Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meet the Press

Stonington Green 8"x16" oil on Raymar panel

This morning Carol L. Douglas sent me a link to an piece in the Bangor Daily News. And I'm thrilled to tell you that my painting, Stonington Green, was the image chosen to accompany the article on the upcoming auction to benefit the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries.

As an artist, I'm regularly asked to contribute artwork to raise money for worthy causes. Usually I'm happy to do that. And it's particularly enjoyable when the cause is near and dear to my heart. That's the case here. Formerly the East Penobscot Resource Center, the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries has a mission "to secure a sustainable future for fisheries and fishing communities in Eastern Maine and beyond". I hope that my paintings of lobstering and Maine fishing communities are documenting a way of life that will continue, and they are dedicated to that.

 My contribution to the 2016 auction, with Stonington in the background

But back to the auction. It's a very cool event. This August, in addition to their traditional decorative lobster buoys, like the one I painted last year, the auction will include paintings by some of my favorite Maine artists. And that's not all. Nautical experiences will be on the block as well. You can bid on a guided boat tour of Deer Isle-Stonington, one of the loveliest stretches of water anywhere; a course at the fabulous WoodenBoat School; a fly fishing lesson; a day on the water learning how lobstermen work; and the opportunity to be named in mystery novelist Katherine Hall Page’s next book. What a great line up!

To get all the details, check out the Bangor Daily News article here. And thank you, BDN and the Maine Center for Coastal Maine Fisheries, for using my painting in your story!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Painting Pets - As Good as a Dog Kiss

I’m not usually crazy about commissions, and a people portrait painter I am not. But I love to paint pets. There’s just something about animals that live with humans that is so lovable. The texture and color of their fur and the distinctive varieties of their head shapes really gives me something to hang onto in the drawing and painting of their portraits.

8"x8" oil on Raymar panel

This is Troy, he’s my son’s younger rescue dog. He’s not quite two, and the most lovable guy you could ever meet. All he wants to do is play. And when it’s hot out, he droops after about a mile of walking. In the winter, the world is his snow cone.

8"x8" oil on Raymar panel

And this is Clara. She's about four, and she's the boss. Troy may tornado around and try to get her to play every minute he can, but when she says it's time to stop, he stops. She's one of the best trained dogs I've ever met, due to spending a year living with an expert trainer before my son adopted her. The two pups are quite a pair and lots of fun to have around.

There are a lot of good pet portrait painters out there, but there's one that I’d like to highlight. Paint Squared is the website of Elizabeth Fraser. Her pet portraits totally inspire me. She really captures the personality of her subjects, and her color, well it’s fabulous. I interviewed Elizabeth a few years ago and it was really fun to learn more abut her and how she works.

Pet portraits by Elizabeth Fraser

To create a great pet portrait you need a really good photo. Here are a few tips on how to take one from the references listed below.

- Use natural light, and make sure there are some shadows visible.
- Get down to their eye level.
- Get in close.
- Keep their eyes sharp, focus on them.
- Be patient, and take lots of photos. You can always delete the bad ones.

9 Pet Photography Tips
How To Take the Best Pet Photographs
How to Photograph Pets

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Successful Opening

My four beach girls paintings at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery
each 12"x12" oil on canvas in floater frames

I went to two exhibition openings this weekend, both of which I felt were successful. That got me thinking, what makes an opening a success? There are some basics, like great artwork of interest to those who live in the area, and pleasant, well-lighted surroundings. And of course, having the event publicized by the artists and the venues. Simple finger food and a little wine are also great. 

Teaming Up by Joelle Feldman at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery, Joelle also has paintings at the Wild Salamander show.

One thing that makes for a good turn out is having the artist(s) present, which was the case for both of the openings I was at this weekend. In one case, it was a show for four artists in the same medium, at a local art center venue, where they regularly have classes and workshops, and exhibitions by groups or individual artists. In this venue there are no “gallery artists”, though it’s such a lovely venue that I imagine there are artists who book it regularly. The other is a gallery that has a stable of gallery artists, and four or five openings a year. Both were very well attended.

The Wedding Tree by Lisa Regopoulos at the Wild Salamander Art Center

The shows were hung differently, but both effectively. In the case of the four artists, each artists work were separated into groups of two or three paintings, and the groups were distributed throughout the venue, so the viewer moved from one artist’s work to another and back again as they went around the three open rooms. Because the work was all in the same medium, it held together really nicely. And by the time I’d seen everything, I felt I could identify each artist’s work with ease. In the gallery case, the space was nicely divided by movable walls into a number of niches for viewing the artwork. Each artist’s work occupied one or more wall of one of the niches. This allowed for lots of hanging space, and easy movement of viewers between the different spaces.

Lobster Rafts at Dusk by John Bowdren at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery

How do you get people to linger, to chat with the artists and each other, and to really look at the artwork? In both cases, the artists were actively engaged in answering questions and discussing individual paintings with the visitors to the exhibitions. It was also very nice to see students of the various artists come to the shows, and great to chat with them.

All in all, I very much enjoyed both of these shows, discovered a few new artists whose work I love, and got a chance to discuss artwork, methods, framing, and upcoming workshops.

The two shows are open for a while yet, and very worth taking a look at.

Nature’s Delight at the Wild Salamander Art Center in Hollis, NH, through June 24:

Rise and Fall of Light at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery, in Yarmouth, ME, though September:

For more information about my paintings and upcoming classes and workshops, please visit my website.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


12"x12" oil on canvas

I've had fun painting the beach girls, and delivered four paintings of them on Tuesday to Yarmouth Frame and Gallery. You've now seen all but one. There will be an opening for the new show on Saturday from 4-7. I'm looking forward to it, since I missed the previous opening due to a snow storm. Please join us if you can. Yarmouth Frame and Gallery, 720 US One, in Yarmouth, Maine.

I've written before about the artists whose beach people paintings have inspired me, but I was also inspired while working on mine by a couple of printmakers working in silk screen (serigraph). Every year, I buy an Alan Claude Maine calendar, and I try to do it at the Portland Sidewalk Art Show, so I can say hello to Alan. I love his poster style Maine scenes, with their dimensional light and shadow and wonderful color. My one experience with planning a woodcut left me with an appreciation for the process of teasing a minimal number of colors and values out of the reference image. It's a bit like doing a puzzle. Here's an example of Alan's work:

 Lobstering at the Nubble by Alan Claude, serigraph print

Serigraph print by William Mitchell

Another serigraph artist I admire is William Mitchell, who works depicts New Hampshire's scenic beauty. While both these artists work mostly with landscape subjects, their work still influenced mine on the four beach scenes. I wanted to abstract the shadow on the turn of the girl's legs and faces into a set of values rather than blending them into a range. Once again the restriction to a discrete set of values/colors fascinates me! I have a set of cards that I bought from William at a Button Factory Holiday event a few years ago. I doubt I'll ever send one to anyone, because I just love to look at them.

To see all of my beach girls paintings, visit my website here.