Wednesday, July 8, 2009

From Walden to Olana

I spent the second part of my childhood growing up in Concord, Massachusetts.
Near Walden Pond I would enjoy walking and cross country skiing in the back woods.  Later on when I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau I was amazed by his curiosity surrounding nature.  He took string and measured the depth of the pond!  A poet and a scientist.  I admire his note taking for posterity's sake in books like "Cape Cod".
He did what many painters of the Hudson River School did when they showed they beauty of America to those that had not yet traveled. 

Frederic Edwin Church was one such painter. A few summers ago we took a trip to "Olana", where he built his house and studio. Here is a painting done from his garden.  This painting was on view at OK Harris in New York. 

"View from Olana"
Oil on panel
Private Collection 

In my mind I put these two together.  The both loved to travel and to share with others the things that they found.  I for one am glad they did.  Here is on of Church's paintings that first got my attention.  
It seemed so "modern" to me.  In part because of the subject matter and also in the manner it was painted as a study with parts left unfinished.

Here is a more finished painting that I do enjo but not as much as the studies above.

Italian Landscapes

Italy has been on my ind these days.  I was there Seventeen years ago at this time.  It was the place that I first started painting landscapes.  

Orvieto study
9 x12
Oil on panel

Here I am with a wall made of the soft volcanic ash that the town of Orvieto is made from.  I had the chance to carve it and it is like butter.  

The sculpture I am carving here is a harder stone known as Pepperino.  The name fits as the stone has little black flecks that look like pepper.

I have written a few little posts about my trip and time there.  I will at some point get all these blogs together so they are in one place. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hay Bales

In the studio this winter I have been doing a series of paintings based on the fields around where we live.  The hay bales at thd end of the summer remind me of where I grew up in England.  There was s field behind our house and I have the clear memory of watching a farmer plow the field.  I might have been about seven years of age.  I stood at the edge of the field thinking that I would love to drive the tracker and plow the earth.  This was my first memory of having a idea about what to do when I grow up.  

By painting these landscapes I feel I am getting at part of that desire as a child though I didn't know what it was.  

Dutchess County
Oil on canvas
Private Collection 

Hay Bales 
Oil on panel
Jon MacAdam

Sky over Hay Bales
Oil on panel

"True Farm" Holderness,NH
Oil on canvas
11 x14
Private Collection

Appleton Farms

We have been walking around Appleton Farms in Ipswich. I have been doing some watercolors from there. There are so many surprising view points where you feel as though you are no longer on the north shore. I was told that it is the oldest farm still operating in New England, established in 1638.

"Stonewall Through Landscape"
Oil on panel

This painting was done from one of the Watercolors. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A few years back I became interested in painting roads as subject matter.  When I learned about our distant Scottish relative John MacAdam of road fame, I would think about the roads as we would drive and take pride that a family member had something to do with there invention taking the Roman road and improving it.  This is one of the first photographs that I used for reference in the road paintings. 

The photographs I made to record this phenomenon of movement in space.  I
discovered that the photograph itself held these properties of seeing that surprised me. I did not expect the highway to appear beautiful and mysterious.
So much is moving around us.  We see beauty out of the corner of our eye.  Our days blur by but there are those few moments of clarity and stillness that we cherish.  

Tree by the Road Side
Oil on canvas

Eastern Glow
36 x48
Oil on panel

128 South
36 x48
Oil on panel

Road at Twilight
36 x 48
Oil on canvas
Private Collection

Truck on the highway ...
When I first showed these to Ivan Karp he asked if I had shown any one else.  He was one of my art heroes so to hear that he liked them and that I was on the right road so to speak was a dream come true.  I trust his judgement and for him to say that he liked them and wanted to show them was a full circle from being in college and seeing him gallery from the street and hoping one day to show there.  Life is strange and wonderful!  

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Moonlight sonata

In recent paintings this fall have been dealing with nocturnes and the moon.  
The painting below has a moon that is hard to see from the photo but is pink and right above the creek hovering on the right side.  I couldn't help but think of the  Nick Drake song "Pink Moon".

If I knew how to put links to songs I would put one here. 

This painting in progress is of Walker Creek in West Gloucester.  
The moon is more visible here.  I do feel that with a full moon we can feel it in our bodies.  The tides being pulled and the water that is in our body.  Neil Young records his music when there is a full moon because he thinks it will be better.  I don't think too much about it but I do notice when the moon is full and try to make a painting that day just encase. 
With the study below I was trying to get the effect of clouds passing in front of the moon.  The artist Albert Pinkham Ryder comes to mind.  I really enjoy the composition of these paintings. In the painting below the road leads us to the moon.   Then the little cloud to the right of the moon leads our eye back down to the house.  I should say leads my eye as I don't know how others read paintings. Many of his paintings feel balanced this way.  If you play the game and cover some of the shapes for example either cloud on the moo in the second painting the painting is thrown out of balence.

Moonlight Study
Oil on panel

West Beach

Beach Day
Oil on canvas

West Beach
Oil on panel
11 x14
Private Collection 

For five years we lived in Bevely Farms and could walk to the ocean and West Beach.  Here is Isaac looking for hermits.

I love painting a the beach and have so many studies from
living there. 

Dusk, Dusk, and more Dusk

If you know my paintings you know that I am obsessed with the end of the day.  Se call it the magic hour.  I'm not sure what it is.  The light coming in and illuminating things transforming ordinary mundane objects into charged living globs of light on the surface of the universe.  It is amazing and it never gets old to look at objects back lit or bathed in light. 
Here are images from the back yard.  

Beyond the trees is the ocean.  I have seen this scene so many times that I can become accustomed to the beauty of it but it never happens.  I am always amazed. 

Below are a few dusk paintings

Sun set
Oil on panel

Olana at dusk study
8 x14
Oil on panel

Harmony in Brown and Ocher
48 x 36
Oil on panel

The Wonder Years

My children are a constant source of wonder to me and also help me see the world around me with the same wonder.  
Artists have to train them selves to stay in this state and be in constant wonder.  This is a big part of what I enjoy about painting and drawing.  To just observe the world and to wonder at its magic is a great practice and drawing something helps a person really look at the thing that they are drawing. 

Here are a few studies. 

Ocean study

Farm road study

Mountain study

For Selah

Storm King

This fall we took a trip with the children to the Storm King sculpture park.  What a great out door museum for sculpture.  It was a little like Disney for art lovers with s tram that drives people around.  Andy Goldsworthy stone walls that disappear under the water and reappear on the other side. 
I was inspired to role down the hill with the children. 

Trip to Storm King NY

wall by andy goldsworthy

In the studio

In the studio I was working on a series of skyscapes. As long as I can remember I have been drawn to the way the sky above played on the landscape below. As time went on this simple combination of sky and land has been a major theme in my work. I want to bring these two together so that they are intertwined.

Here is a show of landscape paintings on the North Shore.

383 West Broadway, New York, N.Y., 10012

Eastern Glow 32" x 48
This is a commissioned work that I did for a law firm in Boston a few years ago.
These painting of roads are from 128 and 93 outside of Boston.
These recent oil paintings of the highway at dusk are an attempt to understand beauty in our time, and our relationship to the world around us. These scenes are overlooked places that are peripheral to our vision. I have used photographs as reference to focus on these ambiguous moments of movement. The light at the close of the day surprisingly changed the landscape below, transforming all the objects below. In our modern age it is hard to process all the information that we are receiving and these still images help me to contemplate the present. My hope is to make myself and others aware of subtleties of the land, and to be reminded of the wonder that we have become accustomed to.

These are some recent paintings at OK Harris gallery in New York.