Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blizzard 2009 Renderings

Snowslope (16 X 20"), sold.

Creekside Path in Snow (11 X 14"), sold.

Beech Tree in Snow (18 X24"), Miller-Wallis Collection.

These were painted after the blizzard from photos I took wandering around in Montrose Park behind Dumbarton Oaks and along Rock Creek.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Clarkman (16 X 20"), Collection of Avery & Gregory.

The weather's cold and I find myself hunkering down and doing portraits from photos I've taken of loved ones. This is Monday's effort. I hope people will commission me to do portraits of their loved-ones. I need to know the person, draw a study from life, and take my own digital photos to work from.

Shadowlands of December

Shadowy Paths (30 X 40")
In this big studio piece, I worked from a successful small on-site study I did years ago of the little trees and paths behind Dumbarton Oaks. Revisiting the older work, a light shone within and I thought, " I've got to build a more abstract interior journey on this composition." I really enjoyed developing this one. There are rich forms and spaces and interplays of mass and shadow and light here that my eye wants to wander in and around all day.

Shadow-laden Hillside Behind Dumbarton Oaks (16 X 20")
Another in this series from my favorite painting spot by a stone bench next to the creek running behind Dumbarton Oaks, this was painted on site December 1, 2009.

Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Reflection, under Mass Ave Bridge (18 X 24"). Sold.

Autumn Maple, in Rock Creek (12 X 18")

Reed Relics

I studied drawing and/or painting during every semester I was at Reed College (from 1989 - 1993), though I majored in history. I've stayed in touch with my art professor at Reed, Michael Knutson, who is a very accomplished painter in Portland (see his Blackfish Gallery work!) and continues to guide young painters at Reed. He told me my work was preserved on the art department website. I revisited some of my old pieces, especially these three. I want to boast that there is more of my work showcased on the site than any other painter's, but I didn't do a very scientific comparison.

Still Life arranged by Michael Knutson

These two self-portraits hung side-by-side in the department exhibition space along with the other self-portraits of the class. The seersucker suited one vanished before the show came down. I'd like to think it was stolen because somebody liked it rather than that the thief was just too lazy to stretch her/his own canvas and liked the dimensions of this one. Both self-portraits were approximately 40" X 20". The nude is rolled up in a closet at my parents' house.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November in Georgetown

I'm painting very efficiently outside at some of my favorite spots around Georgetown these days. This is where I grew up, and I have walked wide-eyed along these streets and parks and paths throughout my life, in every mood. These places are very restorative, with their rich, earthy colors. The blues and reds and yellows are coming through really cleanly, too.

Canal Stretch (from 31st Street) (sold)

Swaying Trees at Mt. Zion Cemetery (off Q & 27th) (sold)

Hillside behind Dumbarton Oaks (sold)

Friends Creek in October

Friends Creek in Cobalt (16 X 20"), sold.

These are two paintings are of a pool where I spent a lot of time fishing and swimming as a kid. On this day in October, the colors were very vivid and the air and water were very still. Friends Creek runs into Pennsylvania from Sabillasville, MD through the rugged Cotoctin Mountain countryside. This part of the creek is in a hollow, and there isn't much sunshine in the fall. As the afternoon wore on, the air and light grew very cool very fast, inspiring me to squeeze from my tube of cobalt for the first time in years.

Friends Creek in Yellow (16 X 20"), sold.

Earlier in the day, the light was hazier, the air lazier, and warm yellows dominated my palette.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October Awakening

This nine-foot-long triptych (October Awakening) is my most ambitious piece to date. Sold.

It started plein-air on our terrace, but October 2 dawned magnificently with about half an inch of snow on the higher peaks. I snapped lots of photos from the roof of our house.

Uncle David had wandered through the woods to admire the daybreak and joined me on the upstairs balcony. The magic of the morning called for a precise rendering, and I developed the triptych using the photos. It was raw and windy outside and it was heavenly to paint inside with Beethoven sonatas by the fire.

Plein-air pieces from Keene Valley in September

September Spreadeagle, from the Macholds' deck (24 X 30)

Giant and Roaring Brook Falls, from the Rutherfurds' porch. (24 X 30"). Sold.

Trinity Falls (IV) (24 X 30)

Brothers Sing September, from our terrace (24 X 30). Sold

These four pieces were all painted on site outside in September up in Keene Valley. They were quicker, bolder enterprises than the paintings I've done from photos, but sometimes the rain or darkness or some commitment comes along and I don't finish on site and it becomes a question of inventing or remembering. That happened with the sky in Brothers Sing September, where the sky was painted and repainted several times. I could have taken photos as a memory aid, but didn't.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Among the Mountain Gods (30" X 40")

Among the Mountain Gods (30 X 40")

These are some of my last paintings of the summer, when I was still up in Keene Valley after the family had left. I worked from photos I had taken of Mari up on Pyramid Peak. Painting from my photos is so convenient and strong paintings usually result from the exercise, but there is definitely more vigor, integrity, risk, and reward in pushing paint plein-air. I do both.

Major influences on my vision and work

Robert Stark is a great American painter and a dear friend who has helped me open up my eyes, free up my technique, and generally be smarter in my approach. He is a fountain of great paintings and helpful tips. My grandmother, Noel Train, was a good painter who used to take me out to paint when I was a teenager. She collected really inspirational works by people who became my heroes, including Lundberg, Avery, Henri, Weston, and Marin.

I was extremely fortunate growing up to have a lot of really good oil paintings on the walls of our house and my grandmother's house. I am particularly grateful to have grown up around the works of the American modernist Harold Weston (of the Adirondacks) and the American impressionist August Lundberg (of Maryland). Other members of my family have been very good painters, too: uncle Brown Miller, aunt Lucinda Train Longstreth, and uncle Antonio Ciccone. My parents have each done some good paintings over the years, too. Mama assembled a fine collection of alligator-based portraits of figures from popular history. Papa produced lots of landscapes in oil under the guidance of St. Albans' Dean Stambaugh.

Masters whose approach I would like to better understand and incorporate into my own work are Cezanne, Courbet, Van Gogh, Bellows, Hartley, Burchfield, Dove, and Milton Avery.

I've been pleased to show alongside Bob Stark, Michael Gaudreau, Bill Evans, Vry Corscaden, and Stephanie Demanuelle at the Corscaden Barn in Keene Valley, NY. I want to send a shout-out to Bob and Michael for pushing me to get this blog going, and I want to send a special shout-out to Martha Corscaden for making the Barn such a vibrant place and for encouraging me to show there each year.