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!

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!

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!

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!

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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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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