Working on a theme…

Last year I started a series of …well series paintings.

I wanted to work on themes and explore them across several different compositions. There were more ideas than I had time to create and I’ve learned that there is a time, and a season as it were, for each painting. So, as the crisp fall air brings the colors alive, I have been studying apples… anew.

The October before last  I spent a day with our friend Ted in the Tiasquam orchards in West Tisbury…

There are dozens of good painting ideas from that modeling session and I decided to elaborate on the “theme” of apple picking.  Though I started the series last year with some sketches …

and then this painting from my studio yard…

Like I said earlier… last year life took some wicked wild turns … but life ebbs and marches on…and I’m now reaching back and pulling on the thread that started the theme.

I don’t usually put photos of unvarnished paintings up on the web but the new iphone has a good enough camera to  give you a decent representation of what is fresh off the easel.

This painting was inspired by a quote from  NC Wyeth, “I have all this and more, yet how I would like to relax; to be content with a wheelbarrow, a rake, an apple basket, a pipe.” He wrote that in a letter dated September 19, 1910. A hundred years later and that sentiment still resonates.

And what to do with all those apples ?

Well that’s the next painting in the series… Skillet Apple Pie.

You won’t be able to get much out of this shot of the still life set up…because I decided to change it up a bit after moving to the easel…but here’s a peak into the early stages of the creative process…

I’ve gotten this far…

And yes, it’s all about the butter !

Stay tuned…


Sunrise Panel

Sun

Sunshine

Lots of sunshine…

that’s what we’ve had for a whole week and it is healing the souls of flood weary citizens of the commonwealth.

So this morning I harnessed the power of those first rays as they blast through the foggy forest.

 

Yes, that’s a panel…a blank canvas as it were… which means that YES I am going to be painting again…any minute now. And yes, that’s an apple basket and a Stayman I think on the panel. Last night I took a previousely prepared panel and slathered on a final coat of the primo gesso ( Artboards Panel Gesso ) and this morning it was ready for the gentle wet-sanding which leaves that ultra smooth finish that I crave. You need to find a source of strong raking light to dance across the panel so the otherwise invisible imperfections can be spotted and sanded out. Today I let mother nature be the lightbulb as well as the drying source.

I have come to understand, though not always appreciate, that each painting has its own agenda, its own time to be rendered. I tried several times last fall, and then again in the spring, to work on the apple picking series which I had sketched out and planned to include in this year’s Granary show. But it wasn’t in the cards. Not its time… until now. It made me wait until the crisp autumn air sent me running for the first sweatshirt of the season…and the local orchard was announcing that it was time for pick-your-own…and the saigon cinnamon jar tumbled off the shelf and into my great grandmother’s dough bowl.

OK got it. I dug out the NC Wyeth quote which inspired the series when I read it in his letters last winter, ” I have all this and more, yet how I would like to relax; to be content with a wheelbarrow, a rake, an apple basket, a pipe.” And I sent Pat to her favorite farm stand to beg for a basket and Finnegan and I drove over to the orchard and picked a bushel of the finest looking apples…which, she reports, tasted pretty good too. Then we took a trip to Saren’s house to put the pieces of her old wooden wheelbarrow in the truck and bring it back to the studio for the setup.

With a bit of repair work it was strong enough to hold the apple basket and the rake and the pipe. So here’s a rare look at the first stage of the composition…

I say rare because, like any good magician, you risk letting down your audience if they see what goes on behind the curtain. I’m just so excited to be working at my day job again that I’m throwing open all the windows and doors.

Starting off the day with panel making at dawn… I can’t wait to see what other wonders await…

Take a big bite out of your day !