Thursday, February 28, 2013


This painting of my neighbor's place as viewed from my river has nothing to do with the following post, other than I'm a wee bit tired of seeing this sight.  Not that I'm tired of seeing my neighbors, but I'd rather it looked like this:

It's March!  You know what that means in Maine?  Mud Season.  I can't wait to see that dirty, gray snow melt into that dirty brown ground.  Mud will get tramped on the floor, the walls and ceiling. Then, before you know it comes my favorite time of year:

Black Fly Season!

Bring it on...

In the meantime, I've been holed up here in the studio (It looks like this):

I'm showing you this because I got a new (to me) easel recently!  Thanks Mr. Cornell.

Anyway, I've spent the better part of two weeks so far working on a winter piece.  Here is a little step by step progression bringing us up to where I stand at the close of today.

On Valentine's Day this year I took a trip to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.  It was a gorgeous winter day, and I wanted to get some inspiration for an ocean scene.  Pemaquid Light is a twin to the more famous Portland Head Light, but it's a lot less crowded with tourists even in the midst of summer.  And especially so in the middle of February.  I cruised all over the property by myself as the sun was setting, and while I was on the porch of the Light Keepers House, I was struck by this scene:

I'm a sucker for porches.  So, I did this sketch to think out the picture on paper:

I printed this sketch and used it as a template for a very rough color sketch:

Then came the under-drawing on a 24X20 masonite panel:

Touch of glare on that picture, sorry.  Now, for those who say "Wait a minute, Kev-- aren't you just copying a photograph?"  I say, "You're point?"  Actually, if you look closer you'll notice I took out the far railing, the picket fence and added snow on the porch.  I also turned the brick building a bit while I pushed it back

Apology accepted.

Alright, next came the grisaille--or monochrome under painting.  I used Silver White and Mars Black to do this:

I did all of this because I need to keep my values in check, or they'll go wandering all over.  And I hate wandering values.  Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile. They need to be controlled, reigned in and mastered.  But I digress...  I used the original photo, but switched it over to black and white as an aide.

Finally-- Color! 

This is a color lay-in.  I use very thin washes of color which allow the under-painting to show through.  For intance, the rocks on the right were given a wash of orange over the grey under-painting.    Subsequent sessions of glazing will deepen the colors.  I seal off each coat so that the colors rest on top of each other as opposed to mixing and blending.  The idea is that light will shine through each layer and blend the colors as it goes.  I will eventually go over some areas and add some impasto details here and there, (like on the rock pillers) but I've plenty more steps to go until I get to that point. 

Well, that's what I've been up to while I wait for the mud to make its springtime appearance.  Then the floor will show my every step-by-step.

If you know what I mean...


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Want Becomes Done

Stoking The Fire

Ever notice that frequently there is a lag time between Want and Do?  I have.  For instance, Ellen might want me to take the garbage out, but it will probably be awhile before I do.

In painting, Want and Do usually follow the same M.O.  Everywhere I go, I am bombarded with visual sights that make me say, "I want to paint that!"  And sometimes I run home and paint the picture.  Other times, I eventually paint the scene, but not right away.  Case in point:  Driving home one late winter afternoon, I spotted an old Maine barn perched atop a hill.  The snow was in purple/gray/blue shadow leading up to the barn, while the red barn was all aglow as the last few rays of sun lit it beautifully.  I was struck by the sight, and eventually made a painting of it.

Fifteen years later! 

Hey-- sometimes, Do takes time!  Like taking out the garbage...

Here at the house, we have an old antique parlor wood stove that I have wanted to paint for the last three years, or as long as we owned it.  I love the design of the thing, the gun-metal gray cast iron combined with the chrome bumpers and ornaments.  Man, those Victorians made things look pretty!


But while I love the look of the thing, I never could come up with a painting.  It was that fight between Want and Do.  Then a few weeks ago, early in the morning, I saw Ellen putting more wood on the fire.  It was just dim enough in the room for the fire box to cast a warm red glow on her face.  I felt like Charlie Brown having a Eureka moment:

                                                       THAT'S IT!!!!!

A couple of sketches later, and an evening photography session, and I was off.  As usual, I drew my picture out on a panel prior to painting:

I lit the scene with an oil lamp so that there would be some warm ambient light, and not just the light from the stove.  I didn't want to have a color scheme that was the same old warm light/cool shadows.  Although, truth be told, it was a fight.  Anyway, the stove is a side loader with the door opening out left to right.  Which you can't see.  My hope is that I made it obvious.  And frankly, in retrospect, if the door opened toward the viewer it probably would have made the light shining on Ellen more obvious as to the source.  But such is the scourge of realism, I guess...

So, there you go-- another one off the bucket list.  There's a lot more pictures I want to paint, but I think maybe I need to take the garbage out.

Even if I don't want to.