Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I spent some time visiting an all male Italian club in Kensington, Ct over the summer. The club house has six full scale bocce courts in the back, complete with regulation clay surfaces and divided and marked lanes. The guys get together most evenings and even on the weekend, and play. They hold tournaments on certain nights during the summer, with a mix of men and women on Monday nights, a serious group of men who play on Tuesday nights, and a more casual group of men who play and mingle on Wednesday nights. The men are a mix of old Italian-speaking-only men to young Americanized men who have one thing in common: they all enjoy a good game of bocce.

There is a bar adjacent to the courts where they can get a cold alchoholic or soft drink, and a large outdoor grill is always ready to grill the hotdogs or hamburger meat that they keep on hand and cook as they please.

When I watch them, it takes me back to when, as a child, I watched my grandfather and father and uncles and their male friends gather in our back yard to throw some balls. My grandfather had a monogrammed set, made of granite or marble, in various natural stone colors, so unlike the commercial sets that you see in the stores. I decided to paint the scene of the men playing bocce, taking into account their concentration and attention to the details of the game. I'm hoping to do a series next year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things That I Remind Myself When Painting

It often seems so simple when an instructor shows me how to improve my work. They make it look so easy. What's worse is that I tell myself, "I know that, why didn't I do that?" I think that some of these things are not yet intuitive, or maybe they just are not yet ingrained in my memory. Perhaps after a few years, they will just pop to the surface.

I am starting, very, very slowly to see things that need improvement in my and other artists' painting. Still, I know that I don't always see things the way the experts see them.

Some items that I need to remind myself when painting:

  • When composing a painting, design a direction that will lead the eye into the painting and keep it there.
  • Soften edges to allow items to fade into the distance or to become less important.
  • Sharpen a few edges to pull the eye to the desired areas.
  • Use highlights sparingly.
  • Distribuite colors around the canvas rather than containing them to one area. This unifies the design.
  • Bring in background color for shadows and to help to add dimension to items.
  • Watch for curved items and remember to blend dark to light to establish three dimensions.
  • When painting leaves, use a large brush and add the color in one big swipe. Later go back and add details but keep it simple.
  • When painting reflections, especially in water, the reflected image is slightly lighter and less defined than the image being reflected.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Club Auction Painting

The Northford Women's Club held their annual Holiday Auction in November. I donated this painting of a china cup and saucer. My friend, Michelle, bid the highest and she now owns this little gem.

The auction raised more than ever before, and was a lot of fun.

"I'll Have Coffee" - Oil on canvas over panel, 6"x8"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raffle Winner

This teapot painting was raffled at the 47th on the Green show in Glastonbury. It is a 6"x8" original oil painting, on canvas over panel. The winner is Nancy Cretaro of Manchester, CT. Congratulations, Nancy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maine Coastline

This is a painting that I did on a trip to Maine last year from high above Camden Harbor. It was so scenic, but very difficult to do a painting from above and from a long distance. I started it there, but put it away until recently. I now have more information on how to adjust color and tone for distances, so the resulting painting is much better.

I went up to Maine with a couple of other friends to visit a friend who was staying at her husband's sister's house there while they were away. It was so pretty there. I especially loved Camden for its charm.
Oil on Canvas over panel, 9"x11", $300.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Charles Island

Silver Sands Beach in Milford has a nice boardwalk with marshes filled with wildlife and a nice strip of beach from which you can see Charles Island. It was named after Charles Dern, a former owner of the island. There is a sandbar that extends out towards the island, making it nearly accessible by land during low tides. This was a crisp fall day and the winds were really kicking up. It was perfect weather for sailing.

"Charles Island" 9x12 $295 Available at Something of Bev's

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tilly Foster Farm

I took a workshop with Marc Hanson recently at Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster, NY. It was a great workshop. There were 13 of us, all very serious about our artwork. With Marc's direction, we all did a small black and white study, then did three different sizes of a view that we liked. Each time, I was able to work out the details and values of the painting. Marc is a good teacher. He was able to critique everyone as they worked and his advice really helped. His demos were inspiring. He really puts a lot of time and attention to his paintings, even the smallest of details. The scene that he painted seemed fairly plain, but he made it look so special and interesting.
Tilly Foster Farm is a public park that has animals like chickens, sheep, a large horse stable, turkeys, cows, and two very interesting pigs. There were so many scenes to paint, it was hard to choose one. In the end, I chose one in which I could stand in the shade, as it was pretty hot after a while of being in the sun, and I chose a really neat looking barn. It was early morning, so the shadows were long and interesting. We had mostly great weather that week, except Friday, but we worked inside the last two days, so it didn't matter.
Thursday evening, Marc did a nocturne demo at a nearby lake that was so cool. I have not yet tried it, but I hope to do one soon.
I was happy with my painting of this large barn. I feel like I learned quite a bit during that week, if only I can remember it all. It was so nice to do nothing but art all week, too. I know that I will do the black and white studies, and have already done one on a recent painting trip to a nearby farm. It is very helpful.
Painting: Morning, "Tilly Foster Farm," 16x20, $650.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Prepping for My First Big Art Festival

The first major art festival that I will show my work in is coming up soon. It's the 47th On the Green Fine Art & Craft Show in Glastonbury, CT. It is three weeks away, which doesn't give me much time. I managed to get most of my materials together for the display, including three new ProPanels and some joining hardware and some small tables.

I also ordered new business cards, updated my portfolio, bought a new receipt book, ordered a banner and a stamp, created and printed out new brochures, and bought a new cart. While that is good progress, I still need to varnish some paintings, finish some others, frame some recent work, and finalize my price list. I also want to make some weights for the tent.

To make things more complicated, I'm taking a workshop next week with Marc Hanson in Brewster, NY. I'm really hoping to get some good work out of that. I love Marc's work and it promises to be a good workshop. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate at least some of the time. After all, it's all about plein air.

I was hoping to get some postcards out, but it seems like the Glastonbury Art guild has not decided on a design for the cards yet. I would need to order them from VistaPrint and then mail them out. It's getting down to the wire, though.

I managed to get a booth that faces Hubbard street. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but it will make setup easier, at least. If the crowds are good, I may get some business. I have a nice selection of landscapes, still lifes, and seascapes now. I also have a huge painting that I want to show. It will be a great focal point for the exhibit.

Hopefully, the weather will be cool and nice. Last year, I think that it rained. You just never know what it will do.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hudson River Day Trip

Above: From West Point looking north.

I went out to Peekskill, NY to visit some friends of mine one day. It was a nice day, but somewhat hazy. The river is surrounded by gorgeous tree covered hills, and the views were spectacular. We toured West Point and had lunch in the inn on the campus. We sat out on the veranda overlooking the river. It was perfect.

Charlie took us up one side of the river and down the other side. We stopped in Cold Springs and walked around the dock and boardwalk. What a great place for a cool drink while looking over the river towards West Point and the marina.

At left: From Cold Springs looking across at West Point to the south.

I'm looking forward to returning this fall to see the town just alittle bit north of here where the Hudson River School painters painted. I hear that it's quite a nice place to visit.

There are tons of painting opportunities all along the river. The docks are interesting and the people hanging out along the river with their dogs and families would make good subjects. Then, there's the railroad and the small shops that line the main streets in the small towns along the rail line.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carriage Stone Farm

This is a horse stable up the street from my house. It has gotten larger over the years. The view is from high up on a hill overlooking the farm. Our area is surrounded by hills in a pretty country setting. I attracted an audience of young children as I painted this on site. They were very quiet and captivated by my work.

Carriage Stone Farm
Oil on canvas, 18" x 28", $550

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thomas Eakins - A Favorite of Mine

Thomas Eakins is an artist that I admire greatly for his individuality and his devotion to his art. He studied anatomy vigorously and taught his students that understanding anatomy and the movement of the body is paramount to learning how to draw and paint the human figure. His portraits were a departure from the traditional romanticized portraits of his era and before. They vibrate with emotion, the personality of the sitter is apparent immediately. His use of color and light is so striking. He was very concerned with accuracy and tried to instill this on his students. I like his realistic style, though I am more of a modern impressionist painter. Eakins also pioneered using photography with his work and studied the movement of the body using photography. What I am most impressed with, however, is his devotion to working from life. I included some examples of his work here.

Max Schmitt in Single Scull

Miss Amelia Van Buren

Monday, May 18, 2009

Studying Emil Carlson's Style

On May 16, Jack Keledjian demonstrated the style and methods that Emil Carlson used when painting his still lifes. Emil Carlson had a unique style. His compositions were simple, soft, and they drew you in. His subjects were simple earthenware jugs, shiny brass and copper pots, and simple Chinese blue and white vases with dark wood stands.

Jack mixes Neo Meglip by Gamblin into his paint to give the paint the glossy, smooth quality that Carlson is famous for. It is the consistency of Vaseline.

Before he starts, Jack tells us that we need to think very carefully about our subject and to imagine what we are going to paint, each aspect of it before we begin to paint. Do not center your main object, but pick a location on the canvas that is off center. This provides better interest. Harmony is very important, he says. Work each stroke in relation to the one next to it.

In speaking of temperature, it is important to note that a color is not warm or cold until there is something next to it to compare it to.

Jack starts with a pale yellowish green color in acrylic paint, covering the canvas. This is the under painting that will come through later. You can do this in oil as well, but it will take longer to dry.

Jack begins by drawing the objects with a light brown shade, using the drawing to place the objects on the canvas correctly. Jack puts in the background strokes with broad swishes of the brush in crisscross pattern, almost basket weave-like. He uses cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, and trans. oxide brown. It's not solidly applied, letting the background color come through. You can use a crumpled cloth to pull out some of the color afterwards.

Jack starts by filling in each object with large strokes, but leaves light areas undone. He limits the number of highlights. The large brown crock is done in a dark brown with soft edges to keep it from coming forward. For the brass pot, he uses browns and cad orange, always using some Neo Meglip. He works on getting the rounded shape, and will punch the color with two strong swipes. He says to make sure that the color temperatures work together. Always put warm near cool, otherwise the colors look dirty.

For the vase, he uses several long top-to-bottom strokes of pale bluish purple in varying degrees of color and then softens the edges to blend them. Then he warms the shadow with some yellow. He punches the light with a lighter white blue. He puts the flowers on with small cross strokes, and then the leaves.

For the pansies, he uses orange to cut the purple color intensity. He lays on paint with a large brush in fan like strokes, one next to the other. Instead of the yellow pansy, he puts in a off-white bud. The yellow is too intense.

The onions were softly rounded and quiet, but interesting. He used some warm red and yellow to push back the brightness of the white. He added a onion skin at the bottom of the canvas and some flower blossoms leading into the pots. Lastly, he cooled the bottom right foreground and warmed the bottom left foreground.
leading into the painting. He cooled the bottom right foreground and warmed the bottom left foreground.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Smith Library Show

I recently had a show at the Edward Smith Library. It was their first art show ever and my first in my hometown. Now that they have a renovated library, they have space to do all kinds of shows, so it promises to be a nice venue for art. It was a successful show for me. One couple really liked Dirt Road to the Meadow and after some thought, put a deposit down on it. There may also be commission work later from this couple.

Members of The Northford Women's Club also came to show their support. It was a nice crowd. The next day, a member called and she and her husband came over to the house and bought two from the show and two from my stock at home. They also took one home to try out. It's very exciting.

Just yesterday, another member of the club called and wanted to buy the Sunflowers III painting. I'm glad that she decided to do so, since she has wanted it, apparently, for quite a while.
I'm going to go to the library and exchange some new paintings for those that sold. You never know when someone might come in and see something that they like.

I hope to do more shows there, perhaps later in the year. We'll see.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking for Opportunities

In the summer of 2007, I learned that one of our small town libraries was closing for renovation. It was built in the early 1940s, so the building was quite old and outdated. I knew from looking at plans for the building that the architecture would change significantly and I thought that someone might be interested in preserving the original look of the building in other than a photo. So, I set up one warm summer day and began to paint the building en plein air.

Later, I contacted the director of the library with an idea of selling this painting and perhaps others to the library to decorate the new walls once it opened. I was met with some enthusiasm. I kept in touch with the director over the next year and was invited to meet with the board of directors for the library. They seemed interested in my work. When the building was complete, the library bought the painting of the old building. I put an article in the local papers announcing this event so that others in the town were aware of it.

Currently, the town is going to raisie funds for another small painting of mine of a local landmark. I am very excited about this. I'm also going to look into doing a painting of the other library in our town, which is going to be renovated soon as well. I've received some positive feedback on this quest as well from the directory of the library. The second library is very old with some really pretty architecture. It will be a pleasure to paint.
The exposure of my work to the public is probably the best that I could hope for in such a small town as ours. I'm hoping that I will garner some commissions in the future. If not, it's pretty exciting to know that some of my work is going to be part of a permanent display in my town's library for generations to come.

I've learned from this experience that you have to seize the horse by the tail and make opportunities for yourself instead of waiting for something to come along. It takes perserverance, but it's really worth it in the end.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter Snow

It's been snowing a lot this winter, but it's been too cold to stay outside for very long. This is the view from my living room window. It is always so beautiful, but when I saw it that morning after the snowfall during the night, I had to paint it. The sun was coming up in the East, throwing long shadows over the fields.

"Snow Blanketed Field"
9"x12" Oil on Canvas Over Panel, $300.