City in the Forest

Atlanta is known as “the city in the forest” due to its tree canopy of 36% when other major cities average 27% (wikipedia).  This image of the skyline from Piedmont Park emphasizes that idea of the city in the forest.  I added ink to the watercolor to give it more complexity. I enjoyed painting the sky and even laboring over the details in the buildings.  View from Piedmont Parkjpg

Wharf Drawings

These two works were done primarily from life but also touched up back in the studio.  I did the wharf picture on site using colored pencil and watercolor.  I redrew it on toned paper that night, using my sketch and photo references.  I was really interested in getting the geometry of the buildings and the dark squares balanced.  The view of the harbor started on a gloomy day when it wasn’t really practical to draw outdoors.  From the  5th floor window I could see the wharf area and the large parking deck in the foreground.  I wanted to get the sweep of the harbor on the paper without resorting to shrinking it to a horizontal band.  I compressed the view and decided to include the parking deck (albeit without cars).  When I brought it to critique I was encouraged to continue working on the values and achieve more contrast.  I went back to work on it the next day but the weather had changed and it was no longer gray and overcast.  I decided to change the water and sky to the blues I saw.  I do still like the parking deck.IMG_1757IMG_1758

My current practice: plein air watercolor

I made a number of watercolors in Maine this summer. I really enjoyed the immediacy of the medium and the ease of clean up.  I am trying to create more watercolors from views around my neighborhood. I’m attempting to paint plein air for a majority of the work and then use photos for refinement/reference.  Working in front of the subject gives the work a freshness that sets it apart from work done entirely from photographs.IMG_1752IMG_1756IMG_1732IMG_1030portland harbor2

Urban Landscape

I signed up for class titled Painting the Urban Landscape at MECA taught by Hilary Irons.  It was a great class because Hilary had so many interesting insights into our work and the students in the class were talented and hardworking.  I was inspired by the critiques we had every morning before going out to work.  I became more engaged each day with drawing from life and trying to capture something significant in the landscape or through a window.  Portland is filled with interesting architecture from various eras, waterfronts, and vistas out to sea.

Feeding my soul

I spent a week in Portland, Maine, attending the “Feed Your Soul” program for high school art teachers sponsored by the Maine College of Art (MECA).  I  was able to attend art classes and have time to work in a studio while also being in the beautiful city of Portland in the summer.  I really can’t complain.  I discovered that I have a lot to work on in my studio practice (rusty skills) but I can improve even in one week.  Making art is a luxury in our world and I appreciate that I have been given this time and ability to take advantage of wonderful opportunities.


I’m working with abstraction in my art.  It is something I’ve tried over the years but haven’t given serious consideration.  After the initial stages of mark-making and color I feel stuck.  The complexity that is always available to me in figurative work is missing and I am not sure how to manufacture that complexity that I seek within the abstract piece.  The marks, colors and values feel arbitrary and I tend to devalue the work as a result.  I’m working on this because I’ve worked in figurative work for many years and want to try something different.

This acrylic canvas represents experiments with color and marks.  I have changed this already.  This is an early and lines abstrctv2

Here I am working with acetate, markers and digital manipulation.


Contemporary Artists

I recently heard about this cable TV program “Brilliant Ideas” sponsored by the financial company Bloomberg and Hyundai car company that features interviews of contemporary artists.  The episodes are available on-line as noted at this link:

The two episodes I’ve watched so far were interesting and gave me new insights into contemporary art practices.

Color sensation

I made these charts of my acrylic and oil paints to see what paints I had and to re-familiarize myself with some of the colors.  It was exciting to see the colors laid out and placed next to other colors. Color interaction is one of the things that motivates me to create art. This color sensation is what the impressionists and particularly post impressionists were exploring. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. This might be why I have a hard time getting into art that is very dry or strictly conceptual.


Because it is summer and because I have time I pulled a book off my shelf that I’ve never looked at too closely. It’s called Foundations of Modern Art by Amedee Ozenfant. It was published in 1931. Ozenfant was a cubist artist and writer who founded the Purist movement in France in the early 1900s. He worked with Le Courbusier. The book is kind of an explanation of modern art and artists but done in a non-linear style. He makes connections between eras by finding commonalities of style or thrust. His writing is quite erudite and I was forced to open a dictionary to follow along. For example I didn’t know that Occident meant the western world, as opposed to the Orient.

Here is a quote: “Creation is led up to by each moment, every gesture of our lives: not by a sudden decision. It is the degree to which, little by little, we have raised ourselves, that brings us level with certain heights.”