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:


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.

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.


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.

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, in a moment of doubt


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:


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!

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.)


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.


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.


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.

Freckles_Cat - Version 2

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.


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.


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.


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:


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!

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.


Hampton Beach NH

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!






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.


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!

Celebrating Humanity?

In the context of the highly publicized current national and international events, humanity may not deserve a ticker-tape parade.  On the macro level, humanity has little to brag about.  But in the micro scale, the artist’s scale, things of beauty can still be found.  Three different nuggets have tumbled together in my brain to form this topic.

Nugget No. 1:  Have you ever stopped to consider what goes into the creation of a magnificent work of music?  I was listening to the broadcast of a Beethoven symphony last week when the enormity of the achievement struck me:  first, humans had to invent and perfect and pass down instruments; then an individual human had to come up with an arrangement of notes to be played on the instruments all together, only to be achieved after many years of practicing and learning and experimenting; then humans had to learn how to play the instruments and then how to play the notes as arranged by the composer,  which required many years of practicing and learning and experimenting; then it all had to be pulled together so that the individual musicians played a complex composition as if they were a single organism.  To bring the glorious sound to me, there’s the recording technology, the broadcasting technology . . . .  My mind boggled.  One symphony is an enormous human achievement–but an achievement by individuals working alone and together, all of the pieces contributing to the magnificent end.

Nugget No. 2:  For marketing purposes, I have lately been mulling over and over a catch phrase to use to describe my own artistic output.  Seeker of beauty?  Finder of beauty?  I was looking for some way to express the idea that I paint stuff that exemplifies beauty of everyday life, perhaps small stuff that ordinarily gets overlooked.  No messages, no “concept” other than beauty.  Sure, I’m an environmentalist, a landscape painter, convinced that we are hurtling toward our own doom by destroying our atmosphere, but I have no urge to paint, say, an oil refinery as a villain.  If I were to paint an oil refinery, it would be to discover the beauty of the shapes, lines, and values to be found there.  I went back to the mission statement offered to me by Cameron Bennett where he used the phrase “preserving humanity”.  I think he means preserving a record of humanity, since I do not know of a way for art to actually keep us safe.  Is there a dark thought inherent in the idea that such record might one day be needed?  No, I rejected such a gloomy interpretation.   Perhaps the combination of “preserving humanity” and “discovering/revealing beauty” could be expressed as “celebrating humanity”?

Nugget No. 3:   last night I attended the reception for a show of works by Peter Granucci.  The show is called “Memorial to Lost Species”.

Peter Granucci, Alone in Grief

Peter Granucci, Alone in Grief

The drama and anguish exhibited in the above image is repeated in perhaps 20 paintings, all with a human figure and many with the skull of a nonhuman creature. Peter created frames for each piece, which extend the grittiness and turbulence of the backgrounds of the paintings.  The captions on the paintings are pointed references to the losses of species, and the grief we, mankind, ought to be experiencing as a result–   humanity grieving for the species destroyed, grieving for the world lost, grieving, ultimately, for its own viability.  Peter certainly had a message, and he wasn’t satisfied with just one painting to convey that message.  Before inspiration took him into this deep dark place, four years ago, he was like me, painting beauty.  He celebrated the beauty of the female form.  His drawings of the female form are simply exquisite.  But when an emotion overtakes an artist, the output has to reflect it.  Think Picasso’s “Guernica”.  Now think Granucci’s “Memorial”.  The show will be up for the rest of December at the Art Gallery in New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire.

So I am a little shaken by Peter’s message.  And the events on the news.  How can I thank about “celebrating” humanity when humanity does so much that is wrong?

Nevertheless, I share with you the last two weeks’ of Monday life painting:

Better than Climbing Trees

Better than Climbing Trees

The title is a reference to the fact that, after modeling for us in the morning, Robbie was off to climb trees in the process of cutting them down.  That was the Monday before Thanksgiving, and that Wednesday we got hit with lots of wet, heavy snow that felled a lot trees over power lines–my family went without a Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Just thinking, a little adumbration perhaps?

A Lovely Nude

A Lovely Nude

We think this new model might be the answer to Rebecca’s “retirement” (have you missed Becky?).  Interesting how she and Robbie are in almost identical poses, leaning against the wall.

If you remember my very large painting of a cat awakening from a nap (“Nap, Interrupted”) that I started last summer but shied away from finishing because I was afraid of the whiskers . . .

Nap, Interrupted

Nap, Interrupted

here she is with whiskers.  I had to finish her because I promised her to the Currier Museum for the month of December.  Here is how she looks on the wall of the Museum’s Community Gallery, on the lower level where the classrooms and auditorium are:


Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). And at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints 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!


Three Pies on One Finger

The three pies are:  Landscape en plein air; animal portraiture from photo; and human portraiture from life.  I am happy with all three.

First, the landscape happened when I went down to Boston to collect the painting that was on exhibit at the Arboretum.  A week ago, Thursday, October 30, was a beautiful day–yet another beautiful autumn day in New England–if this is climate change, it’s hard to root against it!  Not willing to devote the trip solely for pickup, I brought my painting gear.  The Arboretum allows me, because I hold a handicapped designation (walking disability–I can walk, but not real far, and even less far with my painting gear on my back), to drive into the garden and park wherever I need to for the sake of art.  The top of Bussey Hill would have been inaccessible to me if I had to rely on my legs to get me there.

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

From Bussey Hill, the highest point in the Arboretum, you can see the skyline of Boston, and that view was my original target.  But when I got up there, the skyline view was mostly obscured with trees still hanging onto leaves, so I found a better one.  The distant blue mound is probably Blue Hills, to the west of Boston.  Painting foliage in this way is what I consider to be my forte.  So far, the world has not beaten a path to my doorway in response, so maybe I need to find a new forte.

For portraiture, I have two examples since I have had two meetings of the Monday Life Group after my last posting.  The model who posed pregnant and nude for us a few months ago has delivered of her baby, a little fellow named Montain.  That’s a heavy name for such a small scrap of humanity, so I think of him as Monty.  At only a few weeks old, he participated in his mom’s modeling gig.  He was very well-behaved, but he did squirm.  It was an extreme test of the artists’ ability to memorize gestures and get them down so as to create a recognizable babe in arms, not just a blob in swaddling clothes.

Introducing Monty

Introducing Monty

He lost a sock at one point, which delighted me.  He actually sucked on a pacifier most of the time, but I managed to suggest a face without pacifier.  Perhaps I should have gone with the pacifier?  Inasmuch as it felt a little bizarre to have mom nude while the babe was fully clothed, we asked her to return next week prepared to pose for us clothed.  The next image is the result:

Take Two: Mother and Son

Take Two: Mother and Son

Monty’s head is a bit misshapen, so this one must be taken as a work in progress.  Funny how I never noticed that strange shape until I saw this image.

Finally, something different.  I love cats.  I own two female cats, and I live with another two male cats, which one of my granddaughters left behind when she moved out.  The boys are quite young.  Lively.  Pushy.  I have resorted to keeping them separated from the girls, who are exceptionally intimidated by them.  The boys leave no stone unturned in their effort to make sense of the world around them.  Causing stuff to fall to floor is one of their favorite experiments.  But they have stolen my heart.

Partners in Crime (WIP)

Partners in Crime (WIP) 16×12

Blue, the one on top, is just turning one year old this month.  Milo is probably one and a half.  Milo is more respectful of my space.  Blue respects no one’s space, but he does not aggravate the girls as much as Milo does.  Blue will leap on me without warning and just cling onto me until I cradle him.  Bad habit acquired when he was more of a kitten.

I only have a little bit of work left to complete this painting, after which I will have giclees made of it since I have heard that animals sell.  Whether the granddaughter gets the original or a giclee for Christmas remains to be decided.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the New London Inn in New London, NH; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings  are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints 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!

Aftermath. What is the value of a painting that you love?

So, last Saturday was Art in the Park, which I was anticipating in my previous post.  The weather “cooperated” beautifully.  I chose this unfinished oil painting on paper (9×12) to offer for my (free) raffle.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

You might remember Grey-eyed cat as one I painted during the Art in Action event last April.  The raffle rules were, to be eligible to enter, you had to answer this question, “What medium did I say in my blog I tried last week for the first time?”  The answer was on my website,  so anybody could look it up on their smart phone.  A few did.  A few guessed (wrong).  A few didn’t bother with that detail.  One little girl was so determined to win the painting that she got her mom to take her home to look it up on their computer.  I’m happy to report that her extra effort was rewarded!  Congrats to Rebecca; I know my Grey-eyed Cat will have a loving forever home.

My tent was situated across the path from the Entertainment:  three musicians playing folk songs together and performing solo.  I had brought my plein air painting gear, so I set up and painted a scene of the musicians.  Mind you, the only one who stayed in one position for any length of time was the middle one, Michelle.  It was a test of my memory and experience.

The AITP Musicians

The AITP Musicians

The aftermath of this painting was a little weird.  The next day, or maybe it was later Saturday night, Michelle posted on Facebook that she wanted to buy the painting and asked the price.  I replied, on Facebook, that I wanted her to have it, but we should discuss it privately, via email.  Unbeknownst to me, she jumped to the conclusion that I was going to give her the painting and spread that all over Facebook.  Meanwhile I tried to find out what she would be comfortable paying, and I thought we had reached a resolution (half the usual price, payable over five months), but she later backed out, saying she couldn’t afford it.  No counter, no hint as to what she could afford, so I guess her original offer to buy was impulsive.  It just makes me sad –after being so happy.  I don’t mind giving a painting away to a friend who appreciates it, but I feel that a stranger who is not  willing to put up some bucks does not really value it.

What is the value of a painting anyway?   To the artist, a painting’s value has little to do with “market” value.   [I’m not talking about “investment” grade paintings here–a subject absurdly foreign to the experience of most living artists.]  The paltry few hundreds of dollars on a painting’s price tag doesn’t go far toward covering an artist’s costs when you take into account the years of learning and practicing.  A painting is created with joy, and you could say once created, it has no further value to the artist.  It becomes the remembrance of joy.  Sure, it could be exhibited, perhaps win an award, enhancing the artist’s reputation, etc.  None of this has anything to do with a “market” value for a painting.

I had a similar inquiry recently from the exhibit of my paintings at the Cancer Center–a patient would have bought a particular painting if the price I quoted was within his/her expectations.  I guess it wasn’t, even though I knocked a hundred off the usual price.  I can imagine the patient’s disappointment to learn that the painting was not “affordable”.  But why not?  Why not negotiate with the artist, try an installment plan?  What is it about paintings that they are so little valued, even when loved passionately?

Before I started making my own paintings, I bought other people’s paintings.  I remember how hard it was, especially in the beginning, to screw up the courage to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting that I fell in love with.  When you consider how much can be spent on a restaurant dinner these days, isn’t it ridiculous to expect a painting, which lasts forever, to be cheaper than a gourmet meal for two couples?  I never regretted what I paid for paintings, or for the cost of framing them (usually more than the painting!).  But that is hindsight.  How to convey this perspective of value to someone who has never before thought about paying for a painting?  I have no clue.

To offset that glum discussion, I want you to see two paintings from the Monday group, last week and this week.  Last week, we asked my daughter to pose clothed in Dee’s garden, and we enjoyed the experience of working from the clothed model so much that we had Robbie keep his clothes on yesterday:






This weekend I am off to Vermont for a weekend of plein air painting in the Upper Valley, with Sharon Allen and others.  The result should be a bunch of new paintings to love.  And value, perhaps.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).  One painting still at the Boston Arboretum.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints 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 using the private feedback form below. 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!


Art in the Park

Before I get caught up in narratives of what I’ve been doing in the recent past, allow me to tout the upcoming event, “Art in the Park”, this Saturday, September 20, at Veterans Park in Manchester NH (rain date is the next day, Sunday, September 21).  This is an annual art show from the artists of the Manchester Artists Association.  We put up tents;  we put up racks; we cover said racks with artworks.  We wait. . . for people to come by and ooh and aah and maybe buy a piece or two.  Many cards and prints will also be on sale.  I am sharing my tent and racks this event with Linda Feinberg, who writes poetry to go along with her cards and other artworks.   This year The MAA is also sponsoring a children’s art show in conjunction with our own, in order to support the value of art making in the schools and to encourage potential artists to carry on.   If at all possible for you to visit us at this event, I beg you to do so.  It’s important for not just me, but for all the constituencies involved–artists in Manchester, artists in New Hampshire, school children, and the general public– who need more art in their lives!  To encourage high attendance, I am going to give away a piece of art–probably a drawing–via something like a raffle (not really a raffle because no payment will be required).  To qualify for the gift, you might have to answer a question about the artwork I am about to post in this blog.  So pay attention now!

Mostly what I have been doing this past week is tweaking the paintings of the past month, hopefully for the good, but I have also been drawing at my life groups.  The Monday life group has a new model, Robbie, whose face I found to be more interesting than his body, and I tried out a new medium:  pastel pencils.

New model, Robbie

New model, Robbie

Robbie, 2

Robbie, 2

Our Saturday group got together for our first meeting of the Fall, for our standard short poses followed by a few longer poses (but not long poses by the standards of Monday’s group).   I used charcoal.

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

40-minute pose

40-minute pose  (my favorite)

40-minute pose

40-minute pose (wish the edges were more interesting)

Finally, here is your first view of “Nap, Interrupted”.  I started it a month ago, then had to leave it alone while I pursued my landscape paintings.  Yesterday I tweaked it a little, but not so much as to make it worth another round of photos.

Gracie Portrait, WIP

Nap, Interrupted  (WIP)

This painting of my smallest cat, Grace, who, by the way, has an earlier post entirely devoted to her (see it here), was prompted by (1) the sale of my other gigantic cat painting called “Fur” (hmmm, I thought, cats sell!), (2) a great photo of Grace I had been saving to paint, and (3) a 2 by 4 foot canvas (dimensions that match the photo) just lying around.  Also in my mind was something Paul Ingbretson said, to the effect that you should paint every painting with the hope that  your painting will be the one to first draw the eye of anyone who enters in an exhibit space.  I am certainly doing the hoping here.  Whether the hope is ever realized . . . , well we can only hope.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints 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 using the private feedback form below. 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!


Art under Stress

I’ve had a bad week.  It started a week ago Friday night when I downloaded my bank statement and discovered all my money had vanished.  Someone had been systematically withdrawing a few hundred here, a few hundred there, using apparently a clone of my debit card.  I managed to freeze the card and send off agitated messages to the bank, but that was going to have to “it”  until Monday because I was committed for the entire weekend to “Art in Action”–a semi-annual event in Londonderry that combines display and demonstration.  The bad stuff continued the next morning–Saturday–when I was packing up my car with all the gear required for Art in Action:    My backpack could not be found.  This Creativo ArtPak backpack contained all of the supplies I was going to be using for the demonstrations:  Soltek easel, Rosemary brushes, Michael Harding oil paints, palette knives, brush holder, brush washer with Gamsol, brush tube, little container of Liquin–all inexplicably gone.  And I could not do a damn thing about it until Monday.   Fortunately, I’m big into redundancy, so had no problem gathering up a backup easel, paints, brushes.  I even had a second brush washer.  Off I went to Londonderry, with my little Prius loaded down with display panels and 8 paintings (the display), and my two helpers sharing the front passenger’s seat.  The helpers were my daughter, who would also serve as my model, and my boarder, who performed as the muscle.

Whereupon an interesting phenomenon revealed itself:  despite, or because of, the stress I must have been suffering  subconsciously, I was easily able to zone in on my painting.  Maybe I zoned too much, to the point of ignoring the small streams of people flowing past me, instead of engaging them like I was supposed to.  Some kind of compulsion held sway over me; perhaps I just needed the escape from daily woes that always comes from surrendering to the art.  Whatever, I turned out some good stuff to show you and was looking forward to getting them published last Monday . . . when the knockout blow came.  I found out that the perpetrator of my losses was someone whom I had loved and trusted.  There would be no more escape into painting for the rest of the week as I juggled that mess alongside urgent tasks and important meetings related to my many volunteer activities.

The crisis is over.  The bank has restored the funds to me and the perp found another patsy to cover the theft so as to avoid prosecution from the bank; and my homeowners insurance is covering the loss of the backpack.  I am starting to sleep better.  The hole in my life that represented a certain loved one is still empty and most likely will stay that way permanently.  But I am moving on.  So here, a week late, are the three paintings I was working on during the Art in Action show.

For the first one, I asked my daughter to sit for her portrait again (she did this for me at last Spring’s Art in Action ).  I didn’t want to include her dog this  year as I wanted to complete a more serious oeuvre.  I had a spotlight lighting up her right side and a black drape behind her.  We started about 10:30 and I declared it finished about 2:30.  Nancy looks sad and tired, and that was her on that day. But she loves the painting and my portrayal of her.  Can’t ask much more from a portrait.

Portrait of my daughter

Portrait of my daughter

The next day, Sunday, I worked from a  photo that another artist, Rollande Rouselle, had emailed to me with assurances that copying rights belonged to her.  She wanted to see what I could do with it.

Haitian boy, photo

Haitian boy, photo

I had it on my iPad and was able to set up the iPad practically next to my easel.  I cropped the photo in order to enlarge the facial features.

Haitian laborer

Working Boy

The hardest element was the bundle of sticks, but I worked at it until the blobs of paint conveyed the idea, and then I quit.

I still had about an hour left so then I picked out a photo of a cat from a book of cat photos, and got this far on it.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

My efforts to paint the perfect “Fur” a few months ago stood me in good stead.  Should I finish?  Once  you get the eyes of a cat, the rest is window-dressing.


Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; in the lower level of the Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints 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 using the private feedback form below. 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!


Final and Complete Report of Marco Island Painting Binge

After a snow-impeded itinerary, I finally returned to the winter wonderland that is New Hampshire.  Another snow storm yesterday has locked me at home.  The city didn’t bother to plow my little stub of a street until it was sure it could build a barricade at the bottom of my driveway worthy of good ol’ New England complaining.  Still, I don’t mind . . . didn’t want to go anywhere today anyway, not when I have the lovely task of reliving my adventures in Marco Island, through this retelling.

All thirteen of my Marco 2014 paintings are painted on 9 x 12 carton paper, acquired from Judson’s Guerrilla Painter art supplies.  Two paintings are candidates for cropping, as you will see.  The first 8 were posted last week, using photos taken with my phone or my iPad.  Now that I have new versions taken with my Nikon Digital SLR, I will include them again.  A few have endured improvements since last week.

I would love to hear from my followers which painting(s) are their favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 1

Marco 2014 No. 1

This first painting is still one of my own favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 2

Marco 2014 No. 2

I added the sky and make other changes as planned.  I can see room for more improvement–punchier lights on the foreground objects.

Marco 2014 No. 3

Marco 2014 No. 3 – The Beach

The quickest, simplest is the favorite of many people.  I touched up the bird spots.  Several had suggested making the spots into kites (the toy, not the bird), but I was concerned about bringing in that level of detail.

Marco 2014 No. 4

Marco 2014 No. 4 – Sea Grapes

Although I wanted to improve on the definition between light and shadow, I lacked the confidence to do anything about it.

Marco 2014 No. 5

Marco 2014 No. 5

The only improvement I made to No. 5 is the color of the shadows on the building.  Less green, more blue.

Marco 2014 No. 6

Marco 2014 No. 6–Calusa Boat Yard

No changes to this one.  But when I posted it last week, I didn’t include any narrative, and it deserves a narrative.  On my right, over the railing, is a roof covering a shelf-like area where successful fishermen (women don’t seem to be into that kind of thing) can clean their fish.  There’s a water spigot and a tube into which the waste is shoved, which apparently drops the waste somewhere in the water underneath, where the waiting pelicans cannot access it.  There is a prominently posted sign forbidding the feeding of the pelicans.  But they hover nevertheless.    Because mistakes are made.  Sometimes a particularly motivated fish escapes the grasp of the fisherman and dives in the waiting maw of a pelican.

I was in that spot because of the shadow afforded by the roof.  So I was kind of in the way, but not so much as would require me to move.  One of the fisherman wanted this painting, but he was willing to pay only $100 for it.  I felt it was worth at least $200.  I hope he’s sorry now!

Marco 2014 No. 7

Marco 2014 No. 7–Pond with girl and goose

I defined the figure of the little girl to show her posture better.  She was a real little girl, but she never sat for me on the bank like that.  The Canadian goose was one of a pair cruising around with a pair of Muscovy ducks.  The walkway pavement really was a purply black.

Marco 2014 No. 8

Marco 2014 No. 8–dog walkers’ park

I reworked this painting a lot.  The bridge alone got about four repaintings.  A figure went in, came out; the original dog came out, a new one came in.  I was looking for something expressive, trying to channel Van Gogh.  Here was the previous version.


Marco 2014 No. 9

Marco 2014 No. 9

Mary lives on a golf course, of course.  If you don’t live on either water or a golf course on Marco, you  are doing something wrong.  We reconnoitered the course but found nothing to inspire us to paint, but on our way back to her house, we both fell in love with this huge palm, catching light here and there, so that’s where I set up.  It was close to the back door to her lanai (screened in terrace containing swimming pool–standard equipment in Florida).  In the lanai, watching me closely, was her black cat, Tara.  So I popped her in the painting.  Jungle cat with green eyes.

Marco 2014 No. 10

Marco 2014 No. 10

Yet another park–the same where we had painted our picnic in the rain last year.  Both Mary and I decided to paint the reflections in the lake.  She draws in pencil, then paints in watercolor.  (I had intended to take pictures of her paintings too, and share with you.  But forgot until this minute.  The fog of age.)  Anyway, she takes a lot longer to complete a painting, what with all that drawing first.  I was finished with mine, grousing about the difficulties (I have a list of them with respect to reflections), and was just diddling around with it when a huge flock of ducks swooped down and started swimming furiously around in circles.  Whassup?  I thought.  A few of them climbed the bank over on the right, out of my frame, investigated, and returned to swimming in circles.  Then arrived a man and woman laden with buckets.  They dumped the contents of the buckets under the tree lately investigated by the scouter ducks, and a parade ensued.  This was what the ducks were waiting for!  Since I wasn’t doing anything important anyway, I stopped fussing over the ever-changing tree, grass and house reflections and changed up my pond to accommodate a representative grouping of circling ducks.  Are the ducks too black?  That’s how they appeared to me in that low light, silhouetted against the bright water.

Marco 2014 No. 11

Marco 2014 No. 11

Flo joined us, down from Cape Coral, and the three of us caught up with that same group of outdoor painters who go out each Wednesday to paint together at specific locations.  This week’s location, the Esplanade, includes fountains, retail establishments, boats (moored to the right in this view), and lots of people.  Rich people.  We spread out.  I chose to paint the bar because I thought it was time that I tried something really difficult.  I had my eye on the bank of liquor bottles in the background.  I spent all day on this one painting, and much of that time was spent repainting the elements, trying to get them to work together.  Perhaps I overdid it.  Does it look stilted?

Marco 2014 No. 12

Marco 2014 No. 12 – Vanda orchid

Although our weather was warm and sunny all the time I was there, one day was extremely windy.  The three of us decided the better part of valor was staying in the shelter of the lanai and painting Mary’s Vanda orchid.  I tried to mix up the color of the orchid from my various reds and blues, but it just wasn’t working–not even close–, so I borrowed some Magenta from Flo and voila!  That made me curious about magenta–why wouldn’t it mix from blue and red?  Turns out it is special; because blue and red don’t mix past purple on the spectrum of color–they don’t meet on the color spectrum.  A synthetic red called quinacridone makes possible the purply red known as magenta or fuchsia.  I am adding Magenta back to my palette and bowing respectfully to all quinacridones.

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Flo’s version of the orchid was more of a closeup, and just like a kid, when I saw her treatment, I decided I wanted that too, so here is my cropped version.  Is it better than the one with roots in the foreground and swimming pool and palm tree in the background?  By the way, I need to thank Deirdre Riley, who paints flowers awesomely; she advises what I call the big blob attack method of painting flowers, whereby you paint in the general shape of the entire arrangement, then pick out lights and darks to form the shapes of individual flowers.  That approach stood me in good stead with this extraordinary plant with a single stem smothered with individual flowers.

Last, but certainly not least, here is the cut-down version that I prefer:

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6×12)

Before cropping, this is the painting:

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9×12)

I haven’t actually cut it up yet, so if you think I am wrong to do so, please tell me now.  Not later!

The location is the Rose Marina, where I have painted before, but this time we explored our way around the water to a residential neighborhood that has this view of the action.  Notice there is a major bow sticking its nose in at the right.  While I was painting, this ship, the Marco Island Princess, got underway with its passengers for a sunset cruise in the Gulf . . . analogous to a Mount Washington dinner cruise on Lake Winnepesaukee, but much smaller.  The foreground is a grassy knoll that drops down to the water out of your view (and mine), which complicates your understanding of what is happening.  That’s why I prefer the cropped version.  Yes, there are a couple of pelicans in the painting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints 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 using this feedback form.

Pussycats and Ignudi

Fur. Final

Fur. Final  20×16

I finally “finished” (I had to stop fussing with it because deadline to submit was Friday) Fur.  Note the size of the painting–it is much bigger than life.  I’m pleased with its furriness, and proud of the gold heart locket which I dreamed up without any help from a reference photo.  Now, cross your fingers in the hope that the juror for this exhibit, Eric Aho, isn’t a dogs-only lover, and isn’t allergic to cats (but I am, so that’s not determinative).

I don’t often create something specific in response to a call for art, but in the case of Purr,  oops, I meant Furr,  I like to think the Call for Art got me thinking, which led to the inspiration to paint this particular picture.  The title and theme is “LOVE”, and the juror is an abstract landscape artist whom I greatly admire, which made me stop and consider the possibilities.  The idea of Love led, of course, immediately to the idea of Cats, and thence to the idea of the fur that makes cats so lovable.  To tie more unmistakably into the exhibit theme(as if that mattered!), I included the heart locket.  The claw showing at bottom left is my acknowledgement of the unpredictable and imperious nature of Cat, whose soft furriness conceals a weapon to punish whoever fails to give proper respect.  All that thought, but the result is likely to be yet another canvas stashed away in a portfolio.   That doesn’t matter.  What matters is, I painted.  I submitted.  I tried.

Our model for Tuesday Life Group showed up armed with thumbnail reproductions of Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, from which selection we were to choose a pose.  The pose we chose was one of the  twelve naked, male figures lounging in the corners of each of the three major sections.  Before going any further, I’d better show you the drawing that resulted:

After Michelangelo Ignudi

After Michelangelo Ignudi

We were puzzled by the wreath—an item I associated more with Roman emperors than with Christian iconography.  On a whim,  I included it in my drawing, and was pleased with the effect–it added interest and weight to the top of the page, but I didn’t believe that had been Michelangelo’s purpose in so adorning these particular figures.  So I was off to Wikipedia to find the explanation.  Turns out the wreaths are acorn wreaths, and the figures wearing the wreaths are called “Ignudi”.  And that’s it.  No more knowledge to be had.  There is a suggestion that they could be angels; angels don’t necessarily come equipped with wings.  As for what the Ignudi were doing in the corners, I bet they are purely decorative.  Those corners would have looked “naked” without the Ignudi.  According to Wikipedia, the painting of the Ignudi demonstrates, more than any other figures on the ceiling, Michelangelo’s mastery of anatomy and foreshortening and his enormous powers of invention.  So there you are–he was showing off.  Not so different from the reason I included the wreath in my drawing.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Just One Thing

I went a whole week without painting!  That made me feel disconnected somehow, as if I had landed on some strange, new level of existence.  But I got other stuff done, stuff that needed to get done.  And there was Thanksgiving.  No problem there–went to my son’s house to get stuffed and was not allowed to bring even one dish.  I had to “sit” the gallery for East Colony the day before Thanksgiving, during which I read parts of some art books.  I never get around to finishing books anymore. And I copied some Van Gogh drawings out of one of the books.  On Friday I went to a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert–Brahms and Beethoven, an unbeatably enjoyable combo, enjoyed that day by probably the oldest audience I have ever seen there for the Friday matinee–younger folks were apparently out Black-Friday shopping.  Saturday, East Colony held its annual holiday gift sale, for which I contributed 6×6 panels, and someone finally bought “Toughie”.  (When I created Toughie for the Womens Caucus for Art show a few years ago, I thought Toughie would be gobbled up by the first person to lay eyes on it.) Forgot who Toughie is?  Here’s a reminder:



But all week I was thinking about finishing the painting of Margaret that I started last week (link here), and yesterday morning I got to do that.  Yesterday morning, the painting already looked so very close to being done  that my fellow artists asked me what I was going to do with the rest of 3 hours.  “Bask”, I replied.  But as it turned out, I had no extra time for basking.  I worked slowly and carefully and painstakingly to reach this conclusion:

Margaret and her Nook

Margaret and her Nook

The background needs cleaning up, especially around the head, where my habit of correcting the drawing by painting the negative space is revealed.  After working on this painting, I understand too well why my  slap-dash works had to be called “studies”.  Should I strive to become a more polished painter, or may I return to striving to become looser?  Can I do both?  Talk about being of two minds!  I am torn in two.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Art in Action

Today, I am still wiped out by the effort of participating in a two-day event called “Art in Action.”  The Londonderry Arts Council puts it on twice a year.  They were also responsible for the Art in t he Common show last fall which bravely welcomed my nude paintings.  They also set up the arrangement with the Leach Library whereby nine of my paintings are displayed there.  The Londonderry Arts Council is quite an admirable organization of many artists.  Since we have nothing comparable in Manchester, I am grateful that they allow all regional artists to benefit.

Participation entails setting up an area to display your artwork — a mobile gallery of sorts– and space where you demonstrate your art-making–a mobile studio.  I kept it simple by displaying only 10 framed paintings, a few giclee prints and two cards.  Cards (note cards) seem to be the one thing everyone else had lots of.  I sold one of my two, which made for a pretty good percentage of cards sold!  For my Day One demonstrating, I continued on my single-minded quest to capture a likeness of Margaret, and once again failed.  Everyone else thought it was a wonderful painting, but they don’t realize how woeful the likeness is.


This is actually Margaret.  After painting her from life last Tuesday, I tried two more times, using the photo in black and white, to draw her features in black and white.


And here is the painting from the photo:


Margaret herself has advised me that if I put in the moles, that would make her recognizable, but whether I am drawing her with paint or charcoal, I truthfully do not see the moles at all.

My frustration leads me to understand why many artists resort to the projecting an image onto the canvas, instead of drawing it freehand.  Hmmm.  Should I try that?  To do so would certainly not help me improve my drawing skills, but I suppose if I had a photograph in front of me and a commission to paint from it, the projector would be a valuable shortcut, almost irresistible.    I’ll wait for the day when I have a commissioned portrait to paint and the subject cannot for some reason sit for it, and then decide whether to succumb to the projector.

For Day Two, my daughter graciously agreed to sit for her live portrait, which  included an accessory–her miniature Pomeranian sitting on her lap.  I’m happy with the Pomeranian, less so with my daughter–their portraits, that is.


The weekend ended on a high note:  I had to part ownership with my Girl in the Red Headdress, as a  young woman fell in love with it on Day One, and even though she felt she could not afford to buy it, came back on Day Two after having dreamt about it.  It reminded me so much of my first big art purchase.  I fell in love on Day One and came back on Day Two to take the plunge.  The artist, Roger Graham, became a client and a friend, and by the time he died, I owned probably ten (whose counting?) of his paintings, some hanging at my law office and some at my home/studio.  I never regretted a single purchase.  If you buy what you love (not what you think will be a good investment), you will never regret it.  I was happy for her and for The Girl, who has found, in animal rescue parlance, her new forever home.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.  Beginning May 1 through May 30, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings will be displayed at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.

Marco Island Paintings Part Two

Each painting has a story, but 14 stories is a bit much to ask my followers to, um, follow, so I am just adding a few comments underneath, same as I did for Mary’s paintings in my prior post.  Super-short stories, in effect.  Unlike the spread of Mary’s paintings, I organized mine in chronological order to the best of my memory.


We were huddled behind some shrubbery seeking shelter from stiff winds on a relatively chilly day (for the tropics), so the subject was not selected by inspiration but forced by necessity.   Usually my first painting turns out to be the best, or at least one of the best, in a series of outdoor paintings.  As I was working on this one, I thought it was going to be an exception to that “rule”, but now I am liking it better. . .probably because I am far enough away from the scene to be able to forget reality.

Island Woman

Island Woman.  It becomes a scene of intense frolicness (frolicity?) on the weekends, but we wouldn’t have been able to park anywhere close then, much less find a place to set up easels.

Lanai Sunset

Lanai Sunset.  Strictly speaking, not plein air, but inspired by sight, memory and assisted by iPad photo.  Perhaps still a work in progress.

Waterfront Home

Waterfront Home.  The boats are up in the air on hoists, and I worried about how it would read.  But not important now, I think.  The water looks liquid, don’t you agree?

Frangepani Tree

Frangepani Tree.  Economy of effort:–beautiful bark, few leaves, and blossoms rationed to bloom at the ends of branches for short time.  This one had buds but no blooms yet.

Farmers Market Musician

Farmers Market Musician.  We were chased out of the grounds proper and forced to set up behind the “band”.  Lucky for us!

Octagonal house

Octagonal house.  Occasionally, we can’t resist recording the unusual.

MarGood Park View from the Gazebo

MarGood Park View from the Gazebo.  Our 2d visit to this spot.  Behind me was the skiff that I painted two days before.  It was while I was working on this scene that I got skiff-owner’s request to purchase my painting of his boat and his dog.  I posted that news here.  Pelican landed just in time to get included in the painting.


Dinner!  These are six of the 2 dozen blue crabs that I received in partial payment for the skiff-dog painting.  Don’t they look delicious?  (I think they were blue before being steamed.)

Fishing under the Jolley Bridge

Fishing under the Jolley Bridge.  Had highest hopes for this one, but now worry it has missed the mark.  There is a slight curve in the bridge, so don’t get on my case about perspective!

Waterfront Dining

Waterside Dining.  That’s how they characterize it.  I left out the blue dolphin that Mary chose to feature.  Dolphins all over the city, like moose sculptures in NH.  Cows in Chicago.  Gnus in New London.  (look it up)

Two Visitors to Residents Beach

Two Tiny Visitors to Residents Beach.  What?  You don’t see them?  I thought they were warblers, but the bird book suggests they are more likely wrens.  Also met my first Red Knots and Brewer’s Blackbirds in the course of making this painting.  (Beach is to the right, past the vegetation barrier.)

Plein Air Still Life

Plein Air Still Life?  I’m  always saying:  I don’t “do” still lifes.  This not really “still” because the light keeps moving!

Last Day: San Marco Church

Morning of my Travel Day: San Marco R.C. Church.  Foreground, what foreground?  What can you do with a parking lot? Had to pack up and catch plane in afternoon, so I forgot to get photo of Mary’s version, which was excellent.

I hope that adds up to fourteen.  I wish I had a better photo of number 15, which I had to leave in Florida with its happy new owner.  I took a photo of Stephen holding his painting, but it turned out horrible.  Here instead is a photo of my collector, which I lifted from the Naples Daily News, online edition.

Crabby Stephen

He may look like he only knows about collecting (and cooking) crabs, but he is also experienced in matting and framing, so the painting is in the best of hands.  I asked him to send photo of painting when and as framed.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Through March 29, you can also view (and purchase–of course!) my 6×6’s at the Artstream Gallery in Rochester, NH.

If you happen to be near Tampa, Florida on March 7, 8, and 9, you could (and should) catch Nude Nite, happening with music and other entertainment at 3606 E. 4th Ave., in Tampa.  Hours are 6 pm to midnight.  (Nude NITE, after all)

Frozen Moments

My boots were duck hunter’s boots, so wide and thick that I have a hard time climbing stairs in them.  I wore four layers on my legs, four on my torso, three on my arms and hands, two on my head, plus a scarf to wrap around my face.  My equipment held up well, creaking a little bit but not refusing to lock and unlock.  My brushes were frozen but not brittle enough to break.  My Gamsol did not turn into jelly in subzero temperatures like my Turpenoid did two years ago.  Nevertheless, painting plein air this past weekend in the North Country was a fool’s enterprise.

My biggest surprise was my paint.  I made the mistake of leaving it outside overnight.  Freezing oil paint is a good way to prevent the large gobs of untubed paint from drying out; it does not damage the paint.  But my paint never had a chance to unfreeze before I set out to paint that first crisp morning.  (“Crisp” is such an understatement that it is funny–temps were around minus 14 with strong winds adding emphasis.)  Once I got my brushes working, I could only poke at the paint and smear it around a little.  (Sharon reported that she couldn’t even make a dent in her yellow with a palette knife.)   Meanwhile, my face was so covered up that I couldn’t really see what I was doing, and gusts of wind (which fortunately you do hear coming) would periodically force me to hang onto the equipment and endure sprays of snow until the wind died down.  I lasted about 20 minutes not counting set up and break down time.  Sharon soldiered on for about another ten minutes.  [Sharon Allen is the leader of the NH Plein Air painters group, and for the weekend, my chauffeur and guide.]  Below are photos of the spot we were painting and our two attempts.

Mt. Washington from Rte 302

Mt. Washington from Rte 302

Heroic Effort (Sharon's)

Heroic Effort (Sharon’s)

Heroic Effort (Aline's)

Heroic Effort (Aline’s)

Just for comparison, here is a painting I did in the fall, after a snowfall on the mountains, from the same spot.

Mt. Wash. from 302

Somewhat wiser after lunch, we sought out a sheltered spot for our next attempt.  Nothing like an indoor viewing point for sheltering from wind, so  we drove up to the Glen House, across from the Mt. Washington Auto Road, and obtained permission to set up in a corner of the restaurant.  Sharon painted the view to the north while mine was southwest.

Plein air? Not.

Plein air? Not.

Glen House Painters

Glen House Painters

In my view is Mt. Washington, but a shoulder obscures the top, so no buildings are visible.  It’s the hump toward the left side of my panel.   Route 16 runs through the painting but I decided to leave it vague.

Indoor painting of Mt. Washington

Indoor painting of Mt. Washington

The next day, Saturday, was a little better.  I think the temperature rose to 5 degrees, and the wind had died down.  Nevertheless, we got lots of passersby commenting variously on our bravery, determination, and insanity.  I was by that time in total agreement.  Knocked down a peg or two was I!  Below are photos memorializing these efforts.

Artist or Terrorist?

Artist or Terrorist?  (Sharon)

Frozen Stream

Frozen Stream

This green tinted frozen water was what had fascinated both Sharon and me. We had not realized how hard it is to depict frozen water.  I had never learned of any way to signal to the onlooker that, hey, this is frozen water here–not flowing water, not an empty field.

WIP Sharon

WIP Sharon

Jackson Community Church, looking west

Jackson Community Church, looking west

Jackson Community Church looking east

Jackson Community Church looking east

Above was a view we had planned to paint Saturday afternoon, but the wind!  I guess we were lucky to get in a halfway decent morning.  The church in this photo is the same one I was trying to paint from my location in the parking lot of the Jackson Historical Society, up river and to the right in the photo.  You can see the sign on the building in the background behind Sharon’s easel, which is why I didn’t crop her Work In Progress down to just the painting itself.  The Jackson Historical Society has a collection of White Mountain Art, including a few by Benjamin Champney.  Metcalf, Gerry and Shapleigh were my favorites in that collection.  The parking lot was a great place to paint if you don’t mind being interrupted by passersby, and since these passersby were on their way inside to see White Mountain art, they got our full attention.

But we never found a suitable spot to paint that afternoon or Sunday either.  Every time we spotted a paintable spot, we would  check the flagpoles.  The flags kept up the whipping all the way home.  We took pictures and persuaded ourselves that in doing so, we were doing artists’ work.  We wandered through Conway, Albany, Moultonborough, Meredith (lunched there), Weirs Beach, Alton Bay, Chichester, Northwood, and Nottingham (there we stopped by Jenness Farm to buy goat milk soap and socialize with the goats).

Goats at Jenness Farm

The Friendly Goats of Jenness Farm

So I conclude that to get more use out of my duck hunter’s boots, I must be alert to a good painting day around home and just seize it.  Carpe diem!  We have a few warmer days coming up this week.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

In February, you can also view some of my paintings and drawings at the McGowan Gallery in Concord, NH, and at the Artstream Gallery in Rochester, NH.  Receptions for those shows are, respectively, Feb 1, 5-7; and Feb 2, 5-8.

If you happen to be near Orlando, Florida on February 14, 15 or 16, you should go to Nude Nite, a happening at this location: 639 W. Church St. (Blue Freestanding Warehouse just East of I-4).  One of my paintings was invited to participate.  This one:

Standing Tall

Standing Tall

The Wall of Nudes

I received a request, in response to last week’s blog, for a picture of my Wall of Nudes before I dismantled it all.  I agreed to comply, but before I could photograph it for posterity, I felt obliged to try for some semblance of order.  Not perfect order, as you will see, but a little bit more coherent than the crazy-quilt effect suffered by my bridge players.  I filled all the gaps at least, which produces a display of nudity even more overwhelming than the original.  You are fortunate not to have to experience this in the flesh.  (forgive me, pun intended)

I kept out of photo range all of my paintings by Others.  The effect is chaotic enough without introducing totally dissimilar artworks.  Plus, I would have felt obliged to identify all of them, which would make for a cumbersome blog entry.  However, having decided to devote this blog to the Wall of Nudes, I thought I might as well include other nooks and crannies of that room and an adjoining one, the Yellow Room.  We tend to name rooms by their predominant color, rather than by their purpose.  Purposes of rooms in my house tend to change over time.  The Wall of Nudes is in a room formerly known as the Pink Room, for its carpet.  The carpet is gone, but I still refer to it as the Pink Room.  Others call it the Striped Room (for the stripes painted on the wall).  As far as purpose, the Pink Room currently serves as Gallery, Entertainment Room (TV, etc), Pet Dwelling (one dog and a bunny).   I suppose it is, in modern parlance, a Family Room.  This family, however,  consists of me, the dog and the bunny.  (My granddaughter, who loves upstairs, has her own fancier TV and does not join us in the Pink Room for any purpose other than a meet up with the dog.  (Her dog.)

The Yellow Room is where I do stuff like stretch canvas, mount canvas onto panels, gesso panels, and frame paintings.  Framing oil paintings is a pretty simple affair, and if you stick to certain standard sizes, you can pop a painting in and out of a frame quick as a . . . well, bunny.  When I began this journey, I would search for and order a specific frame for a specific painting.  Somewhere along the line, the possibility of switching frames dawned upon me.  I began to stock up on standard sizes at sales, and fit them to paintings as needed for exhibits.   At one particularly prolific point of time, I managed to frame and display 81 paintings at one time, finding something appropriate for each one of them in my supply.  Nowadays, my paintings are predominantly 11×14, while I have more 10×12 frames than I can use.  Turns out 10×12 is not a standard size, but I didn’t know that when I ordered a supply of 10×12 panels from RayMar back in 2006.  So for a while there, I was glomming onto 10×12 frames wherever I could find them.  Then, of course, wiser, I stopped painting on 10×12 panels.  Ergo, excess 10×12 frames.  Which led to a wall of 10×12 frames right where I can lay my hands on them, if I ever need them.  Why didn’t someone explain the Facts of Frames to me in the beginning?

I explain all of this ahead of time  in part to whet your appetite, but mostly because I have little confidence that you would read it after the slide show.

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Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University; at the Derry Public Library; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

14 Days, 13 Paintings

Actually, there was briefly an additional painting, the first one, which would have made the total 14, but I wasn’t loving it, so I painted over it. Usually my first painting in a series turns out to be the best, but I’m glad when a pattern stops repeating.  I would like to think that at any point in the timeline I might be creating a masterpiece.  On the past two Mondays, as blog substitutes I posted snapshots of 9 paintings, taken on my cell phone.  I did not have the patience to work out how to add text to the pictures, although obviously I managed to do just that for a few pictures the first week.   (I should have taken notes.)

Now that I am home, I can upload photographs taken with my Nikon SLR.  (Until I got back to my computer, I had no way to move photos from my Nikon to WordPress.)  Because there are so many, I decided to put the entire array in a slideshow.  If you are very observant, you will notice that some of the nine paintings received improvements after the posting of the cell phone photos.

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One painting, you might have noticed, was not a plein air landscape of Marco Island; it was a portrait from a photograph for another Fine Art America contest.  But I did it on Marco Island, so it gets included in the slideshow.

To save me time, which I am desperate to stretch right now, I am also posting the individual images in order to give  you access to my comments for each one.  Just click on the image that interests  you, and a pithy remark may or may not appear.  The paintings below are presented roughly in the order in which I painted them.

Cleo, Watching the Sunset

Mary's Mahogany Tree

Papaya Tree and other tropical delights


Corkscrew Swamp -- the Anhinga airing his/her wings

Lanai in Shadow at Sunset

Strong winds

Marco Island Farmer's Market

Corner Cafe (Mango's, in the Esplanade)

Bridge over Canal

Picture windows, reflecting neigborhood across the canal behind me

Missy, the 3-month old "teacup pot belly pig" who accompanies one of the vendors at the Farmer's Market.

My hostess, Mary Crawford Reining, is an accomplished artist in just about any medium you can name.  Unlike me, after we parted ways after our high school graduation, she never stopped making art, even though she mothered four children and is still married to their father.  (Domesticity may present the biggest obstacle to creative endeavor.)  Mostly, however, she seems to prefer watercolor and pastels.  I don’t know of a term to affix to her style, but I do believe she is what you would call a “colorist”.  You will see what I mean when you proceed to the next blog entry.  (I could not separate my photos into two different slide shows within the same blog entry.)  So continue on, please, for an entirely different art experience!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

Concentrating on Portraits: Faces with no Features?

Of all the works I labored over this week, the above detail from a charcoal drawing comes the closest to being an actual “portrait”.  It looks like the model.  In fact, the entire drawing could be called a portrait in that it not only looks like the model, but it conveys the model’s attitude, which I have called “Proud”:


If you are a regular reader of this blog,  you already know that I am taking a course in contemporary portraiting at the NH Institute of Art, with Cameron Bennett.  One of the points that he made in our first class was that anything representing the subject can qualify as a “portrait”–if that is what the artist intends.  (One out-there example brought up by one of my smartypants classmates was Andy Warhol’s tomato soup cans.  She/he said he practically lived on tomato soup; therefore the soup-can paintings could be considered self-portraits.)

So suddenly I feel free to call my anonymous figure paintings “portraits” too.  I’m thinking of the studies I painted from the photos I took at the  Mount Washington Bike Race, discussed and reproduced in several of my posts from last fall.  As you will see below, I’m still working from those photographs, and I’m still trying to work more loosely.  To that end, I have stuck printouts of Carolyn Anderson paintings all over my easel to help me remember how little I need in order to convey eyes, nose, etc.  (Forget the mouth altogether.)  All this fits splendidly into another theme or goal, which was urged upon me by various art teachers to whom I have paid good money to criticize and guide me.  And that goal is to eliminate the detail.  I was never quite sure which details I should eliminate, so now I am on track to eliminate all of them, so that should produce something like progress, eh?

Last week I was struggling with a portrait of Sammi and Noodles, which got way too detailed.  (To see it, go back to last week’s post.)  Thursday night, I went to class bearing that sorry effort, along with my photograph of Sammi, and my drawing from the week before.  (All in last week’s blog.)  But I (wisely, I think) decided to make a fresh start on a new painting of the same subject.   Again I was seduced by the dog Noodles.  (Maybe I should just give up and do nothing but pet portraits.)   The depiction of Sammi was horrible.  I can’t show you how horrible because I smeared it out even while Cameron and I were shaking our heads over it.  He got into the spirit and started moving paint around with his fingers too, in random and varied directions, to show me how Carolyn Anderson would probably have attacked the painting.  (I use the word “attacked” to convey both possible meanings.)  Then at home yesterday I practiced on both versions of Sammi and Noodles, and here they are as they exist today, side by side:

No. 1, version 2

Sammi 2



I’m not satisfied with either one, but don’t you agree that version 2 shows me moving in the desired direction?  I decided it was time to move on and apply whatever I learned to another project.  Here is the result:


I’m feeling good about this one.  The paint is very thick and still very wet, which is why I could not get a decent photograph of it . .  .  also why the colors may be a little too muddy, but I’m not going to worry about that right now.  The important thing is, I conveyed the gestures and attitudes of these three people without painting distinct features on them.  My previous Mt. Washington studies (yes, this too is from that race) had started to become that kind of thing, what with the loosely painted crowds.   Notice the crowd depictions above!    Maybe too abstract?  Hey, I’m feeling my way here.

But back to the portrait, the real thing, that I started you with today, the charcoal of “Proud”.   My favorite thing from this week.  I believe–I could be wrong, but I do believe–that there is no offending detail in that portrait.  I am going to take it in to class this Thursday and see what Cameron has to say.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

Why is this man digging a hole, in the nude?

J's back, three-quarter.

"This should have been easy"

Portrait of a young man resting on the handle of the shovel, contemplating the hole he has dug for himself.  Why is he digging a hole for himself?  Unimportant.  Why is he nude?  Hmmm.  He’s in a nudist colony?

I struggle with the titles of my nudes.  The models must adopt a pose that they can keep for 20 minute stretches (sometimes longer), so the figure is contemplative, dreaming, sleeping, reposing. . . well, you get the idea.   One could simply title this one “Nude Male”, but that would not distinguish it from all the other nude males in the portfolio.  One could number one’s nude males.  Or one could come up with some witty thought superimposed on the model, which is what I attempted to do today.  I was inspired by the captions attached to the animals photos that circulate the internet, which captions awe me with their inventiveness.  I think, however, that it works better for cats and dogs than it does for  a naked human being.  The caption needs to acknowledge the nudity somehow, to make it work better for the nudes.  Something like, “Only five more minutes and I can put on my pants.”

On this point Degas’s bathers had the advantage–their natural nudity, nakedness, did not have to be explained away.  (By the way, that exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be closing February 2.)

Today’s nude was the pick of last Saturday’s life drawing session.  Sunday I finished the reverse-painting-on-glass and delivered it to the owner, who was pleased.  I also finished the Covered Bridge.  In response to an excellent observation from one of my followers, I removed some offending slashes of white, which I guess I had intended to symbolize water laps.  When you paint loose, the results can be brilliant,  or when not so brilliant, just careless.  An artist needs another, more objective eye to catch those things, and it  doesn’t have to be another artist’s eye either.  I always listen to a criticism and act on it, unless I am very sure of my own contrary view.  (Many times, the stated objection does not actually identify the real problem–it could be something nearby that throws the viewer off.)  In addition to making that and other various improvements to the body of the Covered Bridge painting, I painted the sides of the canvas in colors approximating the action going on the main canvas.  The painting can now be hung without a frame, as a “gallery wrapped” painting.  That is important to me, as the artist, because otherwise I would have to invest in a frame in order to exhibit the painting.

The rest of Sunday was devoted to another project:  homework for my fifth (at least) course at the Institute with Cameron Bennett on portraits.  But this time, something different–for him and us.  We are trying to BE different, paint somehow “out of the box”, using as possible inspiration other contemporary portraitists who are painting in styles newly invented or at least newly applied.  The only artist on the list supplied by Cameron whose name I even recognized was Chuck Close.  I am not drawn to emulate his monumental portraits.  The artist I am drawn to is Carolyn Anderson.  Her portraits are so loose as to be almost not even there.

Detail from portrait by Carolyn Anderson

In class I tried to emulate Anderson in pencil, drawing a portrait from a photograph:

Drawing from photo of Sammi and Noodles

After drawing my careful image, I erased a lot of it so as to leave ghosts of the image.  This exercise was the starting point of my painting effort yesterday, but yesterday I tried to be looser right from the get go.  Nevertheless, when I reach the point where I thought everything was correctly placed, there was a lot of smudging and subtracting.  Not enough!  This is still a work in progress–don’t judge it too harshly, and remember what I am going for:

Sammi + Noodles portrait

This isn’t going to be easy!  Especially for me, who has been accused of getting too hung up on the details.  I love the details.  It’s a mystery then, why I am so beguiled by Carolyn Anderson’s way of painting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

From My Sketchbook: TV Heads. PART TWO

So that (Part One) was last year.  This year (meaning 2011 even though we are technically no longer in 2011), images were not  as dutifully labeled.  Where I can put a name to an image, either through recollection or recognition, I have done so.

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You may have noticed that I stopped using a charcoal pencil midway through 2011, as an element in my effort to back off, go  soft, go slow, and lighten up.  Those seductive, dramatic darks in my earlier drawings probably gives them an unfair advantage in any comparison to graphite drawings.

I have a sketch of Harry Pearce from MI-5 in both collections.  I think the likeness is better in the earlier one, but the craftsmanship may be better in the later one–?

MI-5's Harry Pearce


On the other hand, I really admire the curve of his lips in the 2010 version.

I’m pretty happy with this group of four (wish I could have got Brandeis on the same sheet of paper):

Prohibition players (from Ken Burns' "Prohibition" part 2)

But are they really any better than, say, my Art Garfunkel?

Art Garfunkel

I wish I knew enough to be able to say for sure, one way or another.  Truth is, I haven’t a clue.  If doing it today I would have darkened the pupils of his eyes, but is that a significant difference?  Well, even if it is not all that significant, I guess I will take it.  If every year I find a better way to represent one face part, eventually I will get it all together.  Just have to live long enough!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.  And if you happen to eat at the Bedford Village Inn, check out the painting in the foyer.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

Major Opus Nears Completion

Last summer we went looking for Turkey Jim Covered Bridge in Campton, NH, in order to paint it, but could not find a good vantage point where we could set up our easels.  But a little exploration upriver yielded a good view of the bridge and its reflection in the water.  It was too far away to make for a happy plein air experience, but I snapped a photo and, more importantly, the image seared itself into my imagination.  I vowed to make a studio portrait of that bridge someday.  (My original draft of that immediately preceding sentence was more factual:–  I used the verb “planned” instead of “vowed”.  But “vowed” sounds so much more dramatic!)

So when I pulled out a large  canvas to start something on, the Turkey Jim covered bridge sprang to mind, and I printed out the photograph to help me get in the mood.  My experience with painting on larger canvases is, well, limited.  This one is, I believe, 30 by 40 inches.  My studio is only about 5 feet by 8 feet, so it’s a good thing that I don’t have to lay anything  flat to paint on it (as a watercolorist would like to do).

That was several months ago.  I worked on it off and on, as I found time.  Here is where I was before this weekend.

A Work in Progress

The Christmas holidays provided me with extra time off and this year I had no Christmas duties to fill that time with–the best gift I could wish for.  I spent two days on Turkey Jim, adding foliage and a certain special critter, one that I have seen in this part of New Hampshire, but not as often as I would like.

The heron (detail from Turkey Jim)

This great blue heron posed for my camera in balmy Florida, and  has now been transported to the chilly North.  Isn’t it extraordinary that this bird can thrive in both locations?  Probably it travels South in the Winter.  Hmmm.  Maybe this heron has actually summered in New Hampshire, and possibly descended from the one I met years ago at the base of Mount Pemigewasset.

After admiring my lovely heron for an afternoon (whilst dabbling with the foliage) I suddenly realized that the heron was not reflected in the water.  Thank you, gods of art, for letting me be the first to notice that!  My photo was enormously helpful–the heron was facing to the right instead of the left, so when taped the photo upside down next to the spot where I wanted the reflection, it kept me on track.  Reversing curves in a reflection is a little bit like trying to pat your head while drawing circles on your stomach.

A painting as large as this one (40″ by 30″)  is hard to photograph.  No matter how hard I try to line up the camera lens perfectly I still get a slightly skewed image.  Cropping hides the problem as long as there are not too many vertical or horizontal lines that need to be perfectly on the vertical or horizontal.  In the case of Turkey Jim, only the bridge needs to be perfectly horizontal.  The dilemma gave me an idea, however. In addition to photographing the whole painting, I captured  small sections of the painting, to test whether each could stand on its own as a decent work of art.  Here is a slideshow of each section as well as before and after versions of the entire painting:

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By now, I hope, you are dying to examine the entire painting more closely!

The Whole Picture

Turkey Jim is close to being finished.  I will ponder it for a while, looking for trouble spots.  If you sight anything, please let me know.  Sharon–any elves or pixies pop out at you?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.  And if you happen to eat at the Bedford Village Inn, check out the painting in the foyer.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

A Best Week

Some weeks are so full of reportable stuff that I have trouble choosing my topic.  Other weeks, I have trouble scaring up a single decent topic.  I could save up half of the good-week stuff for a dull week, but who wants to plan for dull weeks?  Not me.  On the other hand, I don’t want to bore you either, and really now, wouldn’t  you rather hear about struggles?  This week I can report on a bit of a struggle and its accompanying triumph so that’s what I lead with.

Part I.  Alpaca Love.  You remember the alpaca farm/ranch from last month?

Alpaca Farm v.1

Alpaca Farm in North Conway

This was the plein air painting from the Bartlett weekend, to which, I announced, I would be adding an alpaca closeup.  I had one good alpaca closeup, so I went with that, even though I’d have preferred the animal to be facing more towards the viewer.  My closeup did not include the legs either, so I was winging it with regard to the posture and thickness and general shape of the legs.

Alpaca Farm v.2

Alpaca Farm v.2

Pretty awful, right?.  I wouldn’t even show it to you before–I couldn’t let it sit out there as if finished when I was going to have to repaint the red alpaca closeup.  First, I had to find a better reference photograph.

As it turned out, when I got around to searching my own photographs, I had plenty of good alpaca poses.   Thanks to my powerful Nikon SLR camera, alpacas photographed in the way distance still gave me enough enlarged detail to paint a loveable blond alpaca in just the right pose, in just the right spot.

Alpaca Farm, v.3 (Final)

Part II:  Supercyclists. Earlier this evening, I delivered two paintings to my son in celebration of his birthday.  One of them  you have seen already.

Andy as Supercyclist

It depicts him right after finishing the race up to the top of the Rockpile (Mt. Washington).  Paint still wet on the second one delivered, is my painting of his friend Kori, from the same time, same place.


I love the foreground in Kori’s painting.  Strange that where the focus of the painting is the figure of the cyclist, what I love most is how I painted the ground.  I would have liked to paint the face more expressively, but I didn’t really have room for that.  The two paintings are each 12×9, so the faces are quite small.  I wanted to get the likenesses as close as possible, so I had to be careful.  Andy’s worked out better because I had only light and shadow anyway, but Kori’s nose, mouth, eyebrows had to fall in the exact correct places, and no smearing please.

My major painting plan, for which these two 12x9s have served as studies, is still on, but the faces in the big one are not going to get any bigger since the plan is to encompass the entire rockpile.  I think I need to reuse this scene in a longer painting so as to include more of the shadow, and larger overall, so as to allow more of a slapdash face.

Part II:  Lovely Nudes.  Finally, for a change of pace, how about a collection of lovely nudes from Saturday Life Group?  My best from two weeks ago, and all three from this week:

Arrangement of elbow and knee   

Leg on Blue Draped Pillow

Right Side with bent elbow

The back from a left angle

I am wondering if I am getting too heavy-handed with the charcoal.  The “Leg on Blue Draped Pillow” has more charm to it, I think, because I had the pose for only 20 minutes and had to keep a light touch.  I would like to know if you agree.  Or disagree.  Either way, it was a good week.  Here’s hoping for another one coming up!

Tomorrow (Monday) I pick up my painting from The Rockport (Mass.) Art Association.  Unsold.  They invited me to apply for membership, and I thought I would if my painting sold, but it didn’t, so I didn’t.  A bit far to go for the sheer joy of exhibiting.  Although I do hope to get in a plein air painting day tomorrow, which makes a trip worthwhile.  Also tomorrow, paintings are being changed out at the Sage Gallery in Manchester, 70 Lowell Street.   Please visit this new gallery.

My old website, with multiple painting galleries yet to be transferred to this WordPress location, can be accessed at this address:  www.paintingsbyaline.com.  Also there are  all the images attached to earlier blog entries.  Eventually I will move everything here, but it takes a lot of time.

Never Try to Predict the Market

Last weekend was Open Doors New Hampshire as well as something called “ArtWalk” in Nashua and “Art in Action” in Londonderry.   If you had the energy (I didn’t), you could have spent all weekend touring artists’ studios and watching demonstrations by artists and crafts people.  As part of this pretty big deal, the NH Women’s Caucus for Art held its annual, tenth anniversary, 6×6 exhibit and sale as part of Nashua’s ArtWalk.  It was great timing for the WCA (of which I serve as Treasurer) because the visibility brought in lots of new membership applications.  Sales of our 6×6’s were brisk too– on Saturday.  I suspect, although I haven’t got proof positive, that the higher Saturday sales reflect the fact that our artists were buying each other’s works.  (No one appreciates your work as much as your own people do.)  See the incriminating photograph on the blog of Kathryn Antyr  of our president possibly red-dotting the panels that she wanted to take home.

Two weeks ago I made a prediction regarding  which of my panels would be the first to sell, and I got many, many responses (by email and by blog comment) from my readers who agreed with me.   I predicted that my first sale would be this image of the lounging alley cat, titled “At Home”.

At home

Au contraire.  My first sale was the “Snaggle-Toothed Cat”, Grace, the one I painted many months ago to amuse myself while gallery-sitting.

Snaggle-Toothed Cat

The Snaggle-Toothed Cat

Apparently one of the artists from a neighboring studio fell head over heels in love with the snaggle-toothed kitty.  I know from my own experience that when love happens, it happens.   There’s no explaining it.

The next to go was the portrait of my friend’s deceased akita, Nora.


I heard, in fact, that more than one person wanted to buy the Akita, but then they both thought the Akita was a polar bear.  I guess polar bears are popular. Coca-Cola knows what it is doing.

I had to get much of the above information on Sunday, after the fact, because on Saturday I was busy learning how to get luminosity in my paintings.  It was one of the series of single-topic landscape workshops, offered by Peter Granucci through the New Hampshire Plein Air group.  We began Saturday by studying paintings by masters such as Kensett, trying to figure out how they achieved luminosity, then we tried to achieve it in our own painting. Our first exercise was a new painting from a projected photograph:

Early morning

This exercise illustrates many of the attributes of a luminous painting–high key (meaning mostly very light); complementary colors (purples and yellows are the preferred set of complements); small areas of dark contrast; one lightest spot that seems to pour luminosity all over the scene.

Our second exercise was to  work on  one of our already “finished” paintings, trying to add more luminosity to it.  I chose to work on “Spectator, Mt. Washington Bike Race”:

Bike Race spectator on Mt. Washington

I had already been pretty happy with my Spectator, but Peter saw potential for more luminosity.  I lightened the background mountains, added the light source, and changed my white highlights to pale yellow.  The result:


Is this better?  It looks darker rather than lighter.  Must be the lighting when I photographed it.,

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Rockport Art Association Gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts.

[The Manchester Artists Association Gallery is now officially closed.  But the MAA itself is as active and vibrant as ever.]

Link to website:  www.paintingsbyaline.com

Tale of Woe

. . . Snow woe?  Weather woe?  Maybe lack-of-power woe.  “Power.”  Have you ever thought about the usages of the word “power”.  We use it to describe an attribute of people who attain positions where they can control the lives of others.  Power is also an attribute of an individual who can control his/her own life.  So why does  “Power” also refer to  electrical current to run lights, furnace, phone, internet, microwave, TV, DVD, and radio, to charge cell phones and Palm Pilots?  Because without all those abilities, one is powerless.

Without power (in the technological sense) One is also cold, hungry, and sleepless.  So I write this tale of powerlessness–obviously not from home–in a state of grogginess.  For the first time in my life, I slept with a Great Dane.   I invited her into bed with me when her “mom”, my granddaughter, bailed on us to go spend the night with a friend with “power”.  Honey, the Great Dane, usually sleeps with Tabitha, my granddaughter.  Tabitha thoughtfully lent us her comforter and Honey was dressed in a woolly sweater.  I wore my thermally correct underwear and a snuggly fleece robe-type thing over that.  We were warm enough.  Well, I was warm enough.  Honey was shivering and twitching all night, while I concentrated on hanging on to my share of the bed and waiting for the sun to rise.

Actually, I wasn’t all that hungry because I got to spend a wonderful 4 to 5 hours at a party with artists earlier in the day.  Mill Brook Gallery in Concord held an opening for an exhibit that was enchanting in its originality and breadth.  http://www.themillbrookgallery.com/  I had been invited by Patrick McCay, one of the featured artists, who is my EEE teacher.  (EEE stands for Explore, Exploit, Express–in whatever medium, whatever style.)  Two of his paintings already had red dots on them when we got there.  “We” because I did not have the use of my car yesterday but got a ride with two other artists, Bea Bearden and David Wells.  Through Bea and David I also found myself welcomed to a pot luck supper after the reception.  What a pot luck supper it was!  It deserves commemoration by publication of the entire amazing menu, but I cannot do it justice on the wing with descriptions like “quiche-type thing” and “rice and beans”.  I didn’t go near the pies–no room for dessert.

So in truth I was warm enough and not hungry at all, and only sleepless now.  Yesterday, before going off and partying, I used a few daylight hours to tinker with three paintings that I had started in EEE.  The third one is my newest one, which you have not yet seen.  In order to get enough light in which to photograph it, I brought it to the office with my camera.  No tripod though, so it looks a little fuzzy.

Taking a Bow

As the cyclists arrive at the top, someone throws a gray blanket over their shoulders, which keeps them from getting too chilled after their sweaty exertion.  The top of Mt. Washington is, even in August, likely to be a chilly place.  Andy, who happens to be my son, appears to be wearing a ribbon of some sort, which I only noticed in the course of working on this painting.  Will have to find out the significance of that.

The train car in the background is part of the  Cog Railway.

In this painting, I believe I have become more of an impressionist, which is kind of  what I have set out to do in the EEE class.  My highest goal is to emulate  Sargent and Sorolla, which to me means using the brush strokes expressively.  I really enjoyed working on this painting.  It is another of the studies for the larger work I am hoping to get to, the one of the whole top of the mountain with the crowds, the cyclists, and the mountain vistas.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester Artists Association Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Rockport Art Association Gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Link to website:  www.paintingsbyaline.com

Progress on the 6×6 paintings

At home

I just laid down my brushes and photographed the 6×6 plaques that I am painting for the upcoming Women’s Caucus for Art exhibit.  I “previewed” this project back in September and that was the last blog entry I was able to upload using my old iWeb program, so I’m feeling a little nervous about approaching the 6×6 subject matter again.  But I’m not superstitious, am I?  No.  Not at all.  So here goes:

WHERE AND WHEN:  The exhibit is to take place in the Chimera Gallery in the Picker Building at 99 Factory Street, Nashua.  It opens Saturday, November 5, at noon.  Saturday hours are noon to 5 o’clock.  It closes the next day, Sunday, at 4 o’clock.  The Sunday hours are noon to 4 o’clock.  The reception will take place Sunday, between 2 and 5.

These are unusual hours.  In years past, we have left the exhibit up for about a month, thinking to accommodate Christmas shoppers.  But almost all sales occurred during the reception, and people seem to be shopping for Christmas earlier and earlier each year.  (Pavlov’s dog experiment comes to mind as an explanation of this phenomenon.)

The exhibit is unusual in another respect:  Not only 2011 plaques will be exhibited and offered for sale ($66 each), but also plaques from years past–a retrospective of sorts.   This being my third year as a member of the organization, I will be exhibiting 12 plaques.  My 2009 four consisted of Lotus Studies, which has become a stand-alone piece, as I discussed in the September blog.  You can revisit the earlier blog here.   You can also inspect the condition of the new pieces as works in progress.  Today they may still be works in progress, but progress has been made, and only a few tinkering details remain.  I hope!  But first, I will show you the three brand new images, then follow up with three from before, as improved.

Noodles, a Cockapoo-Poodle

I met Noodles last week in Bartlett.  He belongs to Sami, the innkeepers’ daughter.  Noodles is still a puppy.  A sweeter dog cannot be imagined.

Alpaca Love

Why this title?  Impulse, inspired by the expressive face, which seems to be regarding a beloved.   I painted this portrait from the same photograph that I am using to insert an alpaca close-up in my Alpaca Ranch painting.  (See last week’s blog.)  I painted this on a plaque from 2010, on top of the original painting.  You can see a ghost of the 2010 image in the shadows.   Obviously, I didn’t like the 2010 painting and am very glad of the opportunity to obliterate it.

At Home

This is our Great Dane, Honey,  getting comfy on the sofa.  The strong desire of Great Danes to seek comfort is well-known.  The white spots in the photo are light reflecting off globs of wet paint.  This image also conceals an old one that I will not miss.  (Two more of the 2010 reborn plaques are shown in the September blog.)

Red-Breasted Plover

The Plover was featured in the previous blog. I made refinements, not changes:  The canopy on which he stands sinks a little more under his weight, which I hope explains what kind of a surface it is.  The red reflection on his breast is a little more intense.  The feathers have been touched up.  A light reflection has been added to his eye.


Another one from the previous post, with no changes to the Snowy Egret’s persona, but I did insert the words taken from a Wallace Stevens poem “. . . the feathers flare And bluster in the wind. . .” because they describe what is happening.  I wouldn’t want anyone to think the bird looks like this all the time.  I’m thinking I should add to the blustering plumage on the right side of the image.

At home

This is Sundance, a former resident of my household.  Despire his appropriation of my bed in this picture, he now prefers to be on his own.  Of the works in progress, this painting received the most of my attention.  His posture was unexplained before.  Now that  you can see he is slumbering away, sunken in pillows, I think this image is very appealing.  I am betting that if any of my plaques sell, this will be the first one to go.  (Going by my own weakness for cat images.)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester Artists Association Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Rockport Art Association Gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Link to website:  www.paintingsbyaline.com

Bartlett, October 2011

Bike Race spectator on Mt. Washington

In my EEE class last week, I painted one of my studies for the Mt. Washington Bike Race painting, and since it is my favorite painting for the week, I start with it.  The official title is “On the Top of the Rockpile”.  Mt. Washington is, for those of you not from New Hampshire, referred to affectionately as the Rockpile because above treeline, it seems to be nothing more than pile of rocks–quite a few of them loose rocks, which makes the going tough for hikers.  Here at the tip top, the boulders are more civilized.  I painted this painting on a 9×12 art panel that had been first painted with an acrylic cadmium yellow.  You can see some yellow peeking through a thumb print and some smears in the upper right corner.  I had dropped the painting, face-down, on a cat-and-dog-fur loaded carpet when I got home after class.  The figure escaped undamaged, and the rocks conceal any hairy texture (is the painting now “mixed media”?), but I tried to wipe the sky clean of fur and dirt.

The biannual trip to Bartlett for the artists’ getaway fell on last weekend.  “Fell” seems appropriate because the weather was pretty darn awful.  We could not visit the Rockpile, or any other tempting peak.  In fact, another guest at the Bartlett Inn reported that the Cog Railroad on Saturday started up Mt. Washington but had to back down because of the high winds.  Most of us painters sat out Thursday altogether; painted under a roof Friday (pavillion at Swift River Lower Falls), managed to get a few windy hours in before rain started on Saturday, and finally got a rain-free, partially sunny day on the appropriately named Sunday.  I usually come home with 5 or  6 paintings from a Bartlett weekend.  This time, only three:

Lower Falls

Mt. Washington Valley with Moat Mt. and cornfield

The view above is from the lawn of the Red Jacket Inn.  The painting will be exhibited at the Red Jacket once it is finished and framed.

Alpaca Farm in North Conway

I got out my big Beauport easel and a 16×20 panel for the alpaca farm.  I intend to add a close up of an alpaca, using one of my photographs.  Here is one of my models:

Head Shot

I had to minimize the shadows with my photo editing program (iPhoto) in order to see her amazing face.  She came up fairly close to me several times, but each time I could not get my camera in focus quickly enough to get the straight on gaze that I would love to have in the painting.

Not all of the alpacas were this lovely chestnut color.  I love that red shade because the edges generate such a warm glow.

Gray Alpaca

White Alpaca

Here are two others, who were not disposed to come so close to me.  They are shown galloping toward their owner at the back of the barn, who called them in by shouting “Ladies!”  At all other times, their muzzles are buried in the delicious grass.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester Artists Association Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Rockport Art Association Gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Link to website:  www.paintingsbyaline.com

A 6×6 painting for $66

6 inches by 6 inches has recently become a popular size for two-dimensional art pieces because they are affordable and are highly collectible. But for the past ten years, every year, the New Hampshire chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art has been organizing a member exhibit consisting only of 6×6 plaques prepared specifically for that purpose, and for that year. The price for each plaque is $66. Every media imaginable is represented. The plaques can even be used to create 3-D artworks as long as they can still be hung vertically.

My Lotus Studies series of four were created for the WCA event in 2009, and when none of them were sold, I combined them into this piece:

Lotus Studies

As this unit, Lotus Studies has been exhibited three times–once at the 2010 WCA “Flowers Interpreted” exhibit (another annual event), then at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth, and finally this spring at the Manchester Artists Association Gallery, where it won the Best in Show award. Though much admired in all these locations, it is unaccountably still available for purchase.

For this year’s 6×6 exhibit, I have decided to feature critters. I led off my blog (up above) with a half-finished study of that most endearing of critters, a sleeping cat. I’m going to call it “At Home”. Ironically, my model is Sundance, a rough, tough rescued cat who ultimately chose to rough it in the neighborhood. He relies on other suckers in the neighborhood to feed him regularly and suns himself on my deck occasionally. So although he looks really “at home” in this painting, he is dreaming anarchy (on my bed, by the way).

I have two other of my critter plaques started:

I need help with the Snowy Egret. There is a lot of empty space on the left of the plaque, which I intend to fill with written words. Poetic words. I am not a reader of poetry, so I don’t have any useful couplets filed away in my brain, but maybe one of my readers does.

This one I propose to title “Red Breasted Plover”. There is of course no such thing as a red breasted plover (this one is, I think, a black breasted plover in winter plumage). The red breast here is a reflection of the red canopy. Is that obvious enough to explain the title? Or will people think “red breasted plover” is a real species?

If you have been with me for a while, you might remember the Egret and the Plover from my trip to Florida in 2010, the year I deployed the zoom lens to such good effect. If not, you can see them here. Nineteen months later I finally got around to painting these birds!

The WCA 6×6 exhibit this tenth anniversary year will include the 6×6’s from prior years, so I guess my lotuses get out and about for the fifth time. The place of the exhibit will be in Nashua, and the length of the exhibit will be only 2, perhaps 3, days in November. A short, almost “pop up” type exhibit may generate more concentrated interest, and exhibit spaces that we couldn’t consider for a month-long exhibit become feasible. I will post more information about the exhibit when the date draws near.

Since this year we are including past works (retrospective), I will probably offer two that I recently painted on 2010 plaques, covering up what I did last year. (I hated what I painted on last year’s plaques so I didn’t submit them to the exhibit. Lack of inspiration results in worthless artwork.) You may remember these recent portraits from a previous blog entry:

A Blond Akita A Snaggle-tooth Cat
For more about the cat, search “Grace”. I adopted her last year.

I was going to post some pictures of drawings from our Saturday Life Group, but I think this is enough for now. Next week I am sure to have lots to talk about, because I will be attending a workshop with Stan Moeller, the guy who opened up the door to landscape painting for me back in the Fall of 2005. The subject of this workshop is near and dear to my heart:–how to paint people into your plein air landscapes. I have been practicing that very thing in anticipation of this workshop, and now I will learn the real scoop. . . . fingers crossed, that there is a real scoop to be had!

Layering Water

This week I was almost a full-time artist. Tuesday, I attended a figure workshop in the morning and painted at the Bedford Farmers’ Market in the afternoon:

Friday I tended Gallery (Manchester Artists Association) and passed my time by painting a sunset with reflections in puddles, thinking to prepare myself for Saturday:

Saturday I attended another one of our periodic single-issue-landscape workshops with Peter Granucci; the topic of the day was handling see-through water, that is, water shallow enough to allow you to see to the bottom. More about that later.

Sunday Sharon and I met up with other NH Plein Air artists at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts. Our mission was to paint, but we also visited the art musuem on the grounds. On exhibit from their permanent collection were paintings by the Hudson River painters; on special exhibit were paintings by New England impressionists from the turn of the century. Only one name was familiar to me–Childe Hassam. My favorite of the heretofore unknown impressionists was a guy called Clifford Grear Alexander. I googled him, but other than his dates (1870-1954), no biographical information is available. Both Sharon and I were struck by the fact that many, if not most, of the paintings in these two exhibits were of New Hampshire scenes.

Farm House at the Fruitlands Museum, 11×14; when I got bored by this painting, I applied high contrast outlines to see the effect. I like it.

Meadow at the Fruitlands Museum, 11×14.

Monday, today, I put more time in on the Meadow because I had only one hour’s work into it on location. One of the docents had told me she saw a doe with two fawns at the tree line, so I added them to the scene. I wish I had a better grasp of deer anatomy, but people keep referring to our Great Dane as a deer, so I put her in the painting, hoping she passes as a deer from a distance.

The title of this blog, “Layering Water”, comes from the Saturday workshop. The point of the workshop was to learn to see all the layers created by water, and then, armed with that understanding, represent them in a painting. There is the reflection on the water, which requires that the water be relatively still. There is the surface at the bottom of the water, which requires either no reflections, or that any reflected object be in shadow–you cannot see through a reflection if the reflection is lit. If you can see the bottom rocks, mud and whatever, you need to note color changes and value changes but much more subtly than if the water was not present to obscure the view. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether you are looking at a reflection or at something that exists under the water, especially if your reference has no context. Peter started us off with photographic examples that made our heads spin. Then we worked on two assignments. Here are my results:

The assignment on the left was relatively straightforward. Below, on the left,  is a closeup of one of shadows formed by the submerged rocks.  The closeup on the right is reflected grass–note that the reflection is darker because the underside of the blade of grass is not lit by the sun.


The second photograph was hard to deciper.  We believe that the lighter shape at the top may be an overhanging rock. The middle section is supposed to represent a partially submerged rock extending toward a fully submerged ledge. Why is the water line so dark? I still don’t know what to make of the dark shape between the overhanging ledge and the submerged ledge, but in the middle of it is another rocky shape that suggests the whole dark piece is a shadow cast by — something outside our view, or the overhanging ledge? Peter wouldn’t say. He took the photo but maybe he couldn’t remember, or maybe he just enjoys torturing us.

Views from the Top of Mt. Prospect

Last week I teased you with photographs of the scenes I painted from the Weeks State Park location but not the paintings I worked on there. This week I am making up for my laziness by posting those two paintings as well as two paintings that I started on location at the Bedford Farmers Market.

First, the painting above shows the view from the Weeks house toward Vermont, a northwesterly direction. One of the locals told me that the pond just visible was the Martin Meadow Pond, but I am sure he was wrong about that. My little sliver of a water feature does not even get named on Google maps, while the Martin Meadow Pond is much larger, and is visible from another break in the trees to my left. What attracted me to this view was the little taste of a vista, enclosed by the foreground of foliage. It was a difficult position to manage because I did not feel free to take up the whole path with my easel. That’s always a consideration for a plein air painter–keeping out of the way of the folk who are there for the same view you want to paint. From time to time, the park ranger would wander by to check on my progress. What he would see was pretty much a mess–big smears of muddy colors–until close to the finish, when I cleaned up the edges, hit the shapes with some brighter colors, and refined the details. When he arrived at that point, he was blown away–couldn’t believe it! “Wow!”

Wow is always a good word to use to compliment a painter.

The second Weeks painting was on a much larger panel, 20 x 16, I was already tired, and frankly a bit bored by my choice of subject matter–the tower. There was no reason to continue working on it at home, except that front page article in the Concord Monitor, posted in last week’s blog. So I worked on it yesterday:

On to the next subject–Farmers Market in Bedford. My friend and fellow painter, Suzanne Whittaker, lives in Bedford and was asked to be an attraction at the Market by painting there. She sets up a tent every Tuesday afternoon, 3 to 6, and paints a still life. Other artists join her when they can. My joining her depends on my getting the use of my car on a Tuesday afternoon, which so far I have been able to do twice. Instead of painting her still life, I try to paint a piece of the market scene. Of course, nobody stays motionless long enough for me to capture their image, but I can get the structures and add anonymous figures suggested by the real people. As you will see, I go for colorful stuff:

The Bread Seller, 14×11

The Apple Hill Stand

The guy in the baseball cap noticed me looking his way a lot, so he came over afterward to see what I was doing. Most of my admirers were the children. They always asked the price, bless their uninhibited souls. They always want to buy, and are so disappointed when they can’t afford the price. One of these days I may just bring paintings to give to them. Better than dying with hundreds of paintings that my children will have to dispose of.

Dogs are welcome at the Farmers Market, so I have been taking Justice with me. He is a shy dog, particularly fearful with new men. But he seemed to enjoy our first day at the market, and never barked once. Things were different last week. We were closer to the traffic, hence to the other dogs. But that wasn’t the worst of it. A drum circle came to use Sue’s tent about one hour before closing time. I couldn’t reposition myself at that point, two hours into my painting, so they closed in behind me. Poor Justice huddled under my chair for that hour, frantic to get away but pinned in place by the leash I had him on. So when Mr. Apple Hill came over to check us out, after the drumming had ceased, Justice greeted him like a long lost friend. So funny. So there are worse things than strange men. . . much worse! And then it got pretty good–the vendor next to us sells homemade gourmet treats for cats and dogs, and gave Justice her leftover samples to take home.

So far it is looking good for us to return to the Farmers Market in Bedford tomorrow–if you want to see us there, the Market is located just off Wallace Road in the Benedictine Park.