Friday, August 25, 2017

Peacefield in Full Bloom

My first paintout at Peacefield, the homestead of President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams, was exactly three years ago, in August of 2014.  The National Park Service oversees the property and does a nice job interpreting the Adams Legacy as well as maintaining/preserving the house and property.  The Rangers welcomed me, and since not all organizations are accomodating of a painter who plans to place themselves in the middle of a tourist area, I was very grateful for their hospitality

My favorite feature of Peacefield is the 18th-century style formal garden. Thousands of plantings, colorful perennials and annuals to enjoy line the gardens.  As I mentioned in the previous Peacefield blog, a rose bush planted by First Lady Abigail Adams in 1788 continues to stand guard; it leans on a large trellis to the south of the larger garden.  To think that I was walking upon the same soil enriched by the hands of such historical icons was truly inspiring.

Peacefield in Full Bloom
Inspiring also was the graceful old house and presidential library.  Similar to the last paint out, I set up on the far west end of the garden to maximize the split of light and shadow, a wide view so as to include foreground light.    I began by establishing the darks and lights in muted greens and grays and rusts.  I labored a bit over the mansion and library since accuracy is important for famous structures.

Finally, I was ready for the best part, the colorful blooms.  The sun illuminated the bright and vibrant petals - "oil-paint-right-out-of-the-tube" bright.  I liked how the rows of flowers and hedges led into the library and residence. This is not a great photo because of the wet paint glare.   I'll make some studio fixes and put on the website soon because this painting is my entry to the "Best of Quincy" Arts Fest next weekend.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Celebrating July 4th on July 3rd

Each year as we celebrate our great nation's birthday, Green Harbor really comes alive.   Summer holiday revelers pour into Marshfield, MA, especially the areas where land meets ocean.    It is a local tradition to have the fireworks extravaganza on July 3rd rather than July 4, a nice warm up for the Fourth. Words simply cannot describe this spectacle, nor can a simple 6x6 inch painting.   This annual party has to be experienced live and in person to digest the full, old-fashion experience.   This painting is merely a sliver of the scene, but one that I liked because of the greenish white glow of the handheld sparklers.   The figures are in a semi circle mezmerized by their sparklers.  Others are sitting on the seawall watching the non-stop fireworks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Bouquet

Summer Bouquet
One thing I love about summer is the abundance of flowers.   It's not just the cultivated blossoms that are peaking right now, but the many unplanned wild flowers growing here, there and everywhere.   Arranged in a simple clear glass vase, the wild weeds(?) compliment the garden blooms nicely.    I hoped that the rustic bunching of multiple kinds of blooms would translate to loosely painted blooms as well. This bouquet has common tansy buttons, cilantro flowers, pink petunias, magenta lantana and white cosmos.

The shadows were first and the most important shadow color of the whole painting, I think, was the "dark white" of the shaded cosmos petals (radiant violet, permanent green, and pink).   Achieving the shadow color of the starring flower - the primary center of interest - would give the painting credibility, even if the rest of the painting was executed with wild abandon.  I always hope for wild abandon, but seldom can resist bringing it back under control.  :))

The shadow mass on the dark table was roughed in next with a darker indigo color.  The "non-shadow" background was a light value made from the same pinks, greens, blues and yellows embedded in the flowers.  Finally, the reward...applying the bright clear petal colors.   Wherever possible, I tried to paint a single petal with a single brushstroke that fully overlapped its background.  It's funny how applying a single effective stroke is more difficult than fussing over an area with many strokes.   It really is a mindset.  Plan, then one and done!  In other words, the more spontaneous it looks, the more calculated it was - for me anyway.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Green Harbor Yacht Club

Green Harbor Yacht Club - Stage One
Green Harbor Yacht Club - Stage Two
This modest building is home to the Green Harbor Yacht Club.   It started out as a gray day, which is fine for paintings with architectural elements.   While working on the building rendering, the lines and angles of the roof lines and windows are more easily captured.   Once the sun broke out, I was ready to apply the sunny lights with my palette knife.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Old Barn at Willow and South River St

Antique Barn - Stage One

We are very lucky here on the South Shore of Massachusetts to have such a varied landscape - woods, meadows, marshes, beaches, and bogs, along with several rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean.   Our seaside town has done a good job preserving open spaces, which allows access and full enjoyment of these landscape features.     The town has been successful in acquiring land parcels for preservation and in many cases they are strung together forming contiguous land masses, and the number of beautiful walking trails continues to grow.

Antique Barn - Stage Two

There is an old farmhouse and barn which sits along a stretch of a (new?) walking trail along the South River in Marshfield, part of a 34 acre conservation parcel that the town now owns.   Up until today I had only caught a glimse of the antique farmhouse from the road.  It looked overgrown with weeds and twisting vines but we took a chance and pulled into the driveway, a turnoff from South River Street.  The "driveway" was more like a cartpath with its tall grasses snaking along between the antique (1700ish) farmhouse and the large salt hay barn.

Maureen Packing Up
As soon as we reached the opening at the back of the house and the front of the barn, we knew that we would stay and paint this beautiful spot.   There were several worthy subjects, but the scene I settled upon was the sunlit barn.   Its old graceful lines were remarkably straight considering its age.    I stood in a shady thicket of trees that was slightly uphill from the barn.    Dark green and burgundy cedars framed the edges of the scene.   An old window shutter opened and closed shut with the occasional strong breezes.  It cast a long vertical shadow on the clapboards below in the open position.   The challenge was to make - yet another - antique barn painting that would stand out from all the other iconic barn paintings.   I think my painting style is defined enough to know that it will be different from the rest because it has my painting style ie. signature, like it or not!  :)

Antique Barn
A handful of hikers and a mountain biker passed by, but other than those visitors, it was mostly solitude. One of the hikers shared that he had been instrumental in supporting the town's open space acquisitions and expressed that he was glad that this interesting and historic barn was being captured in paint.  I was too!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Jumping Off the Beach St Bridge

High Tide Beach Street Bridge
One of the most popular activities of summer in Green Harbor involves an old concrete bridge, a high tide and enough gumption to submit to a cold, salty, and swift current.     I have no idea what age is typically "old enough" to take the plunge at the Beach St Bridge.   I do know that I've seen smallish tykes standing there, as if frozen, deciding if this is the day they will have come of age.  I have seen adults similarly frozen, standing on the conduit pipe deciding if this item on their bucket list is worth it!

In the painting, the span of water is wide is because the scene is literally at sea level - from a kayak.   No I'm not painting from within the kayak but from a photo I took.   This vantage has a view all the way through to the Cut River and marsh on the inlet side.   The dark bobbing heads are shaded by the bridge.  Often there will be a Mom or Dad standing off to the side taking a photo of the moment of truth, when perhaps they are probably there to supervise.  At least that would have been my story to my kids.