What Draws You In?

What Draws You In?

Recently, Pam and I hopped in our car and headed to Perkins Cove in beautiful Ogunquit Maine to paint. Although the cove is just a little over 12 miles down the road from us, we hadn't seen the ocean in awhile. We had spent the winter and the first few weeks of spring, painting the snowy New England landscape around our neighborhood and up into the mountains of Jackson New Hampshire and Jeffersonville Vermont. So as we neared Perkins cove and caught our first glimpse of Oarweed Cove in the distance, our hearts started racing with excitement.

We walked out towards the western end of the Marginal Way and both painted 8x10 canvases of a sparkling sea before the sun sank behind the steep prominence of Israel Hill Rd. It was a joy to be out painting the new season and to be filled with the sights and the sounds and the smells that is everything New England coastline.

I don't know of anyone who isn't attracted to the ocean and mesmerized by the pull of its ever changing tides. One moment it lulls you into a calm reflective state and then one of excitement and awe as low tide gives way to the reckless and persistent manner of a high tide pushing its way into shore. Its always a wonder to behold and it literally draws me in. Besides the beauty of seeing, there is also the sounds and smells that add to the excitement of it all. Crashing waves, seagulls and the salty ocean air, all make for a perfect recipe to delight the senses.

As a painter, I can be intoxicated by the vastness of a scene or I can become enamored with a more intimate and close up view of a few rocks and the swirl of the ocean tide. Because the ocean is constantly moving, it's a subject that keeps me on my toes. It's always a fun subject to tackle. Even when I walk away at the end of a painting session with something that will probably be put in the 'miss' pile, it's always a learning experience and a great day.

I'm looking forward to teaching my 3-day plein air workshop along the Marginal Way June 12-14 and there still a few spots remaining. The Marginal Way is a breathtaking scenic coastal walk that is just over a mile long. It is paved for easy walking and there are 39 public benches that span its entirety. The views are spectacular and offer the plein air painter a rare treat of ocean and rocky shoreline that will really draw you in!

A Brush With The Past

A Brush With The Past

As we move closer to warmer days ahead, the smell of spring is already in the air and the warmth of the sun feels a little bit stronger. It's fun to start thinking of spring and the budding of trees and beautiful blooms of color, that this great new season brings. But before that happens, my mind is gearing up for one more rendezvous with the winter landscape. 

With its views of farms, rivers and covered bridges, nestled among majestic views of Mount Mansfield, Lamoilee County Vermont has long been a gathering place for painters. The towns of Jeffersonville, Waterville and Cambridge have been painted by the likes of great painters; Emile Gruppe, Aldro Hibbard, Chauncey Ryder and Tommy Curtin, just to name a few. Painters continue flocking to the area to paint.

A few years ago, painter, Stapelton Kearns organized the Jeffersonville Winter Rendezvous, inviting painters to come to Jeffersonville for some camaraderie and painting together in the mountains. Many of the artists stay at the Smugglers Notch Inn, where the old timers used to meet-up after a long day of painting. It will be a fun opportunity to go and paint with artists I know and to make some new friends along the way.  

I have my own history with the area. My first trip to this painting mecca, was in the fall of 1993, with my friend and mentor, George Carpenter. By the time I went with him, George had been making yearly pilgrimages to Jeffersonville for a lot of years. In fact, he once lived in nearby Cambridge and owned the house that Tommy Curtin had lived in. George had painted with Gruppe and a host of other well known painters and so, as you can imagine, I was excited as ever to make the trip. George knew ALL the painting spots and filled me with story after story about Gruppe, Curtin, Hibbard, Ryder, Connaway and more.

George and I were driving to a painting spot a couple of days into the trip and we came across a group of painters in the area where we were going to paint. That was my first introduction to painters, Paul Strisik, Alden Bryan, Ron Straka, Dale Movalli, Doug Higgins and a couple more, who's names escape me. Charles Movalli was on this trip as well, but was painting at another location. They were all going to be celebrating Alden Bryan's 80th birthday that evening and George and I were invited to the party. It was such a thrill for this 34 year old plein air painter to be up in the mountains and have a chance to paint and celebrate with these artists. Its a great memory, and I have pictures from that time.

After that initial trip, I made trips there with George on many occasions and after Pam and I were married in 2000, we would go up there every year to paint, sometimes in the fall and sometimes in the winter. We would meet George and his dear wife, Ginna and it was always a special time. There was one year around this same time of year, that we went up with some good friends for a full week of painting and the weather was so perfect that we drove home when the week was up, and came back with our daughter Jen and our son Ben, who wanted to paint up there. They were 11 and 13 years old at the time. We had one fantastic weather day of painting snow, dressed in only light spring jackets, only to wake up the next day to a surprise snow storm, that kept us in our hotel rooms for a full day and a half! 

Fast forward to the present day and I haven't been to Jeffersonville for quite a few years. Time has a way of changing things and putting obstacles in our way. It's time to reconnect with a place I remember fondly and to be a part of the tradition of artists painting together alive and well. 

And it's the maple sugaring season. I cant wait to paint some sugar shacks!

Inspirations & Aspirations

Inspiration & Aspirations

Pam and I like taking long drives together. We always find ways to make it interesting and fun. We take detours from major highways to check out interesting places and to look at scenery. Our own version of car pool karaoke is one of our favorite distractions.

We just arrived back home from our annual plein air workshop in Naples Florida. We visited friends and family on our drive south and back north. On these long adventures, inspiration is found everywhere, by the things we see and the friends we share time with. We had some wonderful conversations about the making of art, the collecting of art and all things art-related. We discussed art with friends and family in Amston Connecticut, Monkton Martyland, Abingdon Virginia, Cartersville Georgia, Ellenton Florida, Naples Florida, Vero Beach Florida, St Augustine Florida, Pine Mountain Georgia, Bolivia North Carolina, Richmond Virginia, Annapolis Maryland and Peekskill New York. We also got to visit galleries and museums and view the personal art collections of friends. 

One of our stops was in Cartersville Georgia. We had wanted to see the exhibit East/West Visions: Scott Christensen & Quang Ho, and at first we didn't realize this museum was on our way south. (The Booth Museum features Western art and we both thought it was somewhere in the mid west.) The exhibit ended the day after we saw it and so we both count our blessings in having had the opportunity to see this body of work by two contemporary masters. We were both deeply touched by this exhibit. As we looked at the paintings, along with others in attendance that day, there was a shared feeling of deep respect and awe that permeated the room.The paintings, most of which were large scale, were intoxicating to the senses. In every painting, the mastery and versatility was clearly evident. Some of Quang Ho's work filled me with tears.This is an artist who is capable of painting so deeply from the heart, that the viewer feels the emotion behind every brushstroke. This was a show that changed me somehow. I can't explain just how it changed me, at least not yet, but I know I'm a better person for having seen it. 

There was no catalog made for this unique exhibit, so I can't offer up a way to buy one online, but I can say that if you ever have a chance to see the work by either of these gifted painters in person, you should make every effort to do so. I've seen work by these artists online before, but like most paintings viewed as a small image, it doesn't do the work justice. 

The time spent traveling has opened up numerous possibilities for future workshops and gallery representation, and has us both aspiring to be the best landscape painters and workshop instructors that we can be. We are looking forward to our 2019 workshops and making new paintings for the coming season..