I’m writing this as I look out above the Gloucester harbor from the large windows of the Drift Cafe. The view before me is one I painted last week at the 3rd Annual Cape Ann Plein Air event. I caught a glimpse of this harbor scene one morning as I was driving by on my way to another painting location. A lot of moisture still hung in the air and infused the scene with atmosphere and bright early morning sunlight. It was an ‘aha’ moment and I jumped out of my car and set up my gear as quickly as I could.

The work came easily, as the paint seemed to glide off the brush. All painters live for moments like this and are all too aware that these moments are far and few between. It’s a combination of feeling greatly inspired by the subject and being mentally prepared for the painting session.

The painting titled ‘Good Morning Gloucester’ 10x12, was awarded the ‘Working Waterfront’ ribbon by juror Don Demers at the Saturday night gala. I feel honored to win this award among my peers who are some of the very best painters in the country.

This annual event is in its third year and is fast becoming a top plein air event. The paintings that were done during the six days by the other 39 juried artists were just amazing. As one of the oldest artist colonies in America and still very much a place filled with working harbors and stunningly beautiful scenery everywhere, Cape Ann is a win win for an event such as this. The dedication by the organizers of the event in making the artists’ time here special along with the camaraderie of all the artists makes for another win win situation. Forty painters are essentially competing against each other for prizes and yet there isn’t one bit of a competitive feel among the artists. We all just want to paint our best and are inspired and motivated throughout the week by the endless array of subject matter and also by each other.

It's also not hard to wander and paint throughout Cape Ann and feel the presence of the past Cape Ann greats. Emile Gruppe, Aldro Hibbard, Anthony Thieme, Carl Peters, Edward Potthast, John Sloan, Edward Hopper, Harry Vincent and Jonas Lie still have a voice here. The list of past greats that lived and worked here could go on and on. Their legacies and the timelessness of their work, will forever be an inspiration to artists everywhere.

Robert Henri summed up the camaraderie felt between artists in his book ‘The Art Spirit’ when he said; and I’m paraphrasing a bit here. “Through art mysterious bonds of understanding and of knowledge are established among artists. They are the bonds of a great brotherhood and sisterhood. Those who are a part of it know each other and time and space cannot separate them. The brotherhood and sisterhood is powerful. It has many members. They are of all places and of all times. It goes steadily on. It is the evolution of man. Let the surface destroy itself, the brotherhood and sisterhood will start it again. For in all cases, no matter how strong the surface institutions become, no matter what laws may be laid down, what patches may be made, all change that is real is due to the brotherhood/sisterhood.

A week before the Cape Ann event, Pam was busy painting in a five day plein air event in Quechee Vermont for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS). She was awarded 1st place in the Quick Draw part of this event.This award, plus my award at Cape Ann, literally made the month of October a win-win for us :)

Oh So Many Hats

As much as long hours spent behind the easel is an exciting part of being an artist, it's both rewarding and necessary to find joy in all the other different tasks that make a big part of the actual business of being an artist. You have to be willing to wear a lot of different hats.

Over the last four weeks, I have spent long hours in the studio painting to replace sold paintings at galleries and also for a gallery group-show that is coming up quickly.
After being painted, all the new pieces are signed and then they get a title and a list is made. Then one by one they are wired and framed and then carefully packed into several boxes and shipped to galleries. Each task is very time consuming, but it's all just part of another day at the office.

I am excited about the group show. The Laffer Gallery is in upstate New York in Schuylerville. I sent Erik Laffer 17 paintings. The show, 'Common Beauty' is opening on Saturday September 22nd and goes through October 21st.

I've also spent many days recently wearing the web masters hat and I'm happy to report that our website has been revamped somewhat. Pam and I now have our own separate gallery pages, where before they were combined. Our paintings can be viewed easier and can also be purchased right online. We've been asked about this by numerous gallery visitors, as the trend of buying art directly from an artists website is growing all the time. We live in exciting times.

I'm looking forward to going to New York for the show opening with Pam. She wears a lot of different hats too and she's been doing a great job of taking care of things at the gallery during the busy summer season. It will be nice to drive up to the gallery together and both get a chance to wear the 'Artist at the Opening Reception' hat.

Time Does Fly

 We’ve all done those menial tasks around the house or waited in long lines that seem to take forever, even if it’s really only been 15 minutes. When I paint, I will work for three hours, before a break and it feels like 15 minutes. It’s hard to get in the zone when we are, say, washing dishes, but if we are doing something that we immensely love, getting in the zone can happen almost instantly. For the past 30 years, I have been immersing myself into painting the landscape. It’s my profession, but more importantly, it’s my passion. I chose this as a career, because I was passionate about it since I was a child. I have a passion for music too and I'll find myself picking up the guitar in the studio almost daily before I paint. But when I stand behind my easel and pick up a brush loaded with paint, that is where passion truly kicks in. If passion has wings, then painting is where I soar.

All these years of painting, have gone by quickly. For instance, I've been teaching my Monhegan Island Plein Air Workshop annually for 19 years. Talk about time flying when you’re having fun. It quite literally feels like yesterday. Pam and I have been blessed each year with a wonderful group of students and we’ve been blessed with a lot of good weather. We’ve had great times on Monhegan and we're thankful for everyone who has ever come out and immersed themselves into painting with us in the spirit of learning and good fun. 
My first visit to that wonderful rock in the sea, was 24 years ago, with my good friend Alex Vranos. He called me one day and said, let’s go to Monhegan Island and paint for a week. It was a week of heaven. Each morning we would wake up to picture perfect weather. My first ever painting of Monhegan was done on the back of the island along the path from White Head looking down at Gull Rock and the Atlantic. I still have that painting and I get excited every time I look at it. I also remember the excitement of carrying all my gear and the anticipation of taking in the view from the high vantage point of 150 foot cliffs, rising out of the ocean. After that first trip, I just knew that I would be going back as often as I could. Pam was visiting Monhegan for some years before we were married and so together, we had the same vision. Years ago, when Pam was on dialysis, I trained for 4 months to become a dialysis tech, so that we could do her treatments at home and because it was a portable 75 lb machine, we could ship 800 lbs of pre mixed dialysate to Monhegan ahead of time and dialyze her there too. We could teach and paint and keep our pilgrimage to the island going. It’s like we never skipped a beat. That’s how awesome Monhegan really is. Once you visit, you can’t stop. You find a way to get back.

With 2019 being our twentieth year, Pam and I want to make it a special and festive occasion. Two decades of an annual workshop is worth celebrating! We are offering Monhegan as our usual 3 day workshop, but extending it by 2 more free days for anyone wanting to stay on for the 5 day experience. The cost is for 3 days and the extra days are our way of saying thank you. The add on days will be full days of painting with a critique at the end of each day, with wine and cheese for a festive and relaxing atmosphere. On the very last day, we will hold a drawing for one of my original 9x12 inch paintings of Monhegan. We will also bring back our popular and fun Dueling Demo session, where Pam and I race against an hour glass to see who can come up with the best painting. It will be an exciting and inspirational week of learning, socializing as a community of artists and painting. You can read more about the workshop by clicking here. There is one thing that I can guarantee you about the workshop. Besides being a great will fly right by.