Saturday, July 23, 2016

Perfectly Colorful Reflections

Brant Rock Boats - In Progress
It was early morning at the dock behind Taylor Marine in Brant Rock, MA  The humidity was noticeably lower than that of the past few days and the sun was brightly shining - a perfect morning.   There were boats in every slip since it was mid-July and although colorful and shimmery, it was chaos.   The job of a plein air painter is as much about what to not include as it is about what makes it into the painting.

Brant Rock Boats
A blue lobster boat with a red stripe at the water line looked dazzling in the direct sunlight, so it was to be the center of interest.    A row of  boats on the left included two bright yellow Sea Tow boats and their yellow reflections - all of which created some strong geometric shapes, although somewhat jagged.  The background boats were painted as dabs of color and done very loosely so as not to draw much attention.

The color matching of the water went well, although in the side-by-side shot, the scene is very dark.   (That's what cameras do in bright situations.)   I still have work to do on this one, mostly making sure the reflections line up with their objects.

Friday, July 22, 2016

June's Blooms Phase One

Potting Bench - Transparent Wash Stage
It was June and these beautiful blossoms came from my garden.  We have had some picture perfect weather lately which has spared the bushes from the harsh wind and rain that can shorten their life cycles.    So there are plenty of flowers to paint!  This still life included two vases with pink roses clustered, a clay pot of blooming pink kalanchoe, my watering can, some well worn gardening gloves and pruning sheers completed the set up.  The height of the set up suggested that a portrait aspect would work better than landscape.

Potting Bench - Upper Element Needed?
For stage one, I applied a warm transparent wash with a mop brush, mapping in the set up.  I carved (wiped) out the areas that would be lighter with a paper towel.   This stage had a subdued, antique feel that I really loved; why it could be called a finished painting if that was the look I was after.   However, my goal was to create a fully developed, thickly painted canvas of blossoms, so the subdued style would have to be another day.


I began the second stage by applying mid-tones for roses and leaves.   After adding each supporting element, I used a clean mop brush to buff out the edges.  Believe it or not it seemed more difficult to decide how to handle the negative space than the subject matter on this one.   A larger canvas means more space for interesting objects and shadows.   I decided to place hints of clay pots under the potting table and a fringe of greens behind the primary blooms.

This is a 22x28 inch canvas so progress has been somewhat slow, so I consider this one still in progress.   To be continued...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Graceful Back Bay Architecture

Marlborough St - Back Bay
Hugh Maguire's book entitled "My First 40 Jobs: A Memoir" describes Marlborough Street in the Back Bay section of Boston, MA this way:  "Marlborough Street is filled with old red brick townhouses, condominiums, and apartments three to five stories high featuring countless bay windows, gables, turrets; and you can look inside some windows and see brilliant chandeliers shining from high-ceilinged, spacious rooms.   In front were tiny plots of grass bordered by high, black iron fences harkening back to the 1800's.   Tulips, roses, daffodils, hyacinth, crocuses, azaleas and rhododendron bushes brighten the eyes on these tiny lawns.  Dogwood and magnolia trees planted a century earlier on the sidewalks and on some miniature lawns turned spring in Marlborough Street into an unforgettable sight.   To this day I consider Marlborough Street the most beautiful street in Boston." 

I would be hard pressed to argue with him.  Marlborough Street has been the subject of several my paintings now, all of which have been sold.   This painting features a stretch of homes on Marlborough Street between Fairfield and Gloucester Streets, and the starring role goes to the home with the magnificent slate shingled turret.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Yacht Clubs from Kelly's Landing

Yacht Clubs from Kelly's Landing
There was a strong line of storm cells between the South Shore and Boston on this morning.    I would be driving straight into it.  The weather forecaster assured viewers that the weather would clear by 8AM, but it didn't.    The clouds and mist lingered as I set up along Day Boulevard in South Boston, MA.  This spot was always known as Kelly's Landing, known for its seafood and ice cream - back when ice cream cones were only 15 cents each. :)

The rain had soaked everything making surfaces look darker and shiny.   The old cedar shakes on the yacht club looked even darker against the cloudy skies.  Truthfully, this was an unpleasant paint out and the painting didn't turn out too good either.   As I've said before though, a bad day plein air painting beats a good day at the office - anyday!


Friday, July 8, 2016

The New Harbor Pier

Harbor Park View
On the town pier side of the Green Harbor River there is a new public space called Harbor Park.   A small pavilion with picnic tables and 270 degree views of the marinas, river and marshes make it an ideal spot for painting.   In addition to offering multiple subjects, it is ideal for birding.   Osprey fans take note - the osprey nest with occupants are plainly visible from here.

The view of the painting consisted of the Beach St. Bridge, some beach houses along Bay Ave, the closest town pier dock and of course, lobster boats.  I probably spent more time on the sky than anything else, since the clouds were particularly pretty on this day.    I really enjoyed this new painting location and will certainly return.

Maritime School Dock

Maritime School Dock
Photo of Scene
At the Duxbury Bay Maritime School in Duxbury, MA, things were hopping.   It was mid-June and school was out for summer -judging from the number of young people engaging in crew related activities and other boat preparations.    I found a little niche against a dock railing where I was not in anyone's way.   This spot was also behind a small shed only steps from my vehicle that overlooked the boat ramp and dock.   A fine young 18 year old assured me that the spot I had chosen would not impede him or the others as they worked.   It was a fun scene to watch and it became obvious from the chatter that this boating program and many new summer jobs had just started.

Maritime School Dock
As for the scene, it is always a little chancy when it's a beautiful day at a busy dock.  One minute the scene is intact and the next thing you know, the center of interest can be moved or gone.    Luckily, on this day, the pretty blue sailboat docked closest to me was not moved, (that is, with the exception of the tide's vertical drop) even though the skiffs behind it did come and go.

The angular elements and the shadowy contrast of the steel supports of the pier beyond seemed to form a strong composition.   There wasn't a lot of color but I liked the gray, blue and brown scheme.   All of those colors made their way into the water and the dock.

(Note to other painters: on this painting I wore sunglasses the entire time!  I've preached no sunglasses for true color matching, but after last week's marathon plein air competition, my fatigued eyes were feeling extra "light sensitive."     I'm trying to assess objectively if this painting looks too light because of the sunglasses, and I think it seems okay. I would be curious if the painting seems too light to anyone, because if it doesn't, my eyes would be happy to know it.