Still trying to find . . . ?

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

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

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Tamworth Waterfall

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

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

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Farm in North Conway

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

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In Franconia Notch

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

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House at the Curve in the Road

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

 

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

Thanks for staying with me.

Acadia: 14 paintings in 6 days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After

After

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

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

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

Figure, Garden, 2017, Part 1

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

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

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

At St Gaudens' Studio

At St. Gaudens’ Studio

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

Connie behind the Giant Tree

Hide ‘n Seek

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

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Maryanne in Blue

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

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

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

Round up

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

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

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

Coast Guard Station at Race Point

Coast Guard Station at Race Point

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

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

Red Roof at Bedrock Gardens

Red Roof at Bedrock Gardens

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

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

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Rocky, in a moment of doubt

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Freckles, in reverie

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

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

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Creeping Shadows morph into delightful floral arrangement

Meanwhile, I have been pulling back from marketplaces.  I closed my display at the NH Antiques Co-op.  I have been showing paintings here and there (Armory in Somerville MA, Currier Museum in Manchester, Massabesic Audubon Center, Wolfeboro Library, Pease Library in Plymouth) through all the seasons, but there is nothing major going on.  As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America pages, which are, like this blog, way overdue for updating. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

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

Exhibiting

I haven’t written a blog for two months.  I have thought about it a lot, but what to write about?

(1) It’s winter, and dreary sunless winter most of the time.

(2) I can’t go to Florida for my usual reinvigoration because I’m working at tax returns in order to support my art habit.

(3) As I get older, it seems as if everything I do has to take longer.  Five times longer.  I have turned into a snail.

As a result of all those factors, forget about blogging. . . I haven’t even been painting!

Two months–that’s December and January, and little bit of February, assuming I finish this start and publish it today or tomorrow.  During those months I was busy with a different aspect of the profession of art making.  I was exhibiting.  So I’m hoping that’s a subject that might be amusing for artists and non artists alike, especially since so much of that was compressed in that stretch of time.

There are two kinds of exhibiting:  juried and not juried.  For the juried ones, the process starts with the application or “entry”.  The artist obtains decent photographs of the artwork and sends the images electronically to the juror(s).   For the unjuried ones, the artist usually need only identify each piece by title and size.  For all of them, the artist must consider the logistics of getting artwork to the place of exhibit, and then getting pieces back home at the end of the exhibit.

Entering multiple exhibits requires some basic record keeping.  You don’t want to put forward the same painting in different, overlapping exhibits.  You can’t deliver paintings to two locations at the same time.  You can’t deliver paintings when you are tied up at work either.  Friends and families are helpful in this regard.

I was particularly busy with the business of art these past few months.  Maybe because  I was not getting many rejections, a turn of events devoutly to be thankful for.  The effort required for me to keep all my exhibit balls in the air sapped my energy to actually keep painting–with the exceptions of commissions of pet portraits and the re-creation of lost paintings.  Yes, on two occasions I submitted photographs of paintings that I could not find!   But let’s go back to the beginning.

In November, I responded to a call for art from a Boston gallery, the Bromfield, for smallish pieces to go in their annual Winter Show.  I have never exhibited in Boston before, so I decided to go for it.  Of 4 images submitted, 2 were accepted.  Both were 8×10 rather abstracted landscapes involving water.  Lake’s Edge, which was on my wall and on my business card; and Water Layers, which I distinctly remember seeing when I was offering 8×10’s for $100 each in Littleton’s Art Festival.  But I could not find Water Layers in any of my home places for stacking older paintings.  Thank goodness I tried to find it right after getting the acceptance, because that barely gave me enough time to paint a copy of it from my photograph of it.  Oil dries slowly.

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Water Layers, 8×10, plein air, half hour painting at Baboosic Brook in Merrimack NH

The exhibit at the Bromfield Gallery required three trips to Boston:  one to deliver; one to attend the opening; and one to pick up at the end of the show.  I took a friend with me each time because venturing into SoWa (South of Washington) arts district alone  intimidated this boondocks artist.  Yvonne, another artist, accompanied me on the first and third trips.  It wasn’t the neighborhood that intimidated me; it was the traffic and fear of accidentally getting on the Mass. Turnpike, because that has happened to me before when trying to find something in the South End.  Parking in the neighborhood of the Gallery was also a challenge better handled with another person riding shotgun.   Alas, all of our good luck in finding the place and scoring a parking place got washed out by a blowout of one of my snow tires as I was pulling into a dubious corner space.  I had rammed my poor tire into a sewer grate.  AAA to the rescue.  Yvonne missed a delivery of a turkey to her front porch back in Manchester.  Come to think of it, I guess I owe her a turkey.  Just glad I was not alone!

The middle trip, the one to the opening, was pretty darn delightful.  My friend from grade school in Wilmington Delaware, Jackie, accompanied me.  There was a Christmas crafts fair going on, and all of the galleries at 450 Harrison Street too, as was usual on the First Friday of a month.  As soon as we got here, about five o’clock, Jackie and I allowed ourselves to be seduced by a restaurant called 500 in Italian.  Cinquecento.  As we were investigating the menu posted outside, passersby stopped to encourage us and even advised which meal to order.  Since we did not have a competing agenda, we went for it and ending up spending a boatload of money, mostly for a carafe of wine that cost $35.  Good time, great meal.  Girls night out.  Christmas shopping got done too–later.

Let this be enough to whet your appetite for more show war stories.  Now that I have a toe in the water (to mix metaphors), I shall be more likely to wade on in.

Places where you might catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Mesmer & Deleault Law Firm in Manchester NH
  • McGowan Gallery in Concord NH
  • Armory Cafe Gallery in Somerville, MA
  • Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth NH
  • Currier Art Museum in Manchester NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH

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

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

On Photographing Oil Paintings

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

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

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

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

John Brown as gardener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russell Street Roofs

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

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

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

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

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

New Crop of “Figure in the Landscape”

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

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

Judy with Guitar and Rhododendrons

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

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

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Basketful of Flowers

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

Diamond Bracelet

Diamond Bracelet

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

Reader on White Settee

White Wicker Settee

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

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

Reader at table with vase of flowers

Tablecloth and Vase

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

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

George Martin painting

George Martin, posing with his brush and easel

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

John Brown as gardener

John Brown, posing as gardener or farmer

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

Combining red chair with white parasol

Navy Blue, Red and White

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catching up–Bartlett Style

I have been not performing, blog-wise, up to the standards I set for myself this summer.  If I had met those standards, two topics would have been set before you already and the third would have been pulled together for today.  The problem, as often happens, is just when I gather my thoughts and my photo illustrations, I notice something in one of the paintings that I must, MUST fix.  Then after the fix, a new photo must be taken.  It has been a summer of revisions and regrets.

One topic was to have been:  best and worst plein air (marine) painting of the summer, covering  why I thought one was good and the other not–but wondering how I could have rescued the one that was awful.  A second topic was to have been the rest of the works resulting from the Stuart Ober course–you’ve seen the portrait of Sparkle, but I did a bunch of other stuff that never would have got started but for the impetus of taking a course called “Explorations in Oil Painting.”   One of them could have been a topic in itself, as I worked on a 12 by 36 of “Impressions of Manhattan from the Whitney Museum”, a complex skyline with streetscapes that can always be improved or added to.  I’m still adding.

This week, I hoped to be posting all the Figure in the Garden paintings from David Curtis’ garden, 2016 edition.  Those paintings are finished, but the last one still needs to be photographed.  I scaled up to 16×20, making the photographing more challenging.

And now, as topics pile up, I just got back from a workshop up North with Michael Chesley Johnson, for which blog I made promises.  I feel a little like Mickey Mouse must have felt in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.  (Disney movie “Fantasia”)

I am going to take the advice I always gave my tax delinquent clients:  do current returns first, then the past-due ones.  Therefore, today without further ado, without messing about, I am posting photos of the three plein air paintings from the last two days, showing what I can accomplish in the approximately two hours available for each, before stopped by lunch and/or rain.  Raw footage, as it were.

Excuse me while I go snap photos of each one with my iPhone.

.  .  .  .

Eight students gathered at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH to learn plein air painting from Michael Chesley Johnson, of Campobello and Sedona, for perhaps the shortest workshop ever–two days.  We were lucky with the weather, in that the rain held off Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning until I was able to get one painting each time close to completion.  I produced a third painting during the Wednesday rain. . .storm is too strong a word.  Rain Event. More of that later.

Tuesday morning MCJ opened with a demo of how to paint rocks.  We piled into a gazebo near the Jackson Historical Museum– it was shaded, just the right size for 8 students and a teacher, next to a rock-filled Wildcat River, and near our next stop: a preview of the museum’s upcoming show.  Then lunch at a local deli, then back to the Wildcat, a river responsible for the phenomenon known as Jackson Falls.  We got some sun, but mostly clouds, so we got experience with painting en plein air on overcast days.  How to find a “hook” when there are no lights and shadows to create drama?  Well, falling water is always interesting.  Unfortunately, New Hampshire has been suffering a record drought, so instead of impressive, thundering cataracts of water, we got meandering trickles.

(MCJ photographed me working at the Falls and posted it to Facebook, if you are interested.  I was wearing my usual distinctive hat, so everyone who knows me recognized me.  I could probably link to it, but I don’t have time to learn how to do that!  Got to get this post done.)

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Jackson Falls, v. 5 or 6

Day Two, or Wednesday as most people know it, we headed down into the Valley to experience the location of Albert Bierstadt’s  “Moat Mountain, Intervale, New Hampshire”.  That is why I have titled this painting Bierstadt Meadow.  Most of us chose to paint the ledges that are to the right of my scene, but I’ve a bee in my bonnet all summer about the pinky-purplish grass that shows up at this time of summer.  It is most prevalent along highways.  It was not present in this meadow, but there were other plants sporting colors in the same family, so I thought I would try to fake it.

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Bierstadt Meadow with Bluebird House

We were treated to very little sunlight, but the weather forecast did not include rain.  Nevertheless, Sharon (Sharon Allen, who organized this workshop and spends half her life painting around Mt. Washington Valley) “felt” it would rain and urged us to move to a sheltered location–under a bridge in Conway from which we could paint a red covered bridge from below and to the side.  When we got there, most of the river (Swift and Saco merge near here) was, well, absent.  We were going to get more practice painting rocks.  However, a puddle under the bridge reflected the red covered bridge, and I chose to make that the subject of my painting.

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Under the Bridge, of Another Bridge

All of my paintings were painted on the carton paper sold by Judson’s plein air supplier.  The paper slows me down a little because it absorbs paint, making it harder for me to cover the surface.  But once my surface is juicy with paint, I can go to town.  The geometric shape on the right is the stanchion [is that correct term?] of the overhead bridge.  When the rain blew in [is Sharon  a witch?], it disturbed the puddle and handicapped me.  Oh, well.  Had to fake it.

Since I probably will not get to the topic, best and worst marine painting, and I cannot NOT show you the best, I will now show the best.  Two “tall ships” came to the Portsmouth area.  August 12 was the day I chose to visit them.  One docked in Portsmouth for people to tour.  The other docked in New Castle for people to ride.  I would have bought a ticket to ride if my timing were better, but as it was, I had to wait for the “Harvey Gamache” to return to port before I could grab a photo of it.  Meanwhile, I painted its expected path from New Castle’s Grand Island Park.  In my studio at home, I added the sailing ship using my photo as reference.

Harvey Gamache passing into New Castle

The Harvey Gamache Passing into New Castle

I have some happy news:  two of my pet paintings will be part of a nationally juried exhibit in a museum!  The museum is the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in a place called Solomons, Maryland.  The Sculpture Garden is affiliated with the Smithsonian!  The two honored paintings are “Sparkle”, which had been sold but the owners have agreed to lend the painting for this exhibit; and “Partners in Crime”–the two tuxedo cats on a cat tree.  IMG_1568

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run from October 7 through January 29.

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

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

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

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

Portsmouth Paintings

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

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

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

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

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

Comin' Through (Memorial Bridge, Portsmouth)

Comin’ Through

3 Bridges, Portsmouth

Three Bridges, Portsmouth NH

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

At the Elks Club

At the Elks Club in Portsmouth

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

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

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

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

A Spate of Painting Leads to Opportunities for Rescues

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

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

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

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

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Bottom of Court Street, Portsmouth

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

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

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

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

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

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Race Point Coast Guard Station

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

IMG_1660

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!

 

 

Abstracting the landscape, Part 3

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

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

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

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Hampton Beach NH

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

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work in progress

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

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Hampton Beach painting, final

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

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

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the herring gull at Odiorne park

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

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On Guard

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

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

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

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

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Horse Yard, Stonewall Farm

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Abstracting the Landscape, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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

Kickstart

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

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

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

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From Photo

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From memory of photo

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

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Beachwalker in the mist (6×6)

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

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From a musical prompt

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

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

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Wave from photo

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

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Wave from memory

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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

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!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

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

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

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Purple Mountain Majesty

Purple Mountain Majesty

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

Andy with bike

My son, the biker.

Fans

Fans

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

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

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

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

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Natalie after Retouches

Natalie after Retouches

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Color Me Encouraged

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

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

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

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

View of the Town

View of the Town

Essex River--Highway to the Sea

Essex River–Highway to the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

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

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

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

Proud Winners

Proud Winners

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

A Moment to Treasure

A Moment to Treasure

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Dissatisfaction

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

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

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

Margaret in Blue

Margaret in Blue

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

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

Figure in Orange

Figure in Orange

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

Figures in White

Figures in White

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

Did you speak?

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester (reception August 3–5:30 to 7:30–all are welcome); and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

Urban New Hampshire

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

Newport

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

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

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

Newport Covered Bridge

Newport Covered Bridge

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

Exeter

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

Exeter Riverfront

Exeter Riverfront

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

String Bridge, Exeter

String Bridge, Exeter

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

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

Water Street, Exeter

Water Street, Exeter

Portsmouth

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

Market Square in Portsmouth

Market Square in Portsmouth

New Boston

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

Under Dogwood, New Boston

Under Dogwood, New Boston

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Lupine Worship

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

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

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

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Flo's Crawford Notch lupines

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

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

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

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

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

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

Lupines, AFTER

Lupines in 2013

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

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

Lupines with Irises

Lupines with Irises

Flo's Sugar Hill lupines

Flo’s Sugar Hill lupines  (another hasty snapshot)

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Monadnock

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

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

Wapack Trail (Southward)

Wapack Trail (Southward)

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

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

Bridal Gown

Bridal Gown

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for one month at 163 Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

Mt. Washington Valley in May, 2015

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

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

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

View of Mt. Washington from Pear Mt. Rd.

View of Mt. Washington from Pear Mt. Rd.

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

View of Mt. Washington wip

View of Mt. Washington wip (cell phone photo)

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

Portrait of Big Rock at Jackson Falls

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

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

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (before)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (before)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (after)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (after)

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

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

Woodland brook

Woodland brook 9×12

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

one last week at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

Marco Island Part 6 (final): Kooky, Experimental

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

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

South Beach Residential

South Beach Residential

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

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

 

South Beach Nocturne

South Beach Nocturne

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

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

 

Bridge to Everglades

My Bridge from Everglades, looking North

Here is Mary’s version in watercolor:

Mary's Bridge

Mary’s Bridge

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

Watery Home

Watery Home

Compare a cropped version without the railings:

Watery Home-Detail

Watery Home-Detail

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

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

IMG_0635

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

 

Snow Camp 2015

I’ve been “absent” for a few weeks, in part because of Stapleton Kearns’ “Snow Camp 2015”, which took place at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett, NH.  Stapleton started with Snow Camp in 2010 and repeated it annually thereafter at the Sunset Hill Inn in Sugar Hill, NH.  But last year, Sunset Hill Inn closed its doors.   Stape booked the workshop at the Bartlett Inn, which a few of us had been urging upon him from the beginning as it is home base for the Great semi-annual Artists Getaway Weekend.  When I learned of the relocation, I jumped to sign up for it despite my 2012 decision not to spend any more workshop dollars on landscape painting.  Besides, “Have boots, will paint [outdoors in the winter].”  Meaning:  I spent the big bucks back in 2010 for my duck hunting boots and the only time I use them is when I am painting outdoors in the winter–a pretty rare occasion.  I was a little concerned by the fact that I am now five years older than I was when I first braved the conditions of frigid temps and difficult terrain underfoot.  Regardless of any other measure of the workshop, mere survival was this year going to equal success.

I did survive–maybe!  Four of our company had been nursing various cold-like symptoms, and Wednesday night after being back home, my own version of the ailment announced its arrival with a sore throat.  I have taken the previous three days off to rest and recuperate, getting nothing done.  Still no recuperation in sight, alas!   I still have a wretched sore throat, along with other miseries.  My resilience was probably compromised by those five years of aging, not to mention the daunting weather conditions we braved over the weekend:  temps in the minus column before calculating the wind chill; fierce wind gusts; and on the last day (Monday),  a new layer of snow falling gently.  I was very happy to stay over at the Inn an extra night.

Miriam and Nick (the Innkeepers) kept the kettle on all day for tea and cocoa and if the timing was right, an artist could go inside to find warm brownies or ginger cakes awaiting.  We stayed on the grounds of the Inn to paint, same as we had done in Sugar Hill.  Sunset Hill Inn had a spectacular view of Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch, but at the Bartlett Inn we enjoyed a different kind of subject matter:  trees, buildings, roads, all covered in snow.  No vistas.  That suited me fine.

Snow as a painting subject is surprisingly complicated.  In earlier days, before I knew any better, I’d painted a lot of snow scenes from photographs, which doesn’t even get near the problem. My blog of 2010 and 2011 talked about some of the issues, but when I migrated that blog to this site, I never reposted the photographs of those paintings.  I am remedying that oversight now, but I’ll post those earlier paintings here too.  In chronological order:

Hammock in Winter 2010

Hammock in Winter 2010 (despite the title, it’s really about the shadows)  11×14

Plein Air Artists 2010

Plein Air Artists 2010  11×14

Franconia Notch 2010

Franconia Notch 2010 (footprints were inserted back at home, I think)  16×20

Alone on the Trail 2011

Alone on the Trail 2011 (yes, it snowed on our Snow Camp that year)  16×20

Franconia Notch 2011

Franconia Notch 2011  (what happened to the stone wall?) 16×20

Stape always does a demonstration painting in the morning.  It’s harder to deal with the cold when you are not absorbed in your own painting, but at least you can keep your hands warm.  I spent both afternoons of the first two days working on one scene.  The first afternoon was largely wasted:  I had “toned” my panel to cover up an old painting underneath, and the paint I had used refused to dry.  As a result the toning color (tan) was muddying up the new composition.  And it was so cold that I couldn’t even squeeze my white paint onto my palette.  Stape had to do that for me.  And the paint was so stiff that I couldn’t mix it or spread it.  Stape told me to wipe it down to get rid of the bad underpaint, then use a lot of Liquin to soften up and dry the new paint.  The next morning, I went straight to work, forgoing the demo.  Because of the conditions, I quit pretty early, about 2:30 in the afternoon that Sunday.  Today I cleaned up the faults still remaining in the painting, and this is the result:

Last Scrap of Light at the Bartlett Inn

Last Scrap of Light at the Bartlett Inn

Whereas the 2011 workshop had been about getting all the primary hues into the snow, this year the problem was getting the values right.  I had to make sure that no spot in the snow bank was as light as the lit edges, and I darkened all the shadows in the foreground so as to heighten the drama.  The scene is of the cottages next to the Inn itself.

The next day, it was snowing all day.  I watched Stape’s demo in the morning and started a smallish (12×16) painting in the afternoon.  Most of us felt limited to whatever we could grab as subject matter from the shelter of the porch; I was right on the edge of the cover.  Light, flaky snow accumulated on my palette during the course of the afternoon.  I didn’t worry about it though, because Michel (hearty and hardy Nova Scotian) set up down at the road with only an umbrella to shelter himself.  Here’s my view from the porch of the Inn:

Driveway into the Bartlett Inn

Driveway into the Bartlett Inn

In addition to Michel and the usual assortment of NH and Mass. artists, we had artists from Houston, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; and “an imposter” from Huntington, West Virginia.  “Imposter” because he was not a painter at all, but an author, engaged in research for his new novel featuring an artist.  You can buy his first novel, about a musician, from Amazon:  Song for Chance by John Van Kirk.  I downloaded it to my iPad but haven’t been up to reading it yet.

Snow Camp 15 - 31

In the background you can see the cottages that I featured in my first painting.  The tall guy in the orange hat is Stapleton Kearns.  It’s the same hat he was wearing in 2010.  The guy in the red hat is James, who has not missed a year of Snow Camp since it started.  The guy in the light gray parka is Byron Carr, who initiated the Artists’ Getaways as the Bartlett Inn–back in 2005, I think.  From left to right:  me; Michel; Jack; Jason; Gina Anderson (fellow artist at East Colony); James; Suzanne; Stape (in back) and Holly (in front); Gary; Dave Drinon (buddy from many classes at NHIA); Byron; John the Imposter, and Debbie (the organizer par excellence!).  Wonderful collection of people!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the McGowan Gallery in Concord, NH.

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!

 

Three Pies on One Finger

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

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

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

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

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

Introducing Monty

Introducing Monty

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

Take Two: Mother and Son

Take Two: Mother and Son

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

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

Partners in Crime (WIP)

Partners in Crime (WIP) 16×12

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Dazed and confused

I’m finding it harder and harder to keep all my balls in the air.  The blog ball is usually the first to hit the floor.  As my years pile up, I seem to slow down.  All too often, I tell myself, “You deserve a break.”  “Deserve” maybe, but “can afford”, not so much.   Could the train of artistic success be slowing down to the point where it may become sidelined altogether?  (I can’t resist mixing up a few metaphors.  Trains, jugglers, they seem to go together OK, as in a circus somehow.)

Maybe it’s time to focus on the good stuff that has happened.  Thinking . . .  Well, I got into a regional juried exhibit at the Center for the Arts (CFA) in New London.   To be more accurate, one of my paintings got into the exhibit (as an exhibitionist, I was always a nonstarter).  The chosen painting is “Enchanted”, a 4-foot tall gallery-wrap.  [You can see it on my page titled “Studio Landscapes.]  I painted Enchanted quite a while ago, and it has hung at Hatfields, and at Kimball Jenkins, then briefly at East Colony, where I noticed how warped it had become.  I knew I had to do something to correct that issue before taking it up to New London, so I decided to mount it on a larger, stiff board, like plywood.  But plywood that large would be quite heavy.  So I am using instead a large piece of foam insulation board, which I painted dark brown.

Enchanted, on foam board

Enchanted, on foam board

The board, for all its stiffness and success in correcting the warp, is kind of a fragile surface. That’s worrisome, and I am now debating whether to glue on some thin slats as to mimic a frame, which would protect the edges.  Such a project it has become!

frame added

 

The reception for the CFA exhibit is this coming Friday, November 7, 5-7 p.m. at the New London Inn, 353 Main Street, New London, NH.  Unfortunately, there’s little chance I will get there.  That Friday is one of my Boston Symphony Orchestra Fridays, and we rarely get back to Manchester before six p.m., and New London is another 45 minutes North.  But if you are in the vicinity of New London next Friday night, do check it out and let me know what I missed.

Another upcoming date to be hyper-aware of:  Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9, are NH Open Doors.  My personal studio is not participating, but I will be at East Colony Fine Art Gallery on Sunday, demonstrating my painting.  The hours for East Colony are 10 to 4, both Saturday and Sunday.  The address is 55 South Commercial Street, Manchester NH.

I have two new figure studies to show you.  One is Margaret, clothed in a striped shirt.  The second is Nancy, clothed in a different striped shirt.  Nancy is one of us artists, but graciously filled in when our scheduled model couldn’t get there on Monday.  Nancy usually sets up the pose and lighting for us, so when it came to setting up herself and lighting herself, she was handicapped by not being able to judge how it looked.  Looked pretty good, I guess.  I’m happy with my result.  I do love stripes! Why to people assume I’m being sarcastic when I say that?)

Margaret Sept 2014  16x12

Margaret Sept 2014 16×12

Nancy as Substitute Mode

Nancy as Substitute Model

Although it looks as if I had more time with Nancy, and therefore she must be on a smaller canvas, both paintings are on 12×16 panels.  I was forced to paint in a background around Nancy because I was painting over an earlier painting, and I hadn’t covered it up with a neutral ground the way I had done for the Margaret panel.  When forced, I can stretch.

But the Margaret was a struggle, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to show it on the blog.  It does look better “in person”.  (Note to self, must come up with better term to express personhood of a painting.)  But today I couldn’t resist juxtaposing the two poses and their stripes.

Here is a Mark Your Calendar alert:  The NH Institute of Art is holding “Art and Soul“, its 4th Annual Auction in Portsmouth this year.  Thursday, November 13, 6-8:30, at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH.  I have donated my Lotus Studies to the cause  (see it on Studio Landscapes page), and the family of my recently deceased friend and law partner, Hilda Fleisher, has donated something from her large collection of contemporary NH art.  I can’t wait to see what it is, out of all the pieces with which I became familiar during her life.  This event is always fun, with great music and food, and artwork.  Tickets cost $45–worth it!–and all proceeds go to fund student scholarships.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings  are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts. In a few days, Enchanted can be see at the New London Inn (address above).  And in Portsmouth’s Levy Gallery, you can find 8 of my newest 6×6’s as part of the annual Women’s Caucus for Art 6×6 show.

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

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

New Hampshire’s Fall Foliage

Last weekend was the annual Fall Artists’ Getaway Weekend to the White Mountains, based at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett, New Hampshire.  We had some rain, but we also had some glorious, warm sunshine.  If only the wind hadn’t accompanied the sun, we would have had little to complain about.  As it was, Byron Carr flourished, creating one of his most spectacular paintings (and that’s saying a lot) under threat of rain.   Unfortunately, and as usual, taking a photo of it never occurred to me when it counted.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I have my own version of a cloud painting.  This was my first painting of the weekend, Friday morning’s painting.

Pumpkin Patch under Cathedral Ledge

Pumpkin Patch under Cathedral Ledge

It was actually raining when we set up.  Umbrellas intended for use against the sun turn out to serve also against the rain.  Who knew?  Gradually the clouds rolled away leaving the Ledge exposed, but I stayed with my initial impression, with the Ledge almost totally obscured.  The green patch is surrounded by pumpkins but appears itself to have been freshly sowed in something growing bright green–a cover crop perhaps.  The intense green is unusual at this time of year, but trust me, I even downplayed it a little.

Although I had driven up to Bartlett the day before, Thursday had been a solid, hard rain day.  I left Manchester kind of late (around two o’clock) and arrived at Bear Notch Road about four o’clock, in no hurry, enjoying the views without any urgency to paint them.  Bear Notch Road connects the Kancamangus Highway (a famed scenic highway) to Route 302 at the center of Bartlett–a great shortcut through the hills and woods.  Bear Notch is a two-lane road with overhanging trees.  The trees were still in full leaf, orange, red, and yellow.  The rain was unrelenting.  I felt as if I were floating through an orange cocoon, what with the rain slick on the road reflecting back at me all the oranges, red, and yellows of the trees.  I studied the effect as best I could, trying to memorize the elements.  But I didn’t stop to photograph it.  Story of my life, right?  (Well, it was raining pretty hard.)  So, to get to the point of Bear Notch Road description, when I finished the Pumpkin Patch before my companions were ready to move on, I started a painting of my memory of the orange cocoon.  I continued to refine and improve on it over the weekend, and again today.  I added the white line, although Bear Notch has none, in order to facilitate identification of the ribbon as a road, not a river.  My problem then was getting across the idea that what you are seeing on the road is water reflecting trees, not just fallen leaves.  Only you can tell me if I succeeded.

The Orange Cocoon

The Orange Cocoon

Friday afternoon we relocated to Jackson, all the way around to the other side of what I think of as the Mount Washington wilderness.  There are the two routes leading northward out of North Conway:  302 runs to the west of Mt. Washington, and 16 to the right.  Eventually, each route gives access to Mt. Washington.  The western route offers the Cog Railway.  The eastern route has the Auto Road.  All weekend we got no farther North than Bartlett on the West and Jackson on the East.  This was kind of strange, but the weather did limit our painting time somewhat, so we tended to stick closer to home base.

In Jackson, the Jackson Falls are always a big draw for artists.  But we had another motive:  reception at five in the Jackson Historical Museum, for exhibit opening and sale of White Mountain paintings, both old and contemporary.  Yes, there were many Champneys for sale.  Here is proof.  Upstairs in the Museum are paintings from its permanent collection, grouped by the area of the Whites being depicted.  In the center of this room is a topographical map with the locations identified.  A treasure.  Downstairs I discovered that I really like the works of Edward Hill, but could not afford to buy any.  Upstairs, I discovered I really like William Henry Hilliard, especially this work of his called Eagle Cliff.

Eagle Cliff, by W.H. Hilliard

Eagle Cliff, by W.H. Hilliard

I have my own version of Eagle Cliff from Profile Lake, which I call “Profile Lake”, the cliff being not a prominent feature in my painting.  See it here.

The food at the reception was outstanding, by the way.

Ah yes, my Jackson painting.  Sharon and I set up in the parking lot of the Museum, in part because there were good views of the town center and of the river that flows down from the Falls, and in part because we’d be on the spot, parked and ready for the reception at five o’clock.  I chose to paint a small section of the river where artfully arranged boulders create happy little rapids.

DSC_0006

This is actually a cropped photo.  I will be cutting the painting down as cropped, which I can do because it was painted on paper.  Guerrilla Painter “carton” paper.  The top part of the painting is distracting and irrelevant, and I shouldn’t have wasted my time or paint on it.

Saturday we revisited May Kelly’s.  My idea.  Last Spring we painted in the back of May Kelly’s, an Irish pub-type restaurant.  My painting was of the back of May Kelly’s.   See it here.  Around me, other artists had been painting a terrific view of the valley with the Saco River with White Horse Ledge looming over all.  Shortly after I got home in May and photographed my painting, the May Kelly painting went missing, never to turn up again.  Perhaps one disadvantage to painting on paper.  Anyway, having lost the earlier version, I was eager to paint another version of the back of May Kelly’s.  As before, other artists’ attention was focused on the valley view.  We got rained out, and headed indoors for lunch and reconnoitering.  Terrific lunch!  By the time we finished eating, the rain had let up a little, but instead of finding a new location, we went back to the Inn and worked on our unfinished paintings.  I had taken a reference photo of the back of May Kelly’s just before the rain hit (finally, I remembered to take a picture), so I was able to finish that painting  using the photo.  In fact, the photo was enormously helpful because it revealed to me how wrong one of my angles was.

May Kelly's, v. 2

May Kelly’s, v. 2

After finishing May Kelly, I worked on Orange Cocoon some more, getting advice from anybody who was willing to give it, about how best to convey the rain reflections.  Saturday night, per our tradition, we got pizza in for supper and reviewed all the paintings that we had created over the weekend.  Byron as usual and as appropriate (he organizes the weekend) had the most, and one of the best.  Byron Carr.  Link here to his website.   Other great artists participating:  Elaine Farmer from Amherst, Sharon Allen from Derry, Bruce Jones from Exeter, Diane Dubreuil from Connecticut, Penny (sorry, can’t remember her last name) from Maine, and Phil Bean from Milford.

Sunday I meandered my way home, looking for a spot that needed painting.  I didn’t find it where I expected to, along Route 153 through Eaton and Purity Springs.  But on a whim I left the main road (I think I was on Route 28 at this point) to explore up a hill to a place called Moultonville, and happened on just the right spot:  an eye-catching scene accompanied by place to park and another place to paint, all without risk to life, limb or property.  According to one of the interested residents who stopped to engage me in conversation, the subject of my painting is owned by an artist, last name unknown.

Moultonville Home

Moultonville Home

So another productive weekend in the company of some of my favorite people comes to a close.  You can’t ask for better.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers).  One painting is hanging this last week in the Boston Arboretum visitor center.  My two cemetery paintings (seen here) are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.  And in Portsmouth’s Levy Gallery, you can find 8 of my newest 6×6’s as part of the annual Women’s Caucus for Art 6×6 show.

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

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

Not quite through with Vermont

Last week’s blog describes my painting weekend in Vermont, and refers to the then upcoming Demo Day at East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  My demo time slot was 1 to 3.  (The gallery closes at three p.m. on Saturdays.)  Perfect timing, because it meant I was able to attend the Saturday Life Group as usual, which ends at 12:30.  Fifteen minutes to pack up and get from the Institute, across some major intersections, to the Gallery, another fifteen minutes to get set up at the Gallery.  One tiny glitch.  I had dropped my smart phone in the toilet the day before, and I had to order a new phone ASAP, but I had no phone from which to make any calls to my provider (Credo).  I had to use the Gallery phone and my setup time to do that.  Since everything I do anymore seems to take me twice as long to accomplish, compared to when I was younger, I estimate that I didn’t get going on my demo until 1:15, at the earliest.  I didn’t have any way to check the time, since I have become habituated to relying on my phone for that too.  Whatever, whatever. . . . Sigh.

I did get organized beforehand for the demo.  Which only means I printed out a photo of the subject I intended to paint (unless something more inspiring came up at SLG–it didn’t), and taped a piece of oil-primed linen to a board, a la Richard Schmid.  For my subject, I decided to paint a view of Waits River, Vermont.  Apparently it is oft painted.  It is perhaps as well known in Vermont as Motif No. 1 is in the Northeast.  I wasn’t aware of that fact until several of the visitors to the Gallery on Saturday were able immediately to identify my painting as Waits River.   One commented that “It’s on every calendar”.  Okay.  Well, I did two versions of Motif No. 1, so I’m  not opposed to painting icons.

Even though I had less than two hours to work on WR, in public, with conversations, I finished it before three o’clock.

Here is the photo I worked from, and the painting that resulted:

Waits River, the place

Waits River, the place

Waits River, the painting

Waits River, the painting

Note that I changed very slightly the location of some elements.   I believe that was my compositional instinct working.  If I had had more time to work on the painting, with the knowledge that the scene is something of an icon, I might have tried to be more accurate, and the painting would probably have suffered.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers).  One painting is still hanging in the Boston Arboretum visitor center, another is on display for the month of October at Manchester’s Radisson Hotel–selected as Manchester Artist Association Artist of the Month.  My two cemetery paintings (seen here) are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.  And in Portsmouth’s Levy Gallery, you can find 8 of my newest 6×6’s as part of the annual Women’s Caucus for Art 6×6 show.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below.

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

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Plein air painting in Vermont

What a glorious weekend it was!   We (Sharon Allen and I) took the scenic route to Bradford, Vermont,  to stay with Nancy Griswold, an artist who recently relocated to Vermont after living in New Hampshire and Connecticut.  She didn’t know me at all, and had met Sharon only once before, yet opened up her newly restored farmhouse to us as an “artist retreat.”  Women artists’ retreat.  I can’t say enough about the classy accommodations and the welcome she gave us.

I hadn’t painted in Vermont since July 2008, when I took a workshop with Albert Handell in Putney.   I was so new to painting then, so green.  It has been a long journey in only six years.  Nancy has had a longer (lifetime?) career as an artist, but hadn’t been out painting en plein air, or even in her studio, for many months due to the press of other urgencies.  Sharon, of course, is also known as Plein Air Gal, and runs our NH Plein air group, and shows up at practically every outdoor event on our calendar.

Fall foliage had arrived in Vermont seemingly just in time to meet us there.  Color blazed up in vivid patches against backdrops of shifting shades of green:  a crazy quilt of purples, roses, vermillions, reds, oranges, ochres, lemon yellow, yellow green, emerald green, sap green, with stitches provided by white birches–not better than New Hampshire’s foliage feast, but earlier. Whereas New Hampshire scenic views tend to be mountain- and waterfall- focussed,  the Vermont locations relate to farms.

Though separated only by the Connecticut River, the two states are surprisingly unlike each other.  And not even that separated either.  Bridges between the two were plentiful–seemingly more plentiful than the bridges New Hampshire erects over, say, the Merrimack River.  (Manchester is divided between the East side of the Merrimack and the West side, with only three bridges to connect the two.)  Vermont has no city of comparable size on the Connecticut River, but it seems as if every little Vermont town has a road to New Hampshire.

Nancy had arranged for the three of us to spend a day with Robert Chapla, an artist now of Newbury–a few miles north of Bradford–but formerly of San Francisco.  Robert is a magnificent colorist–for example:

Directed Crossings, by Robert Chapla (his San Francisco collection)

Directed Crossings, by Robert Chapla (his San Francisco collection)

Robert is restoring the farmhouse and barn and outbuildings on a large, hilly stretch of land overlooking his neighbor’s pond and green grass.  I chose for my first painting that pond, viewed from the road.  For my second painting, I went back up the hill to capture one of the outbuildings and the “driveway”.  A truly bucolic version of a driveway.  Sharon chose it for her second painting too.

Sharon and Aline, painting the driveway

Sharon and Aline, painting the driveway

Me and my two Chapla paintings

Me and my two Chapla paintings

For better views of the paintings, look for them on my “New England Landscapes en Plein Air”.

On our way home Sunday, we stopped by a store in Quechee, Vermont, called “Scotland by the Yard”.  By way of illustration, I guess, they keep a flock of sheep in the front, between the highway and the store.  After stocking up on Christmas presents for our Scottish family members, Sharon and I set up our easels and painted a landscape with sheep.  Here is my version:

Sheep

Sheep

This Saturday I will be demonstrating how I paint as part of the East Colony Fine Art “Demo Day”.  Eleven of our artists have agreed to show how they do what they do.  Here is a copy of the postcard we are sending out to advertise the event.  Image 6

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).  One painting is still hanging in the Boston Arboretum visitor center.  And in Portsmouth’s Levy Gallery, you can find 8 of my newest 6×6’s as part of the annual Women’s Caucus for Art 6×6 show.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below.

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

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Continuing the Garden Binge

Encouraged by the success of the red parasol painting, I returned to the David Curtis garden in Gloucester two more times.  I have provisionally titled these two by the most prominent prop–a reflecting ball and a black kimono, respectively.

The reflecting ball was, to me, an annoyance, but I had to deal with it.

The Reflecting Ball

The Reflecting Ball

David advised us to paint portraits rather than a figure in the landscape, but as you can see, I ignored his advice.  Two weeks prior, I had already committed to painting that tree in the background.  Plus, the less real estate I needed for the reflecting ball, the better.  David praised (I think it was intended as praise) it as telling a story.   Why does mine tells a story and the others not?   A women in gypsy outfit gazing at a reflecting ball?  Must be a story in that, right?  The answer lies in the fact that I painted a figure in the landscape, not a portrait.  To tell a story, you have to back off a bit, gain some perspective.

Last Sunday we gathered around our model decked out in a black kimono and holding a fan.

The Black Kimono

The Black Kimono

This one I enjoyed a lot, almost as much as the red parasol.  It was allegedly the easiest of the Curtis Garden Series.  Certainly it presented nothing as complicated as that red parasol and cupid statuette;  the fan? –not even close.  Then why, when I could complete the Red Parasol with 15 minutes to spare, am I dissatisfied with Black Kimono?  Something about her right arm doesn’t look correct.

Yes, our model actually held that fan up for twenty minutes at a time (she braced the elbow against her side), but her feet would fall asleep.  Whenever the timer signaled her break, she would forget that fact about the feet, try to take a step, and collapse in the grass.  Gracefully.

We all enjoyed ourselves very, very much–including David, I guess — he invited us back next Sunday.  Since Bea is going out of town for Labor Day weekend, I shall have to drive down alone.

The Ultimate Opportunity in figure painting  occurred on Monday, when our life group left the studio to meet with our model in the Lessard garden.

The White Floppy Hat

The White Floppy Hat

We will meet again next week to work on the same pose.  I could almost call the painting finished, but it would be a pretty rough finish.  I think I can do better:  The head is slightly too large.  Some of the spots of light on her could be more delicious–meaning more contrast between light and shadow on her.

All three of these garden paintings demonstrate the benefit of using a dark (mostly burnt umber) ground.  I’ve been using previously painted-on panels, having sanded them down first.  The ground helps to hide the remnants of the original painting, which might otherwise be distracting.  The darkest ground provides the best cover, but my real reason for choosing a dark ground is the lovely foliage depth that occurs so effortlessly.  I can leave the ground showing behind her in the whole upper right section.

All that help, still not “finished”.  What magic took over when I painted Red Parasol?  And how do I get that magic back???

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   a single painting is on view for one more week at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Essay on Composing Pictures

(Almost) No pictures this week, but lots of words.  My two CF card readers both died on me, so I can’t transfer my camera photos to the computer.  Luckily, I had on my mind that I should write something about the workshop I took last month with Paul Ingbretson, on the subject of Composition . . . of paintings, of course, but I decided that the material applied equally well to photography.  So I use the word “picture” throughout the essay.  At the end, for purposes of illustration, I’ll include a painting that I corrected a few weeks ago at Paul’s recommendation.  Yesterday, Paul met with us again to see what, if anything, we had retained from the workshop, so this is a good time for me to review and reconstruct my thoughts on the subject of composition.

I have written this up not from the outline Paul gave us, not from the notes written up by a former student of his and handed out at the workshop, not even from the notes I produced myself (radical happening, that–I never take notes).  No, this is mostly a mergence, a convergence, of what I absorbed from what Paul was trying to get across plus a few elements from my own experiences.  I hope it makes sense and somewhere in the prose produces a lightbulb of understanding for someone, an understanding that had not previously existed.

Composition of Pictures in a Nutshell

(Thoughts after taking workshop on “Composition” with Paul Ingbretson)

 The composition of pictures involves the harmonization of elements with respect to:

Arrangement/placement of shapes/objects

Color (hue—red, blue and yellow) given to the shapes and the background

Value (light, dark, all gradations in between) given to the shapes and the background.

 

The goal of good composition is to achieve Unity AND Variety—and to help get across the idea or mood that the artist wants to express.  It is VARIETY that makes the picture interesting, but UNITY is necessary to create harmony, loveliness, and the chosen mood.

Beginning with your choice of a subject and your selection of elements to incorporate in your picture, you are making compositional decisions. What colors, for example, and why?

 

ARRANGEMENT

After choosing a subject, and after selecting the objects or elements (or shapes) that you wish to incorporate in that subject, your next task is to arrange those elements or objects so as to distribute them in the picture harmoniously and interestingly.   Your decisions will have to be informed by the colors and values of the objects. Therefore, you have to be thinking about all three major concepts—arrangement, color, value—at the same time.

[Arrangement choices while painting en plein air in a landscape do exist, albeit limited by reality]

Rules: Create overlaps; avoid tangents. Avoid same sizeness of objects or distances between them. Avoid boring!

Placement of the arranged object(s) within the picture frame  involves cropping the picture for best effect—should the center of interest be in the middle, up, down, right, left, etc.?   Consider zooming in, or out.

Subtopic: LINE

However, the most important effect of arranging  is the line or lines that will be created thereby—of the objects AND the values (see below). The dominant line or “thrust” may be symmetrical or asymmetrical, simple or complex, straight or curved; can form a geometrical shape like a triangle or circle, or can meander, like the letter “s”. The dominant line had better not be boring!  Subordinate or counterlines add interest as well.

[One of the few rules–to be broken at your own risk–is: Do not place an interesting element close to the edge of the picture where it might distract from the intended focal point.]

Rule:  For the sake of unity, patterns need to be repeated, but for the sake of variation,may not  be duplicated exactly.  Patterns need to harmonize with one another.

 

COLOR

The initial selection of subject and objects/elements already goes a long way toward determining a color scheme.   However, you will need to think about a dominant color, and make sure that the placement of that color will unify (harmonize) the picture.

[Outdoors, the dominant color is blue. We don’t “see” it because our eyes seek out the reds and yellows.]

Weaving or spotting of one color throughout the picture tends to unify the picture. Discordant colors, like discordant music, if used, can succeed only if they are well placed and mean something. Background color is critical to harmonize the picture and to set off the subject.

Although one primary color should dominate throughout the picture, variations on the other two primaries should be represented. A monotone is (usually) not very interesting. That is not to suggest that any of the colors need to be high in chroma. Subtlety can be more fascinating than stridency.

If a color is used only once in a picture, that object tends to stand out in importance. Even if subtle variations of the color are “smuggled” elsewhere in the picture, that singular object will remain the most important one in the picture.

Rule of threes: repeat a particular color three times (in three different places) and repeat pattern three times (but don’t duplicate!)

VALUES

The distribution of values in a picture creates abstract patterns that intrigue the mind of a viewer. The eye jumps to an area of high contrast, or to the lightest area in the picture.

Silhouettes are example of extreme values—light and dark with little mid values.

Spotting of values (lights or darks) may create or support lines.  Hence the compositional element of “Value” is actually a subtopic of Arrangements.  Perhaps everything is a subtopic of Arrangement and we circle back to the concept that composition means Arrangements–of shapes, lines, colors and values?

 

MOOD

The mood of a picture is the narrative that the artist wants to express or explore. All elements of composition must be geared to serve the mood.

The End.  For now.

The corrected painting I have to show you is an example of the importance of color and the rule of avoidance of a singular color.  You have seen this painting several times before, as I struggled with colors and values in an effort to “make it work”.  The basic layout was pleasing to me, so I could not figure out why I was not totally happy with the painting.  Paul told me why.  Here is the most recent but not final version of “Three Turrets”:

Three Turrets, v1.3

Three Turrets, v1.3

Here is the latest, corrected version:

Three Turrets, updated

Three Turrets, updated (from the porch of the Currier Museum’s art school)

Do you agree that the added patch of green in mid left harmonizes the painting with the previously singular patch at bottom right?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Garden Magic

I get so caught up in my narrative blog content that I always forget the marketing bits, where I would be announcing I got into this show or that, and sold this painting or that.  Such a waste of those small, ephemeral moments of triumph!  Meanwhile I’ve been moaning about failures.  Wallowing in failures.  I hereby resolve hereafter to “accentuate the  positive,” starting right now:

  • My painting of “Margaret and her Nook” has been published in an online mag called “Art and Beyond”; here is the link to the magazine; you will need to click forward to find my page.
  • 5 of my paintings were accepted in the “Healing with Art” exhibit at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester.  (reception Tuesday Sept 9, 5:30-7:00)
  • My painting of “Fur” has found its forever home, after being on exhibit for only a few hours at the Bedford Library.
  • My painting of “Willow Path in Winter” has been accepted in the annual JPOS (Jamaica Pond Open Studios) exhibit at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.   Reception Thursday Sept 18, 6-8.
  • My application to apply to the Copley Society in Boston has been accepted–allowing me to apply for Professional Artist Membership, which requires a long checklist of images and written materials that I need to produce before a January deadline.  Checklists?  No problem for a former tax lawyer.

Listing the good things maybe once a month will at least boost my spirits, even if it doesn’t have any noticeable effect on sales.  Sales are the ultimate boost in spirits.  Nothing says “I love your painting” quite like the handing over of real money in exchange for the painting.  One of my teachers had a standard reply to anyone who said “I love your painting”: . . . “It’s for sale.”  But we can’t all buy all the paintings we love.  I know that all too well.  So it’s OK to keep telling me when  you love my painting even if you can’t buy it.

So, down to the real business, that of creating beautiful paintings, maybe to sell.  I spent two afternoons last week in a garden full of little nooks and pathways and whimsey.  This garden is hidden behind an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood.  It was created by colleagues of mine, a photographer/painter-husband/wife combo–although credit for the garden has to go principally to the husband.  The wife, Dee Lessard, paints beautiful still lifes but has little experience with plein air painting (or gardening).  Her husband, Guy Lessard, was pretty pleased to find Dee and me at our easels in his garden, immortalizing  the beauty he had built.

Magic Garden No. 1

Magic Garden No. 1

If you follow the path marked by the stepping stones, into the darkness beyond,  you come upon a pool full of dappled sunlight and brilliant koi.  I longed to see (and paint) a figure leaning into her reflection here.  But saving that one for when I have a model, I chose this simple scene that melds so delightfully a  half dozen different plant varieties.  I completed this one in a two-hour afternoon, just before the skies opened up in buckets of water.

A few days later, we went back out, Dee to continue working on the one she had started and me to find another magical place.  No. 2 is to the right and down a slight slope from No. 1, looking back at another path to get to the koi pond.

Magic Garden No. 2

Magic Garden No. 2 (before adjustments)

The Fairy Chapel

The Fairy Chapel  (Magic Garden No. 2, after adjustments in color and value)

Guy rescued the little church birdhouse in an antique store with steeple intact.  But adverse elements had obliterated the steeple over time, so I was painting what could have been a New England meeting house when Guy came over and requested that I add the steeple.  I was only too happy to oblige.

For both garden paintings, I had started with a surface toned dark, mostly with burnt umber.  Very little of the toned surface still shows, but where it does, it enhances the contrast that makes a painting interesting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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New (to me) Teacher: David Curtis

Yesterday Bea Bearden and I drove down to Gloucester, Massachusetts, to attend a plein-air-with-figure workshop in a garden attached to the home of David Curtis.  Although David, as we are encouraged to call him, is an anointed master painter (member of the Boston Guild of Artists), I had not been acquainted with him, his work, or his teaching before Friday, when I got the call from Bea and signed up for the workshop.  I feel extremely lucky to have got the opportunity.  For the past few years, I have not been signing up for plein air workshops (unless they involved the figure somehow).  I’ve taken so many plein air workshops in my short career as an artist, and done so many plein air paintings, that I had begun to feel I could not learn anything new.  (“Know it all” syndrome.)  Besides, it is the figure that I wanted to concentrate on now, so that’s where my workshop budget went.  However, in one casual Sunday afternoon (three hours) David Curtis conferred upon me new insights into plein air painting.  The kind of insights where you might say, oh, yeah, why didn’t I see that before!  Maybe you did see it, but I hadn’t, not consciously at least.

Here are my two favorite insights:

  • First:  On an overcast day (that’s what we had yesterday), the light comes from overhead, not at any angle.  Hence the tops of flowers, e.g., are catching the most light.  Duh! you say?  I know.  Obvious when you think about it.  But I had never thought about it before.
  • Second: Did you notice, in the Sargent exhibit at the Boston MFA a few months ago, that there were very few skies showing?  The absence of sky, usually the lightest element in a landscape painting, allows there to exist in the painting a different lightest object–one not at the top of the painting, which is, after all, a damn awkward place to suffer a focal point (unless you are focussing on clouds).  From this opportunity to create a lightest spot elsewhere on the canvas comes  the power to be unusual, to be dramatic,  to capture the viewer.  We all want to capture the viewer, and hang onto her.  Now we have a new tool–eliminate the sky as an element of the scene.

We were a group of nine students in Gloucester, all quite accomplished painters.  On the way home, Bea and I congratulated ourselves on the fact that we held our own in this company.  We will join them again for two more Sundays later in August, and I am so looking forward to it!

Due to the speed with which I work, my painting was completed within the three hours of the workshop.  Even better, it is one with which I am very happy.  The flowers gave me the opportunity to paint just the kind of landscape that I like best, and the lovely model with her coral dress and orange-red parasol were a feast for the eyes.  Thank God I brought my cadmium orange and cad red light.  And my perylene red and quinacridone magenta.  All were needed for the many reds and pinks in this painting.

Did you speak?

Did you speak?

I made sure that my angle on the stone cupid showed off his best side too.  Can you tell that the flowers inside the ring of granite stones are impatiens?  The dabbing technique to simulate flowers and leaves is something I adopted back when I was first studying landscapes with Stan Mueller, and he encouraged it.  It’s not something I can always work into landscapes vistas, and maybe that’s why I prefer not to do vistas.  I began this painting with a burnt umber ground, applied to cover up the Campobello Island seascape underneath.  (I’m getting more and more ruthless in my painting demolitions.)  The dark ground helped me speed toward completion.

Today I worked on another portrait of my daughter Nancy.  The Group (Monday Life Group) agreed that we wanted to paint the blue patterned kimono that she uses as a coverup between poses.  My parents had brought this kimono back to me from Japan in 1966 or thereabouts, and after five decades  it is finally coming into its own!  However, it was not possible to deal with the pattern in the time given to us.  Moreover, the wet blue paint did not allow for adding fresh whites and pinks where needed.  So this is a Work in Progress.

Nancy wearing a kimono

Nancy wearing a kimono

After the kimono dries, I will add the patterns using this photo I took with my phone.

Nancy in the blue kimono

Nancy in the blue kimono

I don’t know if I really missed the tilt of her head as much as the photo suggests, but someone did tell me recently (Paul Ingbretson, I believe) that we humans have a hard time overcoming an innate desire to untilt heads.  I have noticed as much in myself before, so I was trying extra hard this morning to counter that tendency.  Sigh!  Regarding the size of her irises, that was a deliberate decision to exaggerate them in order to get across how one perceives Nancy’s eyes.  They come across as large.

Last week Nancy had posed for us nude, but wearing quite a deep tan–from walking the dog, she claimed.  Her droopy eyelids of last week caused me to bring her a large iced coffee this morning in the hope that we not get the sleepy look again.

Nancy wearing a tan

Nancy wearing a tan

I almost want to hide this one from you, because I feel I butchered the nose.  Still, it’s interesting as a study of skin tones.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Two weeks of earnest painting

You know what I just realized?  Painting from photographs is way (I mean WAY) easier than painting from life.  Obvious?  Not until now.  Until I painted the Haitian boy carrying the bundle of sticks (see here),  I had not painted from a photograph for so long that I had forgotten what it was like.  I don’t remember thinking it was easy.  But then came the Haitian boy, and I just popped it out with hardly any effort, followed by a pretty decent cat portrait.  Then yesterday, after painting two successful landscapes from photographs, after being dissatisfied with two plein air efforts, it hit me.  Wow!  I’ve been doing all this the hard way.  The hardest way!  No wonder it has been a bit of a struggle.

On the other hand, I suspect that past struggles to paint from life are exactly what made painting from photographs seem easy.

I will show you first the stuff painted from life, then the recent landscapes from photographs.

Extended pose, green

Extended pose, green

This large (20×16) figurative work is unusual in that the model (yes, Becky) is standing and we had close to three full sessions of three hours each to work on it.  This was the last pose from the open studio course I  took with Deirdre Riley.

Extended pose, red

Extended pose, red (12×9)

Yet another seated pose of one of my all-time favorite male models–so I tried to Think Different, but Better.  We had two of our unmoderated Monday sessions for this pose, so I tried to get the drawing perfect, and apply the paint with gusto.  Towards the end, I wiped out the left hand (appearing to our right) and started it over after asking him to spread that pinky finger the way I remembered it originally.  Good decision.  You even get a feeling for his finger pressing into his flesh.  (By the way, because of my request, our model traced his fingers on his thigh so as to ensure consistent finger spread between breaks–I call that Above and Beyond the call of model duty!)

After the Monday morning of figure painting, I indulged in a Monday afternoon of landscape painting.  I went intending to paint a barn, but found myself seduced by a massive tree and the lavender stones at its base.  After about an hour and a half, I had the canvas covered, mostly in green and more green.  Horrible.  Yesterday I took it in hand and glazed it over in darker shades to alleviate the poisonous green.  Here is the Before and After:

Poison! (wip)

Poison! (wip)

Cured!

Cured! (12×16)

I hope you feel as if that branch is reaching out to grab you.  Takes me back to my childhood obsession with the Oz books, in which grabby trees were pretty common.

Wednesday I met up with colleagues (Fran, Cindy, Bea), whom I had last summer dubbed the Cornwall Four (here) because we were drawn together by the workshop “Inspired by Cornwall” last summer, given by Cameron Bennett.

We were in the woods next to Dorrs Pond, on a path trafficked by dog walkers, joggers, distracted school children, disabled adults, delinquent teens, delightful immigrants–and I was accessible to all of them.  My chair was uncomfortable–I had to lean forward to paint, and my back could not take it.  Enough of excuses.  I just felt dull about the whole thing.  So yesterday, I tried to pizzazz it up.  Mostly a matter of spreading darker colors over most of  it and lighter colors where I remember the light being.  It satisfies better, but I don’t think it is going anywhere.

A walk by Dorrs Pond

A walk by Dorrs Pond (11×14)

All that straining and effort to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  What a contrast to the next project.  It all started a week ago Friday when Sharon Allen picked me up for a jaunt up North.  It was raining, but we were hoping that as we got father north, the sun would appear.  It didn’t.  But we were on a mission:  To paint or photograph the barns of Madison, New Hampshire.  Our effort was part of a larger event organized by the Friends of Madison Library, a fundraiser in which our paintings would eventually be offered for sale, commission to the Friends.  So we drove around photographing five barns that are part of the event, and whose owners didn’t mind having artists set up painting on their properties.  We didn’t encounter any such thing, nor did we ourselves try to paint in the rain.  Sharon had brought a tent for us to paint under, just in case we were overcome by irrational desire to paint through the rain.  Instead and more sensibly, we photographed madly, even through windshield streaming with water.

So Thursday, with my dissatisfaction with the two plein air paintings painfully in mind, I decided to tone my canvases in burnt umber.  Start dark, I  strategized, and then block with in the lighter values.  It worked!  (Chorus of hallelujahs)

Madison Barn #1

Madison Barn #1 (11×14)

Madison Barn #2

Madison Barn #2 (11×14)

I used acrylic paint for the layer of dark.  New puzzle.  Do I report the media for these two paintings as “mixed”?  Some of the dark acrylic undertone definitely shows up in the finished painting.  But if I had started on a canvas that was primed in white acrylic, and left some of the white showing, I wouldn’t call that mixed media.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Afterglow; Exhaustion

My show was Sunday.  Many of you remembered that, and succeeded in getting there, for which I am most grateful.  Others of  you may have tried to come, but gave up when you couldn’t find a parking spot.  If so, I apologize.  I never thought to check my reception date against the schedule for the Fisher Cats games.  I won’t ever overlook that detail again!  [Fisher Cats is the name of a AA minor league baseball team, farm team for the Toronto Blue Jays; its stadium is pretty close to the building where East Colony Gallery lives, and its parking lot becomes a Fisher Cats parking lot on game days.  The building owners tried to save us prime spots in the front of the Gallery; unfortunately, the normal signs there declare “Do Not Park”, so, in the absence of guidance, people were probably afraid to park there!]

Nevertheless, we had a decent turnout for our party, and I got to reconnect with some people I had not seen in a long time.  Alas, I did forget to take pictures, but this was because I was too busy talking, so that was a good thing.  Usually, at these shindigs, I am too shy to engage people in talking about my paintings.  Having people there whom I already knew was such a blessing!

Meanwhile, I had an extremely busy week of painting:  five-day workshop with Sean Beavers on figure painting; one night class with Deirdre Riley on the same subject; two paint outs, one in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the other in Goffstown.  And the Monday life group met as usual  yesterday morning.  I’m sure it was good, in the abstract, to be painting so much, but it may not have been beneficial for the output.  I was spreading myself too thin, especially as exhaustion began to take its toll.  I must accept the fact that, at my age, I can’t keep performing day after day at the same high energy level.

The workshop paintings fared better than the landscapes.  For Sean’s class, we had one model in the morning, doing one pose all week; and another in the afternoon, doing his same pose all week.  Two completed paintings emerged, plus one half-done portrait:

Figure and Detail

Figure and Detail

After spending three days on the figure, I developed an urge to paint the model’s portrait.  Since I had space on the same piece of canvas, and needed to fill that space with something, my decision to lay it down next to the figure was a no-brainer.  Only problem was, I was really too far from the model to paint a decent portrait.   I couldn’t see any nuances in the facial features with my uncorrected eyes from a distance of 15 feet.  Moving my easel was not an option because (a) I would have obstructed views of the artists on either side of me, (b) my spot was my spot for the afternoon painting, and that would have meant two moves, and (c) let’s not kid ourselves–this is only for practice.  The fact that I ended up doing close to the same thing for the afternoon painting just means I’m consistent.

Competing Lights

Competing Lights

For this pose, Sean set up a spotlight with red cel in front of the model, and one behind the model with a blue cel, emulating sunlight.  The effect was quite dramatic.  Fun!  I spent four days on this painting, and so had only one day to fill with a practice portrait:

Portrait version

Portrait version

Again, my inability to see detail that far away, and the shortness of time remaining to me, meant I could not produce a finished portrait, but I got the big pieces right.  Sean was actually impressed!  But bottom line, the face in my figure painting is more interesting that this “forced” portrait. (To me.)

The paintout on Saturday in Exeter ended with a wet paint sale to benefit the American Independence Museum, which had organized the event.  We had a gorgeous day.  Every other day last week it rained at least a little bit.  My goal for this event was to paint something pedestrian but so well that someone would want to own it.  I failed.  Not in the pedestrian part but in the wanting part.

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

I’m not sure the name of the river is Exeter.  I got many complements on the beauty of this painting, but no one wanted to own it.  For the second one, I went even further Out There–Ashcan School?:

Municipal Parking

Municipal Parking

This painting quite simply failed to be beautiful for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on.  (If I could have identified the failing, I would have fixed it.)

Winding up the week, yesterday I did a figure in the morning and a landscape in the afternoon.  Both will be getting more attention–we will repeat the Monday pose next week.  Same is true of Deirdre’s class from last Tuesday.   And the landscape, well, you’ll just have to wait for that report because, with luck, I shall have time during the week to bring it to a new level of Van Gogh-ness.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply“, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Matters of Life and Death

“Life”, in that painting from life is one matter;  “Death” in that painting in a cemetery is another matter.  A good balance.  First, the studies of a living person:  Becky again.  Three of them.  Done at the class I have been taking Tuesday nights at the Institute.  Deirdre Riley is the instructor.

Large quickie of a pose

Large quickie of a pose

The first week our longest pose was a comparatively short one–perhaps 40 minutes.  At the beginning of the course, one or two of the other students thought they preferred short poses, but now I think everyone is into the idea of the long pose and the possibility of achieving a polished drawing or painting.  This coming Tuesday, with luck, we may get the first of a carryover pose, repeating a second Tuesday–upon which event my product will no longer be half-done.  It’ll be seven-eighths done.  (The reason I am not finishing even a sketch in the three hours is because I am using 20×16 pieces of canvas, instead of the usual 9×12 or 11×14.)

The second two poses were each for the entire duration of one class, or three hours less break times.

Pose No. 2

Pose No. 2

Almost Standing

Almost Standing

I seem to be having trouble getting the length of Becky’s torso right.  The first one, it looks too short; the second one, too long.  But “Almost Standing” had potential, I thought.

Saturday was a beautiful, if chilly day to work outside.  I packed up my new Soltek easel for its first trip out into the field.  Flo Parlangeli and I launched ourselves southward toward Lowell, Massachusetts in response to an invitation to paint in a garden cemetery there.  The Lowell Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was modeled after another famous cemetery, the Mt. Auburn, in Cambridge, Mass.  The two of us were, apparently, the only New Hampshire artists there on Saturday.  In fact, when we got there we were entirely alone and thought perhaps the event had been cancelled.  But others showed up later, and I had two of them competing with me for the best take on the Ayer Lion.  I fell in love with the Lion the minute I laid eyes on it.  Hey, it’s a large putty-cat and you know how much I loves me my putty cats!  The sad and dreamy expression on his face spoke to me.  I hope I captured it in my painting.

The Sad Lion of Lowell

The Sad Lion of Lowell

My second cemetery painting was inspired by the sight of profuse white flowers emerging from the shadows around a dark and mysterious crypt-structure.  From my web search for May-blooming shrubs with white flowers, I have concluded that the genus of the plant is Spirea.

Spirea Waterfall

Spirea Fall  (as in “water fall”)

In exactly one week, Sunday June 8, I will be finished cleaning up after the reception for my and Larry Donovan’s Featured Artists show at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  The reception starts at two o’clock and ends at four or whenever people drift off.  My paintings look better in person, so I hope lots of my followers will be able to view the exhibit and come to the party.  If I have any scrap of presence of mind left, I will take photos and post them next week.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Artists’ Getaway Spring 2014

As promised, I have returned from our semiannual getaway to Mount Washington Valley with landscapes of the North Country.  Despite still feeling out of sorts, I pulled myself together enough to produce five small paintings.  I felt inadequate, so I took only 8×10 panels and a packet of 9×12 carton papers.  This morning I took the photographs, and I guess they aren’t so bad.  All were dry, already!  I use a lot of Michael Harding paints, which are slower drying than some for some artists, but for me, they dry fast.

Starting from the beginning, Friday morning, we gathered at “Fourth Iron”, a railroad bridge over the Saco River, near the highway (Route 302), with a parking lot made to order for painters and fishermen.  We had four new painters with us:  Bea Bearden, Kitty Clark, Jeri Bothamley, and Michele Fennel.  The “seasoned” painters were Byron Carr (the organizer of the weekend), Sharon Allen (the keeper of NHPleinAir artists), and Jim O’Donnell.  We were later joined by Morgan, a regular whose last name has not made it into my memory bank, and newbie Ruth Sears and her guy friend Joe.  Add to that mix the innkeepers Miriam and Nick Jacques, and you’ve got quite a lively group, ready to paint and party.

Back to the Fourth Iron.  Some of us, including me, painted the bridge; others painted the mountains; still others split off to paint nearby at the Notchland Inn, which, I learned for the first time, has a parlor designed by Gustav Stickley.  I have a painting of the Notchland Inn somewhere in my piles of landscapes, and an earlier one of Fourth Iron.  Before Hurricane Irene washed out the original road and trees, we had to hike in a little bit to get a good view of the bridge, or scramble down the riverbank to get this view we now get from the parking lot, which was created from the remains of the original road:

Fourth Iron

Fourth Iron

After lunch, we headed south to North Conway, to an area called Flat Rocks Conservation area, and found a spot on the shoulder of the road where we had nice, unobstructed views of the rocky stream flowing by.  We were interrupted by a serious rainstorm, so I never “finished” the painting.

Discovered Bridge

Discovered Bridge

After coming in for the evening, it is our custom to take in what we have been working on and lean them against whatever we can find back at the Inn, mantels, window sills, floors.  Luckily, the dog Noodles pays no attention to the wet paintings (mostly oils, a few watercolors) on the floor, and he is not a shedder (“cockapoo”–I painted his portrait as a puppy years ago).   A few artists told me they liked my “stone bridge”.  They were not, I later learned, referring to the iron bridge built on the stony embankment.  So a lousy rendition of a big rock is now officially transformed into the shadowed tunnel under an imaginary but charming stone bridge.

Saturday, Sharon and I went exploring for potential new painting spots in the valley.  We stopped at two farmhouses to interview the farmers (of alpacas and strawberries, respectively) about a mysterious road that showed up on Sharon’s GPS.  When that investigation bore no fruit, we returned to North Conway to paint behind the restaurant where we ate Thursday night.  Mary, the proprietress had told us we were welcome to paint there anytime, and it was a fantastic view across the valley with the Saco River cutting through.  I, however, turned my back on that view and took on the fantastical restaurant itself.  Ambitious.

In Back of May Kelly's

In Back of May Kelly’s

Mary brought us coffee and two huge slices of gluten-free chocolate cake, so that was lunch and so much for sticking to my diet.  We finished up about two thirty and went back to the Inn (Bartlett Inn).  A very tall, very old white birch was still standing on the grounds in front of the cabins, and it was slated for removal, so Sharon and I each painted a portrait of it, dead but still beautiful.

Last Hurrah

Last Hurrah

 

That evening, as is our custom, all of the artworks were produced for comment.  This is when I learned of the Stone Bridge.  When asked which of my paintings was my favorite, I said the birch.  Either the company disagreed with me, or they were anxious to help me make it better–whatever, it elicited several points of criticism:  the foreground rock was too prominent and should probably be removed totally; the background green was . . . too strong?; the tree on the left was too distracting–it should be de-emphasized by bringing in branches crossing in front, or perhaps (my own suggestion) soften its edges (that is magenta on its right edge!).  What do you think?

Sundays we usually pack up, check out of the Inn, and look for one last painting location before wending our ways home.  Thanks to Sharon the explorer, this year we collected near a marshy area south of Conway, at Dollof Pond, with a view of Mount Washington.  I looked it up on Google maps and found another pond nearby that I wish we could paint just for its name:  Pea Porridge Pond.  Oh, well, cheating not allowed.

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

Thus ended the tenth annual Spring Getaway.  I felt strangely unfulfilled.  The next morning, Monday Life Group got me out of bed and into the studio.  I brought a used panel, not even sanded down, not even toned over.  To reduce distractions from the old painting, I applied a layer of burnt sienna, then added Gamblin’s Fast Matte ultramarine blue.  Of course, these underlayers would not dry in time for me to paint over them, so I was asking for trouble, double trouble.  The photo below isn’t good either, because light catches the wet paint on all those little protrusions.  I dialed the exposure down to minimize the light bumps for  you.

Nude with Texture

Nude with Texture

Something about this painting really appeals to me.  The flesh may be a little “muddy” but color is all relative anyway, so I’m not bothered by that.  What thrills me is that her right leg looks so real, so fleshy!  Her face isn’t bad either.  If only I had just a little more time to bring all of it up to that level of accomplishment.

Now I am moving into Panic Mode over the imminence of my Featured Artist stint at East Colony.  I have to “hang” this coming Saturday!!  OMG.  But then it will be done and all I have to do is enjoy.  I am paired with Larry Donovan, an artist whose works I noticed long ago at East Colony, so I feel quite honored to be in this position.  Who’d a thunk a few years ago, when I hardly knew what was up?  We are looking forward to seeing all our friends and collectors at the reception on Sunday, June 8th, from two to four.  He wanted two to five, but I am just not up to three hours on my feet, making nice.

I am looking forward to seeing YOU if you are at all able to come, if not to the reception, then at some point between May 24 and June 28.  Let me know when you are in town and I will try to be at the Gallery.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Seeing Red

The cover story this week is my Friday painting of Becky, wherein I decided to create a bright red background to set off her figure.  Backgrounds are so often a pain in the neck.  Are there rules?  I don’t know, but I suspect there are some, and I’m pretty sure one of them is, no bright red backgrounds.  I always think of Rembrandt, who knew a thing or two about painting portraits.  All his backgrounds are dark and subdued.  You don’t notice them because you aren’t supposed to notice them.  Sargent, too.  But what about Cezanne?  He did at least one self-portrait in which the background was a quirky yellow and orange pattern of expressive shapes.

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

I decided to go with Cezanne on Friday, and express myself in red.

DSC_0001

I started this painting still puzzling over the “practice or paint?” conundrum, so I gave myself permission to play around.  But this is what happens:– pretty accurate portrait, rendered about as tightly as I ever get in a three-hour session.  Perhaps the red background is my inner abstract artist expressing frustration!

Saturday we had our last Saturday Life Group meeting until next Fall.  Becky was again the model.  After the quick one-minute poses, the five-minute pose and the ten-minute pose, I got a back view for the 20-minute pose.  That was OK, because it meant my side of the room would get a frontal view for the next, longer pose.

DSC_0004 DSC_0003

However, we paid dearly for that privilege with the last long pose (“long” in this group means between 40-60 minutes).  I could have moved to a different part of the room in order to get more of her body in view, but all of us in my corner went with what we got:  Half a back, a head of hair, and a draped cube.  All three of us deployed color to add interest.  I brought out the compressed charcoal to better make an impression of expression.  Compress expressive impression?  Whatever.  It’s the liveliest of the three:

Stripes with Hair

Stripes with Hair

Change of Subject:  What is majorly on my mind these days is my upcoming stint as the Featured Artist at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  Larry Donovan and I are sharing the spotlight for the month of June.  We have talked a little about serving up a coordinated theme, and we have picked a title that will permit just about anything from either of us: Through the Artist’s. . . [Window/Eyes/Viewpoint]–one of those words.  My dilemma is what to showcase:  portraits, nudes, landscapes, or those few abstract-y paintings I have produced.  I am so conflicted that I am ready to trash all the good advice about picking one style or facet and just put up my favorite works whether they look like they came from a single artist or not.  For example, I’d like to show this little half-hour plein-air sketch as well as the six-hour “Margaret and Her Nook“:

Water's Edge

Water’s Edge

Sometimes I discover value in a pile of forgotten panels.  I never photographed Water’s Edge before, but I did frame it and hang it on my wall, where I grew ever fonder of it.  Such a slow-growing affection is a stark contrast to Margaret and Her Nook, which I knew was going to be a successful painting before I had even finished it.

I am planning to construct a floating type frame for “Darkly” as advised by my mentors [see wailing a week ago here, and the painting here], and I am wondering–if I made similar frames for all the paintings I want to feature in June, would that unify them sufficiently to allow my public to appreciate the disparate styles?  Each painting would be mounted on a larger backboard painted black, which backboard will be framed in a simple box, also painted black.  Water’s Edge might call for a narrow gold fillet around the painting itself.  I’m thinking that is the only way I could get away with showing my crazy quilt of art.  But will Margaret shine from such a frame?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

 

Changing it Up

I’ve been dragging my butt lately and seven days ago I caught a cold, which gave me a terrific excuse to stay in bed for a few days.  But at the end of the week, I heroically dragged said butt up to Bartlett, equipped with plentiful supply of tissues and cold meds, for a two-day workshop on . . . wait for it. . . Watercolor Painting with Byron Carr!  Or as he ‘splains it, he’ll “show you how to slop, splash, splatter, scrub and spray your way to a finished painting.”

If anything can shake me out of my slump, will it be messing around in a medium that I cannot get the hang of anyway?  What’s to lose?

Byron at work

Byron at work on his demo

The class was full at six students, all experienced painters, some actually quite proficient in watercolor but with something to learn about the Byron Carr approach to watercolor.  And Byron entertains as well as teaches; he keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously.

Students Melissa, Marion, Jim, Nick

Students Melissa, Marion, Jim, Nick

Sharon at work

Sharon at work

Me at work

Me at work

Nevertheless, all the photos of me seem to catch the serious side, or maybe that is just the struggle of adapting to the watery medium.  Come to think of it, we all look very intense and serious.

The Byron Carr process starts out simply enough:  pick a photo; crop and apply paint to the photo to create a thumbnail sketch of your planned painting; tape dental floss in an “X” across said photo to create quadrants that help in the transfer of the image; pencil in the big shapes on your 23×30 sheet of heavy-duty watercolor paper (140# Arches for those of you in the know).  So far, so good.  Then:  apply paint.  That’s when it gets interesting and frustrating.  Byron applies paint, loosely mixed (No homogeneous puddles), then toys with it using sprays and scrubbers.  The trick seems to be using just the right amount of water with the paint, either on the paper or thinning the paint on the brush.

Byron's Demo

Byron’s Demo

Byron paints fast, like a demon possessed, and splashes liberally.  Note the plastic sheets covering the walls in the photos above.  (The workshop took place in one of the large, handicapped accessible guest rooms of the Bartlett Inn.  The innkeepers moved all the bedroom furniture out to make room for our tables, and draped the walls with plastic because they know Byron very well from years of past demonstrations.)

I don’t know enough about WC to distinguish one approach from another, but I knew what we were learning was different from what, for example,  Dustan Knight does (she is the only other WC  instructor I have been exposed to).  Byron told me one of my paintings employed a technique that he does not use, to wit, layering.  This one:

My No. 2 in progress

My No. 2 in progress

I think I was just trying to deploy techniques that work for me as an oil painter.   Oil as a medium fits with my talents and intuition, and perhaps WC never will.

At the end, Byron had each painting up to display in his black mat so we could all appreciate what we had accomplished.  Here are a few:

Melissa's No. 1

Melissa’s No. 1

Jim's No. 1

Jim’s No. 1

Sharon's, I think

Nick’s no. 2

Byron with Melissa's No. 2

Byron with Melissa’s No. 2

Here are photos of both of Sharon’s paintings.  She took the pictures as they lay on the floor so I can’t square them up, but you get the idea:

Image Image 1

You may have noticed that many of my fellow students obediently followed the master’s footsteps by painting rocks and waterfall, Byron’s specialty.

Proud Nick

Proud Nick

I took better photos of mine when I got home:

My No. 1

My No. 1

My No. 2

My No. 2

I get to show mine off bigger and in higher resolution because after all, it is my blog!  I’m really sorry that I did not have any photos of Marion’s two paintings to display, but here is a photo of Marion herself and I must say, she looks the happiest of the group:

Marion

Marion

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Oscar Night

Finishing my Oscar Night painting was a top priority when I got home after my Florida trip, along with tax returns and a report that I have to make annually to the Sierra Club regarding my NH chapter’s activities.  (I mention that nonart stuff as an excuse for not posting a blog last week, as if anyone noticed.)  The title of my Oscar painting is “Going for Gold”, and there is no longer any reason to conceal the title of the movie it represents–our Oscar Night party took place Saturday.  Nobody had much difficulty matching my painting up with “Chariots of Fire.”  Some other artists made it very hard to discern their movie, but not my favorites: Bruce Jones’ circus scene (“The Greatest Show on Earth”) and Rick Dickenson’s portrait of the ship that played the Bounty in “Mutiny on the Bounty”.  I wish I had thought to snap a picture of each of them, but I found them on our Facebook page:

Image 2 Image 3

You can figure out which is which, can’t you?  And that is a wonderful photo of Elaine Farmer laughing in front of the Bounty.  For more pictures of the event:  Facebook page for East Colony Fine Art, with photos of the shindig.    Here is a snapshot of our group, those of us who stuck it out to the end, anyway.  (I was not the only one feeling the pain.)

East Colony Artists on Oscar Night

You’d never know that we usually have a hard time finding anything to wear that is not spotted with paint, much less something fancy to wear on the Red Carpet.  We had an actual Red Carpet laid down as you approached the entrance to our Gallery, and other trappings, including champagne, of an extravagant star-studded celebration.  Popcorn too, for the unstar-studded populace.  A large, flat screen TV was playing snippets from our Oscar-winning movies, with music, but the crowds precluded us from taking it in–but crowds are a good thing.  The game of matching paintings with Oscar titles was taken very seriously by everyone, even though nobody was sure of what the prize was going to be.

And here, at long last, is the absolute final version of Going for Gold.

DSC_3658

I took it in to hang last Monday, but then realized that I did not like the frame.  More precisely, I loved the frame by itself, which was a match to the one on “Margaret and her Nook” (see next photo), but not on this particular painting.  So I took it home again, and rooted around in my frame inventory to  come up with a modest, thin frame.  I wanted black, but could only find gold.  So I added the vertical black strips on each side to simulate a black border.  (I’m sure my faulty photography is responsible for the left border  above looking slanted.)  The new borders were barely dry when I hung the painting Friday afternoon.  Here is how it looked on my wall:

Image 1

See, straight borders on both sides.  Above the Oscar painting is one I call “Athabasca Falls” because, you guessed it, it is a painting of Athabasca Falls in Alberta, Canada, as night was falling.  Long story, that.  And on the right you see Margaret and her Nook.  On the pedestal is a giclee of Freckles, a cat I used to know–and love.  That’s my browse bin with other giclees on offer.  I’m not sure who the gentleman is–he was sitting with his wife on a big ottoman and I could not ask them to move.  Behind him is a short bio and photo of me hanging in a frame.  This is my “half space” for two months.  Some “half spaces” are a little larger than this one; usually I can hang about six paintings, but then, all three of these were larger than my usual.

I have been bad at getting the word out about these events.  In June I will be sharing the Featured Artist spot with Lawrence Donovan.  He’s the guy in the front, on the right, in the tuxedo.  We are trying to work out a theme that we can both live with.  And I have resolved to beat the drum very loudly to get everyone I know out for my opening reception.  So get ready, y’all!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Final and Complete Report of Marco Island Painting Binge

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

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

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

Marco 2014 No. 1

Marco 2014 No. 1

This first painting is still one of my own favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 2

Marco 2014 No. 2

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

Marco 2014 No. 3

Marco 2014 No. 3 – The Beach

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

Marco 2014 No. 4

Marco 2014 No. 4 – Sea Grapes

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

Marco 2014 No. 5

Marco 2014 No. 5

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

Marco 2014 No. 6

Marco 2014 No. 6–Calusa Boat Yard

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

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

Marco 2014 No. 7

Marco 2014 No. 7–Pond with girl and goose

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

Marco 2014 No. 8

Marco 2014 No. 8–dog walkers’ park

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

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Marco 2014 No. 9

Marco 2014 No. 9

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

Marco 2014 No. 10

Marco 2014 No. 10

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

Marco 2014 No. 11

Marco 2014 No. 11

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

Marco 2014 No. 12

Marco 2014 No. 12 – Vanda orchid

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

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

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

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

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

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6×12)

Before cropping, this is the painting:

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9×12)

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Reporting from Marco Island

I’ve been here since Tuesday, getting out of the snowpath in the nick of time. Lucky, lucky me! We’ve been painting every day, 4or 5 hours each day. I have 8 nearly finished paintings, 9 by 12.

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For our first outing we joined a group of outdoor painters who get together Wednesdays, and this Wednesday we were invited into and around the “Gingerbread Cottage”, a private residence owned by a couple of gardeners and dog lovers. They had won a prize for their landscaping, and they locked the dogs up for the day. About 20 artists were tucked away in nooks and crannies on the property, for it was not a large lot. Tiny pathways separated beds of stuff that I got to know as house plants. We got there late, having been delayed by a visit to the farmers market. Most of the nooks and crannies were already either occupied or being painted. I settled in a shady spot where I was assured I was not blocking anybody’s view of her subject. Then I surveyed the scene to divine a subject of my own. I thought, well ok, for the first time my first painting will not be the best one. So what! But maybe it will be the best.

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This view is from almost the same spot. Some of the artists who had arrived before us were leaving or relocating, so I got a spot with a view of our hosts’ dock and next door neighbors. Maybe “next door” isn’t quite the correct term if you need a boat to go borrow a cup of sugar. You’ll notice I haven’t put in a sky yet. Among other improvements I plan are sun-lighting the plant and post at right, about half, at an angle pointing in and down; darkening the shadow behind the boat; and inserting a bit of white reflection in the water below the boat.

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Mary likes to paint beaches, so the next day we spent in the sand. We had not only fog but heavy cloud cover. I was drawn to the shiny white line of sunlight breaking through the clouds way in the distance. Of course that condition could not last long, so I painted very fast. I had finished by the time the sun reached me. A few repairs are needed–those brown dots in the sky are unwelcome volunteers. The black streak can stay–it makes a good swooping bird of prey. I used up some old clotted paint to mix my gray sand, and made a virtue of its texture.

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The arrival of hot sunlight chased me under a tiki hut, where I found this sea grape plant arranging itself in a pleasing composition.

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Yes, this is painting no. 1, enlarged. Working on the iPad is awkward, and things don’t always go where I intended them to go. In fact, this reporting is exhausting me. I’m going to try to upload the next 4 all at once, omitting comments.

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Two Works Progressing

I painted a second layer on my Oscar Night piece entitled “Illustrating Heroic Effort”.  I tackled it intending only to tinker with the background, but the figure jumped under my brush.  Also, I thought I should let you know a little secret:   that painting does not come in the horizontal shape that I shared with you last week.  My composition required that horizontal format, but I didn’t want to use a large, expensive, stretched canvases for this short-term-gratification project, and I didn’t want to buy a custom frame for it.  My solution was to center the action on a 12×16 canvas and paint black voids at top and bottom so that the illustrated part looks as if it is coming to you via TV, where the wide-screen movies are presented with black bands top and bottom.

Oscar Night phase 2

Oscar Night phase 2

Here, for the sake of comparison, is phase 1:

Illustrating Heroic Effort

Illustrating Heroic Effort

The biggest change that I have made to Version 2 is the darkened background.  Peter Granucci has taught me that every well-designed painting is either mostly light, or mostly dark.  I was having trouble deciding which way I wanted to go with this one.  Version 1 is the mostly light version, with the dark accents (also necessary) being the shadow side of the figure.  This version 2 is a mostly dark version, with the highlights (again necessary) being the lit side of the figure.  However, the sky and ocean are also light.  Too much light perhaps, for a mostly dark painting.  I’m leaning toward returning to mostly light.  I think the black voids on top and bottom go better with the higher key value scheme.

After painting this layer, I received belated but good advice from Cameron Bennett, who, as an illustrator himself (which I had forgotten because all the courses I took with him were for doing portraits), took an interest in my ruminations re illustration vs. Fine Art.

Oops!  That term “Fine Art” beacons me down a detour that I eschewed last week but can no longer suppress (what?  you never mixed a metaphor?):  so many terms used in the field of art are terms that sound generalized  but that have come down to us with meanings very specific.  Fine Art is not art that is lovely or “fine” but something that is created to be sold in an art gallery or be exhibited in an art museum.  A lot of it is not lovely.  “Genre”  usually would mean a “kind̶