New Crop of “Figure in the Landscape”

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

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

Judy with Guitar and Rhododendrons

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

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

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Basketful of Flowers

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

Diamond Bracelet

Diamond Bracelet

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

Reader on White Settee

White Wicker Settee

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

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

Reader at table with vase of flowers

Tablecloth and Vase

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

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

George Martin painting

George Martin, posing with his brush and easel

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

John Brown as gardener

John Brown, posing as gardener or farmer

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

Combining red chair with white parasol

Navy Blue, Red and White

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catching up–Bartlett Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

.  .  .  .

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

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

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

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Jackson Falls, v. 5 or 6

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

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Bierstadt Meadow with Bluebird House

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

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Under the Bridge, of Another Bridge

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

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

Harvey Gamache passing into New Castle

The Harvey Gamache Passing into New Castle

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

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Portsmouth Paintings

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

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

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

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

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

Comin' Through (Memorial Bridge, Portsmouth)

Comin’ Through

3 Bridges, Portsmouth

Three Bridges, Portsmouth NH

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

At the Elks Club

At the Elks Club in Portsmouth

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

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

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

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

A Spate of Painting Leads to Opportunities for Rescues

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

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

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

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

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Bottom of Court Street, Portsmouth

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

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

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View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

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

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

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Race Point Coast Guard Station

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

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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.

IMG_1375

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.

IMG_1385

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!

When Something Ends . . .

Something else comes along to fill the vacuum.  Last week, I had to announce to all on my list of figure artists that I was ending the Monday Life Group, after more than five years I think.  It does not work as a drop-in kind of thing unless a sufficient number of artists are willing to show up a few times a month.  I needed five artists to break even at the other studio, three to break even at my home studio.  When times were good, more than the minimum would show up, and I would have extra money to tide me over those weeks when not enough artists showed up; but when  you get down to three, there’s just no slack to work with.

Being forced to paint every Monday from the live model was very good for me and for my progress as an artist;  I feel lucky to have had that experience for so long.  There is a silver lining though, in the opening up of a whole half day in my calendar.  I’ll have more time to lead tours at the Currier, work on my blog and finally get to more floral paintings.  Perhaps flowers will replace figures.

So here is the last of the MLG output:  my granddaughter Natalie.

Natalie on arm of sofa

Natalie on arm of sofa

I booked her for only two weeks, and it just proves that two weeks is not quite enough to complete a portrait, no matter how loose the style.  I would have like to do more work on the hair and skin tone, but I pressed to get a face in. It is a pretty nice likeness, right down to the pained expression.  Her hip was hurting.

My other output last week was in Canterbury, the town center of Canterbury.  I have many times painted in Canterbury Shaker Village, but never before in the town of Canterbury.  We (plein air artists) were invited to paint during the Farmers Market and bring some works to sell, but Flo Parlangeli and I went out there in the morning, before the Market, so as to have something of the town to show, maybe sell.  We were warmly welcomed by the people of Canterbury, especially the hospitable librarians.  Chocolate cake with vanilla icing left over from a library anniversary party the night before!  And bathrooms!  The Market itself takes place in the Library parking lot.  To paint our first painting, however, we set up outside the general store, called the Canterbury Country Store.  I later learned that the Town owns that store, probably because it’s not really a going proposition.  But it sells good ice cream!  There was a constant stream of residents stopping in for one thing or another.  That was when we noticed one coming out with the ice cream cone.  We had to immediately take a break and try the ice cream.  Also the storefront looks adorable:

Canterbury Country Store

Canterbury Country Store

Maybe I can count this as a floral painting.

We moved downhill to the Library and the Market mid-afternoon, where we were joined by Sharon Allen, Mary Crump and Ann Traynor Domingue.   The Market was fun.  School kids were given some kind of scavenger hunt which required them to ask an artist what “plein air” meant.  That’s why we were invited!

I was at that point a little tired, and being pleased with what I had already painted in the morning, not in the mood to stretch myself.  I looked for a convenient subject, one that allowed me to keep my easel shaded and the table with my paintings for sale nearby.  By facing toward the sun, I can keep my painting shaded, and the painting itself keeps the palette in shade.  The subject I found when I faced the sun was Sharon:

Sharon at Canterbury Market

Sharon at Canterbury Market

I don’t know why she needed two things protecting her from the sun–her canopy chair was backed up by her ShadeBuddy–but my depiction is accurate (as always).  Notice the plastic bag that she throws her oil-smeared paper towels in.  She uses those blue shop towels, as do I, because they are much sturdier that ordinary kitchen paper towels, even Viva, and I wish I had got the blue towel more prominently present in the picture.  Sharon has burned her name onto the back of her Guerrilla pochade box.  See that orange straw coming out of the plastic cup?  Sharon keeps Dunkin Donuts in business single-handedly.  I believe, but am not positive, that Sharon was painting the musician who was playing his heart out just behind me.  I could have done him instead, but it would have been complicated since I could not use my ShadeBuddy on the hard macadam surface where I was so comfortably chilling’ out.  Yeah, I was just lazy.

The rest of my week was taken up with so much interference:  meetings, exhibit chores (I was appointed chair of an exhibit in Concord — see below), physical therapy (I’m going to solve the new knee problem and maybe even the old lower back problem that keeps me from standing to paint).  At my age, because of my age?, I am productive only half the time I am awake; the rest of the time I am chillin’ out.  I like to think of chilling out as restorative, but worry that it’s not restoring anything useful.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Fresh Air painting

We hit two locations last week: Wednesday at St. Gaudens National Park in Cornish, NH; and Sunday  near Mt. Washington and Crawford Notch.  Both times I was with Sharon Allen and Betty Brown, and on Sunday, Mary Crump and Jim O’Donnell joined us.  Sunday was Day Three of the annual International Plein Air Painters (IPAP) paintout.  I had to skip Days One and Two because of schedule conflicts.  I think that was a good thing–I was fresh and rarin’ to go on Sunday.

Augustus St. Gaudens was a sculptor.  His two most famous sculptures are the Shaw Memorial, which sits outside the State House in Boston; and Diana, the largest of which lives at the top of Madison Square Garden.  A small Diane graces the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH, and another large one is on display in St. Gaudens’ studio.  This is the view of her that I could get from the doorway; I was not allowed inside because of my canine companion, Justice.

St. Gaudens' Diana

St. Gaudens’ Diana

Justice was with me as a treat for him.  When I leave him at home, I have to lock him in the bathroom because nothing else seems to contain him when he gets the urge to defecate in the living room.  To the list of outdoor painting problems, therefore, I have to add the possibility that your dog will scare off strangers who might want to see (maybe buy?) what I am painting.  He was pretty good on Wednesday; only chose to bark at two people.  Nobody was interested in what I was doing anyway–they were there to see St. Gaudens.

The statuary found in the gardens outside his home were not his pieces.  However, he chose the statues to decorate his garden, so they must have enough artistic merit to justify a painting of them.  For my first painting at St. Gaudens, I followed Betty’s lead and painted a statue of Pan standing over a fountain of sorts and surrounded by plants with huge arrow-shaped leaves, similar to a house plant that I used to cultivate but whose name has slid out of reach in my memory.  Here is my photo of the statue, followed by my painting.

Pan's Garden

Pan’s Garden

Statue of Pan

Statue of Pan

Mind you, the light had changed between the time I took the photo and when I got to the point of lighting my composition.

For my second painting (usually I paint two in a day when we are out for the whole day), I wanted to include St. Gaudens’ house.  I also fell in love with the light hitting an ornamental grass that graced flower pots that line up to lead down from the house into a semi-secluded outdoor room.  Here is my first taste:

Line of ornamentals

Line of sun-struck grasses 

Just as I got set up to paint, a rain cloud arrived and slowly passed over.  I checked my iPhone, and as far as it was concerned, the sun was still shining.  So I sat tight, using two sun umbrellas to shelter in place.  Justice was not pleased.  I suggested to him that he could get under the chair I was sitting on for pretty good protection, but no, he had to rely on my easel/palette tray.

Here is what my subject looked like for about 20 minutes.

St. Gaudens home in the rain

St. Gaudens home in the rain

As a result of the rain shower, and perhaps also the complexity of my subject, I could not finish the painting of the house and garden.  I may use photo references of the grasses later to complete the floral grouping in the foreground.

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

Justice did not accompany me on Sunday to Crawford Notch.  On Saturday, a friend took him away to Massachusetts for sleepovers, but that left the Great Dane, Honey, all alone.  I lined up a few people to let her out periodically.

On our way up to Franconia Notch, the weather was concerning–cloudy, drizzly.  Then it perked right up as we continued north of the Notch, on past the Mt. Washington Hotel, which coincidentally was hosting a major art fundraiser for the northern forest.  We had to get to the Willey House because Betty and perhaps others would be meeting us there  for IPAP.  The weather deteriorated.  Clouds were very low, and it felt as if it might drizzle at any moment.  But it didn’t!  We stuck it out.  My painting seems to have darkened as it dried, which is odd.  If I had had sun lighting my canvas, I would have painted too dark, but I certainly had no sun that time.

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

The ducks were bobbing around back and forth all day, and whenever a new person approached the duck food (actually fish food but apparently good for ducks too) feeding station (25 cents a pop), they would swarm toward that person.  I had to have a few ducks in the painting.  Those white blobs represent the white feathers.  The rest of them–grays, browns– kind of get lost in the water.  Here is a different photo of the painting, a little too red but without that bleached out spot and better for discerning ducks:

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

After having lunch at the Willey House, we headed up to the Mt. Washington Hotel.  The sun was still shining on the Hotel, but the mountains were still obscured with clouds.  In addition to sun, this spot had wind.  Most of the artists who were there painting not for IPAP but for the fundraiser were set up on the leeward side of the wide veranda that encircles the hotel.  Betty and Mary joined them, while Sharon, Jim and I went in search of an angle from which to paint the horse that we had spotted as we drove into the hotel.  It wasn’t easy because of the distance the horses were from the road, and the impossibility of getting any closer.  That last line of defense for the horses were cattails, ergo wetlands.  The closer vegetation was probably infested with ticks.  Wimps we were.  And when I sat to paint (which is how I have to now), my line of sight on the horses did not include any legs.  Perhaps just as well. I have not painted many horses, and all I had to worry about was the body, neck and head.  Legs and feet can come later.

Horses under gray sky

Horses under gray sky

I painted the horses on a panel toned with cadmium red.  You can see hints of that red here and there. The sky was the last piece I put in.  I liked it with the bright red sky.  I hated the whitish gray sky.  So before it dried completely, I tried wiping out the whitish gray.

Horses with Pink Sky

Horses with Pink Sky

Red appealed to me I think because it is dark, and I wanted a dark value in the sky so as to increase the attention paid to the field.  It is hard to determine the value of red as juxtaposed to other colors.  I supposed I could make a dark blue sky.

So that is what came from two days of painting outdoors in the fresh air, sunny and cloudy and sometimes wet.  Before I close, I know that Bad Cat acquired some fans, so here is another shot of him in my bed.  His real name, by the way, is Blue.  Bad Cat Blue.

IMG_0804

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

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

Fabulous!

Duveneck Reader

Duveneck Reader

“Fabulous” was David Curtis’ word for this painting, completed in his Gloucester garden as the last figure-in-the-landscape event.  As if to prove he was not using the word casually, he added that it was a “prize-winner” (or “award-winner”–same thing except some awards don’t come with any prize other than the glory).  I took that pronouncement as a challenge–I went home and entered it in the Artist Magazine competition for Artists Over Sixty.  Doesn’t that narrow the pool so as to benefit my odds?  On the other hand, artists who have been painting all their lives are pretty darn good by the time they attain the age of sixty, which hurts my chances.  If/when I get passed over, I get to tell David Curtis he has been overruled.

The title, “Duveneck Reader”, arises from the fact that the book her right hand is resting on is titled “Duveneck”.  It is an art book about the painter Duveneck, who was affiliated with the Boston Painters.  As such, he occupied a middle ground between academic painting and impressionistic painting–pretty much what I do too.  Anyway, David was so pleased that I included the book and actually thought he could read the word “Duveneck” on the spine of the book in my painting, that he might have been biased in his assessment of the overall quality of the painting.  Hence, I felt I had to include the name in the title of the painting.  (There’s not much logic involved in titling paintings.  Numbering them seems like a cop out to me, so if something just pops into my head, I accept that as a valid title.)

For the competition, I didn’t rely solely on the one painting.  As long as I am entering, I might as well include two more of my recent figures (at the cost of $20 per image).  I chose the Bridal Gown as one, and a nude that I have just completed after three Monday sessions.  The nude furnishes a good example of how very tiny adjustments can improve (I hope!) the overall effect of a painting.  First, here is the painting after the end of the first session:

After one session

After one session

I knew I was going to have two more sessions (each is three hours) with the model in this pose, so I concentrated on getting the proportions and angles correct, in other words, the drawing of the figure.  I could afford to leave the skin tones, facial features, hands, and drapes for another session.

After session two

After session two

After two sessions, the painting seemed almost complete.  Thinking back onto Steven Assael’s demonstration, however, I knew I could improve on the skin tones.

At the end of the third and final session, I had this.

After session three

After session three (try to ignore the shadows at top, from my easel)

My artist companions thought the hands were too small.  The size of the hands had been on my mind throughout as problem areas, and I had measured them against her face, taking into consideration the fact that she does have small hands, and at least one of them was extremely foreshortened in my eyes.  But I accepted the verdict of Laura and Nancy, so after they left the studio, I opened my palette back up and got to work enlarging the hands.

American Beauty (final)

American Beauty (final)

Nancy had suggested I just make the foreshortened hand wider.  I did so, and also blurred the left edge.  The other hand, which had been so difficult to render in the first place, now had to be re-rendered without help from the model’s presence.  Insane.  But the very fact that I had painted it dozens of times with her present enabled me to recreate a slightly larger version without her present.  I think it actually turned out better.

You might have noticed that I hardly touched the red drape after roughing it in the first week.  The shapes of the drapes changed drastically not only between weeks but also between poses–even during poses at one point.  During the second session, one of my cats became enamored of my model and the drapes.  He explored the possibilities and ended up carving out a napping spot behind her hip.  Wiser the following week, I locked all four cats up in my bedroom.

Bad Cat

Bad Cat

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Color Me Encouraged

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

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

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

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

View of the Town

View of the Town

Essex River--Highway to the Sea

Essex River–Highway to the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

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

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

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

Proud Winners

Proud Winners

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

A Moment to Treasure

A Moment to Treasure

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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

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

Uncanoonuc Garden

Uncanoonuc Garden

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

Little Blue Spruce

Little Blue Spruce–Putney VT 2008

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

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

A Boy and His Dog . . .

A Boy and His Dog . . .

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

Flower Box

Flower Box

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

haybalejwyeth352-300x214

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

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

Exeter Inn

Exeter Inn

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

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

Inlet

Inlet, Boat ramp

Entering Prescott Park

Entering Prescott Park

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

Wentworth by the Sea

Wentworth by the Sea

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

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

Bridal Portrait

Bridal Portrait

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

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

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Sheridan

Sheridan

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Urban New Hampshire

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

Newport

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

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

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

Newport Covered Bridge

Newport Covered Bridge

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

Exeter

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

Exeter Riverfront

Exeter Riverfront

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

String Bridge, Exeter

String Bridge, Exeter

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

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

Water Street, Exeter

Water Street, Exeter

Portsmouth

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

Market Square in Portsmouth

Market Square in Portsmouth

New Boston

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

Under Dogwood, New Boston

Under Dogwood, New Boston

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Lupine Worship

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

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

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

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Lupines in Crawford Notch

Flo's Crawford Notch lupines

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

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

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

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

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

Field of Lupines in Jaffrey

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

Lupines, AFTER

Lupines in 2013

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

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

Lupines with Irises

Lupines with Irises

Flo's Sugar Hill lupines

Flo’s Sugar Hill lupines  (another hasty snapshot)

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Monadnock

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

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

Wapack Trail (Southward)

Wapack Trail (Southward)

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

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

Bridal Gown

Bridal Gown

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Marco Island Part 6 (final): Kooky, Experimental

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

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

South Beach Residential

South Beach Residential

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

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

 

South Beach Nocturne

South Beach Nocturne

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

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

 

Bridge to Everglades

My Bridge from Everglades, looking North

Here is Mary’s version in watercolor:

Mary's Bridge

Mary’s Bridge

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

Watery Home

Watery Home

Compare a cropped version without the railings:

Watery Home-Detail

Watery Home-Detail

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

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

IMG_0635

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

 

Snow Camp 2015

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

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

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

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

Hammock in Winter 2010

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

Plein Air Artists 2010

Plein Air Artists 2010  11×14

Franconia Notch 2010

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

Alone on the Trail 2011

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

Franconia Notch 2011

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

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

Last Scrap of Light at the Bartlett Inn

Last Scrap of Light at the Bartlett Inn

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

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

Driveway into the Bartlett Inn

Driveway into the Bartlett Inn

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

Snow Camp 15 - 31

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

 

Three Pies on One Finger

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

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

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

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

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

Introducing Monty

Introducing Monty

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

Take Two: Mother and Son

Take Two: Mother and Son

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

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

Partners in Crime (WIP)

Partners in Crime (WIP) 16×12

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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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Aftermath. What is the value of a painting that you love?

So, last Saturday was Art in the Park, which I was anticipating in my previous post.  The weather “cooperated” beautifully.  I chose this unfinished oil painting on paper (9×12) to offer for my (free) raffle.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

You might remember Grey-eyed cat as one I painted during the Art in Action event last April.  The raffle rules were, to be eligible to enter, you had to answer this question, “What medium did I say in my blog I tried last week for the first time?”  The answer was on my website,  so anybody could look it up on their smart phone.  A few did.  A few guessed (wrong).  A few didn’t bother with that detail.  One little girl was so determined to win the painting that she got her mom to take her home to look it up on their computer.  I’m happy to report that her extra effort was rewarded!  Congrats to Rebecca; I know my Grey-eyed Cat will have a loving forever home.

My tent was situated across the path from the Entertainment:  three musicians playing folk songs together and performing solo.  I had brought my plein air painting gear, so I set up and painted a scene of the musicians.  Mind you, the only one who stayed in one position for any length of time was the middle one, Michelle.  It was a test of my memory and experience.

The AITP Musicians

The AITP Musicians

The aftermath of this painting was a little weird.  The next day, or maybe it was later Saturday night, Michelle posted on Facebook that she wanted to buy the painting and asked the price.  I replied, on Facebook, that I wanted her to have it, but we should discuss it privately, via email.  Unbeknownst to me, she jumped to the conclusion that I was going to give her the painting and spread that all over Facebook.  Meanwhile I tried to find out what she would be comfortable paying, and I thought we had reached a resolution (half the usual price, payable over five months), but she later backed out, saying she couldn’t afford it.  No counter, no hint as to what she could afford, so I guess her original offer to buy was impulsive.  It just makes me sad –after being so happy.  I don’t mind giving a painting away to a friend who appreciates it, but I feel that a stranger who is not  willing to put up some bucks does not really value it.

What is the value of a painting anyway?   To the artist, a painting’s value has little to do with “market” value.   [I’m not talking about “investment” grade paintings here–a subject absurdly foreign to the experience of most living artists.]  The paltry few hundreds of dollars on a painting’s price tag doesn’t go far toward covering an artist’s costs when you take into account the years of learning and practicing.  A painting is created with joy, and you could say once created, it has no further value to the artist.  It becomes the remembrance of joy.  Sure, it could be exhibited, perhaps win an award, enhancing the artist’s reputation, etc.  None of this has anything to do with a “market” value for a painting.

I had a similar inquiry recently from the exhibit of my paintings at the Cancer Center–a patient would have bought a particular painting if the price I quoted was within his/her expectations.  I guess it wasn’t, even though I knocked a hundred off the usual price.  I can imagine the patient’s disappointment to learn that the painting was not “affordable”.  But why not?  Why not negotiate with the artist, try an installment plan?  What is it about paintings that they are so little valued, even when loved passionately?

Before I started making my own paintings, I bought other people’s paintings.  I remember how hard it was, especially in the beginning, to screw up the courage to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting that I fell in love with.  When you consider how much can be spent on a restaurant dinner these days, isn’t it ridiculous to expect a painting, which lasts forever, to be cheaper than a gourmet meal for two couples?  I never regretted what I paid for paintings, or for the cost of framing them (usually more than the painting!).  But that is hindsight.  How to convey this perspective of value to someone who has never before thought about paying for a painting?  I have no clue.

To offset that glum discussion, I want you to see two paintings from the Monday group, last week and this week.  Last week, we asked my daughter to pose clothed in Dee’s garden, and we enjoyed the experience of working from the clothed model so much that we had Robbie keep his clothes on yesterday:

Poolside

Poolside

 

Sneaker

Sneaker

This weekend I am off to Vermont for a weekend of plein air painting in the Upper Valley, with Sharon Allen and others.  The result should be a bunch of new paintings to love.  And value, perhaps.

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 still at the Boston Arboretum.

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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Double courses, Double helpings

I’ve been painting so much lately that I have not had time to blog.  Today’s blog, therefore, will cover a lot of activity.  On the menu are three pure landscapes and three figures in the landscape.  You have seen earlier versions of two of the latter, so we’ll start with those even though my changes to the originals represent my most recent activities.

The Black Kimono, Take 2

The Black Kimono, Take 2

I felt I had to fix the arm in Black Kimono.  That is kind of a dangerous thing to do, especially since I had no photo reference, or if maybe I did take one, I forgot to look for it.  I just plunged ahead, building a right arm where I felt it should be, given where the left arm was.  The right arm still disappears behind her thigh, but the angle is more natural, and the plumpness of the forearm conveys the message better.  I am not declaring Black Kimono “done” yet because I am considering whether to add some pale streaks of lights reflecting off the kimono, so as to better delineate the leg underneath.  I hesitate because the result will be gray, and that can just look messy.

I have not had much experience with black.  In fact, I used to not carry a tube of black with me at all.  If I needed black, I would just mix the darkest available colors, usually ultramarine blue and burnt umber.  I learned that in one of the first courses I took at the Institute.  Peter Dixon was teaching color theory and Renaissance painting, and combined both of them in the same room at the same time.  So I picked up basic color theory along with grisaille and glazing.  Black was not used for either course.  Since then, I have encountered many other teachers who make “black” with their own combination of darks.

Yesterday morning we met again in the Lessard garden with our nude model.  You’d think with another three hours to work on something that seemed really close to finished after the first three hours, that it would be perfect now, and I even could have started a second painting.  Alas, not so.  I’m less happy with it now than I was last week.  Maybe happiness is a function of the number of hours expended on something.  Longer generates higher expectations, perhaps higher than achievable.

White Floppy, Take 2

White Floppy, Take 2

Her new face is what bothers me the most, but I also see background “errors”.  And one of the reasons for spending the extra time–improving the patterns of light and shadow on the figure–just don’t dazzle like I hoped.  It seems that just when I feel I am making significant progress of that ladder of artistic proficiency, I come up short and get knocked back a peg or two.  Did I just mix a metaphor?  How embarrassing!  I used to be so good with the English grammar stuff.

While we are looking at figures in the landscape, let’s check out the Last Pose of Summer–the last one in David Curtis’ garden.  Our model Mary Ann brought a costume reminiscent of Gibson Girls–between Victorian and the Roaring Twenties.  On top of her filmy white gown, she wore a dusty pink lace coat.  Dusty pink is close to the color of skin in shade.  How hard will that be to depict!

The Last Pose of Summer

The Last Pose of Summer

I kind of think I nailed it.  I would have liked to capture more definite leg shapes, but it was windy and the fabric kept swirling around her so as to prevent any sort of definitive anything.  Go with the flow, I say.  So I did.

For the pure landscape selections, we have another local back yard, one to dream of, a trip southward to a vista of brackish marshes, and tree portrait from the Boston Arboretum.  However interesting these scenes might be to a viewer, to this artist they felt dreary for the lack of a human presence.  Or even a dog presence.  I have become quickly spoiled by my good fortune in David Curtis’ garden.  Still it is good to be outside painting:

Elaine's Back Yard

Elaine’s Back Yard

This really is in the back yard of a fellow artist, Elaine Farmer, who just moved to Amherst and invited us over to paint on her fabulous garden.  But we can’t resist water.  And there was a little foot bridge over the stream, whence I painted.

Cox Reservation

Cox Reservation

The Cox Reservation is located in Essex, Massachusetts.  David Curtis and a group of his followers meet up there regularly to paint.  I have actually painted this scene before, when Sharon Allen and I were exploring the Essex National Heritage Area.  As I was driving down, I resolved not to get sucked back in with this vista, but rather to find something interesting, preferably with flowers, to paint close up.  So much for resolutions.  I hate vistas.  They are so hard!   When I started on this one, there wasn’t even any water to paint, but as the tide rose, it got better.  But why was I even there?  I don’t know.  Something in my afterlife must have required it.  No, I have it!  I just compared it to the earlier one (linked above), and it seems my vistas have improved somewhat since 2012.  Yea!

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Finally, the Smoke Tree.  I had to deliver a painting to the Arboretum anyway, so I decided to make a day of it and paint something.  No vistas this time.  I went looking for flowers, and found mostly flowering trees, which is not something very common at the end of summer.  This bush (“tree” is reserved for bushes that grow a lot higher) was located at the top of Bussey Hill.  Luckily, there was a road to get me there.  (They let me have a driving permit because I couldn’t carry my gear all that way, and I do have handicapped privileges due to the arthritis in my back.)  I labored over the Smoke Bush so much harder than I should have had to, and I suspect that is because I had the time to do so.  Had a model been present to paint, the tree gets abstracted in the background.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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Continuing the Garden Binge

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

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

The Reflecting Ball

The Reflecting Ball

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

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

The Black Kimono

The Black Kimono

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

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

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

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

The White Floppy Hat

The White Floppy Hat

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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Essay on Composing Pictures

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

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

Composition of Pictures in a Nutshell

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

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

Arrangement/placement of shapes/objects

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

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

 

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

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

 

ARRANGEMENT

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

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

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

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

Subtopic: LINE

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

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

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

 

COLOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

VALUES

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

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

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

 

MOOD

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

The End.  For now.

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

Three Turrets, v1.3

Three Turrets, v1.3

Here is the latest, corrected version:

Three Turrets, updated

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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New (to me) Teacher: David Curtis

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

Here are my two favorite insights:

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

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

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

Did you speak?

Did you speak?

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

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

Nancy wearing a kimono

Nancy wearing a kimono

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

Nancy in the blue kimono

Nancy in the blue kimono

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

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

Nancy wearing a tan

Nancy wearing a tan

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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Two weeks of earnest painting

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

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

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

Extended pose, green

Extended pose, green

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

Extended pose, red

Extended pose, red (12×9)

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

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

Poison! (wip)

Poison! (wip)

Cured!

Cured! (12×16)

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

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

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

A walk by Dorrs Pond

A walk by Dorrs Pond (11×14)

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

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

Madison Barn #1

Madison Barn #1 (11×14)

Madison Barn #2

Madison Barn #2 (11×14)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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Afterglow; Exhaustion

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

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

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

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

Figure and Detail

Figure and Detail

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

Competing Lights

Competing Lights

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

Portrait version

Portrait version

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

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

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

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

Municipal Parking

Municipal Parking

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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Matters of Life and Death

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

Large quickie of a pose

Large quickie of a pose

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

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

Pose No. 2

Pose No. 2

Almost Standing

Almost Standing

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

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

The Sad Lion of Lowell

The Sad Lion of Lowell

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

Spirea Waterfall

Spirea Fall  (as in “water fall”)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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Hung!

image

Frontispiece

Frontispiece

I should have posted as soon as I got the pictures uploaded, but I wanted to expound on the process a little.  Unfortunately, life, or more accurately, death, got in the way.  Not a member of my family, rather the man who rented the room upstairs from me.  I had to find the body, which was an unsettling experience.  He will be missed around here for sure.

Meanwhile, my show is up.  My colleague, Larry Donovan, and I had to agree on the arrangement on our shared wall, the wall that you see as you walk in the door.  That is the photo I called “Frontispiece”.  You can tell which are mine.

The longest wall is next to the entry, and I managed to hang 13 of my paintings on it, allowing Larry the remaining three, smaller walls.  I had prepped 21 paintings with about five that I considered “must see”, but one of them didn’t make the cut.  Freckles, my cat portrait, just didn’t look like it belonged with all those nudes and faces.  In the end, what looked best on the wall determined which paintings won a place on the wall.

One of my new jobs for East Colony, which as a collaborative does require each member to take charge of one or more tasks needed to run a gallery, is as the keeper of the customer database.  So as that person, I had to print out our postcard labels; then as the Featured Artist I applied half of the labels to postcards (Larry did the other half), bought my postcard stamps and applied those to my postcards, and put them in the mail, all of which I accomplished Tuesday.  Now all I have to do get ready for the day itself: bring in a flower arrangement (one of the other artists volunteered to bring another one in), make sure I have enough wine at the ready (Larry’s goddaughter, a baker, is preparing eating treasures), figure out what to wear, and get there early enough to set up.  I think I can handle it.  Whew!

Next week my blog will include the half-done paintings from a workshop I have been taking with Deirdre Riley and possibly a plein air painting from Saturday, but the forecast is rain, so no promises.

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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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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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.

Final and Complete Report of Marco Island Painting Binge

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

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

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

Marco 2014 No. 1

Marco 2014 No. 1

This first painting is still one of my own favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 2

Marco 2014 No. 2

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

Marco 2014 No. 3

Marco 2014 No. 3 – The Beach

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

Marco 2014 No. 4

Marco 2014 No. 4 – Sea Grapes

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

Marco 2014 No. 5

Marco 2014 No. 5

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

Marco 2014 No. 6

Marco 2014 No. 6–Calusa Boat Yard

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

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

Marco 2014 No. 7

Marco 2014 No. 7–Pond with girl and goose

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

Marco 2014 No. 8

Marco 2014 No. 8–dog walkers’ park

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

20140210-002209.jpg

Marco 2014 No. 9

Marco 2014 No. 9

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

Marco 2014 No. 10

Marco 2014 No. 10

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

Marco 2014 No. 11

Marco 2014 No. 11

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

Marco 2014 No. 12

Marco 2014 No. 12 – Vanda orchid

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

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

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

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

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

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6×12)

Before cropping, this is the painting:

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9×12)

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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.

The Heck with Nudes!

Who would’ve thunk it?  We got bored with nudes!  So last Tuesday, we asked our model to keep his clothes on, and he was very happy to do so, being very new to the experience of modeling in the buff.  We all had a really good time, and we all produced pieces that we are proud of.  So I decided it was time for another sharing of my blog with my fellow artists.

Nancy C's

Nancy C’s

Nancy Crowley works most often in charcoal, and most often will do the whole figure.  We were surprised to see she was focusing so much on the head.  I love the blocking of light and shadow in this one.

Jan's

Jan’s

Jan Wittmer joined us very recently and has become a regular, but I can’t say I know what she usually does.   I thought this was brilliant though.  I learned later that this was her second take on this pose, which may account for the fact that it is not overworked.

Nancy H's

Nancy H’s

Nancy Healy is a pastelist, and probably the one of us with the most experience being an artist.  She always does masterful work.  You can tell she is standing at her easel.

My own

My own

This is the photo that I took with my phone, so I am not giving my image any advantage over the others.  Actually, it is at a disadvantage, being the only one in oils and therefore the only one with light bouncing off the globs of oil paint.  Ah, well.  You can tell I was sitting at my easel.

Invitations:

I had two event postcards to get out before this week, and got around to neither of them.  Coming up on Friday of this week (September 20) is the reception at the Boston Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, of the Jamaica Plain Open Studio exhibition of “Artists in the Arboretum”.  The reception is in the Visitors Center and starts at 6 pm and ends at 8.  I will be there, but cannot promise to stay until 8 unless the food and company is particularly good.  The exhibit will continue through October 13, and you should confirm viewing times by calling 617-384-5209.

The second one is a “Call for Collectors and Art Enthusiasts”:  Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition.  There will be a reception and an auction on Sunday, September 29 at 6 p.m.  The judge for the competition (known as a “juror” in art parlance) is the well known Cape Ann artist, Charles Movalli.  The competing artists are outstanding, and I guess I just feel grateful to be included.  Bev Belanger, of East Colony Fine Art Gallery, is also participating.  I should be scared to death, but I’m too old to get worked up over such things.  I think.  It would be awfully nice to see some familiar faces or names.  The address for the reception and auction:  Alternatives’ Whitin Mill, 50 Douglas Road, Whitinsville, Massachusetts.

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;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

Mixing it Up

I don’t have any major project under construction (like the poster competition), but I am keeping busy with the paint.  Having lots of smaller projects of different kinds makes me happy.  In fact, it dawned on me quite recently that I don’t even know how to finish a big project–I seem to specialize in plein air paintings and portraits and nudes from 3-hour sessions–all of which are by some artists considered good only as studies for something bigger.  I’m taking a portrait drawing class with Deirdre Riley at the Institute, and we are working on one charcoal portrait for the last three weeks of 3-hour sessions.  Deirdre asked me last Friday if I wanted to start a new one or try to bring what I already had to a more polished conclusion.  I answered, polished conclusion, because that’s exactly what I don’t know how to do.  The demo by Stephen Assael drove that point  home.  Now there’s a man who knows how to bring a painting to a polished finish!  Every molecule of paint must be in the right spot before he is satisfied.

Next week, I hope to be proudly displaying a charcoal portrait finished to the nth degree of development.  Unfortunately, the usual quickies are all I have to show for this week. I will start with the most polished, which you have seen before, because it deserves a second look without all those annoying light reflections.  This is my third attempt at getting a good photo of it, and I think third time was the charm.

Profile in Red Shirt--Grace

Profile in Red Sweater–Grace

Red Sweater is from the Cameron Bennett workshop, the last one, the interior one.  I’m really liking how the red sweater came out–such a simple thing compared to facial features or even the head wrap, but at least I got it right.

Next is a pair of 6x6s; yes, it’s already time to start on the 6x6s.  Our (Womens Caucus for Art) 6×6 show was held in February, but that show was a postponed version of the November exhibit.  So now we have one again in November and time is running short.

Garden in Prescott Park

Garden in Prescott Park

The Garden is painted from a photo that I took last week at the Prescott Park Arts Festival.  There was no vantage point from which to paint this scene, but I can remember, with the help of my photo, the light that made it so enchanting.

Day One

Day One

The line of children is from a fairly old photograph taken of a granddaughter entering first grade, on that first day.  It caught my fancy one day and I decided it was worth at least a 6×6 format.  I might try to do more with the faces.  I kind of gave up, maybe too soon.  I’m proud of the gestures.

Overlooked in previous weeks–no, not overlooked because I consciously set it aside, let’s say postponed–is another portrait of Fletch.  It may not capture his likeness as well as some others of mine, but I wasn’t focussing on likeness.  I was fresh from the Steve Assael workshop, and my attack on this painting very much reflects the Assael influence.

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Last, and least (as far as size is concerned) is this portrayal of four little piglets taking a nap at Phoenix Farm when I visited it with Sharon Allen a few months ago.  I was charmed by how they lined up, alternating heads and tails.  These adorable little piggies are probably big porkers by now, being readied for someone’s dinner table.  No Charlotte to save them.

Four little piggies napping

Four little piggies napping

Piggies was painted on a tiny 2-inch by 2-inch canvas.  The painting is destined to be a favor for one guest at a charity event called the Storybook Ball.  East Colony has volunteered to decorate a table for the event, and we chose as our theme the storybook “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.  (It was my idea.)  Each guest at our table will take away an original 2×2 painting, but that’s only a small piece of the project.  Our table is going to be spectacular rendition of barn and web and spider and all the other characters from the book.  The charity benefiting from all this activity is “CHAD”, or Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

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 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.  Reception September 5, 5 to 6 (blessedly short) with the Congresswoman and the artists.

Inadvertently omitted from the above line-up in weeks past was the painting I shipped down to the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island.  And coming up in September is the Boston Arboretum exhibit, which chose one of my paintings for its annual Jamaica Plain Open Studio exhibit, which you would know all about if you were one of my Facebook friends.

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.

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.

She’s Back (More Margaret)

Margaret in a Twist

Margaret in a Twist

June is the month of Margaret, but since we are not meeting on Fridays, we’ll have only the four Tuesday sessions to try to capture her elusive likeness.  (Prior agonies were explored in this blog.) This profile isn’t too bad, but what I was concentrating on was the body–the subtle swellings and shadows that reveal bones and muscle and fat.  Not much fat on Margaret, but that just makes what is there all the more fascinating.  As usual, I enjoyed playing with the colors, exaggerating the warmth that I was seeing in the shadow side.  I see a few things (e.g., the way the chair back comes forward) that I would fix if I thought I’d be showing this anyone, but that’s unlikely to happen.  (I mean in person, not online.)

Saturday, a welcome change of pace:  I took the opportunity to join the NH Plein Air artists in th