Sunday, April 26, 2009

Montachusett Area Art Exhibit

Two pastels that I entered into the show won two ribbons each. "Carolyn's Window" won First place in the advanced pastel category, and also best of show. "Emma" won Founder's Award and People's Choice Award.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This was painted at Marblehead Harbor right across from Devereux Beach. There is a boat ramp there and a very small beach. Storm clouds were on their way in, and the wind was really whipping up- blowing sand in everything. I was also dismayed to find that, after getting all settled, I had forgotten my paintbrushes! I was too stubborn to give up though- I ransacked my work bag for the fan brush and watercolor brushes that I use for brushing away granite dust, and to paint etchings that are to be in color. While setting up, I spooked a beautiful young garter snake in the tall grasses. It wasn't in a hurry but I resisted the urge to pick it up. I have been musked before.
This painting really has a lot of sand on it from the wind. I once heard an artist say that he dropped his oil painting face down on the sand, and someone told him to place it in a basin of water. Supposedly this method will allow sand will float off. He said it sort of worked.

Salem Willows

I work in Salem, MA and I often stop at a park about 10 minutes away, sometimes bringing sketching or painting materials. I worked on this for about an hour and then realized I was beginning to get very chilly and the clouds were moving in. It's almost always windy at this park. One of the reasons that this is one of my favorites spots is that many islands are visible including Great Misery, Little Misery, and Baker's Island. Another incentive is the very good popcorn and ice cream available there. A few years ago I took a ferry to the Misery islands- they are very beautiful.
I learned a few things during this short painting session:
Don't stop after the first thumbnail sketch no matter how great you think it is. Do at least two more and you'll probably find a better composition.
It is pretty easy to mix up a decent yellow ochre. I forgot my tube.
Pre-mix your palette, there are less chances to muddy up the painting.
Use a small palette knife to pre-mix colors- it saves on paintbrush wear and tear, and no need to use any solvent.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A bit of Graham Greene

I am in a Graham Greene phase again. Read a collection of letters and liked this:

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.

Something I have often wondered myself.
I was agreeably surprised to find that, like myself, he disapproved of the Shirley Temple franchise, so much as to go public about it for which he was vilified. I, too, have never been charmed by her movies or her beauty pageant outfits. I just thought it meant I must be a bad or insensitive person in some way. Now I feel justified!

And then on to Haiti and the Tontons Macoute. Graham was despised by the dictator"Papa Doc" for having written The Comedians; a fact that delighted him.

My favorite passage:

Next day I sat in a deck-chair on the sheltered starboard side and let myself roll languidly in and out of the sun with the motions of the mauve-green sea. I tried to read a novel, but the heavy foreseeable progress of its characters down the uninteresting corridors of power made me drowsy, and when the book fell upon the deck, I did not bother to retrieve it. My eyes opened only when the traveller in pharmaceutical products passed by; he clung to the rail with two hands and seemed to climb along it as though it were a ladder. He was panting heavily and he had an expression of desperate purpose as though he knew to what the climb led and knew that it was worth his effort, but knew too that he would never have the strength to reach the end. Again I drowsed and found myself alone in a blacked-out room and someone touched me with a cold hand. I woke and it was Mr. Fernandez who had, I suppose, been surprised by the steep roll of the boat and had steadied himself against me. I had the impression of a shower of gold dropping from a black sky as his spectacles caught the fitful sun.

My brother, who paints abstracts, may perhaps be interested in illustrating this scene, if I ask him. I may give it a try myself.
I have the entire week off from one of my jobs, so I have some extra time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

foil wrapped chocolate egg

Oil on masonite 4x5. I had to go out and purchase a special green paint for the foil wrapper. I was torn between emerald and viridian but chose the latter. Placing the egg on white paper resulted in some colorful reflections.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


The leader of the Brazilan Drum Parade. I was photographing various scenes at the Boston JazzFest a few years ago when I spotted this fellow with a great smile and hat, so I followed him around for awhile with my camera. The pastel painting is on a full sheet of watercolor paper and was purchased by a friend who was at the event with me. Yes, my friend has a brick wall in his condo- it's very cool.

Ink well