Friday, December 30, 2011

The water's edge

Pin ItNot far from my home here is a beautiful little park right on the bay called Colt State Park. Below are some of the paintings of the waters edge and it's many moods. I love the contrast of the bathers on the rocks in all it's summer color and the kayaker at dusk in the fog.

Colt rock bathers

Colt Kayak at foggy dusk

Colt boulder low tide

Colt shore tussock

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Pin ItWater. It is the single greatest force for shaping nature and landscapes. Humans funnel it, try to capture it, but it still is a wild thing constantly on the move changing our world. I have been interested in those places where mans efforts to direct it's movements meet the moment that it is free again.  I did a series of paintings of culverts that have an interesting mix of visual structure and quiet fluid reflection. Culverts.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The colors and architecture of the Grand Canyon

Pin ItI have always been completely in awe of the grand canyon and the many paintings that have been done by the great landscape masters and many others there. Though I didn't take the reference photographs myself, there are almost unlimited views to find the landscape there is so visited. I wanted to explore some very saturated color and banded forms in these two paintings. The heavy speckling I painted in gave me the opportunity to capture some of that shimmering and unreal sense of color that the canyon can have in certain light where it seems to almost blister and bubble with colors that are more than could actually be there.

Grand Canyon at dusk

The Lily Pond

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Not far from where I live is an old mansion with grounds that are open to the public.  It is called Blythewold and I go there often to find subjects for my work. One of the more enchanting places on the grounds is the lily pond. It seems to constantly offer opportunities for looking at it in new ways.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The many moods of rocky shores

One of my favorite subjects is the rock and ledge that lives at the line between land and sea.  There is a lot of it up and down the east coast here and it has so many moods. I love the madly varied colors and stepped, cracked surfaces so deeply etched by the perpetual waves.
Bar Harbor Thunder hole

Northern Maine morning tidal pools

Barrington Beach sea grass after storm

Vancouver seaweed low tide

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pine brooms

Pin ItIn a small park near my home called Hanes Park, there are several older pine trees with intensely dense growths on them called "Pine Brooms."  These growths presented such opportunity to bring out the static chaos and gestures that the more oderly trees without these sematic mutations lacked.  I am personally attracted to the beauty of asymmetry and imperfection.  I also love the oily, pitch-created kaleidoscope of colors that can be pulled out of the tessellated pine bark.  For me, they become almost jewel toned and act as wonderful moments of contrast to the colors in the broom.

Hanes pine broom #1

Hanes pine broom #2

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dusk understory

Pin ItI have always been fascinated by the complexities of criss crossing branches and how they carve up space. What better time to push those forms to their graphic base then dusk just when the light is fading fast and colors compress to a narrow band on the color wheel. This is a painting from along the Barrington River in winter near my home. I really felt the tiny puzzle shapes of color scattered throughout the images and loved pushing to deep indigos and cyans.  the abstract of the colors capture between the slashing branch shapes was fun finding the right mix of related shades.

Barrington River dusk understory

Monday, April 18, 2011


I did a series of paintings looking upwards into tree canopies during winter. the trees were bare of leaves here on the east coast and the branches cut the sky into beautiful shapes like a stained glass window.
Blythewold old oak panorama
Blythewold beach canopy
Blythewold Larch

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


On Mount Desert Isle there are wonderful paths that roam all through the park.  They serve as ways to get places and as destinations from which to view some of the park's greatest vistas and features.  I became fascinated by the paths themselves with their deeply compacted earth worn bald of grasses and plants from years of nature pilgrims shuffling along them.  Each turn became its own destination with sea smells and sounds of rustling leaves cooly intruding on my concentration for guiding my steps.  Each of these three path paintings had a different story and promise of old secrets if I'd just continue a little further.  Each explores atmosphere, light and color differently because the narrative asked me to.  I am especially drawn to the struggle between the roots and the granite bedrock polished and exposed only by the passing of human feet.

Bar Harbor cliffside path

Bar Harbor approaching the stairs
Bar Harbor slanted stone path

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Coggeshell coop

Behind one of the barn buildings at Coggeshell farm is this marvelous old coop or pen,  I could have worked with this in so many ways but the structure of it and the "not quite four-square" nature of everything just wanted to be seen straight on so that it could tell you about its quirks and warps.  Those wonderfully interrupted angular shadows take you right around the corner to the field and tree disappearing in the moisture thickened air.

Coggeshell Farm coop

Coggeshell farm barn and coop

At the two century old Coggeshell farm here in Rhode Island there are a number of outbuildings that wear their age and function like mossy old oaks in a forest.  Nothing here is made to be false or evocative by design.  They simply are evocative and take me quickly to another time and way of life.  I am hypnotized by the textures and the play of shapes and lines creating compositions that are structured and yet richly imperfect.  The colors I see in these planks just need to be coaxed up and out to tell the story of the misty morning and quietness of the landscape out of time.
Coggeshell farm shed doors
coggeshell farm barn in mist
Coggeshell farm rusting implements

Blythewold rock beach

This painting shows some of the wonderful and colorful complexity that has grown on the rocks and debris at the water's edge along the naragansett bay here in Rhode Island.  Blythewold is a marvelous old mansion and grounds that are open to the public and this view was found along their beach.  It is a place full of the cries of gulls and the rushing shushing noise of the constant wave lapping.
The shapes are so rich.  Click on the image and then zoom in on the big rock to see abstracts just jump off the page.

Blythewold Rock beach

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bar Harbor Misty Point

At Bar Harbor the rocks that tumble into the ocean are so dramatic and powerful for me.  Every few steps there seems to be another opportunity for a painting.  This painting shows one of my favorite views in part because even today, the place is so strong with its sense of active nature and ancient power that it still feels almost primordial to me.

As a painting, the depth created by the simplification of using atmosphere to blend and simplify distant shapes, gives the place that slightly muffled quality that you find at northern Maine seashores often broken only by the squabbling cry of the gulls.

For me, this painting really wraps together the beauty of the small hard edged shapes with the color palette, composition and tone of the early 20th century landscape painters.  I have used this painting as the background for my blog because it feels like it can represent this body of work.

The birds were interestingly the key to bringing the composition to life.  I painted and painted and repainted them to get a flock that felt natural and that had the flow I was looking for.

Bar Harbor Misty Point

Coggeshell farm stone shed

Near where we live here in Rhode Island there is a historical farm (Coggeshell Farm) still run as if it was pre-industrial with all of it's out buildings that are hundreds of years old still in use.  This stone storage building lies right at the edge of a saltwater marsh and was so rich with overgrowth, moss and nature's hand I had to make it a subject of this painting.  Old doors always fascinate me as it is magical to imagine the passage of so much life and work through those doors over hundreds of years.  This building almost seems to have been built just as a home for this modest ancient door.

I painted the mortar mostly simple light colors to pull out the rich watercolor-like tones of the old slate and shale used in the construction.

The overgrowth of the brambles create russet whips that look like they are weaving this old building back into the land itself.  It's late fall and the leaves have dropped giving the scene that quiet and expectant pause that you get here in New England.  I wanted to capture the thin blue sense of  late afternoon light near the shore and to be able to smell the salt marsh and brisk breeze that carries the hint of dry leaves and hay bundles.

Here again I find the hard edges shapes this painting process brings out to be simply thrilling and so full of discovery.

Coggeshell Farm Stone Shed

Monday, January 31, 2011

Old man top of the world

This gnarled old tree high up on a mountain was a trunk found by my wife's brother in one of his many treks.  I worked with the shapes of the trunk and added colors, tone and movement throughout the painting to bring out the power of this ancient life that had carved out an existence in this impossible and breathtaking environment.  I wanted the glow in the sky to almost seem to come from the stump itself.

Old man at the top of the world

Primrose Hill Secret Creek

Hidden deep in back of a neighborhood was this marvelous creek with it's undisturbed banks.  I was struck by the jewels that were the fallen leaves and the colors of the light that came through in shafts and reflections.  It has a wonderful jumbled complexity yet holds together in a single composition both visually and emotionally.  The broken verticals of the dark tree and it's fractured reflection anchor this composition.  the two ducks I painted in as well to give the eye a secret in the complexity to find.

Primrose hill creek

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bar Harbor windy shore

This image evokes such a sense of untouched nature for me.  I painted the moose into the shot because we had seen one earlier in our hiking that day and I felt he brought the moment and sense of misty quiet to a place of anticipation.   I especially enjoyed simplifying the layers of trees and finding the severe shapes of the exposed rock face.

Bar Harbor Windy Shore

Bar Harbor Rock views

Again, Bar Harbor is a place of such varied and breathtaking views and sights.  I am particularly struck by the caligraphy of the rocks and the wonderful gestures and rich shape and color relationships that come with such an artistic biome.  both of these paintings are rich with powerful hard edges shapes and interesting local and zone color relationships.  In particular the cliff tree image has some strong darks in the rocks that set the whole composition moving for me.

Bar Harbor Cliff Trees

Bar Harbor Cadillac Mtn scrub tree

Friday, January 28, 2011

Moss Oak abstract

This is one of my favorite images because of the incredible shapes, the flow of the shapes and the wonderful colors I was able to coax out and paint in.  Decaying wood is like a painters palette.  This image really illustrates some of the unexpected colors that happen between things.  Look at the the slightly darker blue green of the barely seen leaves as they blend with the sky color up in the canopy. Ordinarily I might have painted them a distinct color from the sky because that's what I believed them to be but first forcing color simplification on the base photo brings out other possibilities to paint into.  the color transitions from the foreground to the background are also so interesting and so varied.  Really a joy to develop and paint this one.
Moss Oak

Lincoln Park Lichen Bark

In  this image I really worked to bring out the layers of lichen and moss that were slowly growing their way up this tree.  Simplifying the background trees to just simple shapes with little surface detail and making the foreground tree have most of it's shape relationship with the sun patches cutting back across the ground really brought this image together.  the shapes created by the color patches on the right side of the trees base really got wonderfully contorted.  I would love to do one of these as an enormous mural so that the hard edged abstract shapes took on a different scale.

Lincoln Park Lichen Bark

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The simple drama of trees

I have always been enchanted by Plein Air painters and by the romantic era in painting.  I found that breaking down the images into their more graphic elements sends me in that direction (happily).  These two images really came through as they became simpler.  It's so interesting how emotion can be found in a photo or coaxed into a new place by the artists choices.

Lincoln Park tree at sunset
Morning's cold fire

Hane's dock snow forms

Here are a few more digital studies of snow and the forms and shapes it creates.  I braved deeply snow covered roads to travel the half mile just after a blizzard to find these wind carved moments around trees near the bay in this park.  As I worked on these I was struck by the unexpected textural relationship that emerges when the tones become hard edged between the micro color zones in the snow and the bark of the tree.  Very unifying and rich.  The colors were also a challenge here to find the greyed violets and blue blends in the snow and the trees.

Hanes snow bowl 1
Hanes snow bowl 2

Hanes bog in winter

Here's three digital paintings of a local small park called Hane's park shortly after a big snowfall.  I love the quality the color shapes take on with the inky water and the bluish snow clumps contrasting and breaking everything up like floating negative space.  The snow pushes these images more abstract and compresses the visual space in wonderful ways. I've been experimenting with the color of water and reflections that turn the surface into color patterns like intricate stained glass.  Again, this process exposes some very different ways of seeing the natural world.  Individual things become melded into bigger gestures and randomized patters and what used to be unified surfaces now become puzzle pieces of tone and saturated line.  Comic book artists understand much of this because of the nature of their craft but these images dissemble the shapes with nature's randomness rather than human stylization.

Hanes Bog #1

Hanes bog #2

Hanes bog #3

Cadillac Mountain rich colors

Bar Harbor is one of my favorite places on the planet.  Here's a composited and heavily painted image that uses some of the incredible stone formation from the summit.  I was intent on bringing out the furtive shapes of the moss and scrub grass and show their relationship to the marbled rocks and the graphics the shapes create when turned hard edged.  I've painted the colors to be how I felt about the place and unabashedly pulling bits and parts equally from my imagination and other photos.  This isn't traditional media so these images are about the end result.  The process is very freeing.
Cadillac Mountain colors and shapes

Here's a close up showing the wonderful abstract shapes that emerge and that I get to play with and paint into.  These rock surfaces are not just a stipling of color.  They are twisting and cropped shapes that have tremendous energy at the miniature level and mass up to create a richness that goes beyond impressionist dots.  Look at the colors that emerge as well.  I have several hundred of these paintings and after having done them as an experiment over the past few years I find they have informed the "from scratch" paintings I'm doing in a big way.

Bar Harbor rock close up