Acadia: 14 paintings in 6 days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before

Before

After

After

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

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

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

On Photographing Oil Paintings

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

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

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

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

John Brown as gardener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russell Street Roofs

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

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

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

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

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

A Spate of Painting Leads to Opportunities for Rescues

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

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

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

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

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Bottom of Court Street, Portsmouth

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

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

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

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

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

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Race Point Coast Guard Station

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

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

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

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Orleans town landing: Readiness

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

 

 

Sabbatical?

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

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

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

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

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

Two Takes

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Audubon Massabesic Center in Auburn, as part of an exhibit of Manchester Artists Association paintings and photographs;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

 

Fresh Air painting

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

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

St. Gaudens' Diana

St. Gaudens’ Diana

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

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

Pan's Garden

Pan’s Garden

Statue of Pan

Statue of Pan

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

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

Line of ornamentals

Line of sun-struck grasses 

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

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

St. Gaudens home in the rain

St. Gaudens home in the rain

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

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

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

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

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

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

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

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

Horses under gray sky

Horses under gray sky

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

Horses with Pink Sky

Horses with Pink Sky

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

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

IMG_0804

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

Practice, Practice, Practice!

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

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

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Purple Mountain Majesty

Purple Mountain Majesty

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

Andy with bike

My son, the biker.

Fans

Fans

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

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

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

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

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Natalie after Retouches

Natalie after Retouches

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

Color Me Encouraged

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

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

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

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

View of the Town

View of the Town

Essex River--Highway to the Sea

Essex River–Highway to the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

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

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

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

Proud Winners

Proud Winners

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

A Moment to Treasure

A Moment to Treasure

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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