Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Mt. Cuba Painting Workshop.

In mid-June I had the pleasure of teaching a Painting Workshop at Mt. Cuba Center, in Delaware.

Set on nearly 600 acres of rolling hills, the former estate of one of the presidents of the Du Pont company is now an incredible arboretum with wonderful formal gardens, meadows, and ponds in the forest.

My group of twelve students (some not in this picture) worked  in oil or watercolor during the week, mediums with which I am very familiar.

We did not have to go very far from the mansion to find subjects. Atmospheric  vistas...

Elegant formal gardens...

And for the more adventurous, the ponds down in the shaded forest.

Here I'm doing a quick watercolor demo from the patio, to show my painting and thinking processes.

Of the three demos I painted, this is my favorite.

A constant challenge for me throughout the week was simply finding students, often hidden from
view on woodland paths, or behind walls and hedges in the gardens. First rule of painting outdoors is: "Find a shady spot."

Here we are taking our lunch break, in the elegant and cool atrium.

By mid-week the students were really into the challenges of painting "En Pleine Air," with the sun
constantly on the move,  and Mother Nature and the Art Spirit providing inspiration...

...and some moments of frustration.

On the final afternoon we gathered most of the week's works together on the patio. I gave an overview
commentary on all that I felt had been accomplished.

Everyone agreed some wonderful art had been created by each of the participants during our week together at Mt. Cuba Center. As a result, we were invited to have a showing in the fall of the paintings.
I will keep you posted as to dates for the reception and exhibition.

On behalf of my talented students I thank Eileen Boyle, Director of Education and Research, and her amazing staff, for making this workshop a reality. In particular these two women, Margaret Shillingford and Cora Sparling. Whether lugging artist's gear or seeing that fresh cuttings from the gardens were available for still-lifes on our one rainy day...thanks for making it all go so smoothly. Thanks also to Cherie Casalnuovo  for setting up the student exhibition in the fall.
See you at the reception! http://www.mtcubacenter.org/

Friday, May 25, 2012

Artist In The Court; Easton P.A.

Last Monday I got a call from the Graphics Editor at the Allentown, P.A., "Morning Call" newspaper.

He wanted to know if I was available on Wednesday to go to the courthouse in Easton, P.A., to draw another very nasty murderer? Since this is one of my very favorite things to do as an Artist, I said "Yes."

I was looking forward to working once again with two very talented writers and Court Reporters, Riley Yates and Pam Lehman. I was also asked to do this portrait of Riley, as a surprise gift.

The defendant, George Hitcho, Jr., had been found guilty days before of murdering a police officer with a shotgun blast from five feet away. "I was fed up with him trespassing on my property," Hitcho explained.
Not someone you'd consider taking home to meet Mom and Dad.

As usual, the Defense Team tries to clean up their client, to make him "presentable" to the Jurors.
Hitcho is on the right, with the ponytail. It didn't help. The jury gave him the death penalty.

During the lunch break I find a secluded spot to set up my palette, and add color to the drawings.

The paper's photographer hovers patiently, waiting to shoot the paintings and send them back to be reproduced on-line and in the day's paper.
At the end of a very long day I take my time driving the sixty miles back to Philly,  looking forward to the next call to draw in court, and hang out with some nice...and at least one nasty, folks.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Totally Obsessed With Watercolor.

On those days when he's feeling up to it, my Dad and I go for rides. And yes, at ninety-nine, he still likes to drive.

As I watch out for oncoming mailboxes, he reminds me of who still lives where, and now that it is planting time, how every other big field we see is being farmed by "The Dubois Boys."

After last week's visit, I once again ended my day in South Jersey doing a watercolor, this one of a Dubois farm.

And here is one of the "boys," Henry. Now sixty-four years old, Henry laughed and reminded me he rode my Dad's school bus back when he was a kid. After farming and running our little country store for 30 years, Pop then drove school buses for another 20 years. As a result, everybody seems to remember him.

Each of the farms in this photo is owned by  Dubois family members.

As clouds moved in, I painted the pile of shapes that made the farmhouse and outbuildings and trees all one long, meandering bigger shape in the fields.

In another beginning, I decided to not carry this to the usual "finish." I find this delicious mix of colorful washes more satisfying as a small statement about the farm's silhouette against the setting sun.

As the light began to fade I did one more painting, again just hoping to capture the essence of what was in front of me, before ending the day.

Back home in my studio I took it one step more, adding a darker value in the buildings and trees, and indicating the distant horizon. I kinda' like this little guy. 

And finally, this past weekend I did this painting along the stream in nearby Merion Park, where I've painted many times. I think I'll submit this one to the upcoming Annual Exhibition of the Philadelphia Watercolor Society.
Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Busy Week Of Sketching, Painting, and Illustrating.

Yet another visit to one of my Dad's doctors with, of course, lots of time spent in the waiting room...waiting.

On my way back to Philly I was seduced by this old familiar long-ago-abandoned farm, and had to finally  capture it with  watercolor in my 5 X 8" Moleskin.

And about five miles away; another farm I've been driving past for so many years, patiently awaiting
my brush on paper.

In the middle of the week I indulged in a light meal at my favorite Chinese  take-out. Seems some people have a bad-hair-day, others a bad-hair-evening.

I also finally finished an illustration project for my friend and writing teacher, Casey. Here is the cover art I did for her very first novel.

And this and the following three pen and ink drawings are for the inside of her book.

A long week of enjoyable and challenging art experiences.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Inspired by David Hockney.

This is a self-portrait by David Hockney, a mentor to me (he doesn't know it) and in my opinion one of the great innovators of our time.

Hockney has inspired me on so many levels over the years. He is prolific, creative, always exploring new mediums, and much too busy doing his art to be concerned about his critics.

After living in LA for many years, Hockney has returned to his roots, in Yorkshire, England.
I recently purchased this facsimile sketchbook of his, from 2004.

It is one of many he fills with dashed off impressions in pencil, pen, and watercolor. For me, a window into how the man thinks and sees. (detail)

A few weeks ago, as I was driving down to teach in South Jersey, I lived dangerously and did this scribble, with the sketchbook in my lap, in an attempt to capture shapes in the misty, early morning landscape.

Later that day I did this double-page watercolor sketch, using the earlier pen scratchings as an aid to capture not a specific place, but my lingering impression of the Jersey landscape.

This past Friday, while visiting my Dad, I could not resist setting up a kitchen chair at the edge of the field that I've now painted and photographed many times.

This watercolor took about forty-five minutes to paint. Spring is in the air, and thanks to Hockney, I'm off and running. 


Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Busy Week In Sketches.

My journals are reminders of what I did, and when, throughout the week...and my life.

I began this week with breakfast at Manhattan Bagel.

And lingered over my ham egg and cheese on an "everything" long enough to draw this gentleman, a "regular."

A few days later I found myself at "Hymies," my  favorite local Deli, for lunch.

On Friday I drove down to Jersey to take my Dad to have his eyes examined. Seems at the ripe age of ninety nine he has a hard time these days reading the small print in his racing form.

I left his house later than usual, so I decided to have a quiet dinner about two miles away, at "Ye Olde Centerton Inne,"  a local restaurant that was a stagecoach stop from Philly to the Jersey shore, in Colonial Times. Here are two "regulars" at the bar.

This place is filled with nostalgia from my childhood. As kids my brothers and I would join friends on Halloween and "Trick or Treat" in the small village of Centerton. Knocking on the door of the Inn took guts, 'cause everyone knew the place was surely haunted.   But on this night it was just a great place to end my week.