28-IN-28: FEBRUARY, 2021
Any concern about February being dull perished when I signed onto a “28 in 28”–aiming to paint and/or post every day of the month. Last August it was just Karen Weber and me doing a 30 in 30. This time, 20+ members and Friends of Art Plus Gallery are joining in the fun and frenzy. The snowballing effect can be seen on Facebook at the Daily Artwork Challenge
2/27: Mohonk Gatehouse
This is the gatehouse to the Mohonk Mountain House, near New Paltz, NY. There are so many cool architectural features to this structure that I’d normally sink a couple days into the details. Also challenging swift painting is all of the hard geometry, which does not forgive inaccuracies. But to work on painting looser, I gave myself four hours to do this 12” x 12” oil. I ran 20 minutes over, but I stopped here. I might tweak the tower roof tomorrow, but that's it. I swear...
2/25: Passing Time
In addition to getting me back in the habit of painting every day, I feel like this 28-in-28 is helping me sharpen my vision for seeing good subjects in seemingly mundane situations. This is a quality that I’ve highly admired in other painters but hadn’t felt very strong at it. I’ve passed variations of this theme, in this and similar spots along the creek in Wyomissing Park, literally hundreds of times. But in some respects I feel like I’m seeing them for the first time. “Passing Time” is an 7” x 10” oil, $390.
2/23: The Golden Hour
The day after this colorful sunset the Wyomissing meadow was white with a layer of snow. The east-west orientation on this stretch–locally known as The Swale, The Meadow or Lauer’s Run–makes for picturesque dawns and dusks year-round. I’ve painted it at least a dozen times, and it keep showing me new looks. This 6”x 8” oil is $120.
I grabbed a dozen pics of this picturesque creek during an intermission in a plein air workshop in Vermont. I didn’t have the chance to paint it during that trip, but it’s been on my list of places to get back to with paints in hand. In the meantime, it was fun to revisit and work the scene from my photos. This 11” x 14” oil is $490.
2/19: Lobster Shack
Nearly everything in Port Clyde, Maine, revolves around lobstering. The rest revolves around the Wyeths, who painted, summered and owned numerous properties in the region since 1920. Jamie still has a nearby island retreat, and Helga still summers in town. I did this painting from a photo I took on the way out of the harbor. On a Wyeth-themed tour on a converted lobster boat, of course. I primarily used a palette knife for this 6” x 8” oil, which is $120.
2/17: Ruth’s Bridge
Between the cyclists, strollers and dog walkers, the iconic bridge in the middle of Wyomissing Park likely sees more traffic these days than it did when it was built in 1910 by the nearby mill. This 6” x 8” oil was mostly palette knife with some brushwork for the fine points.
2/15: Julia and Annabelle Rock Out
This was half done en plein air during our July 2020 vacation near Port Clyde, Maine. Spending a lot of time on the rocks between our rustic cottage and Atlantic I found it noteworthy (yet unsurprising) that our niece Julia would forego the comfort of a beach chair to hang a little closer to Annabelle, the family Golden Retriever. This dreary day here in PA was a good time to revisit the experience and finish this 11" x 14" oil.
2/13: Setting Sun on City Hall
This 6” x 8” oil of City Hall in Dover, NH, was painted with only four colors: Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Indian Yellow and Titanium White. The two brushes were #6 and #2 flats. Other than having to shade the red pickup orange, the limited palette required surprisingly few compromises.
2/11: Easy Going
Sailing can be thrilling, but it can also relaxing, especially if you’re not in a rush to get where you’re going. On this day, the wind was light and right behind this Cape Dory coming down Lake Champlain. Instead of running wing and wing (with the jib on one side and the mainsail on the other, requiring close attention), this captain opted for the engine and a leisurely day. This 6” x 8” oil is $90
2/9: Breaking Clouds at Durham Point
In July 2020 I enjoyed a cruise of Great Bay with a couple salty associates, Jack Kareckas and Cole Mather, in Jack's new Dorchester Dory. It started as an overcast day, but the clouds started breaking as we approached Durham Point, where I snapped the photo reference for this. It’s a 6 x 8” oil, $190.
2/7: Down on the Creek
A cool reflection of a brilliant blue sky paid a nice complement to the cacophony of warm winter hues along Northkill Creek, along Shartlesville Road, not far from the turn to Green Acres Golf Course. Throw in the hard lines of trees standing and down, and the palette knife seemed to be the natural tool for the job. “Down on the Creek” is an 11” x 14” oil on panel, $490.
2/28: Skim Ice
I thought hell would freeze over before I could finish 28 paintings in 28 days, so today's gates-of-hellish oil of skim ice forming on Blue Marsh Lake seemed appropriate for the finale. I’m not good about replying to comments and likes, but all were very much appreciated and fueled my tenacity to stay with it. Thank you! 8" x 10", $190
Continuing the spirit of passing time, this is an 8” x 10” oil of one of my favorite spots to while away a couple hours three (other) seasons of the year: my buddy Jim’s pond. This view doesn’t include the north side of the pond with the Adirondack chairs and shade trees.
2/24: Ready for Action
Dad at the base of the slope, camera in hand. Mom at the top of the slope ready to give their two kids a gentle shove. Charming as this Wyomissing Park scene was at the time, I wouldn’t feel deprived if this were my last snow scene of this winter. This 7.5” x 15” oil is $290
2/22: Roilin’ Down the River
The boulder-strewn stretch of French Creek behind St. Peter’s Village is one of my favorite places to paint. After spending the morning plein airing, I snapped some photos as I hopped downstream. This is from one of them, an 11 x14” done mostly with a palette knife. By the time it dries I should be able to paint it again on site.
As you cross the Susquehanna River at Columbia, there’s often some drama in the view to the south. History, too. The little nubs in the shadow of Memorial Bridge are from the one that was burned by the Union Army to keep the Confederates from getting the Harrisburg. Duly thwarted, they turned west, got to Gettysburg, and you know the story from there. I did this 6” x 8” study from a photo with a vision of painting it full size during the River Towns Plein Air paint out in late April. The study revealed that a bigger panel and sunnier day are in order.
2/18: Weekend Lineup
On summer weekends we’ll occasionally get a bonus to our view of our neighbor/friends’ pristine property: four of their vehicles. similarly immaculate, lined up in their driveway. With the John Deere muscling its way into the lineup, the alternate title for this 6” x 8” oil was “All Vehicles Great and Small.” BTW this will be a surprise gift to our friends next month, so if you happen to recognize the place, please don’t say anything to the owners.
2/16: Taking a Break
A foot of snow and ice on the meadow had been frozen solid for a week, but a couple days ago some Canada geese just parked themselves on it and waited. Their intuition was rewarded today, when it warmed up enough for a stream to emerge through the swale. I enjoyed painting this 9” x 12” oil as much as the birds seemed to enjoy their rehydration.
2/14: Cutting the Fog
Today’s experiment: Make a harborful of white lobster boats, moored in a morning fog thick enough to cut with a knife, look interesting. So cut it with a knife I did. To add texture to the soft scene I mixed five shades of light gray, which I applied with a palette knife. This 16” x 20” oil on canvas is $190.
2/12: Gone Fishin’
I had the feeling that this guy, tucked away on a quiet stretch of Wyomissing Creek, couldn’t care less if he caught anything on this unseasonably warm day. But at least the palette knife caught the splash of autumn colors. This 6” x 8” oil is $120.
2/10: Maine Attraction
The only thing better than owning a house on the coast of Maine is having family you really like owning one. This is the view from my sister-in-law and husband’s 300’ of granite-edged waterfront on Mill Cove, about 15 miles south of Rockland. The lobster-centric village of Spruce Head is across the cove on the left, Rackliff Island on the right. “Maine Attraction” is 36” x 36” in a natural finish, hardwood floating frame. $1500.
2/8: Sundown in Nolde Forest
Middle Road is one of the most scenic areas of Nolde Forest. The conifers along this wide trail were planted by the Nolde family a century ago. The original plan was to harvest the area for lumber, so the trees were planted equidistant and relatively close. They never got around to lumbering the forest, and today the soaring dense aisle has a cathedral-like feel, enhanced by the setting sun at the western end of it.
In the middle of Wyomissing Park is a stand of Metasequoia, aka Dawn Redwoods. The world’s only deciduous conifer, its needles turn bright coral in fall, giving the tree a diaphanous look into the winter.
That softness squirreled my vision of making this 24 x 24” oil a companion piece to Tuesday’s post, Shimmer Me Timbers. Both locations are along the same creek, but the free flowing, jewel-like allure of the water reflection in the first painting gave way to a more classic, representational style for this park scene. It’s still needs a little brushing up, but after working on this off and on for 4 days, I’ll step back for a bit. Don’t want to risk overworking it either.
Interesting tale, these trees. The Metasequoia was thought to be an extinct, prehistoric species until the 1940s, when a small forest of them was discovered in Mongolia. This “living fossil” was big news to botanists worldwide. Seeds were brought to the U.S. where it became a popular addition to parks and other open spaces that could handle the tree's propensity to grow 5’+ a year and reach heights over 100’.
2/5: Pine Soul
One of the cool things about pine stands is that they look much the same in any season. I painted this one while working in the gallery today, from a photo I took last year in Wyomissing Park. “Pine Soul" is an 11” x 14” oil, $290.
2/4: Land's End
I went big to get the majestic feeling of the open sky and sea being cut by the iconic Marshall Point Lighthouse as you enter the harbor of Port Clyde, Maine. Two years in the making, “Land’s End” is a 22” x 28” oil on panel., $1500.
Feb. 2: Shimmer Me Timbers
A nice combination of sunshine and strong water flow gave a tree’s reflection in Wyomissing Creek an unusual jewel-like quality. With the thin bank at the top of “Shimmer Me Timbers”, this 24” x 24” oil was an fun departure from the big sky themes I’ve been drawn to of late. I have a another canvas the same size an idea for companion piece to this one.