Friday, May 27, 2016

Pond Coming to Life

Pond Inhabitants
Today's painting location was a pond which was quite typical of the landscape of Southeastern Massachusetts.  This body of water was immediately surrounded by thick underbrush and beyond that, tall pine and deciduous trees.   It's spring and much of the greenery is just past the flowering stage and now sprouting emerald green leaf sets.

Pond Coming to Life
The pond was really coming to life.  Over the course of two hours, I saw a pair of bright orange orioles, cardinals, chickadees, a red tailed hawk and the young family of geese shown in the photo - multiple facets of enjoyment via plein air!
Pond Coming to Life

Monday, May 23, 2016

Pink and White Roses

Pink and White Roses
I liked painting the pink roses a couple of weeks ago (did I just say that?) and I began working on another, this one having both pink and white blossoms.  The white rose is really more green than white, and I included accents of pink on it as well.  
I worked the background in a warmish charcoal grey made from sap green, alizarin crimson and a touch of lavender.    I also worked out the placement of the roses in thin warm pink with a soft sable brush.   Once the first layer of paint was dry, I applied the cool pink rose petals with a short rounded palette knife.   Streaks of pink and yellow are running through each petal. I used a soft dry sable to draw the thickly painted petals into the base of the petal.  I'm thinking they are not loose enough.  Practice makes perfect, so I will continue to practice.

Weir Farm Paint Out

Bug Stuck in Thick Paint

Weir Farm Paint Out - Stage One

Weir Farm in Hingham, MA boasts a countryside feel, ocean vistas and a breathtaking view of the Boston Skyline.   I loved this spot and took a nice walk to explore my options before getting into painting.  I saw a pair of hawks swooping around and being engaged by yet another smaller hawk.   Two baby calves were trotting around in the grass and playing together.    It was just gorgeous out there and it got brighter and sunnier as time went by.

I painted the cows right away, both because they were to be the center of interest, and because they happened to have arranged themselves in an nice abstraction of black and white spots.  They got up and moved several times during the course of my time there so I'm glad I captured them when I did. After painting the cows I started at the top of the canvas and worked from the sky on down, mostly using a palette knife.   The tops of the trees in the valley below the meadow had new spring growth with pale green and pink hues.  The colors got warmer and greener as they got closer to the foreground.
Weir Farm

I loved being at this beautiful spot and it probably is the primary reason the result was decent, especially the color match.  Early on, there was another good omen.   A bug landed in the freshly painted sky, a badge of honor to a plein air painter.

Translation, we were out there in the elements, and we - well, at least one of us - survived!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

House Portrait

It is a very big deal when people move, bigger still when the move is from a house that they called home for many years.   Compound that with a lifelong city dweller relocating to the suburbs? - huge. I'm thinking that parking problems, low flying jets, and air/noise pollution will not be missed. Instead,  silent and daily thanks are given at the joy of pulling into a driveway.  :)

House Portrait
But in reality, living within minutes and walking distance of friends, family and work, especially when children are young, provides a unique support system that most lifelong suburbanites do not understand.    For Bostonians in traditional neighborhoods, social networks aren't a new phenomenon accessed by staring at an ipad, but rather by simply sitting on the front steps, or walking to the bank and corner store.   City living can be quite good and today's surging real estate sales prove that today's twenty and thirty somethings realize it.

A house is just wood and nails - that is, until newborns are brought home, holidays are celebrated there, and renovations completed.   All of these special life events place a personal signature on a house making it a memorable place.  This cityscape will hang in the new suburban home of a friend who is still adjusting to her new digs and locale.  A way to remember that this was a good place to raise a family and call home.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rooster Comb Red

Rooster Comb Red
The Historic O'Neil Farm is the last remaining working dairy farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts.  The 145 acre property has been in continuous agricultural use since the early 1700s and is permanently protected as one of the oldest and last working farms on the South Shore of Massachusetts.

The trail alongside the farm was an easy one mile hike and at times it felt more like a rural trail in Pennsylvania than a seaside town in Massachusetts.

There were several scenes that I thought would make interesting paintings, cows in the fields, cows at the water trough, and cows in the woods.   Barn cats were lolling about in the sun and a group of turkeys pecked away at the front lawn of the old farmhouse.  I hope to return to the farm for an on site paint-out but meanwhile, this painting was created from a photo I took on this first visit.  The rooster in the photo paused at the entrance of the chicken house just prior to stepping out into the sunlight.  The rooster's red crest caught my eye because it looked nearly fluorescent against the darkness of the hen house.

I have more work to do on this one.  The wood looks too white, the rooster breast is too dark and I'd like to brighten up the red comb even more.   I'll post it to my website when it is done.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

King Caesar House View

King Caesar House View - Stage One
Historic Marker
In Duxbury, MA there is an antique mansion called the "King Caesar House" that has a varied history.   It was initially the residence of one of the most successful ship builders an owners in America, Ezra Weston and descendants.   His enormous success led to the nickname "King Caesar."    The Weston family eventually sold the mansion and it became a prep school for boys in the early nineteen hundreds.   It was then home to Austrian born painter, Elizabeth Weber-Fulop and eventually it was purchased by the community and converted into a museum in 1967.  The museum commemorates the busy shipbuilding days of Duxbury and is even open for tours and special events.   I considered painting the mansion itself, but decided that an elaborate architectural drawing would not be as much fun on this particular day as the pretty distant shoreline and interesting wind bent trees in the park.  There was a nice green space in front of the museum which faces Kingston Bay, with Plymouth in the far distance where I set up.

King Caesar House View - Stage Two
I seldom underpaint these days but I did cover the white line with transparent red oxide for a change.   It brought some life to the spring greens, but was too harsh for my liking for the more distant areas.  For these distant planes, I made sure I covered it up.

Here is a nearly complete painting from this early Spring paint out.
King Caesar Mansion View