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)

john-the-gardener02854

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.

02856-jpg

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!

New Crop of “Figure in the Landscape”

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

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

Judy with Guitar and Rhododendrons

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

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

2016-07-20 14.29.42

Basketful of Flowers

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

Diamond Bracelet

Diamond Bracelet

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

Reader on White Settee

White Wicker Settee

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

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

Reader at table with vase of flowers

Tablecloth and Vase

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

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

George Martin painting

George Martin, posing with his brush and easel

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

John Brown as gardener

John Brown, posing as gardener or farmer

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

Combining red chair with white parasol

Navy Blue, Red and White

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Appeal of Sunflowers

Sunflower Bouquet

Sunflower Bouquet

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

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

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

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

Sunflower_disk

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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

October 2015 Artists’ Getaway Weekend.

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

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

Portrait of a Tree in Autumn

Portrait of a Tree in Autumn

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

Bear Notch Road overlook

Bear Notch Road overlook

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

At Crawford Depot, WIP

At Crawford Depot, WIP

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

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

Block-in; clouds over N. Conway

Block-in; clouds over N. Conway

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

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

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

Accidental Nocturne

Accidental Nocturne

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

The Start of Winter

The Start of Winter

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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!

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

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

Uncanoonuc Garden

Uncanoonuc Garden

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

Little Blue Spruce

Little Blue Spruce–Putney VT 2008

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

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

A Boy and His Dog . . .

A Boy and His Dog . . .

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

Flower Box

Flower Box

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

haybalejwyeth352-300x214

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

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

Exeter Inn

Exeter Inn

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

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

Inlet

Inlet, Boat ramp

Entering Prescott Park

Entering Prescott Park

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

Wentworth by the Sea

Wentworth by the Sea

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

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

Bridal Portrait

Bridal Portrait

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

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

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Sheridan

Sheridan

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Lupine Worship

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

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

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

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Flo's Crawford Notch lupines

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

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

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

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

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

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

Lupines, AFTER

Lupines in 2013

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

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

Lupines with Irises

Lupines with Irises

Flo's Sugar Hill lupines

Flo’s Sugar Hill lupines  (another hasty snapshot)

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of June at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the NH Institute of Art, 77 Amherst St., Manchester; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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