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Showing posts from August, 2018

Summer Progression

It's nearly the official end of summer here in the United States (Labor Day, September 3rd), and I've been looking back over the photos I've taken in my studio in the last three months. Here is a small oil painting (24" x 18") that I started at the beginning of June:

A month later, after getting rid of that brown mountain and adding brambly-looking bushes, it looked like this:

A few weeks later, the main areas of the painting were in place, and I was just working up the different areas with more paint, smeared or dabbed on the canvas with cotton rags:

The next photo has lots more dark passages to increase the sens of depth and to make the lighter areas stand out:

In the final session I lightened that pink cast in the sky, and added a few final highlights in silvery-white paint:

The wonderful thing about oil paint is that you can make substantial changes to a picture in a way that doesn't stand out by the time you say you're finished with it, unlike acryl…

Artists at Sea: John Marin and Maine

After writing a 1,000 word piece about Winslow Homer's eighteen month stay at an English fishing village, I'm writing a series of primers about other artists who made similar journeys.


John Marin (1870-1953), American painter.

Coastal association

Maine, in northern New England: first at Phippsburg, then Stonington, and finally bought a home in Cape Split.

First coastal visit

The coast of Maine in 1914.

Reasons for visiting

Like his near contemporary Marsden Hartley, he loved Maine because it was so remote from the art world that he felt he could make the subject matter his own. Marin also hated New York City in particular, and felt very much drawn to the tradition of artists finding 'truth in nature.' He also wrote:

"Seems to me the true artist must perforce go from time to time to the elemental big forms To sort of retrue himself up to recharge the battery. For these big forms have everything."
Dates visited

After 1914, he and his family spent most summers in…

Wagner in Etchings

In March I revealed two things that most people tend to keep to themselves for fear of being cast out of polite society: a) I only listen to opera; b) I belatedly began liking some of Wagner's operas.

After five months of listening to virtually nothing but Wagner, and even seeing some of the music starting to seep into my studio work, I suddenly remember a series of etchings by English artist Christopher Le Brun that I saw more than 20 years ago.

Le Brun was a passionate lover of Wagner's music, and in 1994 he made a set of eight photogravure etchings titled Wagner. The names of the individual works -- Fafner, Siegfried, Brunnhilde -- indicate that his inspiration was the Ring cycle.

Back in 1998, I didn't like Wagner's music and hardly knew anything about it, so I looked at these works purely from an aesthetic standpoint. As I consider them now having listened to more of Wagner's music, what strikes me is that these etchings still don't require anything more …

Artists at Sea: Turner and the English Channel

After writing a 1,000 word piece about Winslow Homer's eighteen month stay at an English fishing village, I'm writing a series of primers about other artists who made similar journeys.


J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), English painter.

Coastal association

Where to start? Water and oceans were his chief inspiration, comprising the central or supporting subject of many of the 20,000+ paintings and drawings he created over a long life. But mostly he painted the waters around the English coast, either directly in his sketchbook, or in his studio-produced oil paintings.

First coastal visit

1786, Margate, on the north-east coast of Kent, when he was 11 years old.

Reasons for visiting

Many reasons, both personal and artistic, that interlock in complex ways. His earliest visits were because his parents packed him off from London to spend the summer with an uncle. During his apprenticeship as an artist, he was influenced by the methods and subject matter of Dutch seascape artists such as Clau…