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.

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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!

A Spate of Painting Leads to Opportunities for Rescues

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

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

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

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

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Bottom of Court Street, Portsmouth

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

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

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

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

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

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Race Point Coast Guard Station

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

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

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

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Orleans town landing: Readiness

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

 

 

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!

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!

Encore Performance

Another no-show model, after what seems like an eternity without Monday Life Group, so once more into the breach I sprang.  This is great for everyone except me;  last time was very popular with readers of the blog; the artists mostly love me as a model for some inarticulable reasons.

The artists were only four in number this week, but such interesting works!

Fletch Goes Big

Fletch Goes Big

Fletch’s forte is the small pencil drawing.  Here he not only deploys oil paint, he does it on a fair-sized canvas!  You need to know that Fletch is bored by clothing and would not have come had he known we would not have the usual nude model.  Plus he volunteered to do the modeling and let me use his equipment (I knew ahead of time that the model wouldn’t be coming so I left my gear at home), but I felt responsible for the glitch and was determined to take my medicine.  I guess my point is, he was probably unhappy with with the situation yet he captured my gesture so well!

Jan Fills the Canvas

Jan Fills the Canvas

I do have a big head, but not sure if it is this big!  But I love her confident brush strokes.  Was it mean of me to make sure there would be a hand for the artists to cope with?  I think Jan did a great job with the shadows, and making that dent in my cheek where I rest it on those fingers!

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

Only recently has Nancy C started to bring her paints on Monday morning, in lieu of her charcoals.  Her same blocky approach, emphasizing the shapes and values, is working particularly well in this painting.  Isn’t the hair wonderful?

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be this one–because it looks so much like me!  The right eye and the hand are so beautifully suggested.

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!

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!

 

Fun and Struggles; Struggles are Fun?

Here is this week’s output of my Monday morning life group:

Paint, not charcoal

Paint, not charcoal

Strong shapes have always been Nancy C’s forte, conveyed in charcoal.  The big news here is that Nancy  brought her oil paints for the first time, starting out by doing a grisaille painting of the model, just as Jan did when she first started with us.  (“Grisaille” means painted in monocolor, usually black but it can be any color.)

Jan's version

Well, Jan is certainly into color now!  Bold, vibrant colors, strong shapes and brush strokes.  . . . Interesting foot.  (More on that below.)

Waiting Nymph

Waiting Nymph

Nymph is mine.  I had in mind “sleeping nymph” when we were setting up the pose, but she is clearly not asleep.  The body part that I had the most difficulty with was her left arm.  Getting the width of it just right doesn’t sound like rocket science, but for some reason, my brain does not always perform correctly.  It’s important not to give up when that happens.  Because I spent so much time fussing with the drawing of the shape, the painting of the shape fell a little short.  But I still rate the painting as successful.  Perfection cannot be the goal when you only have three hours minus breaks to complete a figurative painting from life.

Nancy and Jan were having a lot of difficulty getting the figure’s right foot looking like a foot, because it was so foreshortened from their angle that on the canvas it was coming out looking like a club foot.  So we photographed it, and they are supposed to be working hard at home to render a believable foreshortened foot.  Here’s the photo they are working from:

Pesky foot

Pesky foot

I’m not sure, but I believe if you can get the toes to read like toes, the rest of the foot will become viable.  I can’t wait to see if Nancy and Jan succeed, and they better bring in the paintings this Monday to show us!

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 Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Very, very soon, the annual Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord opens!  January 30 (Friday) 5-7 p.m. is the reception.  Over 70 artists are participating.  Unfortunately, I can’t be there because I signed up for another Snow Camp with Stapleton Kearns.  (Concerned that I may be getting too old and fragile for such shenanigans?  Me too.)  I have ten pieces in the McGowan show, mostly nudes, all 8×11, all priced at $150 each.  These are original oil paintings for only $150!  So check it out if you like my nudes.

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 Muse

In Saturday Life Group this morning, we had a new model.  Her name is Gwen.  About halfway through the morning, I realized why she seemed so familiar to me:  She had modeled for the figure painting class I took with Sean Beavers last June.  You can see the results of that class here.  I had recruited her for my Monday group, but, after collecting all her contact information, I forgot her name.  What good is contact information if you can’t remember the name of the person you want to contact?

Anyway, everyone there this morning was just thrilled with her.   “So graceful” was how Nancy put it.  “Beautiful . . . everything about her is beautiful”, observed Steve, “even her pregnancy,”  Gwen’s baby is due in February, so she is not all that large with child yet, but we will see her again in January, I hope.

For my part, I haven’t had this good an SLG session for months.  I usually don’t bother looking at my sketch pad after I get home.  Today I not only looked, I “fixed” (sprayed with fixative to prevent smearing of charcoal dust) them and removed a few from my pad in order to prep them for framing!  Here they are, in order of importance, low to high:

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

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 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!

 

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!

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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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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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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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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Art under Stress

I’ve had a bad week.  It started a week ago Friday night when I downloaded my bank statement and discovered all my money had vanished.  Someone had been systematically withdrawing a few hundred here, a few hundred there, using apparently a clone of my debit card.  I managed to freeze the card and send off agitated messages to the bank, but that was going to have to “it”  until Monday because I was committed for the entire weekend to “Art in Action”–a semi-annual event in Londonderry that combines display and demonstration.  The bad stuff continued the next morning–Saturday–when I was packing up my car with all the gear required for Art in Action:    My backpack could not be found.  This Creativo ArtPak backpack contained all of the supplies I was going to be using for the demonstrations:  Soltek easel, Rosemary brushes, Michael Harding oil paints, palette knives, brush holder, brush washer with Gamsol, brush tube, little container of Liquin–all inexplicably gone.  And I could not do a damn thing about it until Monday.   Fortunately, I’m big into redundancy, so had no problem gathering up a backup easel, paints, brushes.  I even had a second brush washer.  Off I went to Londonderry, with my little Prius loaded down with display panels and 8 paintings (the display), and my two helpers sharing the front passenger’s seat.  The helpers were my daughter, who would also serve as my model, and my boarder, who performed as the muscle.

Whereupon an interesting phenomenon revealed itself:  despite, or because of, the stress I must have been suffering  subconsciously, I was easily able to zone in on my painting.  Maybe I zoned too much, to the point of ignoring the small streams of people flowing past me, instead of engaging them like I was supposed to.  Some kind of compulsion held sway over me; perhaps I just needed the escape from daily woes that always comes from surrendering to the art.  Whatever, I turned out some good stuff to show you and was looking forward to getting them published last Monday . . . when the knockout blow came.  I found out that the perpetrator of my losses was someone whom I had loved and trusted.  There would be no more escape into painting for the rest of the week as I juggled that mess alongside urgent tasks and important meetings related to my many volunteer activities.

The crisis is over.  The bank has restored the funds to me and the perp found another patsy to cover the theft so as to avoid prosecution from the bank; and my homeowners insurance is covering the loss of the backpack.  I am starting to sleep better.  The hole in my life that represented a certain loved one is still empty and most likely will stay that way permanently.  But I am moving on.  So here, a week late, are the three paintings I was working on during the Art in Action show.

For the first one, I asked my daughter to sit for her portrait again (she did this for me at last Spring’s Art in Action ).  I didn’t want to include her dog this  year as I wanted to complete a more serious oeuvre.  I had a spotlight lighting up her right side and a black drape behind her.  We started about 10:30 and I declared it finished about 2:30.  Nancy looks sad and tired, and that was her on that day. But she loves the painting and my portrayal of her.  Can’t ask much more from a portrait.

Portrait of my daughter

Portrait of my daughter

The next day, Sunday, I worked from a  photo that another artist, Rollande Rouselle, had emailed to me with assurances that copying rights belonged to her.  She wanted to see what I could do with it.

Haitian boy, photo

Haitian boy, photo

I had it on my iPad and was able to set up the iPad practically next to my easel.  I cropped the photo in order to enlarge the facial features.

Haitian laborer

Working Boy

The hardest element was the bundle of sticks, but I worked at it until the blobs of paint conveyed the idea, and then I quit.

I still had about an hour left so then I picked out a photo of a cat from a book of cat photos, and got this far on it.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

My efforts to paint the perfect “Fur” a few months ago stood me in good stead.  Should I finish?  Once  you get the eyes of a cat, the rest is window-dressing.

 

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.

 

Just Practicing

I got my head spun around this week by a glimpse into the perspective of another kind of artist, the kind that has found a home in the world of “contemporary” art.  I am using the word “contemporary” here in the sense that has come to be associated with it in the art world, namely, nonrepresentional art.  Plenty of contemporary (in the original meaning of the word) are painting representational pictures, elegantly and successfully, but it seems like few of them are represented by tony NYC galleries or being acquired by museums.   There’s a bias in favor of abstract.  All the buzz goes to the unconventional.  Something called a “concept” has become more important (perhaps) than the skillful execution.   What I have been working on these past nine years is skillful execution, and I’m not even there yet.  But if only I could reorient my brain in the direction of coming up with concepts, I might not need to get any better with the representational skills.

This particular angst is nothing new for me.  What is new is the spin, the perspective, the insight.  I was at a gathering of students celebrating the last class with a party.  At Bea’s, of course.  I had taken the same class last semester.  It was the Explore, Express, Exploit class, triple E we call it–the class in which I tried very hard to do something different.  See, e.g., prior blogs here and here.  The party included a critique, not just by the class instructor (Patrick McCay), but by all present, students and professors.  Tongues had been loosened by copious supply of wine, and the critiques soon dissolved into many conversations occurring simultaneously and uproariously.  Being on a diet, my wine intake was limited to one glass, so I was able to observe and be entertained by the chaos.   It was such good sport that, when they ran out of paintings to critique, demand was made for me to submit two of my paintings from last semester to the withering analyses.  (I had the two outside in my car because they were on their way in the a.m. to the Institute for hanging in an exhibit.)  So, yes, they were framed, and clearly “finished”.  Nevertheless, many potential improvements were found by half the crowd and denigrated by the other half, all good fun and maybe a little educational, and the party was about to come to an end, its ostensible purpose having been fulfilled, when a visiting dignitary, the dean of something and second in command at the Institute, demanded to know what direction I was going, given that one of my paintings had ended up representational and the other did not.  (That may be the longest sentence I have ever written!)  I tried to dodge the question, which was not difficult since everyone else in the room was still talking all at once, but he silenced the room and insisted that I provide an answer.  Ahhhgh!  I confessed that I had no idea where I might be headed, that in fact my usual MO was plein air painting and working from the live figure.  Both, I didn’t have to say, being totally representation.  So he said, and I quote, “That’s just practice.”

I don’t really disagree–what I have been doing is a lot of practicing, but toward what?  For the first time, I wondered if there is a chance for me to see over the fence into that field of unconventionality, that field seeded with new concepts.  One needs a goal, and I guess the one I had set for myself was to become a portraitist.   But I haven’t been working very hard toward that goal lately, and maybe that is the fault of my goal, not of me.  If  portraiture is not the right goal for me, then I can’t stay excited about it.  It may be time for me to Explore more deliberately an Expression that is beyond representational.  Exploitation, what’s that?

Meanwhile, I am still practicing.  Last Tuesday’s figure session produced this one:

Beard with Hands

Beard with Hands

His forehead is too high, but I can fix that.

Friday I had a simultaneous committee meeting and the need to drop off those two paintings competing for my attention, so I took in my charcoals.  In the first 20 minutes I produced a drawing that I liked so much that I could not bring myself to touch it after the break.

Ghost Face

Ghost Face

My start-over produced this drawing.

Becky, A Head Shot

Becky, A Head Shot

Her nose is too long.  Damn!  Too-long nose cannot be fixed without resizing the whole bottom half of the face.  [I fixed a problem with the shape of her left eye–on our right–that I only noticed after posting the image to my blog.]

Today, I decided at the outset not to obsess over any details, to try to be conceptual instead of representational–just as I have decided at many outsets before this.  Today, however, I have the added consideration of last Thursday’s critique.  Sure, I had that Friday as well, but it was too new then.  Hadn’t sunk in.

Sweet Thinking

Sweet Thinking

Is it, in terms of direction, an inch or two away from my usual?  I kind of think so.

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.

3 drawings and a painting

I confess–I haven’t done much art in the past month, since my return from Florida.  I might be suffering a little bit of burnout.  Or discouragement:  I received yet another rejection from the Oil Painters of America.  Will I ever paint a picture good enough to win OPA’s seal of approval?  If I live long enough, and then only maybe.  Perhaps I should switch to painting still lifes.  I met an artist older than I who entered the field later than I, taught himself from materials found on the internet, and concentrates on paintings of one kind of object in still life paintings.  Not a beautiful object per se, but so lovingly and beautifully rendered by this artist that he wins prizes, and gets into OPA exhibits.  I long ago resolved to stick to the one medium so as not to spread myself too thin, but perhaps I should also have chosen to stick to one, still, subject matter. I’ve always had a serious tendency to bite off more than I could chew.

Then there was the weather:  My answer to the cold and snowy conditions was to favor drawing to painting–lugging around the oil paints and easel is that much greater a burden when you are slipping on ice or slogging through snowdrifts.  In a related story, not at all helping to get me out of this funk, was the loss of heat for a week, last week.  Oh, the irony!  I had an automatic generator installed after the freak October blizzard shut everything down in 2011, yet lost heat earlier this year due to an electrical problem.  This second loss of heat was due to a malfunction in the furnace, but we screwed around for days trying to solve the issue without going to the pro.  Lesson learned.  Go to the pro immediately, damn the expense.

On a more upbeat note, recently I was in the news!  In a good way.  The Bernerhof exhibit got some publicity, and the reporter used the material that I had written up for my contributions very carefully and accurately.  Stellar job!  Here is a link to the article.   Bernerhof article  The stuff about me appears on the third page.  I’m confident there will never be a better article written about my painting.

Between the Tuesday Life Group, the Friday Life Group and the Saturday Life Group, I did get in some art making.   I have picked out my favorites over the last month to show you.  I believe, despite the judgment of the odious OPA, they are, you know, kind of, like, OK.

Margaret in B&W

Margaret in B&W

Dennis, Shirtless

Dennis, Shirtless

I managed to rein in all urges to polish his face, humming a mantra in my head “Carolyn Anderson”.  (She who can suggest all with a single stroke.)

Georgia, Reclining

Georgia, Reclining

Shelley's Back

Shelley’s Back

On the last two, because they presented a simplified view of the figure (no breasts!), I was able to spend time on representing the quality of the flesh and drapes more accurately.  Each of those two poses lasted about 50 minutes.  In 50 minutes,  you are lucky to just get the drawing close to accurate.  In hindsight, I particularly appreciate how I rendered that draped pillow under Georgia’s head, and particularly regret leaving that clump of hair looking so stiff.

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.

Heady Stuff

I’ve been saving up my heads, maybe subconsciously in order to use some cute/puny title such as the title above.  Good heads, bad heads.  The  bad heads are, it should go without saying, on me, not the model.  My progress on head-making is not as fast as I feel it should be, so I am more often than not disappointed in my output.  On the other hand, when a head turns out good, I’m taken by surprise. You could say my life is a constant trip from disappointment to surprised delight, and back again.   Its’s a trip with no Arrival.  What I ought to do is just shut up about it.  So I will.  I present these heads in no particular order, sans judgement.  Maybe you will like one or two of them.

Serious Rebecca

Serious Rebecca

I wasted a bit of time trying to convey the way her earring looked both metallic and dull.  Sigh!  What’s with me and the accessories?

Serious Margaret

Serious Margaret

My art buddy Tony would call this “trois couleurs” because he likes to throw around his French.  It started life as black and white on toned paper, but after I added white for the highlights, I thought she looked too pallid–hence the pink.  For the pink I used a piece of pastel.  My drawing box contains various types of charcoal and charcoal pencils, white pencils and white “charcoal” (who do they think they are kidding?), and stubs of pastel-like sticks in several shades of pink and one blue.  Don’t ask me why.  It just happens.

DSC_0603

This is Margaret again.  I tried to tease a little “Mona Lisa” smile out of her, so this one is captioned “Not so serious Margaret”.  Many models have a hard time keeping their eyes open.  That doesn’t matter so much when you are concentrating on painting or drawing a figure, but it becomes mighty exasperating if you are doing a portrait.

Oh, the Hair

Oh, the Hair

You are supposed to hear the title of this drawing with the same inflection as the newsman lamenting the Hindenburg disaster.  (Oh, the humanity!)  Not implying the hair is a disaster.  Au contraire (Tony, I like to do the French thing too), the hair is wonderful but daunting.  of course, in 20 minutes I could only suggest the presence of masses of hair and perhaps that is just as well.

Daydreamer

Daydreamer

Ok, this is cheating a little.  But there is more head there than body.

DSC_0605 - Version 2

Here is another example of the three colors, and another, real cheat–this is a zoom in on the head to make it fit within the topic.  Here is the whole drawing:

DSC_0605

Can you tell that she is pregnant?

DSC_0603

This is an example of going against the measurements.  Her chin and jaw as observed came across as too manly.  I think it was an effect of the angle.  I shaved it back to make her look more like herself.

While these heads are not all pleasing me, at least I have learned to get matching eyes.  Mostly.  Eyes are difficult because there are two of them.  Both should be about the same distance from the nose and on the same horizontal level.  Both should be the same shape.  But usually you are observing them from a 3/4 perspective. One eye is farther away and on the other side of the nose.  Its size,  shape and position is greatly affected that that.  Cookie cutter eyes don’t work.  Picasso was on to something when he painted eyes from two entirely different perspectives.

19533_00_picasso_woman

Picasso’s “Woman Seated in a Chair” is in the collection of the Currier Museum of Art, here in Manchester.  Since becoming a docent there, I have come to appreciate this piece more than before.

I am 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; at the McGowan Gallery in Concord–the all-too-short exhibit of “Love, Lust and Desire” in which both sizes and prices are severely limited; 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.

Duality Continues

Before I get into certain issues involving the EEE class, check out these pretty decent likenesses I achieved  using charcoal on Mi-Tientes pastel paper.  First, from the Friday life group, here is Rebecca.

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013 (12×9)

I truly cannot count the number of times I have tried to do a portrait of Rebecca, with varying degrees of success.  I posted a bunch of them in this blog (“A Month of Beckys”) about 7 months ago; over a year ago I included the very first one here in a blog titled simply “Becky”.  Despite the annoying texture of the pastel paper (I chose the more highly textured side by mistake),  the one I just completed is the best.  That’s encouraging since it means I am still improving and have not yet hit my limit, if there is one.

My other likeness attempt came as part of the Saturday Life Group’s meeting.  A popular male model whom we have not seen for many months was back in NH, and one pose gave me the opportunity to try for a likeness of his face.  Looks pretty accurate to me, but I may be biased.  Here are both of the longer poses from Saturday–the first one, as you will see, did not afford any view of the face–and I remembered to use the smoother side of the paper:

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 2

Mike No. 2

Drawing a man who is “ripped”, as they say, is a lot of fun, and just what we needed after so many months of rounded flesh.

Putting all that likeness stuff aside, we can get to the bigger issue: can Aline come up with a paintable abstract concept, and go on to paint it appealingly?  Jury is still out, but hope has not stopped springing.  The two that I am going to show you are both from the EEE class, of course.  Thursday was our last class.  Many of my classmates intend to take it again in the Spring.  I, however, am putting my money on the Master Portrait Workshop with Dan Thompson and don’t feel I can afford the luxury of taking two courses in a single semester.  But I stray from the main story:  the EEE class adjourned halfway through our allotted time at the Institute to regroup at Bea’s place, to eat, drink, be merry, and critique each other’s works.  First up was my now-familiar abstracted landscape evoking stained-glass windows and Monet.  Patrick stood by his initial eval, but my classmates objected strenuously to the light-colored wedge, which they felt was distracting.  Peter Clive was present as well, so I asked for his opinion.  He advised repeating the wedge shape in the lower right corner.  Classmates seemed happy with that solution.  Therefore, on Sunday, after having endured a few restless nights trying to make sense of that advice, I dutifully inserted Wedge Minor into the masterpiece (please hear that with ironic inflection).   This smaller echo remains  as unexplained as the original Wedge Major.  Fortunately, it being abstract, I didn’t have to justify it in terms of a representing a recognizable object.  Most important, the new element has to blend into the scene as if it had always been there.

DSC_0005

This is your first view of this piece as translated through my Nikon SLR, so this version looks better simply because of that.  I had the devil of a time getting an image without glare inasmuch as I had ladled on the paint and parts of the painting will reflect glare no matter where you set up the light sources.  My solution was to go with less light and increase “exposure” in the editing room.  Details got lost, however.  There are more of the red dots in the middle background, for instance.

My last EEE project, started Thursday after a lot of planning, is complicated.  Shiao-Ping Wang presented a program at the recent meeting of the Manchester Artists Association, a program that I had, as program director, requested of her.  “How do you translate an abstract concept into a work of art?”  She showed us how she did it, explaining how her love of water became represented by a specific shape that she repeated in many inventive ways.  A few days after that, I saw a call for art for an exhibit on the theme “Love”, to be juried by Eric Aho, an abstract landscape artist whom I admire. Here is a short video with Eric, which gives you an idea of what he does as an abstract landscape painter.  Because of the juror and because of Shaio Ping, I decided to make an abstract painting for the show, based on something I love, namely, cats.  And fur is what I particularly love about cats.  Patrick had shown me years ago his painting of white chickens using a brayer instead of a brush.  The breasts of those chickens looked unbelievably soft and downy.  So what I intend to make is a painting about cats, using furriness as the symbol and perhaps deploying a brayer in my quest for irresistible texture.  But yet another influence out of the Contemporary Gallery of the Currier Museum led me to plan a hidden image of a larger-than-life cat face in the background of my abstract, furry foreground.  So far, I have completed only that background.  I have to let it dry now, before attempting the more difficult task of layering on the furriness without totally obliterating the face.

Love and Fur wii (20x16)

Love and Fur WIP (20×16)

(By the way, as the party was breaking up, Patrick told me that I had all of the other aspects of art making under control–I just needed more help with the conceptual aspects–advice that suggests I should reconsider my decision to take the portrait workshop instead of another dose of EEE. )

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 law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Up and Down, Back and Forth

Well, I committed an unforgivable sin last week.  I forgot to go the EEE class!  Forgot!  Such a quixotic thing the brain is–simply because I had no Docent Training class in the morning (finally graduated), my brain relaxed, dozed off, and failed to remind me that I had the class Thursday evening.  I need a calendar that punches me in the arm a half hour before I’m supposed to be someplace.   But instead of class I had an nice dinner out with my daughter, who really needed to get some food in her system.

I had big plans for that EEE class, the next to last class in the course.  Now I have only one left and no time to make up for the lost Thursday. . . because everything takes longer that it should, and  so many unexpected chores keep popping up with regularity.   Now I am going to have to execute on my big plans without the help of the EEE class.

And by “the class” I  include not only the instructor but also my fellow students.  Here’s why.  A few weeks ago I posted a work in progress along with the finished version and cryptically (some might say “coyly”) asked you to ponder their merits before I commented myself.  Well here is my comment:  I was sitting at my easel trying the wrestle something out of the WIP version–my effort to go abstract with landscape, remember?  Not feeling it, frankly.  In an effort to achieve more drama, I was applying black paint (gasp!  I used to not even own black paint) to the areas that had drawn my mind’s eye, and then kinda went nuts with the black, finding patterns to outline all over the place.  Suddenly, I heard whisperings behind me, classmates talking about something they were admiring.  I ignored, continued my Van Gogh-like thrashing.   The classmates behind me moved in to stop me, called for Patrick to see what I was doing.  The whole class stopped and watched as the piece was placed on an easel for all to consider, and Patrick immediately without much thought at all declared it to be an “award-winner.”  I am virtually certain that now he has had a few minutes to think about it, he would take that pronouncement back.  Anyway, I was not allowed to work on it anymore, and frankly, that was OK with me, because I was sick of it.  It’s still in the classroom, left to dry, then there was Thanksgiving, then the class that I forgot.  So my image is from the phone:

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

My classmates enjoyed the stained glass feeling.  I was enjoying (somewhat) the process of applying thick, dramatic paint, but when it was over, I did not get that singing-heart feeling that some of my paintings give me.  Maybe abstract is not meant for me.  Patrick already told me not to try pure abstract.

Meanwhile, on an entirely different track, I am trying to duplicate the success of last week’s “Margaret with her Nook.”  Here is another look at Nook, with the background cleaned up:

Final--Margaret and her Nook

Final–Margaret and her Nook

Yesterday I started on the Shadow Side of Becky, and remembered to take progress pictures with my phone.  Next Tuesday, I hope to complete this painting, which is a large 20×16 oil on linen:

WIP No. 1

WIP No. 1

WIP NO. 2

WIP NO. 2

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

chose to be in the dark for this painting in part because I have enjoyed chiaroscuro effect that comes with drawing the figure out from darkness.  Also because I have learned that to make a figure rounded, I needed to find a bigger range of light and dark.  So far, I am liking it lot.  I just hope I find it within me to bring it to the same level of finish as I found with Nook.

Reminder to those of you within driving distance of the Currier Museum:  I have a painting hanging in the Community Gallery and you can get into the entire Museum for free if you arrive before noon on a Saturday.

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 law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Two Projects Are Resolved, and a Theme Continues

Bear Notch sunset

Bear Notch sunset 24×36

Bear Notch Sunset (named for an overlook on Bear Notch Road in Bartlett, NH) is the piece that I started as an abstract painting inspired by Tom Thompson.  Like all of my previous attempts to paint abstractly,  it morphed into a recognizable landscape.  But this time I collaborated–I gave in to my natural predilection in order to rescue the painting (after all, 24×36 canvases don’t grow on trees), but am still determined to keep working on the abstract angle.  Proof:  here is the one I started immediately after declaring Bear Notch Sunset finished:

Design inspired by nature

Design Inspired by Nature 11×14

I had no photographic reference for Design Inspired.  It grew from a mental image, which I tried to capture in paint, thinking if it’s successful as a design, I might do a larger version.  However, I currently am not inclined to go big with it.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the expressiveness of applying this thick, dark pigment.  (I switched internally for inspiration from Tom Thompson to Vincent Van Gogh.)  But I don’t feel like repeating that design; I’d rather come up with a new idea to use in the same manner.  Maybe not a landscape.

Unfinished business:  I promised images of my four paintings from the Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition at the end of September, but I have only one to show you.  Two of them were purchased, one to persons unknown, and the other to a nonresponsive purchaser for whom I have only an email address.  A third I donated to the sponsoring organization (“Alternatives”).  But the fourth has come home, and, alleluia!  it was my personal favorite:

In the Shadow

In the Shadow

The little community was aswarm with painters (25 but seemed like more), while I was tucked away in this secluded spot that the director had led me to.  I felt very special.  I was on the balcony of one of the red brick mill buildings that Alternatives inhabits.  The roof over the balcony cast a huge shadow over the millstream below.   It may help your orientation if I tell you that the waterway disappears over the edge of a dam on the right.  The play of shadow and light on the water and on the aquatic plants intrigued me, but I worried that you couldn’t tell what was happening.  Others have assured me that they easily “read” it as what it was.  Was the subject matter too abstract for the customers?  Or just not evocative of a landmark?  Doesn’t matter, I’m happy to have it still in my possession.

The Alternatives event was outstanding, as good as Castine except with respect to the number of avid collectors at the finish of Castine.  Both were first-time events, which makes the undertakings even more admirable and their success amazing.  Alternatives treated the artists like kings.  We got box lunches delivered to us in the field on the first day, and a buffet luncheon back at headquarters on the second day, and more food at the auction that night.  High class all the way.  I wish I had made a point of meeting the juror, Charles Movalli, but  at that point I was on the edge of wipeout and still had the drive home ahead of me (2 hours at least).

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 law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Fixing up and the Start of a Bushwhack

Thanks to everyone who appreciated the drawings last week.  Black and white can be boring, especially when not brought to a polished finish.  It is fun for me to go back through them occasionally, hopefully to discern some progress being made, and drawing is the backbone of (most) painting.  I will show you perhaps an exception at the end of this post.  (latest project being painted mostly from my head without references)

And today’s post is full of color!  I made small refinements to three deserving plein air pieces.  The first goes back to Castine, Maine, on the pier facing the student (Maine Maritime Academy) ship, the U.S.S. Maine with its tug.  I had allowed the lit facet of the yellow tug to brown down, which sacrificed drama, and more importantly the contrast that had attracted me to the scene in the first place.  So here’s the original, and after it, the new and improved version:

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

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My second redo is actually a finishing up.  A Spring painting of the valley behind Franconia Notch in Sugar Hill was interrupted by showers, and the sky was left as blank white canvas.  One of my closest friends and admirer of paintings begged me not to touch it as he thought it perfect as is.  Do I listen to such pleas?  Well, I hung back for yea these many months but decided I had to fill in that emptiness–without violating my friend’s sensibilities.  I concluded that what he liked was the extra crisp edge of the mountain range line, so I made sure to keep that sharp, and the high contrast between sky (light) and mountains (dark), so I maintained that contrast as well.  While there, I punched up some of the other small lit areas–meadow, roof top.  Here’s the before and after:

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Franconia Notch, May 2013

Franconia Notch, May 2013

Finally, I applied the advice that I had received at the Manchester Artists Association meeting last month, to my first painting of Clark Pond (link to that post here):

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

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Clark Pond will now be framed and readied for exhibit somewhere.  (Probably East Colony Fine Art Gallery, where I just took down my figurative show and put up landscapes that are dearest to my heart.  Each show lasts for two months.)  I was excited to learn that the Currier Museum is allowing us docents-in-training to exhibit one of our own pieces in the Museum (basement) for the month of December, but I have another project in mind for that particular honor.

And that project is the one I am calling a bushwhack, since I don’t have a trail to follow, and have no clue how to reach my rather amorphous goal–to paint an abstracted landscape inspired by Tom Thomson.

Here’s the scoop:  I am painting in Patrick McCay’s EEE class with a start from the photo of the cloud shadows.  (posted here)  In addition to experimenting with the idea of abstract landscape, I was influenced by a book that Bruce Jones brought to Bartlett for the getaway weekend–a book full of the paintings of Tom Thomson, a Canadian artist working during the earliest decades of the last century.  Thomson painted juicy, blocky abstractions of landscapes and used the complementary colors of dark blue and orange to great effect.  Here is a stunning example:

West Wind by T. Thomson

Sunset by T. Thomson

I wanted to paint something that had that same impact.  My painting looked like this when I left off a week ago Thursday:

Bear Notch WIP

Bear Notch WIP

Something about my painting wasn’t working.  Patrick suggested that it evoked a forest fire with the dark spots represented charred remains of forests.  In theory I didn’t care what it evoked since abstraction was my principal goal.  But it wasn’t working as a whole, so last Thursday, I abandoned the abstraction goal and transformed my painting into an identifiable landscape that I hope will have almost the same impact as the Thomson.  You will have to wait until next week to judge.  (I forgot to photograph it before I left the class studio.)

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 law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  starting Nov. 9, at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment.

Back to the Drawing Board–Literally

Maybe it’s the result of my overbooked life, but I suddenly found myself longing for the simplicity and discipline of the black and white drawing.  Never mind that it turns out not to be  simple after all (a fact I had almost forgotten).  Pencil drawing also turns out to be sloooow!  But drawing has acted like balm for my chapped soul.

It started a week ago Tuesday.  I was running late and really preferred to stay in bed, but I had to show up for Tuesday Life Group because I am the one with the key.  So I unearthed a drawing pad, grabbed my box of charcoals and pencils and charcoal pencils, and rushed to the studio.  My drawing pad, looking back on it, was intended for pencil, not charcoal.  I used the hard and medium charcoals that day, and the image, being mangled in the pad all this time, is greatly degraded, but I think you can tell it was a successful session:

TLG 10/22/13

TLG 10/22/13

You might wonder how I can treat a successful drawing so carelessly.  The process of making a successful drawing is pleasurable, and I have the remains of the image to remind me how pleasurable.  But nudes, especially not painted ones, don’t have any other purpose than to give me the pleasure of creating them.  No one buys them.  And I have so many stored away now that I can’t take the time to enjoy them as past projects.  When this drawing pad is full, it goes under the bed with all the others.

Next was a Friday Life Group session with Dennis again as our model.  I kept trying with the hard charcoal.

FLG 10/25/13

FLG 10/25/13

As you can see, I got enamored of the podium Dennis was sitting on, and the shadow he was casting on the wall.  And his hands, but I had to do those separately:

Dennis' Hands

Dennis’ Hands

Working on interlaced fingers is a little like working on a jigsaw puzzle.  I did them a second time hoping that my understanding would have improved with practice.  Not so much, I’m afraid.

The next day was Saturday Life Group.  We had a new model, one that was obviously a yoga practitioner.  SLG starts with five 1-minute poses, then one 5-minute, then one 10-minute, then one 20-minute.  I sketched all but the 20-minute on sketch paper.  Usually I throw them away afterward, but first made photographs for the blog:

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

In all of these drawings, I was facing the windows (our venue has changed–no more overhead skylight), so the model is backlit.  After the ten-minute pose, I changed paper pads and started using the drawing (as opposed to sketching) paper.  I still hung onto the charcoal.  I first toned the sheet with a film of charcoal powder so as to enhance the play of the backlit around the edges of her body.

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

Reclining portrait

Reclining portrait

A good likeness, this one, except I dropped a few pounds off her tummy.  Finally, I switched to charcoal pencil.

Recumbent

Recumbent

Graphite pencil got the nod for this one; by comparison to paint or charcoal, it takes a much longer time to build up the darker values. Nevertheless, I could not resist depicting the Halloween-themed drape behind her.

Dennis in pencil

Dennis in pencil

I needed a few more hours to work on the values.

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 law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Smorgasbord of Art

My artistic output last week hit all the bases:  nudes, portraiture, experimental landscapes, and plein air landscapes.

Skipping over Tuesday primarily because I don’t remember what I did and I do remember being unhappy with it, let’s start with Wednesday.  Wednesday is usually a plein air day, but not last week.  Adrienne held another one of her all-day figure study marathons, from ten a.m. until seven p.m.  I had no pep,  but was determined not to let my health issue stop me.  But I could not keep it from slowing me down.  Larry Christian and I were the only ones to stick it out to the finish, but  I had to stop painting when I ran out of surfaces to paint on.  For the last 45 minutes or so,  I watched Larry working his charcoal magic on 10-minutes poses of the two models together.

I had two interesting compositions from a side angle:

Foot First

Foot First

Girl Talk

Girl Talk

Foot First was a pose of about two hours, I think.  We were late getting up and running, and I had to cut out early to take my daughter to an appointment.  The Girl Talk pose was maybe only 20 minutes.  No, that can’t be right–it must have been at least an hour.

When the Girls next changed positions, they presented me with profiles of each.  After 20 minutes, we found a compromise to keep me happy with long views of the profiles and Larry happy with frequent pose changes.  Even as the models changed their poses frequently , they kept their profiles toward me.  My view or angle would change slightly each time, but I managed to extrapolate from a current profile to the original profile.

Two Profiles

Two Profiles

Thursday was the EEE class, wherein I am trying to discover abstract paintings in my plein air studies.  The studies were 11×14.  The class projects are 16×20.  For both, I used a lot of paint applied with a palette knife.  I love thick, juicily painted paintings, a la Van Gogh.

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 2

EEE No. 2

I was in the Mount Washington Valley and environs all weekend.  The semiannual Artists Getaway Weekend organized by Byron Carr and sustained by Sharon Allen’s cohort of plein air fanatics brought together, in addition to Byron and Sharon, Bruce Jones, Sandra Garrigan, Patricia Sweet MacDonald, Jim O’Donnell, Elaine Farmer, a Gentleman Jim from Georgia whose surname I never got.  I left for Bartlett after class on Thursday, taking only small panels (8×10) with me. I knew by that time that my fatigue will keep me from covering the usual amount of canvas.  Sure enough, I finished only four paintings over Friday and Saturday, despite the fine weather we had.

Saco Riverbed

Saco Riverbed

The Davis Farm

The Davis Farm

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Mount Washington

Mount Washington

The last painting, the one of Mt. Washington, took me only little over an hour, including nodding off time. ( Patricia caught me napping with brush in hand, so there’s no point in covering it up.)  It is a simple composition, straightforward in execution.   No broken color, no short strokes, no uneven thickness of paint.  I was not surprised when many of my colleagues refused to believe it was mine.  But they agreed I didn’t likely find it under the pumpkin truck either.  I really could not have painted such a distant scene any other way on such a small canvas.

I have a new idea for this week’s EEE class:  on my way back from Bartlett, traveling the Bear Notch Road, I took some photographs of the cloud shadows on the mountains up North and am planning to make something abstract out of those images for the class this week.

left center

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 law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Health Matters, yes it does!

You may not have noticed, but I did not publish my usual post the week of September 30, or the week of October 7. Before Friday evening, I had been drafting a post  in my head;  I planned to use it to mull over the phenomenon of retirement generating more “optional” stuff to do and the psychology of slowing down anyway just because the pressure of earning a living has been lifted.  Thinking philosophically or finding excuses, whichever you prefer.

But before I could commit those weak ramblings to the ether, an event occurred that provides a better explanation of my inability to perform at peak levels for the past weeks–perhaps the past few months, even.  Unsurprisingly, I am all over that new, more concrete excuse, like a rat diving on cheese, and say in celebration, hail to the UTI and its curability with antibiotics.

How it all went down:  I had been feeling kinda crummy for a few days, and even had a spell of faintness, but nothing interfered with my performance of essential tasks.  I got to appointments, shopped for pet food, cooked, etc.  Suddenly, late Friday afternoon, in the middle of trying to reconcile a bank deposit for one of my nonprofit organizations, I started to feel really chilly.  I suspended that banking task and went to prepare an early dinner.  I turned on the central heat and plugged in a space heater.  I kept getting colder.  By the time my hamburgers were ready to be served, perhaps only ten minutes, I was shaking uncontrollably–paroxysms might be the right word.  I couldn’t talk, much less drive.  Ambulance was called–by my 17-year-old granddaughter.  Big scare put into family.  Not so  much me– I could not focus on anything except my desire to get warm.  After a few hours of hydrating and testing in the ER, Good News!  I was in terrific health but for this one thing, a UTI (urinary tract infection), curable with the right antibiotic (Cipro).  The doctor said something about the infection being well-established, suggesting it had been present in my system for a while.  That got me thinking of a health event that occurred on my way to Castine, back in July, which I could not explain.  I looked up the symptoms (vomiting with lower back pain), but didn’t follow up with my doctor because  the symptoms evaporated.

This morning I was infused with a microburst of energy, which resulted in the images that I will be sharing with you below.  In the past three weeks, I have been more prolific than would appear from this meager supply of five images.  The weekend of the Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition resulted in four paintings.  I forgot to photograph any of them, and had to leave them there for another month.  One has been sold, and if the other three are too, we shall be at the mercy of the buyers for decent reproductions.  It was a marvelous weekend, and I will go again next year if invited.  I’ll save the details for when I actually have visuals to go along.  Two additional paintings are at the Institute, drying.  They are from my fall semester class with Patrick McCay, called “Explore, Express, Exploit”.  They should be ready for photographing next week.

Here is the painting I made of Dennis on the Tuesday before Blackstone Valley:

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

I complained a lot about the plaid shirt, but I secretly was enjoying the challenge.  Looking at it now, from a new perspective, I admire the casual but effective depiction of his feet.

After Blackstone, I hit the ground running.  Well, painting.  I met up with the Cornwall Four (including me, four of us who took Cameron Bennett’s “Inspired by Cornwall” workshop in August) at a new water location in Auburn.  I identified it today from a map as Clark Pond:

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

The scene had everything–almost too much–bridge, the start of fall foliage, water, reflections, lily pads.  Yet I added the rock formations on the left; really, they added themselves.  The lily pads raft together to form little islands, which may confuse the eye.  One of the first lessons that I learned in my first landscape painting experience, from Stanley Moeller in 2005, had to do with water lilies.  He told me to underline them with “black”  (darkest of pigment, which was not necessarily black) to indicate the shadow they cast upon the water.  I couldn’t see but the thinnest of shadows, but he said “Trust me” and I did.  And do.  Still heeding his advice, I added the most delicate and unobtrusive of shadows under my pads.  This painting came under critical review by Peter Clive last Monday at MAA and when I am more of myself, I will be making some perfecting changes–playing down the reflections of tree trunks in the water; playing up the light on the rocks and bridge; settling down the water on the other side of the bridge, which doesn’t recede like it should.

The next day being Tuesday, I did a figurative of new model (to us) Michael, but I don’t like it, so I’m not showing it to you.  Wednesday, I was back to Clark Pond:

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

What a difference two days made!  We have liftoff!   (Fall foliage is a Big Deal here, where tourists flock jus to stare at our trees.  How strange is that?)

Margaret

Margaret

I wasn’t feeling too great last Tuesday, when I painted this new figurative featuring Margaret.  I get a lot of kidding about how fast I paint, so Tuesday, someone commented that I wasn’t going as fast as usual.  I felt that too, and hoped the slowing down was for the better.  I concentrated on the flesh tones, trying to get them just so, a la Steve Assael.  Now I’m wondering if it was just the UTI manifesting itself in sluggish behavior.

Friday morning we got together in the back of East Colony Fine Art Gallery to try it out as a location for figure study.  The podium is quite high since it started life as a work table.  The lighting is abominable since it consists of fluorescents over a worktable.  But there was room enough for my core group of artists, and plenty of easels.  Along with Margaret posing nude, my daughter Nancy posed clothed.  Nancy was “shadowing” Margaret to see if modeling is something she could do.  Naturally, I chose to paint Nancy:

My Daughter Nancy

My Daughter Nancy

Another plaid shirt.  She has my mother’s admirably straight nose.  We had the fluorescents off and a small spotlight on our models.

That night, of course, was the night of the ER, and I have been recovering ever since.  Now that I know what symptoms I should have noticed before, I am noticing them, but my fatigue should never have been overlookable.   I suspect the paroxysms of shivering took a lot out of me.  On the bright side, the back pain I have been putting up with for weeks has subsided–not arthritis after all!

Bottom line, I have been shirking all but the most imperative of duties.  One of those duties: I took upon myself a viewing of “Gravity” 3D on the iMax screen.  I heard it should not be viewed any other way, and I was worried I would miss out if I didn’t act today.  I can now report that the advice was justified, and worth the prioritizing.

The rest of this week will be taken up with Tuesday Life Group, trip to Boston to collect my painting at the Arboretum, and bridge–all on Tuesday, Adrienne’s Fall Figure Marathon all day Wednesday, docent training at the Currier and my Triple E class with Patrick, Thursday, then a drive to Bartlett for the 3-day Fall Artists’ Getaway Weekend.  Glad I found out what ails me before all that went down!

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 law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Have Brush, Will Paint

I haven’t gone far, but I did go, and that’s got to count for something.  Or against something.  Sometimes I worry that I am not painting enough stuff near my home.  If I don’t do that, who will?  I think of Van Gogh, Cezanne, and how they practically documented their surroundings.  Both of them were certainly obsessive and almost manic.  I wonder if that is what it takes.

First up is Wolfeboro.  I participated in the Paint the Town event last year, painted two paintings and sold one.  This year I spent all my time (I think they gave us less time) on a single painting and did a pretty good job on it.

Back Channel in Wolfeboro

Back Channel in Wolfeboro

But it didn’t sell.  The blue building houses a hardware store.  Even a painting of a hardware store would be desirable if it were painted by Van Gogh.  I am not Van Gogh.  Alas.  When will I learn to paint a desirable subject?

For IPAP weekend, (IPAP stands for International Plein Air Painters, I believe), I started out well, subject-wise.  This is the entrance to Beech Hill Farm, a good place to go for ice cream and other neat things tangentially related to farming.  Pigs and sheep are present for the viewing as well.

Beech Hill Farm near Hopkinton, NH

Beech Hill Farm near Hopkinton, NH

I’m thinking of calling this  “Portrait of the Artist’s Automobile”.  Yes, it kind of ruins the picture for anyone whose car it is not, but I’m perverse that way.  It being my car, I could have moved it, but I deliberately chose to include it.  Please take note of the rain puddles too.  It did rain, and I did persevere without pause.

Day Two of IPAP weekend was Saturday, and I could not give up my attendance at Saturday Life Group, so I arrived quite late at Wagon Hill Farm, in Durham.  This Farm is conservation property, with beautiful rolling hills and a few antique wagons to provide some farming flavor.  I saw no evidence of active farming.  Indeed, I hardly ventured into the property before I unloaded and set up my gear with nothing but a rolling hill to inspire me.

Wagon Hill Farm in Durham NH

Wagon Hill Farm in Durham NH

I like it.

Day Three we drove out of New Hampshire to Acton, Massachusetts, to the home of one of our members.  “Home” does not quite describe the property.  I did not even see her actual home.  What I saw was old growth woods with one log cabin in decent shape and one tumbledown shack, with chairs sprinkled about, all on a big pond, large enough to be called a lake.  I found a chair in front of the log cabin and painted two paintings from that spot.  Next time I’m going for an area inhabited by lily pads.

Isabelle's Rock, Acton Massachusetts

Isabelle’s Rock, Acton Massachusetts

‘Belle really liked this one because she has herself painted that rock many times (like a mini version of Cezanne’s many paintings of Mont Victoire) and she felt I really captured it.

Isabelle's yellow-orange kayak

Isabelle’s yellow-orange kayak

In the title to this piece, I specified the dual colors of the kayak to make sure the viewer didn’t think I was confused.  Getting that kayak right was challenging.  Trees and rocks are so much more forgiving, but man-made objects have to be spot on.  I am pleased with the shine of sunlight hitting the kayak but unhappy with the shadows cast by the tree branches.  To me, the shadows look built in, part of the kayak’s surface.  Note the lanterns hanging from the tree limbs.  Windsocks and other whimsies decorated the property.  She also served snacks!

In terms of bathroom facilities, always an important factor for us girls, Beech Hill gets the blue ribbon with real rest rooms.  Wagon Hill had a portapotty in the parking lot.  Nyala (that’s what Belle calls her woodland estate) boasted something else, I’m not sure what exactly, but I rank it under the portapotty.  Still, better than going in the woods, which I have, on occasion, been forced to do.

In addition to the above official NH Plein Air events, I have been sneaking around with several of my classmates from the Cameron Bennett workshop.  Four of us have been meeting up to paint on Massabesic Lake and at the Griffin Mill Pond and Dam in Auburn.  One of the best paintings I ever painted was done at Griffin Mill Dam, years ago.  I tried to duplicate that success.

Griffin Mill Dam 2

Griffin Mill Dam 2 (12×16)

It didn’t happen.  In some ways, this is the better painting technically, in that the individual elements are more expertly done; but the whole doesn’t jell for me. I realize now that I was not in the exact same spot, because this time I plunked myself down without a second thought right in the middle of a bridge.  When I painted the earlier painting, I wasn’t so bold.  Ah, age brings with it a certain devil-may-care attitude.  That’s because Life IS Short now.  Here’s the original:

Griffin Park dam

Griffin Park dam (8×10)

Isn’t it lovely?

Here’s another from the Griffin Hill Dam, this time looking straight across to the barn up the hillside.  That’s right, all buildings in New Hampshire are related in some way to farming.

Griffin Mill Dam 3

Griffin Mill Dam 3

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 Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; 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 Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

Prescott Park in Portsmouth

Saturday I had a grand day, painting with an old pal, Flo Parlangeli, in the urban seacoast setting of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  We were taking part in an event organized by the New Hampshire Art Association.  There were flower gardens and bridges and boats to see, with families, boaters, tourists seeing them.  Later there was music to hear.  Many also stopped to investigate what the artists were up to.  I believe there were even a few sales.  I thought the quality of all the artwork was pretty high.  My first painting was a view out of a densely shaded part of Prospect Park towards the brightly lit homes across the street.

In Prescott Park

In Prescott Park

Some of the figures were suggested by the appearance of actual people, others I just made up.  I am trying to develop a skill for making a few strokes of color suggest people.

After getting one serious painting under my belt, so to speak, I experimented with the next two paintings.  I deployed my largest brush with my medium mix of Gamsol, stand oil and Liquin, and first covered my panel with creamy yellow paint, thereby creating a wet surface to paint into.   Continuing with that big brush, I blocked in big shapes, working very fast.  As long as feasible, I kept using the big brush.  I never did move to anything smaller than a medium brush.  It was fun and energizing.  I don’t know if the results are anything to write home about, but these two paintings have a different feel to them.

Waiting for the Show to Start

Waiting for the Show to Start

People had reserved their spots by setting up lawn chairs and blankets along the front,  but those chairs and blankets were empty because no one wanted to wait in the sun.  There were plenty of people in the shady background, but I wanted to populate my sunlit chairs, and so I continued  my experiment with slashes of color.  Enough to suggest people?  The water in the background is the Piscataquog River that separates Maine from New Hampshire.  The Portsmouth Naval Station is represented by the buildings on the right, across the river.

Backstage at Prescott Park

Backstage at Prescott Park

Actually, this is behind the back of the stage–trailers, chain link fence, tent, stacks of wooden fencing (I guess–I didn’t really analyze what exactly I was observing here).  I see a flaw that I would like to correct now–those dark “holes” in the staging should feel more like gaps through which you can just make out some trees on the other side.  Yes, those multicolored blotches are trees.  I was listening to my inner child.

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 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;  and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings hang in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter and a poster reproduction hangs in the Currier Museum of Art, also in Manchester.

Inspired by Cornwall

All last week I was preoccupied with my participation in the workshop with Cameron Bennett, which he titled “Inspired by Cornwall” because it was. . . inspired by his time living in Cornwall and becoming familiar with such artists as Alfred Munnings and Laura Knight–the Newlyn School.  We were to paint the figure in landscape, en plein air, because that is what the Newlyn painters did.  Their history has been made into a movie, “Summer in February”, which is being described with such terms as “complex”, “wild”, “incendiary”;  our assignment, to re-create the that atmosphere, was a departure from the usual workshop fare.  Every day was threatened with rain, but we must have had the luck of the Irish with us because the sun shone for us each day.  Until Friday.

Monday, Cameron handed out an essay written by him on the Cornish painters, treated us to a slide show of representative paintings, and demonstrated his own approach to the subject at the location–Pretty Park– and with the model that we would use the next day–Margaret.

Image

Tuesday and Wednesday, we painted at a local cemetery with Dennis (he of the portrait that I did a few weeks ago) in the morning, and with Margaret at Pretty Park in the afternoon.

Dennis, bridge in Pine Grove Cemetery

Dennis, bridge in Pine Grove Cemetery

Margaret in Pretty Park

Margaret in Pretty Park

Thursday we went to the Seacoast and spent most of the day on this pose.

Grace at Odiorne, with Big Hat

Grace at Odiorne, with Big Hat

When the sun seemed about to leave us, and the wind picked up, Cameron set us up on the edge of the beach with only 40 minutes to paint, and like a drill sergeant, prodded us on to finish a gestural study.

Grace, standing at edge

Grace, standing at edge

Friday, we were all but comatose and welcomed the excuse of potential rain to retreat into the Institute to paint a figure in an interior setting.  I never quite got around to the setting.

Grace, another profile--red shirt

Grace, another profile–red shirt

It’s not good as a portrait, but  I like it as a figure study.

Cameron showed more slides to remind us of what we were supposed to be learning.  I hope I absorbed the learning by osmosis because my brain was pretty drowsy by that time.  At the end of Friday, we staggered out of the building into a gorgeous late afternoon, too tired to notice.

About the Currier Museum poster competition that I may have mentioned once or twice in the past:  I made it into the semifinals, and as a result, I have a piece of my artwork hanging in the Museum.  Yea!  ( I didn’t win.)

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 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.  And a poster at the Currier Museum!

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.

Steven Assael workshop, conclusion

This is my third and final installment about the Steven Assael workshop.  The first two installments dealt exclusively with the demo that Steve started as the Monday session, 10 to 5.   I think he liked it so much that he wanted to finish it with the model.  Or perhaps he like US so much he wanted to spend extra days with us.  Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.  He had 16 students in the workshop, two of who are teachers at the Institute.  Most of the rest of the class were young current BFA candidates or youngish BFA graduates from the Institute, but we had one stray up from Delaware (his home base) and Florida (his art college).  Then there were the three of us older figure students, me and my buddies Bea and Elizabeth.  It was a very compatible and committed group of artists.  So maybe he just liked us.

Enough with the progress images of his demo.  Here is the last one that I caught before I had to leave, followed by close ups:

3:50

3:50

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-feet

3:50 detail-feet

He dabbed away at that red fabric (a soft shiny material, perhaps silk) from time to time throughout, and the daubs became more purposeful as the end of time neared.  Suddenly, the fabric on the model stand became the fabric in the painting.  Like a hungry, prowling predator, he circles his subject, getting closer and closer until Wham!  there it is captured to perfection, pinned to his canvas.  (I don’t know what predator behaves like that in reality, but doesn’t it sound right?)

When I left at 4:30, he was scrubbing the background.

I hate to follow that with my own pitiful effort  to emulate him.  But I know  you are curious.  Here’s the disaster I spent two days on:

Becky, last version

Becky, last version

I must have wiped that out nine times, trying to find my way.  I refused to let him paint ON my painting, so he painted this as inspiration to get me over whatever was blocking my creativity:

Becky by Assael

Becky by Assael

But it wasn’t the start that I was having trouble with; it was the finish.

Thursday I changed rooms (we had two rooms going with a model in each) to paint Margaret.  Here is my start, before any input from Steve:

Margaret before

Margaret before

Not enough blue!  This time I allowed him to go at it on my painting:

Margaret After

Margaret After

Notice how he lost all my carefully drawn edges?  As he left, he said “Now you can correct the drawing.”  So I corrected the drawing:

Margaret, drawing corrected

Margaret, drawing corrected

And then I added the red lamp to my painting.  When he saw this version and complimented me, I wasn’t sure whether he liked the lamp specifically, but when he later incorporated the red glow in his own painting, I imagined it might have been inspired by my red lamp:

with the red lamp

with the red lamp

Saturday was a day of Drawing with Steven Assael, 9 to 5.  He did not come around to critique or help us, but we could watch what he was up to and ask him questions.  Margaret was our model.  This is Steve’s drawing of Margaret, executed with Stabilo pencils on silverpoint paper:

Margaret by S. Assael

Margaret by S. Assael

Don’t you love the decision to let her stomach disappear into the paper?  And she wasn’t really sitting on her hand.  So what if the likeness isn’t there!  He couldn’t care less about a likeness, although he  usually does get one, even of Margaret.  I have another image to prove that but too tired to add now, which is technically no longer Monday.

This is my portrait of Margaret, in which I really do get her likeness.  I was able to show it to Steve when nine of us went out to dinner with him, and I ended up in the seat next to him.  He liked it, he really liked it!

Margaret, profile, in graphite

Margaret, profile, in graphite and charcoal pencil

Two criticisms that he shared with me:  I should carry the shadows of her jawline and cheekbone into the hair so that the hair does not look so flat.  I will do so when I have a couple of artmaking minutes to put together.  I expect the improvement to be so subtle that you won’t be able to identify it, but you will think it’s better.  It’s also the way he paints–the subtle attention to nuance that brings living flesh and muscle into his painting.

The other criticism had to do with my composition.  I had included Margaret’s breasts, but when they became too prominent in the composition,  I scribbled them out.  However, the scribbles still appeared to be part of the drawing.  In a related point, the design of the hair masses need to be considered, not blindly rendered.

Exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, inspiring–all that you might expect in seven days with a Master.

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.

Steven Assael workshop, cont.

I posted a mid-week report on this figure painting workshop, which you should check out before reading this post.  The workshop was supposed to be five days, from ten a.m. to five p.m.  That schedule was amended at the end of the first day, Monday, because Steve’s demo was turning out so good that he wanted to finish it before he left New Hampshire.  Well, that’s my educated guess as to his motivations, which were really pretty transparent.  First he determined that his model for the demo, Becky, was not available Saturday, so arrangements were made for her to come in Sunday!  Saturday was therefore to be a group drawing day, with Margaret as our model.  Margaret also modeled for the class Tuesday through Thursday.  Monday and Friday and Sunday were given over to the “demo”.  Plus we started at nine a.m. instead of ten, every day after Monday.  I am wiped out and all I had to do was stay awake and focussed.  (If I let my focus wander, I started to nod off.)  Steve seemed to be running low on steam towards the end, but would not stop painting.  Becky was released at 4:00 and I had to leave at 4:30, while Steve was putting finishing touches on the background.  I hope they were the finishing touches.

As a result, I have so much material to show you and discuss that I could probably fill a week of posts.  I will leave my own work out of the discussion for now.

Before the pictures, a commercial:  please go here to vote for my poster if you can.  The top 30 or something vote getters (that actually might be all) go on to another round of voting.  It’s all too complex for my poor tired brain tonight.  Just go there and vote!  (Please)

The following four pictures were taken during the Friday “demo”.

Image 15 Image 14 Image 16 Image 18

The thing to notice about these “progress” pics is that he rather cavalierly blurs previously articulated shapes in the course of finding the hue and value he is looking for.  Also notice how he uses the painting itself as an auxillary palette.  The black and red drapes were added to break up the expanse of blue, but not much attention was given to painting them.  Yet.

The rest of the pictures are from today.  I have captioned each with the time I took the photo to give you some idea of the passage of time between one and another.  You might understand better why it was hard to stay focussed:

10:30

10:30

The first thing he did was get rid of the blue drape altogether by covering it up with a brownish patterned one.  I’m quite sure that if he had another couple of days to work on  this painting, the pattern would be beautifully represented.

11:00

11:00

He cleaned up the background–uh, palette–and placed a red crescent about where the red lamp shone.  Take note of that because I like to think something I did on Thursday may have inspired this bit.

See a little bit of patterning in the brownish drape?  And her face is back–sort of.  The black parabola emerging in the background has us all wondering.  The black drape is so subtly beautiful that I’m afraid you can’t see it.  Steve is a wizard with black.

1:23

1:23

Sunday’s session was supposed to end at one o’clock.  Becky agreed to stay on and, I presume, the Institute agreed to foot the bill.

2:23

2:23

Not quite sure but I think the reflection of the black drape on her back and continuation of the red drape towards the background are new.

I have a few more images that I would like to show you, but I think I have exceeded some kind of daily limit–Wordpress is not accepting any more uploads.  I will try again tomorrow.

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.

Thumbs down and thumbs up

The poster competition deadline was today.  I submitted last week, after much fruitless agonizing.  I’d been obsessing over the lettering issue.  I was seesawing between disliking formal lettering and being horrified by small misalignments of hand lettering.  Here is where I got to toward the end.

poster, next to last version

poster, next to last version

As you might notice, the word “and” leaves a lot to be desired.  I just couldn’t leave it like that, which meant I had to paint it out yet again.  In desperation, I went out and bought multiple sets of stencils and stickers, hoping one of them would solve my problem, but none did.   Without really knowing where I was going, I started to paint out the latest version of “and” when I realized that you can still read the letters when they are partially obscured.  Clouds, I thought.  One of my followers had actully suggested that, and now I was ready for that solution.  Which resulted in this:

poster--final version

poster–final version

Am I happy?  No, I realized I was never going to please myself, and I had just better stop messing with it.  So in it went.  I cringe when I focus on the lettering at the top, and just hope I don’t get laughed out of a competition where most of the entrants know exactly what to do with lettering.

On a more upbeat note, the painting (or study) that I created Tuesday  turned out  really well.  I think so, and Peter Clive, our mentor, said about it something to the effect that it was one of my best, and in addition, it showed feeling.

Fletch, in profile

Fletch, in profile

Every day this week I am immersed in a workshop with Steven Assael at the NH Institute of Art.  If I can ever get the photos from my phone onto my computer, I will post the progress pictures from his demo.  All I can say for now–amazing.  I think I have found a kindred spirit.  Stay tuned for a shift in my style.

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.

Do overs and lupines

A couple of months ago I posted a rave on Anders Zorn, and I think I may have found him a few new fans.  Today, I have another, similar artist for  you to sample, through a click back to Robert Genn’s site here.  The artist is Joachim Sorolla (WA keem SarOYah), a Spanish contemporary of both Sargent and Zorn.  He was a master of all the same skills that I admire in Sargent and Zorn, plus he was a magician with white.  Not actual white, but that hue as changed by light and shadows.

And now for a commercial:  please visit this address for a view of all the artworks accepted into an online exhibit called “Women’s Rights, An Artist’s Perspective”.  My painting  “Grandma’s Jewels” was juried into this exhibit.  All of the artwork in this and similar exhibits is something called “conceptual”, that is, a message is conveyed, to the most intense degree of drama possible.  Picasso’s “Guernica”, for example.  I think it would be hard to be a conceptual artist all the time, but some artists thrive on it.  Personally, I just like to find something beautiful and paint that.  Beauty does not convey message, at least not any message that packs a punch.

OK, with all that out of the way, on to this week’s topic:  Do-overs.  Lupines.  In the past few weeks, I have been outside doing a lot of plein air painting.  My best paintings have a way of being alla prima, without any going back to correct or improve.  In fact, I cannot think of one that I was able to turn from mediocre into superlative.   Yet I keep trying!  Of my two from the Forbes House (discussed last week here), I did produce one winner, the little one of the “coverlet”.  The other one was a bit messy, and I took a knife (palette knife) to it, thinking to reclaim the panel for another project.  But that damned Urge to Fix overcame me, and I repainted the bloody thing, using the ghost images as my guide to the placement and shape of the boats.

Milton Landing, before scraping

                    Milton Landing, before scraping

 

Marina, repainted

Marina, repainted

I’m afraid the result may not have been worth the effort, but no effort is really wasted in this learning process.  Or is it?

Then last Thursday, I took the day off to go lupine painting with the lupine experts of the NH Plein Air group.  Lupines are a flower that blooms in June rather extravagantly in some  places.  The town of Sugar Hill has so many lupine fields that it holds a “lupine festival” every year to encourage visitors to the area.  Lupines come in shades of blue, pink and white, sometimes within one plant, but mostly blues and purples.  They look a lot like the Texas bluebonnet.  I have had trouble painting lupines in the past, but I wasn’t giving up on them.  Yet.

I produced three lupine paintings.  Not happy with any of them.  The first was the obligatory field of lupines against the backdrop of receding mountains featuring Mount Washington on the misty horizon.  The second was lupines by the lake.  In both of these, I was really more interested in the receding mountains and the lake, respectively, than I was in the lupines.  The lupines seemed kind of stuck on.  An accidental presence.  So I painted a quick lupine closeup as my third and last opportunity to conquer the lupine hazard.

When I got home, with the advantage of distance from the actual scene, I decided the problem was my schizo approach to the lupines.  To make the first two paintings better, I had to downplay the lupines, stop treating them as pimples on an otherwise idyllic landscape.  And for the third study, I just needed a few more strokes to define the nature of the lupine and its leaves.  Not so much of a do-over, more of a touch up.

I hope you have not been holding your breath!  Here they are, the befores and the afters:

Field of Lupines, BEFORE

Field of Lupines, BEFORE

Field of Lupines, AFTER

Field of Lupines, AFTER

Pearl Lake BEFORE

Pearl Lake BEFORE

 

Pearl Lake, AFTER

Pearl Lake, AFTER

Lupines close, BEFORE

Lupines close, BEFORE

Lupines, AFTER

Lupines, AFTER

Not only am I cursed by this compulsion to fix mediocre paintings, I am cursed by the compulsion to write about it, doubling the time and effort expended.  Should I make this my last lupine festival, or is there hope for me?

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 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 hung somewhere in an office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, probably the Manchester one.

Living Free in New Hampshire

This week’s obsession is a poster contest announced by our gem of a museum, the Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester.  First,  if you are not already familiar with New Hampshire’s notorious motto, here’s a little background.

State Emblem

“Live Free or Die.”  The motto achieved its national notoriety after the NH legislature determined that it must  be written on our license plates.  Some uppity commie liberal type objected to having such an inflammatory statement attached to his personal motor vehicle, and sued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to get it removed.  Well, that’s the story my memory came up with, but I know better than to trust my memory anymore, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it seems the offended motorist was a Jehovah’s Witness, who reacted not by suing but by covering up the “or Die” portion of the motto because death for a political cause was unacceptable in his religion, and the Supreme Court got involved because he was prosecuted under a criminal statute for defacing the license plate.   His conviction was overturned under the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution–the State could not force him to express a sentiment with which he did not agree.

Although that was something of a slap down, the motto remains on the license plate.  I had to look to be sure.  NH licenseNew Hampshire does live by the motto:  seat belts are not mandated for adults; helmets are not required of motorcyclists; soda cans do not come with a refundable deposit; and taxes, at least those that would reach a broad segment of the population, are abhorrent.  Cigarettes, fireworks, gambling and liquor are encouraged.  They generate revenue.  When we say “free”, we don’t mean “tax-free”.  For a comedic take on New  Hampshire’s philosophy,  see Juston McKinney’s YouTube analysis.

In defense of free living, New Hampshire was an early adopter of same-sex marriage, thereby proving it is an independent thinker.  I believe there is also a law on the books to the effect that gun-toters must be allowed to enter courtrooms and legislative chambers with their guns on board.   In that last case, the death resulting from living free may not be that of the free liver lover.  So you see we have a lot of scope for comedy here.

Anyhoo, the Currier  has a contest going for the best poster on the theme of “live free AND _______”—you fill in the blank.   The idea is to describe or celebrate something wonderful about New Hampshire, where you may live free and also do some constructive things, things other than killing yourself on the highway.

I had an immediate super-brilliant idea and decided to compete, ignoring the fact that I have zero experience or training as a graphic artist.  I ordered ten poster boards from Dick Blick, mostly because you can’t order just one.  Extras would be good because I would surely mess up the first few attempts.  Then I explored the internet for some  hints on how to go about painting on poster board.   There wasn’t much out there to help me, but I did learn that applying oil paints directly to the board would not be advisable.

Luckily, I keep some acrylic paints on hand, so I planned to paint a base of acrylic, which would seal the surface and prepare it for the eventual painting in oil.  The base would coordinate with my background colors.  Once I got going, very confidently since I thought I was still just painting the base, the whole thing just sprang to life.  My first acrylic painting.  I was stunned.  And happy.

Then began the process of lettering.  OMG.  I proceeded with great care (and concern).  Again I conceived a plan:  The letters are to consist of their outlines only, because I wanted the background painting to show through.  I drew the my letters freehand.  I did not want mechanical-looking letters but I did some measuring.  I cut them out with an Exacto knife.  Not as easy as it sounds.  Hard, in fact.  I stuck them  onto my poster with museum putty to see how they looked.  I repositioned them.  I redid  “. . . and” to make that piece smaller than the “Live Free“.  I outlined them using a pen.  I painted around the outlines.  The unevenness bothered me.  I didn’t want it to look professional but I wasn’t going for sloppy either.   I tried blurring/bleeding edges with my medium (I was using oil paints at this point).  Kind of liked that.  Wiped out the word “Free” because letters were too crowded together.  Painted with acrylic paint over the wipe-out to create fresh, clean surface for next go ’round.

And that’s where I am.  Today I am researching the kinds and uses of stencils, vinyl lettering etc.  Should I give up on the outline plan?  Guess I am going to have to show you in order to get any feedback.

Image 3

The above is a close up or detail of the painting, showing paper letters positioned where I planned to outline them.  I wished I knew how to make the letters look as if they were actually hanging in front of the poster.

Image 4

Above is the whole thing, with all of the letters positioned; I must have corrected “HIKE”‘s position  before penning its outline in red ink.

Image 2

Above is the state of the poster before I darkened the upper outlines and before I whitened the “HIKE” outline, and yes, before I got up in the middle of the night to remove the crowded letters forming “Free”.  I like “HIKE” now, but am worried about “Live Free”.  All of my options for stenciling or applying letters involve letting go of the open outline design.  What do you think I should do?

As for the subject image, if you have been reading for a while (over a year). you will recognize it from a 9×12 study that I did for a Patrick McCay course at the Institute called “Explore, Express, Exploit”.  I published it in this blog from October 2011.  Here is the original inspiration:

The Lone Looker

The Lone Looker (photo)

I am well and truly exploiting that image of the guy on the rock outcrop that I photographed at 2011’s bike race up Mount Washington, thus fulfilling the promise of that course.

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 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.

The White Mountains of New Hampshire

New Hampshire has a Seacoast region, a Lakes region, and countless quaint farms and towns, but to the rest of the world, New Hampshire means but one thing:  the White Mountains.  They do rather stand out, compared to all those other things.  I believe “white” comes from the glimpse that early seafarers got of them, when covered by snow.  Or perhaps it was the sun glinting off the granite.

In any event, they became the subject of many 19th century paintings.  Champney, Bierstadt, and dozens of others explored and painted the Whites.  For a complete rundown, go to White Mountain Art.   Right now there are two major exhibits of White Mountain paintings, one in Jackson and another in Plymouth.  The former we have visited twice before.  The latter is housed in a brand new Museum of the White Mountains on the campus of Plymouth State College.  We stopped there to check it out on our way to Bartlett last Thursday.  We came away with a map showing the coordinates of several locations, that is, the coordinates to the spot where the painter stood to paint or make his sketch (probably not many of the paintings were painted outdoors).  My painting buddy, Sharon, aspires to paint like the Old Masters, and her enthusiasm led her to download a GPS app to her smartphone, and led both of us over hill and dale in search of the right spots.  It was fun.  Unfortunately, progress or tree growth interfered with many replications.

My plein air painting No. 1 is a covered bridge not far from Plymouth.

Smith Millenium Bridge

Smith Millenium Bridge

Friday, we got in two painting segments:  the first was in the strawberry fields below Cathedral Ledge.

Strawberry Fields (Cathedral Ledge)

Strawberry Fields (Cathedral Ledge) (No.2)

Usually, my first painting is my best, I think because the inspirational tug is strongest with the first try.  If you don’t count the covered bridge–it was on the way into the mountains, not quite there yet–this is the first.  And it could be the best.  But there are four more, and you might like one of them better.

Friday afternoon we went on our first expedition in search of Old Master painting spot:  Mt. Adams as captured by Champney.  The actual spot was right in the middle of the Auto Road up Mt. Washington, but we found a better one off to the side.

Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams (No. 3)

Mount-Adams-Benjamin-Champney-1852-24-x-30-inches-Private-collection

Mount-Adams-Benjamin-Champney-1852-24-x-30-inches

The snow-streaked mountain in the background of my painting is Mt. Jefferson, and on the far left is the beginning of Mt. Washington, which is a sprawling kind of mountain, lumping its way to the highest point in the Northeast.  (Last January I had painted a view of this lumpy part of Mt. Washington  on that misery-filled plein air weekend.)

Saturday we found our own spots.  The day before, on our way back to the Bartlett Inn from the Mt. Adams spot, a stream near the highway had caught our eye and so the next morning we went in search of it.  Sharon sometimes ends up in my paintings, and I was particularly glad of the added interest her hat brought to the scene.

Roadside Painter

Roadside Painter (No. 4)

After a while, the noise of the traffic hurtling by next to us faded from consciousness and all we heard was the gurgling water.

In the afternoon, Sharon introduced me to Echo Lake, at the foot of White Horse Ledge.  It was an idyllic spot.  Sandy beach, picnic benched (excellent to paint from–you can really spread out your stuff), lively visitors (and I don’t mean the black flies)–one of whom demonstrated the echo for the rest of us.

White Horse Ledge over Echo Lake

White Horse Ledge over Echo Lake (No. 5)

My painting had at one point a much more literal depiction of the ledge, but its very literalness bothered me, so I loaded up my palette knife and spread paint liberally.  Perhaps something in between would have worked better.  Supposedly there is an image of a horse, whitish maybe, delineated in the cracks of this ledge, but I sure couldn’t see it and I wasn’t about to fake it either.

Sunday was a travel day, but we did get in one painting late in the day before heading back South.  It was the product of another Champney search, this time in Sugar Hill.  Mt. Lafayette is on the left and Cannon is on the right.  Personally, I would call it another view of Franconia Notch.

DSC_0001

I’d say this is about half done.  The dark clouds arrived, threatening rain, before I even touched the sky.   The sky had been a dull gray before that anyway.  Cannon is a ski mountain, and I’m not sure I want to put the ski trails in.  But why not?  I don’t know.  View is from Lovers Lane, in Sugar Hill.

All of my paintings on this trip were 9×12, except Roadside Painter which was 10×12.  I figured I was out of plein air practice, and the smaller format would help me finish paintings.  That was correct.  Perhaps smaller will mean more salable too.  Eventually, I plan to take them back to hang in Bartlett Inn.

Or I may take them to the Beacon Hill Art Walk on June 2.  I am trying to decide whether to take only figurative works, only landscapes, or the best of both.  I’m sharing a tent with Bruce Jones, who does beautiful work in the style of Don Stone.  I’m not sure I want mine compared to his.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices 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.  Through May 30, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings will be displayed at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.  On Sunday, June 2, she will be participating in the Beacon Hill Art Walk, in Boston.

The Joy of Completion

Detail from Portrait of Grace

Detail from Portrait of Grace

The “Joy of Finishing” was my first thought for the title to this posting, but “Completion” is  better.  And not just because “completion” brings with it  fewer double entendres.   You could “finish” or come to an end of a project without being satisfied with it.  “Completion” connotes a goal achieved.  I could go further in this amusing wordplay by comparing “accomplished” as in “mission accomplished”, but that could get raw.

This week, therefore, I celebrate three completions.  Last week you saw the intermediate stages of two of them, so you have some idea of what to expect.  Above is the detail from the bigger one.  I said I wanted to make the background from the colors of the headscarf and whaddya know–I did!

Portrait of Grace

Portrait of Grace

Grace did not realize we wanted to repeat the pose from last week, so she arrived with a different scarf, wearing different earrings, and carrying a different drape.  Just as well–three elements were thus eliminated that I might have spent valuable time on.

This is a pretty good likeness of Grace, but of course, profiles are so much easier than 3/4 or full facial views.  Have I mentioned that before?  I hate to repeat myself, especially when the point is obvious when you think about it:  matching up eyes, eyebrows, lids, etc., etc., especially in the 3/4 view where the shadows make them look different, is really, really tricky.  Also, faces are not symmetrical, so too much matchy-matchy would be wrong.  Given all that, trying to figure out where the eye on the left should be higher or the one on the right should be lower can give me headache sometimes.  No, all the time.

The other just-short-of-finished figure from last week came out OK.  I think I messed around a little with the face, to no good purpose, but the main focus was the hand.  Now shorter, narrower, and with a hint of finger structure, this hand no longer detracts from the painting as a whole.

Figure Study (M on BLS)

Figure Study (M on BLS)

However, the face is not that of Margaret, so I moved in closer, metaphorically, on a second sheet of canvas:

Portrait of Margaret

Portrait of Margaret

Still not Margaret.  If I had had more time, I would have lengthened the nose perhaps.  Or shortened it.  But it’s hard to say what exactly is wrong.  Peter Clive said, “Margaret is elusive.”  I called her “sneaky”.  (Which I think she appreciated.)  Likeness or not, this painting came out well.  What do you think of the background?  I was thinking of light through thick green glass, but chose not to take that concept all the way–it was just my inspiration.

You might notice that the head is tilted differently in the second attempt.  It’s just impossible to keep a head from moving.  If I were alone, and were painting a portrait, I could keep telling the model how to adjust her attitude, but when painting the entire figure, there is so much to keep aligned that you tend not to trust  your opinion about where the head should be–especially if changing it might decimate a colleague who thought he had it right.  (I apologize for the long sentence but couldn’t find a spot to break it up.)  Still and all, frustrating as it is, I would not trade it for drawing from a plaster cast of a head, illuminated by a steady, never varying spotlight.  The harder it is, the more ways we learn.  I hope.  I sure hope so.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.  Beginning May 1 through May 30, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings will be displayed at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.  On Saturday and Sunday May 4-5, she will be exhibiting and demonstrating at the Londonderry annual event “Art in Action”; the location of Art in Action will be the large farmstand operated by Mack’s Apples, 230 Mammoth Road in Londonderry.

Aging

Well, it happened again.  I forgot to post Monday’s blog.  I was so pleased with myself Sunday for taking the photographs and uploading them to WordPress, that I must have subconsicously given myself credit for completing the job.  Or it’s age.  Twice in three weeks–not good!  Good thing I am wrapping up my law practice.

Yes, it’s official.  I will not be renewing my license to practice law in the state of New Hampshire at the end of our fiscal year.  As of July 1, my status will become “inactive”.  Of course it may take weeks after that to tend to my clients and sort through and dispose of the accumulations of 29 years.  Some of my clients I will continue to be able to serve (e.g., by preparing tax returns) but for those requiring the services of a member of the Bar, I will try to place them with new lawyers.  The tax clients will be the hardest to place–not many lawyers want to represent taxpayers in trouble with the IRS.  That’s because usually the trouble originated in some fault of the taxpayer–well, not “fault” exactly, but behavior.  When people get smacked down or just depressed, they can’t cope with taxes, and of course, to the IRS, it’s just another same old story.  Our system of income taxation confers upon the taxpayers great responsibility and great trust.  Alleviating that burden on the taxpayer is, in my opinion, the only decent argument in favor of a sales  or value added tax.  Thank God I won’t have to even think about this stuff in a few months (except, as I said before, a few tax return preparations).

So this week’s original topic was going to WIPs (works in progress),  WIP and RIP (rest in peace) are two possibilities existing simultaneously in a half-finished painting, like alternate universes.  RIP means I never return to finish the painting.  WIP is a hopeful designation.  Two unfinished paintings this week are, I hope, WIP and not RIP.

But let me show you first–three completed charcoal drawings from our Saturday Life Group.  I’m pretty psyched about them.  Our couple was back, and all of us were a little more at ease with each other and the whole concept of two entwined naked bodies.  For one 2-minute gesture pose, they even struck a kissing pose.  It dawned on me that I could not get more appropriate pieces for the McGowan Gallery‘s annual Valentine’s show,  “Love, Lust and Desire“, than these drawings.   And pieces in the show are limited in size to 8.5 by 11,  so when I decided to bring my 9×12 high-quality pastel paper to SLG that morning, Fate was with me.

I don’t quite remember (age again?) which poses were what length, but the range was 20 minutes to 50 minutes.

LL&D No. 1

LL&D No. 1

LL&D No. 2

LL&D No. 2

LL&D No. 3

LL&D No. 3

I started all three by smearing the paper with soft charcoal.  Then I deployed the kneaded eraser to bring out the lights.  The paper was not white, so I could have increased  the contrast by using white pastel, but for some reason, I felt that much contrast would be too intrusive.  Does that make any sense at all?

WIPs I have several, but the most important is my Mt. Washington Oeuvre.  I slapped some more paint on it, and it’s beginning to take shape.  I’m getting excited about it again,  as the background gets covered with paint.

Phase 3--Biking on Mt. Washington

Phase 3–Biking on Mt. Washington

I have to keep reminding myself that I conceptualized the mountains as semi-abstract.  I cannot allow myself to get hung up on painting realistic rocks.  For the figures, I need to resize them–the ones farther from the viewer need to shrink a bit.  I plan to refer to the original photo references for each figure, on my iPad if I can get it to stop  going to sleep.  Consistency in the direction of sunlight also needs some work.

The next work was a WIP yesterday, when I should have posted this entry, but when I got to Tuesday life group this morning, everyone else wanted to move on with a new pose.  So although I may need to tinker with shapes and values here and there, this is essentially a done deal.

Jon seated on stand wip

Jon seated on stand wip

By the way, I made up the background at home, thinking to get a head start on today’s session.  Head start, finish line, same thing almost.  One of my cohorts today commented that I had a nice touch with interiors, suggesting I should consider that as a specialty.  So watch out for that as a new theme, possibly.  I’m pretty opportunistic, like a leaf in a stream of water, just letting it carry me wherever.  So far, no interiors have presented themselves as likely candidates for painting subjects.  George Nick did some interiors that I admired greatly (many shown in his gallery of 2008-2010 paintings here), and Paul Ingbretson, just one floor below our studio, has an interior that would knock your socks off (see it here–called Warm and Cool).  And Van Gogh was very much into interiors.  Can you think of other examples?  Seems to me to be a pretty untapped seam.  Hope I’m not mixing metaphors there.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Hello, Again

To those of you who noticed and cared that I did not post anything last week, I apologize.  To those who never noticed or cared, I don’t know what to say.  Really?  Your lives did not seem emptier?  Mine seemed peculiar.  I am so used to the follow up discussion among my friends that it was as if we had lost a piece of our conversation template.  Perhaps I have gotten spoiled, so it was a good thing to experience a little deprivation for a short time.  I have no excuse for missing a week, if that’s what you are waiting to hear.  I suddenly realized on Tuesday that I had never posted the Monday blog, or indeed even taken the photographs with which to illustrate it.  Instead of bending myself into a pretzel getting a late entry out, I decided to lie back and wait for complaints, if any.  Too few complaints were received.  Oh, well.

The upside is all the extra material I have for this week.  The headline news is progress on the painting that I started a year ago of bikers racing to the top of Mount Washington.  Here is a link to what it looked like last  year.  I brought it out to work on March 23 because of Peter Granucci.  He invited us to his studio in Gilsum (where?–middle of nowhere but close to Vermont) for a workshop on stalled projects.  I had the perfect candidate in the Mt. Washington painting.  He forced me to do exercises of value studies for the painting, six of them, and claimed that each was better than the one before, and only then was I allowed to apply those principles to my big canvas.  So annoying to have to apply real rules when all you want to do is follow your instinct.  But my instinct had dried up, I guess, and that’s why the canvas had seen stashed away for a whole year.  So now Phase 2, which will I hope lead to 3 sooner than a year from now:

Phase 2 of Mt Painting

Phase 2 of Mt Painting

Another feature from Figure Fridays with Peter Clive is this 2-session study of Fletch reclining on the ubiquitous brown leather sofa.   I had two hours remaining when I finished the figure study, so I started a portrait too.

Reclining Male on Brown Sofa

Reclining Male on Brown Sofa

 Portrait Fletch Mar 2013

Portrait Fletch Mar 2013

Compare the new portrait to this one from last month.  Am I getting better?

Fletch portrait on darker bkgrd

Fletch portrait on darker bkgrd

The Saturday group is back in business after two weeks off.  Here is the pick of that session.

Reading from back

Reading (Nook) from back

Finally perhaps my favorite of the group is this portrait of Grace.  I think I am finally getting the hang of something–the color of the skin, the modeling of the shoulder, and the light touch for the mouth.  I’m really fond of this one!