Friday, April 28, 2017

Fenway Park Gate B

Fenway Park Gate B - Stage One
Boston's beloved Fenway Park is nestled into the city surrounded by streets and back alleys, unlike the sprawling parking lots and plaza's of many newer professional ballparks.   That is precisely one of the reasons that a visit here is so unique, nostalgic, and energizing.   How do thirty-five thousand people get absorbed into such a small footprint, in the space of a few hours?  

Many of them enter through the back gates along Ipswich Street.   Here on the Gate B side, people can take photos with the statues of Red Sox legends such as Carl Yastremski and Ted Williams.   Trolleys typically use this corner for their hop-on/hop-off customers.     On this day, the corner was busy since it was a game day, but first pitch was still a few hours away.   Vendors were arriving and the cleaning crew was tending the area.  I think there was actually a anticipatory buzz in the air even though most of the fans had not even arrived yet.  

I thought that the biggest challenge for this painting would be matching the famous Fenway green.  That went well enough but surprisingly, the pavement proved to be a more challenge.   Given the bright sunshine, the blacktop was light grey with various shades of shimmer mixed in and it took a few tries.   The painting offers several points of interest including the statues, the garage, the trolley, the upper stadium, and the trolley with riders.

So remember, the next time you visit Fenway, check out the back entrance for a walk down the Red Sox Memory Lane. And incidentally, if you have children with you, entering through Gate K (for Kids) means extra fun and it is located just to the right of Gate B.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Copper as Canvas I

Copper Sky
A couple of years ago, I experimented with painting on pennies and at the time I produced thirty-five tiny images directly on the shiny copper surface.  Recently I revived my interest in painting on copper and started to explore the larger scale use of copper as a painting substrate.  To my surprise, I learned that many masterpieces over the centuries were executed copper and other metals.  There are fine works on copper that have survived for centuries by such master painters as El Greco, Brueghel, Reni, Wtewael, Chardin and Rembrandt.   Preservationists say that copper is more durable and stable than many other surfaces, and undoubtedly more immutable than wood or paper.

I mounted a strip of roll copper onto a piece of reclaimed walnut using copper tacks.   The surface had some impressions of the wood beneath.   I decided to hammer the surface to create a mottled but consistent pattern.   Another copper substrate curiosity pertained to the handling. Apparently fingerprints tend to linger and/or become more pronounced over time so I was careful not to let my skin touch the painting surface of the copper, but instead I handled it with a paper towel.

I did not pre-glaze or underpaint the copper, but rather painted directly on the copper surface.   The paint dried very quickly, which seemed counter intuitive.   Wouldn't a slippery surface without the ability to absorb just result in the paint sitting there?  No, the surface was ready for more paint within an hour.

The dimensions of the vintage walnut is 6x10 inches appropriate for a long beach scene.   A copper colored sunset was the idea I had in mind from the time I first decided to try this metallic.   I used a Green Harbor photo in which a row of dark beach houses were backlit by sunset at low tide, and the wet sand was reflecting the houses and sky.   The copper still shows through which I love.   I let the hammer pattern of the sky dictate the shapes of the clouds.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead Ferns
Away from the New England coastline, in moist, woodland areas, it is common to see clumps of fiddle head ferns this time of year.    Their bright green curly tops stand out against winter's
peat colored bed of dead leaves and grasses.  They unfurl one-by-one in clumps and are among the first sprouts of spring.

The process of capturing these emerging greens began by setting out the composition, roughly a third in warmer light (the sunlit bed of leaves) and two thirds with blue/brown undertones, darker/deeper blues for shadows.  I then carved out the ferns with my rubber tipped wipe out tool; this was to ensure a smooth texture to represent the fuzzy gray-green sprouts.     In order to keep the colors in harmony, I mixed a bit of Gamblin's Radiant Violet into each of the colors on the palette as I worked.   The simple technique of putting dark ferns against light, and sunlit ferns against shadow helped to create a more eye catching pattern.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Northern Moon Snail Shell

Northern Moon Snail
The tide line is always changing and you never know what will wash up along with the average piles of seaweed.    My eastern facing New England beach is no Sanibel in terms of the amount or quality of shells, but every so often a perfectly undamaged shell of a New England species presents itself.   This is a "Northern Moon Snail" shell.   Here it sits among a colorful variety of seaweed and debris. Closer scrutiny shows a lovely array of colors, blue, gold, yellow, peach, brown and white.