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.


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.


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.


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!)


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.

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

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 Cloudy Day on Top of Cannon Mountain

Cannon Mountain is a ski mountain, owned and operated by the State of New Hampshire as a State Park.  During the summer, one of the ski lifts, a tramway, takes tourists up to the top–and down again–to enjoy the view from the top and the sights along the way.  Today I was lucky to be on the tram that passed over mama bear, grazing in the path of the tram.  Ordinarily the views both from the tram and the top are of distant mountains in Maine, Vermont, Northern New Hampshire, and Canada.  Today, those views were momentarily available on my ride down.  Down, after enduring the wind and chill of the summit, trying to make a painting.  Good thing I don’t really like to paint long-view vistas, because the only objects visible were those located within 100 yards.

For photos of what it could look like from the top of Cannon Mountain, check out the website here.

For how it looked today before the clouds completely enveloped the summit:

Cannon skilift

Housing for a Cannon ski lift (or, what I could see before clouds completely socked in)

I tried another painting when I got back down to parking lot level, but really dark and threatening clouds came rolling in our direction and we hied it out of there.  We drove over to Crawford Notch prospecting for sunlight, stopped by the Bartlett Inn to make sure our October Artists Weekend reservations were in, and, failing to discover any better weather, ate our way home.  (Stopped for supper at the Yankee Smokehouse in Ossipee and for ice cream at Morrisey’s in Wolfsboro.)

Most of last week I spent laboring, still laboring, in the effort to whip my files at the law office into submission.  On Friday, however, I took a break to attend my portrait class with Dee Riley, and produced this drawing of new model, Dennis.

Portrait of Dennis in charcoal

Portrait of Dennis in charcoal

I did not think (and neither did Deirdre)  until today that his ear looks awfully small.  Maybe he has small ears.  The class will be spending two more sessions on this pose.  I will miss the next two classes because this Friday I will be in Maine for the Castine Plein Air Festival, and next Friday I will be at a plein air with figure workshop with Cameron Bennett.

Cameron taught portrait drawing and painting at the NH Institute of Art before moving to England  last year.  He is offering this workshop at short notice to coincide with his visit back  home to New Hampshire.  Most of his old (previous, some also like me, old) students are excitedly looking forward to seeing him again, getting the scoop on practicing art in England, and sopping up all the learning he acquired in the byways of Cornwall, because the title of the workshop is “Inspired by Cornwall”.

As we are already nearing the end of July, let me alert you to Trolley Night coming up on August 1.  Trolley Night, a/k/a Open Doors, consists of trolleys providing free transport between the art venues of Manchester, starting with Langer Place, where East Colony Fine Art Gallery is located.  Trolley Night in Manchester  used to happen four times a year, then it was three times a year.  Now, only twice.  So don’t pass this one up.  The East Colony Gallery puts on a special show just for Trolley Night, in addition to the regular exhibit:  Picnic! is the theme of the special show.  So come Thursday, August 1, between 5 and 8.  The food is great, the people welcoming, and the art fantastic.

If you have voted in the Currier poster contest at my behest, thank you (whether you voted “correctly” or not).  If you have not done that yet, here is the link to the Museum’s home page: Currier.  Look there for the link to the poster contest.  This may work better for those of you who had trouble with my link to the contest site.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bedford Library in Bedford; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hanging in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.