Wednesday, December 7, 2011

T-bow's Barn

How to paint. To compose a picture. To lay paint on canvas....... or panel.

My approach has evolved at a pace similar to a Galapagos tortoise. But I arrived where I am by studying other painters, and trial and error. I really do think you learn from failure, rather than success, telling people all the time what I believe to be the secret of painting: 500 bad paintings.

Well, you have to be paying attention. 500 without a vocabulary of self criticism would be 500 down the drain. After a few thousand paintings I still feel like I learn something everyday. Failure. Facing it, then recovering.

I started out to be a watercolorist. Winslow Homer's Blue Boat is still one of my favorite paintings, and I love the watercolors of Thomas Aquinas Daly. But off I wandered. I still paint in watercolor, but there was an itch to keep exploring, following a thread. My teacher and mentor Richard Beale suggested pastels as a transition to oil.

I worked in pastel for several years, first as an illustrator, then as a painter. But there was that thread, leading....... somewhere. Larger was the impetus. I wanted to work on a larger scale, and oil seemed like the logical answer. Either oil or acrylic, and I'd used acrylic as an underpainting for my pastels, and knew it wasn't for me.

So I picked up oil, and ended up thinking, What have I been doing? I'm an oil painter.

This all happened over about 20 years. Tortoise like, me.

So what's all this got to do with T-bows barn? Well, I know how I paint and why. The result of all the mistakes. Years of watercolor, and then pastel, have brought me to approaching painting in a way that feels natural to me, like I am laying down uneven, broken veils of color, one over another, till the painting seems finished. A conversation, laying paint dawn, pulling some of it off. Talking in paint, in color, in tone. Usually.

Not this time, T-bow's Barn. Not him. This guy, Wayne Thiebaud. A painter who's work I love, but who I have never emulated, or even thought to emulate.

Where did this come from? Well, the shape is reminiscent of Thiebaud's cakes, and that may have been a subconscious push. Paint like frosting. Where does this thread lead? Anywhere? Maybe its just a short thread. One painting. Who knows. It was very fun and satisfying to paint.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The goins on over the last several weeks......

Barn No. 1, in the series of 30.

They are coming together. 4 finished Wednesday, and after weeks of painting, looking, changing..... the conversation of painting- the remaining 26 will be coming together in the next 10 days. They are offered for sale on my small work site, and I'll be talking some about the process over here too.

It has been a very interesting way to work, learning through the good luck of a random choice. It will change the way I work in the future, in terms of how the changes in one piece can inform the choices I make while working on another.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Busy fall season.....

Here's where I started.

I'm totally swiping an idea from my friend David Oleski. He's off in Thailand, he'll never know.OK, so he'll know. In fact he encouraged it. I'm not as bad as I'd like to think. Several weeks ago I started 30 paintings. They are small, either 6 x 8 inches or 7 x 7 inches. They will be available starting November 25th. One per day, for 30 days. Details to follow.
In between working on these 30 paintings, I've been chasing steelhead. My favorite fish in my favorite season. The river has been stingy this year. I can't believe I've gotten any work done at all.
Here's where I am at as of Friday. Close on a few.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My favorite season

Painting, printmaking , steelheading.

I've had a great and wild summer to share, which I'll try to remember to do amid getting back to painting, some printmaking I'm excited about, and my favorite fishing of the year.

I love to be outside in the fall.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Meet the Neighbors, Part 1

A couple weeks back, Darby and I took the dynamic duo out for an evening stroll, and ran into the annual snapping turtle migration. Migrating from the creek to a nest, then back.

Of course I didn't have a camera, but there were several out again in the morning.

It's always surprising to see how many there are, seemingly every couple hundred feet. We have only a very rare sighting through the rest of the year, despite walking the creek nearly every day.

I'm afraid I'll miss the hatching this year- tiny snappers, miniature mirrors of their mother, trudging towards the water.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Variations on a winter theme.

Stone Barn, Winter Sun, oil on canvas, 24 x 34 inches.

Stone Barn, Winter Moon, oil on canvas, 24 x 34 inches.

Monday, June 20, 2011

British Columbia

At last year's Spey Nation, I was fortunate (OK, crazy, insane, lucky), to win the grand prize in the raffle- a week long trip to the Spey Lodge in British Columbia. The best fishing trip of my life, to some of the most beautiful country I've ever seen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Morning Walk

An hour, plus or minus, every morning, aiming for the old mantra, A tired dog is a good dog.... well, these two are pretty damn good, tired or not. Time with our dogs can put me in a different place, their focus and intensity, their energy. It brings a state of awareness to my own walk that would be less without them. And they're good company. And funny.

More Ferdinand than ferocious.

I'll introduce a couple neighbors over the next few weeks.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fishing with Cole.

My friend Alex Cerveniak emailed me this spring. He was organizing a weekend fishing trip to the Adirondacks. He and his 10 year old son Cole would be there for an extended weekend, and other friends dropping in as they could.

I had one night open. Thursday. It was a long drive, but I wanted to go. To fish with a friend. To fish in the Adirondacks again. So off I went.

It was a long drive, and anyone who knows me would be stunned to find out I was the first one to arrive. But there I sat at our prearranged campsite when Alex and Cole arrived. Then Matt and Ed pulled in. After a quick hello, Cole was busting at the seams to get their tent set up and get on the water.

Well, he got his dad organized setting up the camp, and he was ready to suit up in his Christmas new waders. Once he was ready, who was sitting there waiting, already suited up in his new Valentine's Day waders? Yep. Me.

So with his dad's permission, off we went. In the half hour he'd been there, Cole had already proven himself a master of finding anything wiggly, crawly, slippery or slimy. As we walked down towards the creek, he was on the hunt, narrating as we went.

And then out of the blue, he said it.

You remind me of my grandpa. I think its your sense of humor. Or beard. Goatee actually, to be exact. (Yes, that's fairly accurate. A 10 year old Henny Youngman).

I thought- Ouch. But then did the math.......... truth. Hard to argue.

So we get to the edge of the river, and he slows down. Stops. I step in and he looks at me, uncertain. I asked him if he'd waded before. Yes, he said, but never in waders.

I assured him that it was just the same as wet wading, but he'd have better traction because of his wading boots. He looked at me.

You're probably too old to want to hold hands, I said. He glared back. Well, I said, you know what fishing buddies do when they are in big water? We lock elbows. Like this- I held my arm out, bent at the elbow. I assured him my friend Bruiser and I had crossed a heavy current like that in New Mexico this spring. He slowly extended his arm, hooked it through mine, then stepped in.

He took three steps, then gasped, Wait!

Is everything OK?

A long pause, then, I didn't expect it too feel like this! Like what I asked? He said he'd thought the waders would stay big around him, keep the water away from him. But the water mashes them onto me. I can feel the water, I just don't get wet! I said, Is that OK?

He was quiet a minute, and then said, That's awesome.

It took me years to figure that out. That the pressure of the water means so much. The wind. The world. Contact. Engagement.


Why I fish. Paddle. Paint.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer's finally here....

Gathering Storm, oil on canvas.

but I'm still painting winter.

A mid-sized study for a much larger piece.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On a Pennsylvania backroad....

as the Bullet crept up a long grade, hauling the trailer, the little bear popped out in front of us. 12 up noon, bright sunny day, about the last thing I would expect. He slowly walked across in front of us, then as we drew close, hopped up on the guard rail and launched into the undergrowth.

Think what you want. I'm taking it as a good omen, as I do with bears.

I've been neglecting all things electronic, while painting like mad. Always having to work at maintaining balance. We'll see.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Off to British Columbia

Some of the other things I like to make- steelhead flies. I'm off on a life-long dream adventure, steelhead fishing in British Columbia. I'll be at the Spey Lodge in Terrace, doing my best to keep concentrating on the fishing while I am in a place renowned for it's beauty.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Twisted, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Trespass, oil on canvas, curio cabinet, 48 x 144 inches

I spent a day recently with my friend, photographer extraordinaire Walter Colley. He shot beautiful copy shots of some of my artifact work from last years show. It was great to have it out of storage and get my juices flowing in that direction again. It will have to wait awhile yet, as I have a gallery show and two festivals in May, and several festivals over the summer. But I'm perking on them again- it's primarily a mental game after all.

Lamar Valley Erratics, oil on canvas, 48 x 144 inches.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's cold outside....

Fortunately it's warm in the studio, and about 20 paintings are underway. From large to small, I'm aiming/hoping to have most finished before the festival season gets underway. But like a conversation, it's hard to tell when it will be done before you reach the end.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cold close up.