines.

Unfortunately, the image that I used to illustrate the above statement does not now seem to me to be effective in that regard.

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

Then in 2013, Stab No. 3  but I was still not entirely satisfied that I had captured the essence of Lupinness (Lupinity?):

Lupines, AFTER

Lupines in 2013

Wednesday, I took with me Magenta and three blues (Cerulean, Ultramarine and Cobalt).  After squeezing them all out on my palette, I kind of swirled them together in an effort to get the impression of purply blues in various proportions.  (Taking a leaf from the Impressionists playbook.)

After that hour in Crawford Notch, we headed back west to Sugar Hill country and proceeded to get  totally and inexcusably lost when we were within only a few miles of our goal.  Another hour wasted!  We remained cheerful because it was a perfect day in June and we were surrounded by wild loveliness, some of it the color of lupines.  After returning to Sugar Hill, we explored its usual offerings, but settled in a unexpectedly cozy spot across from the Sunset Hill Inn, next to the golf course parking lot.  (Sunset Hill House was the scene of two Snow Camps that I blogged about in years past.  Then it failed, and we ended up for Snow Camp last January at the Bartlett Inn.  But Sunset Hill Inn has opened in the same location, with renovations ongoing, solar panels installed on the roof, and a very welcoming Brit in charge.)

Lupines with Irises

Lupines with Irises

Flo's Sugar Hill lupines

Flo’s Sugar Hill lupines  (another hasty snapshot)

I must say that the photographs that I took of my own two paintings in my studio do not truly convey the lightness, the sunlightness, that exists in the originals.  But what else is new!  The only times I have seen photos that looked as good as the paintings is after they have been converted into giclee prints of the painting.

So what have I learned as a result of the lupine hunt and the writing of this blog?  Impressions of lupines work better than portraits of lupines.  Flo’s color sense is so amazing–notice how it led her to emphasize the deep purple of the flowers and the yellow tint in the gnarly tree.  I must work harder on not being literal.

Flo would say that hers are not finished paintings.  She intends to work them up in her studio, I think.  I considered making improvements to my two but decided against it.  Not that they are perfect, but they are what they are–an impression of a string of moments in a delightful spot on a delightful day in June.

However, I will be taking a second look, with Michael Chesley Johnson’s rediscovered advice in mind.  It is true that you can’t avoid getting some yellow from the surrounding greenness mixed into the blue–which grays back the purplyness (purplity?)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of June at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the NH Institute of Art, 77 Amherst St., Manchester; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Ah, Youth!

There must be a trick to it, one as yet still being kept secret from me:  How to portray youthfulness?  I have hear it posited that the facial features of children fit into a smaller area of the head.  As we age, the features enlarge and spread out.  But what about a teenager?  When do their features settle down in the spots preordained for their adult selves?  Why is it so hard to portray rosy young woman without making her look like a made-up hussy?  I guess it’s really the same old issue, that of getting a likeness, just with the added complexity of pinpointing an age range.

Monday’s model was my nineteen-year-old granddaughter.  This is how the camera renders her.

Natalie in pose

Natalie in pose

For most of Natalie’s life, and certainly all of my [ten-year-old] life as an artist, I have been trying to capture her on paper.  Every time I try, I fail.  She always comes out looking older, more sophisticated than her much-older sister.   Monday was my first opportunity to paint her from life and I sure hoped that would make a difference.  One issue seemed to be the length of her nose (as I was presenting it), so I shortened it by bringing down the level of her eyes.  That did help.  Note that this adjustment is consistent with the theory that  children’s features are closer together.

As I griped throughout the session, Laura opined that youthful features are best barely suggested as opposed to carefully implanted.  It certainly did work for her painting.  And now, in hindsight, I can think of some great paintings of children where that is certainly true–e.g., virtually all of Sargent’s paintings of children.   Sigh.  Sometimes it is harder to do less.  No, it is always harder to do less!

Towards the end of our session, she asked me for a photo of her posing next to my painting, for her to send to her social networking sites:

Natalie as model

Natalie as model

And here is the final.  I would not dare to try to correct anything at this point, so glad I am to have got this close to the goal.

Study for Portrait of Natalie

Study for Portrait of Natalie

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of June at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Monadnock

“Monadnock”– a word applied to a lone mountain rising from the land.  Wikipedia claims it comes from a native American word, but I have my doubts.  Maybe the “nock” portion, but come on, “mona” must be from “monos”, the Greek word that we combine to signify singularity–monopod, monocle, monotony.  Mount Monadnock in western New Hampshire is, they say, one of the most climbed mountains in the world–second only perhaps to Fujiyama in Japan.  It provides a fairly easy day hike with a lot of bare rock face from which to admire the views.  I used to do it once a year.  My husband, in the sixties when we visited his aunt on Snow Hill, would run it in the morning from Snow Hill and back again.  Before breakfast.  Looking back, I wish I had gone with him, but I didn’t get into mountain hiking until decades later.

These days, I paint Mt. Monadnock, usually from ground level.  Last Friday, however, Cindy, Fran and I drove to the top of Pack Monadnock to paint one of the many vistas presented there.  All three of us chose Mt. Monadnock as our subject matter.  Pack Monadnock and its neighbor North Pack Monadnock are East of Mt. Monadnock, and there is yet a third, Little Monadnock, to be found in southwest NH.  We like our Monadnocks, but here’s the only one that has achieved star status:

Wapack Trail (Southward)

Wapack Trail (Southward)

The black flies were unmerciful, but an occasional breeze and generous slathering of bug repellant helped to keep us focussed on our painting.  The Wapack Trail is well-used, so we had lots of company complaining about the black flies.  The State maintains the road and the vistas here, and charges each visitor by car $4 each–except “seniors”; I get a free ride.  Thus is the manned fire tower cost offset, partially anyway.  By the way, that yellow triangle painted on the rock in the right foreground is the trail marker for the Wapack Trail, which runs along the ridges of the Wapack Range, from Massachusetts to Greenfield, NH.

I could go on and on about my connections to Monadnock and the reasons I am drawn to paint it, but that would bore the heck out of most people.  So here is a successful figure painting from Monday’s life group session:

Bridal Gown

Bridal Gown

Our model was Tam, who comes here from Vietnam.  She posed for us in her wedding dress.  She was exquisite.

Coming up in Exeter are two events worth noting:  Bruce Jones has arranged for East Colony artists to exhibit their paintings at a storefront on Water Street, for one month, while the owner looks for a buyer for the space.  Our exhibit will coincide with the first Friday Art Walk on June 5, and the American Independence Museum paint out on Saturday June 6.  I’ll be participating in both.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for one month at 163 Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Mt. Washington Valley in May, 2015

Last weekend was the annual spring artists’ getaway to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and I was happily present.  This time I took some larger panels to paint on, instead of those 9×12 carton paper supports I have been relying upon lately.  I’m a big girl now and I want to paint bigger.  I took three 12×16 panels, one 9×12 panel, and as back up if I needed them, a small stack of the carton paper sheets.

There were eight of us, not very many but very select.  Walt and Ann from western Massachusetts; Suzanne from Rhode Island; Helene, my roommate, from Nashua, NH; Betty from Wolfeborough, NH; and of course the stalwarts and leaders of this plein air event, Sharon Allen and Byron Carr.   It was a great weekend, with the weather cooperating for the most part–rare for a New England spring.  Weather forecasts for rainy Saturday afternoon sent us off course in search of meaningful nonpainting pursuits, none of which really panned out (the museum in Jackson was closed), whereas the weather stayed lovely and would have been ideal for painting.  [virtual teeth gnashing]  I made up for it on Sunday and the good thing is, I never had to dip into the reserve supports of carton paper.

My first painting Friday morning was this one from Pear Mountain Road.

View of Mt. Washington from Pear Mt. Rd.

View of Mt. Washington from Pear Mt. Rd.

I added the telephone wiring after I got home.  I did not want to smudge my lovely blue sky by trying to add the wires into wet paint; besides, at home I had some new tools called “French curves”.  I don’t know the proper method of deploying them, but I picked out an appropriate curve and used it as a guide for my brush.  The resulting lines are almost too confident.  These wires wee a necessary element of this painting.  Here is what it looked like before I added the wires.  The greens in this cell phone version are more accurate than the ones in the expensive SDLR Nikon version above.  (more whining complaint below.)

View of Mt. Washington wip

View of Mt. Washington wip (cell phone photo)

After lunch four of us gathered at Jackson Falls.  I have painted various versions and aspects of Jackson Falls over the years.  How to make this one better?  Feature a big rock instead of all that white water.

Portrait of Big Rock at Jackson Falls

Portrait of Big Rock at Jackson Falls (cell phone photo–because Nikon version too dark)

Since I was working large, I had no trouble filling each half-day stint with just one painting.  I was pretty happy with how things were going so far.  The next day we went looking for a covered bridge because of the Stupid Weather Forecast.  The one we chose is not open to traffic, and usually we would have been content to paint it or paint from it at road level.  This day, however, my painting buddies discovered a way to get underneath the road with a view up at the bridge.  This created a curious problem, one I did not recognize until I had already committed to my vantage point.  Damn covered bridge is essentially four stripes of almost equal width running across the top of painting–that is, if you want to show the water too.  Nothing more monotonous.  I struggled with the size of the stripes.  I messed with the edges.  I toned down the red so as to push the thing into the background.  Still awful.  When I got home, I decided it couldn’t hurt to try scrumbling shadowy darks over the left edge of my bridge, and I think that may have saved it from the scrap heap.  Here are the before and after:

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (before)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (before)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (after)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (after)

OK, the colors don’t match.  For some reason, photographing all of these paintings has been unusually frustrating.  The new Photos app that Apple has forced on me does not give me a way to adjust the level of yellows, blues and reds.  I am not coping well!

That accounts for my three large format, 12×16, panels.  Sunday morning, after the usual fabulous breakfast at the Bartlett Inn (but no rancho huervos this year–I forgot to complain about that!), Sharon and Betty and I followed Byron up a road off Route 3 between Twin Mountain and Franconia Notch:–white water, moss-covered rocks, deep pools.  For the best spot, you needed to be pretty adventurous, but I found a tidy little version close to the road and fought off Sharon for it.  I included some Trillium at bottom left because I saw some on the slope to adventure spot.  This may be my favorite from the weekend.

Woodland brook

Woodland brook 9×12

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

one last week at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Patchworking

For the past week or so, I have been patching up old pieces.  One, the portrait of a retired steam locomotive that I called “Sidelined”, has a new background.  I first started this painting behind the North Conway train station when it began to rain.  I finished it using a reference  photograph, which turned out to be useful for getting the details of the engine right.  Then it hung for many months in the Bartlett Inn or the Red Jacket Inn, looking for a lover who never materialized.  What could be wrong with such an appealing subject?  Green, I decided, that boring light green in the background.

Sidelined, v. 2

Sidelined, v. 2

What had been Spring-fresh trees are now autumnally rusty.  There is a richness conveyed by the warmer color backing up the purply black of the engine.  Perhaps the new look will attract a collector.  I would dearly love to sell it now, so if anyone is interested in paintings of trains, I’d love to hear from  you.

In a more recent painting, also from the North Country, I added life.  The scene is the driveway to the Bartlett Inn, viewed from the Inn itself, which I painted en plein air just last January.  I asked the Inn for help in deciding what critter would be an appropriate addition, and they furnished me a photo of a pine marten that they had seen prowling around in the snow.  Perfect!

Pine Marten in Driveway

Pine Marten in Driveway

I admit to being a little unsure about the size of the prowler.  But if I had made him any smaller to account for  his distance from me, I could not have captured his features well enough to identify him as a pine marten.  Here is a link to a WMUR news story with video about the reporter’s encounter with the “rare American Marten” in a snowy, northern NH landscape.  Here is another YouTube video of this adorable creature.  I never knew what a pine marten was before, but now am so pleased to be able to feature one in a painting.

I also have six new works finished or underway.  I’ll share with you the two of the finished ones:  one is a portrait from life; one is a plein air sketch.  The Portrait is a painting of Dee, who modeled for us while back in NH for a visit to family.  Dee was once a regular artist attendee at the Saturday Life Group, and then became a model for our weekday group until his job took him to the midwest.  He also allowed me to draw his portrait in pencil a few years ago.  I should be better now at portraits, but paint is harder than pencil.

Dee in color

Dee in color

Portrait of D N Narzisse

Portrait of D N

I think I like the pencil version better.

The last piece I want to share with you today is from one plein air outing with Nancy Crowley in the alleys of Manchester.  Nancy confessed to being obsessed with alleys, and I joyfully agreed, alleys are the best!  She said this was the best plein air painting she has seen me do, so it must be so.  Nancy is my go-to person for picking apart a painting honestly–and accurately.

Alley View

Alley View

And now for an important and sad announcement:  this May is the last month that the members of East Colony Fine Art will be exhibiting at the gallery in Langer Place.  We are throwing a party, a celebration of our wonderful history at that location, on May 14, from 5 to 8.  You are all welcome.  I will be there only for the first hour as I have to be on my way to Bartlett that night for the semi-annual Artists Getaway Weekend.

I don’t know what will become of the gallery space at Langer Place–that space was meant to be a gallery and a wonderful gallery it was.  The artists of East Colony are exhausted by the efforts from everyone, especially our directors, needed to sustain the Gallery, at a time when the support of the enterprise (sales of artworks) fell short of what the artists needed to feel that their efforts were justified.  Cost vs benefit.  That kind of hard figuring does not come easily to artists, but we had to do it.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Drama in Green

Floral Painting No. 3--Green

Floral Painting No. 3–Green

The third and final painting from the Floral Painting course.  (Taught by Deirdre Riley at the NH Institute of Art)  Deirdre set up two compositions for our choices.  The other one was too similar to the setup for my Floral Painting No. 2, although its colors I would have preferred to this one.  This is so green!  Front, back and center–all the same green.  But I liked the dramatic shadow and decided I could vary the greens enough between light and shadow to keep the eye interested.

The hardest object to portray was the yellow flower.  In my mind, anyway.  However, Deirdre had me repaint the foreground rose innumerable times and I’m honestly not sure it got better each time.  Perhaps we can tell by looking at the progress shots!  First, this is a photograph of the actual setup:

Floral Setup

Floral Setup

Then, in sequence from hour 1 to hour 6:

After one hour

After one hour

After 3 hours

After 3 hours

after 4.75 hours

after 4.75 hours

after 6 hours

after 6 hours

Floral Painting No. 3--Green

FINAL:  After 9 hours

I forgot to take progress shots during the final three hours.  The differences between the final (9-hour) version and the version at six hours is color.  Pinks were added or intensified in the vase and the pink flowers, respectively; greens to the right of the vase were yellowed to get rid of the chalkiness that bothered me, and to assimilate some of the shadows that were too blue; white sparkly highlights were stroked in.  The topmost rose, which had boasted a translucency that I liked, gained more heft with the extra red.  I’m torn as to which treatment I like better.  I suppose the more red, the better–to counteract all the green.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot–the value of the shadow behind the vase on the left went from where it was the week before to a very dark, shocking dark, and then moved back toward neutral until I could stand it again.   The purpose of darkening the background at that point was to enable a deeper value for the white vase.  The purpose of using a darker value on the vase was to enable the white highlights to show up better.  Speaking of the vase, I altered its shape slightly.  The bottom is wider and the top longer and more slender than the original.  It just looks more elegant than a squat vase, to my eye.  And the taller shape contributes more to the composition.

The roughest section (in the sense of least “finished”) is the underskirt.  During the first session, I had applied some fierce (and satisfying!) strokes, thinking to deal with it more responsibly later, but later decided I liked it as is.  Deirdre said nothing about it, but she was always concerned primarily with the flowers.  Until those blossoms were perfect in her eyes, she had no eyes for anything else.  The flowers had to GLOW–and take form as a cup shape–before she was satisfied.  It’s hard to see a cup in an open blossom because the spotlight passes through it, illuminating all sides, and you need to be true to that illumination to create the glow.  I felt sometimes like Alice in Wonderland, negotiating an imaginary landscape.

I loved this course and would take it again from Deirdre.  I worry that her compositions/setups were critical to my success.  Will I be able to do florals successfully on my own?  Stay tuned.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Ups and Downs

Yes, it has been a few weeks since I last posted.  No, I have not got sick again.  But I have been floundering a wee bit.  It almost seems that as I practiced my landscapes and learned my florals, I forgot how to paint a portrait.  That disappointment cast a pall over all my work.  But I’m following my own advice, the second major rule of art-making:  Don’t Give Up.  (I guess the first rule would have to be:  So Try Already.)

It helps that I have a second successful floral painting to show off–what a high it is, to create something that surprises you with its beauty:

Floral Painting No. 2--Roses

Floral Painting No. 2–Roses

This floral is the second of three projects that will eventually emanate from the Floral Painting course I am taking at the NH Institute of Art with Deirdre Riley.  I missed three classes because of the Florida sojourn, but I needed only the two weeks remaining to me for this painting.  Two weeks equals six hours of painting.  I could actually paint a living floral arrangement and get it done before the flowers started to wilt.  But I’m not that energized anymore.  My batteries only last three hours.

Coincidentally, the annual Petals to Paint event comes this week–TOMORROW actually, to East Colony Fine Art.  About 20 floral designers are designing and putting together a (live) flower-based sculpture inspired by the painting that each chose a month ago.  One of the designers chose my “Nap, Interrupted” (the very large cat portrait) as her inspiration.  If I had a six-hour battery, I’d be able to go in after hours at the Gallery and make a painting of her creation.

The reception for Petals to Paint is Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., but the exhibit will remain up for the next two days.  The address is 55 South Commercial Street in Manchester, NH.   I’m very sorry to report that this will be the last P2P at this location, and one of the last receptions for East Colony at this location.  We decided not to renew our lease because not enough of our artists were willing to commit to the continuance of the Gallery.  On May 14, we will host our last reception, a kind of farewell party. Our last day will be May 30.

The portraits that I have been wrestling with are mostly of Margaret, although I have to confess my last portrait of Aubrey was no keeper either.  I was trying so very hard to get a likeness of Margaret in two 3-hour sessions, that I lost my perspective over the works as entire pieces.  I was going to post pictures of these failures but I lost my nerve.  Just trust me–you don’t need to see them.

Of course, my response has been to try harder.  At SLG (Saturday Life Group) we had a new model, a very young tall lanky guy named Andrew.  I had wanted to concentrate on portraiture, but all I got was the back of his head for the first long pose (“long” in this group means 45-50 minutes).

The Back of Andrew

The Back of Andrew

The last pose gave me the opportunity I sought.

Generic Head

Generic Head

The problem with this “portrait” is that it is largely invented.  He held his head in this position for perhaps five minutes, then it started dropping, dropping, until finally his chin was on his chest.  I continued with my original version, filling in what I already knew about faces, treating it as some kind of memory exercise.

This Monday, in order to conquer the whole problem of Margaret, I announced she was in it for a two-week pose.  All I needed was more time, was my reasoning.  But when I saw the pose, I could not resist included her gesture and the yellow dress.  This is my Work in Progress:

Girl in Yellow (WIP)

Girl in Yellow (WIP)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; 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, iPhone cases 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!

Marco Island Part 6 (final): Kooky, Experimental

At long last I get to complete the report.  I seem to have caught the same bug that laid me low for the month of February–probably from the plane home–and just hope that after only 8 days, I’m getting over this iteration of it.

I left  you in my previous blog with 4 paintings to be posted.  The first two are from one location on Collier Boulevard, farther South from our usual haunts.  I discovered South Beach when we went in search of the beach wedding, and conceived the idea of one daylight painting showing the colorful, tree-lined boulevant with high-rise condo buildings behind, and a later one showing what happens at night, with lights lining the street and dotting the windows of the high-rises.  Mary had other stuff to do that afternoon, so I was dropped at my chosen spot, by her always obliging husband, Frank.  I set up in the swale between the boulevard and the sidewalk on the right side of the street.  I got lots of welcome attention from low-rise residents from my side of the boulevard as they strolled by on their way to the beach.  A few voiced a guess that I was painting the big, pink building that was my backdrop because I lived there.  If only!

South Beach Residential

South Beach Residential

It certainly wasn’t a beautiful building, but it was an interesting building, and it was representative  of the many such buildings lining the South Beach.  (By the way, I decided to take these photos with my iPhone in order to be consistent with the ones already posted, but they didn’t come out as well as the ones that were photographed in the South Florida light.  I was able to manipulate them so what you are seeing is pretty accurate–by reducing exposure, increasing contrast and saturation, and increasing red and yellow.  Go figure!)

Mary came to pick me up after about 2 hours and we grabbed a quick supper at a nearby restaurant.  By the time we had returned to the site, we had about 1 hour before sunset.  I composed my picture by moving farther away and including more of the buildings on my left.  I had basically a black and blue scene.  Then the lights started to come on.  Not in the pink building but on the grounds–Christmas-like lights wound around the three palm trees, fountains sprouted under spotlights, and walls and landscaping got their share of the drama.  There were a few glows issuing from a few of the balconies, but very few.

 

South Beach Nocturne

South Beach Nocturne

Mary observed that many owners of condos on Marco spend only a few weeks at the time there since they tended to have many desirable locations to call home.  It’s also possible that the windows are glazed with impenetrable coatings, like limos get.  Anyway, the painting was my very first “nocturne”, which is what artists call a painting that depicts a night scene. Most nocturnes are painted in the studio, I’ll wager, but there are plein air nocturnists.  I don’t know how they do it–shifting focus from darkened scene to lit painting seems impossible to me.  I quit pretty soon after sundown.  In order to pack up my gear, I deployed my cell phone flashlight, and one of my strolling admirers held it for me while I gathered up stuff.  It was fun.

The next day was Tuesday, the day before my flight home.  Every since I had been visiting Mary on Marco (2009),  she had been mentioning her desire to paint a certain bridge.  She already had one really good painting of it, but felt she could do even better one day.  I asked her to make that day that Tuesday.  So off we went, toward the Everglades, a road not heavily trafficked.  I set up close to the road, so I got more of the dust blown our way by big trucks.  It was a little unnerving to have the trucks barreling right at you, for we were on a curve.  I have lived to tell the tale.  It’s just what plein air painters have to do, you know, risking life and limb for their art!

 

Bridge to Everglades

My Bridge from Everglades, looking North

Here is Mary’s version in watercolor:

Mary's Bridge

Mary’s Bridge

Since my flight wasn’t scheduled to take off until after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, we were able to meet up with the Wednesday Painters again, this time inside a private, gated community with its own beach and wildlife area.  A marshy area caught my eye–the reflections mostly, but with a stray clump of marsh grass providing a great focal point.  I set up with a view of the clump, next to the railings, and decided to include the railings in my composition.  I suspected that the framing of the reeds by the fence contributed to my decision to paint the reeds.

Watery Home

Watery Home

Compare a cropped version without the railings:

Watery Home-Detail

Watery Home-Detail

So was I right?  Or is the Detail better?  Because I paint on paper, I can easily crop the painting for best presentation.

Here is a photo Mary took of me just before I started to pack up my gear–sorry about the absence of reds–fault of her iPhone sending, or mine receiving.  The two wet paintings were ensconced in their Art Cocoons there to my right.

IMG_0635

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; 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, iPhone cases 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!

 

Marco Island Part 5–Water, Water Everywhere

This group of paintings, four in number, are connected by the coincidence that each contains a bit of water.  Actually, two of them are more connected than that–you could say (and I am) that those two are siblings.

First, the end of the Sunset Watchers series.  For No. 5 we moved South to another beach that brought us closer to the waterline and hence closer to the sunset watchers.  Through a casual encounter at the northern beach last week, a couple had encouraged us  to show up at their beach wedding.  Although a great idea, when we got there we had no idea where on the beach the happy event was destined to occur.  We had to set up and lay a foundation for the sunset about an hour before sunset.  So we missed the wedding by about a hundred yards The sunset wasn’t so great either.  What you see as a sunset sky in my painting was total fabrication.  But I am happy with my progress with the sand.  And of course the sunset watchers.

Sun watchers No. 5

My next painting is an interior.  What, you exclaim?  You travel to Florida in the winter just to paint an interior!?  My excuse: I was not not in the air-conditioned home but on the lanai, a screen-enclosed –we’re talking about screen ceilings as well as walls–outdoor room that included my water element.  A swimming pool.  I had always been fascinated by the light and shadow patterns that form in pools from wafts of breezes and landings by invisible insects, in combination with the clouds overhead and the infrastructure itself.  Why should David Hockney be the only painter to enjoy painting swimming pools?

The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool

The third and fourth paintings are the siblings referred to earlier.  We set up opposite one of many airboat enterprises in Everglades City.  Airboats are big industry because tourists want to get close to the flora and fauna that live in the mangrove forests of the Everglades.  Gators, manatees.  Been there and done that.  My first depiction of the scene is fairly complex, featuring airboat no. 6 from Cap’n Jack’s.  The second simpler project shows two boats tied up just beyond Cap’n Jack’s.  I hardly moved my easel.  Before starting, however, I set out to find a rest room somewhere.  I struck gold at my first stop, a luxury motorcoach resort.  The guy at the desk showed me to the ladies, gave me two bottles of ice-cold water, and insisted on driving me back to our painting location in his golf cart.

Jack's Airboat Rides

Cap’n Jack’s Airboat Rides

Two Working Boats

Two Working Boats

Only two days left to paint here, and only two blank supports left to paint on.  With the two I painted yesterday, that means I should be able to post four more, but probably not until I get home.  And the life at home is likely to suck up all available time, so maybe next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marco Island 4–getting better?

first of all, I’d like to apologize for the weirdness occurring within my posts.  The interaction between WordPress and my iPad leaves something to be desired.  In MI 3, I decided to try something different.  I entered text as captions to the paintings instead of separately.  I hoped thereby to avoid the oversized images that keep showing up no matter how I strive to reduce them.  Didn’t work.  This time I’m going to try no text between images, so all explanation is presented up here.  [After I got back home, to my computer, I was able to fix the outsized images.]

I’m posting four images today.  Two paintings and two geometric designs.  The designs are self-explanatory if you read MI1 about the sacred geometry group.  The first, “Ten Thousands Islands” is a scene at the National Wildlife Refuge of that name.  Mary and I met up with her Wednesday group of outdoor painters.  It involved lugging our gear into the refuge about half a mile.  Since I need a chair to sit on while painting, I had to carry said chair as well as bear the backpack containing my Soltek easel, paints, brushes and all the other miscellaneous items required by an artist in the field.  When we got to the lookout structure where the other artists, earlier risers than we, were gathered, prime spots on the structure were all occupied.  But we had spotted something more interesting on the left side anyway, so we set up side by side facing into the sun but with a keyhole view of an entire community of birds.  Photographers kept getting in our way, even a fisherman who thought he needed to see if fish were biting.  Thank goodness they weren’t.

It was a huge white pelican that had first caught my eye as we trudged past an opening in the vegetation.  I thought it might be a statue installed for the benefit of tourists.  Then it moseyed on.  It had a mate nearby, but they were apparently working the crowd separately, the crowd being mostly cormorants.  I began Ten Thousand Islands first as solely a landscape, inserting a bird when one showed up in a good spot.  The small island in the back always had at least five cormorants on it, and the pelican visited there too.  The pelican finally popped up on the near island and I quickly popped it into the painting.  I’m sure I understated the size of it, but I’m not about to ruin a good painting for the sake of technical verity!

Ten Thousand Islands

Ten Thousand Islands

The second painting captures the fountain in Mackle Park.  Although there were many varieties of birds all around us, including a woodpecker with a little red splash of head covering, dogs dominated.  The path is a favorite for dog walkers.  My composition did not permit inclusion of a lot of dogs or birds.  One duck represents all the fauna.  The Palm tree is the first that I have painted during this trip.

Mackle Park

Mackle Park

My “Joyful Geometry” pieces, nos. 2 and 3:

IMG_0628

IMG_0629

 

Marco Island Part 3

we decided to combine a beach painting with our sunset series. Beach is too dark! Why? Because sun is so bright that even in my shade, the effect was as if i were painting in direct sunlight.,

 

Disappointing clouds, but that’s what sometimes happens.