Finally started working on a painting for the benefit of the Beverly Free Library, one of many libraries in New Jersey that is suffering due to budget cutbacks. I took photos for reference in April, and compiled a nice layout to include the flagpole and the cherry tree at the left, while correcting the perspective to achieve greater balance.

I have learned over the years, to paint in the backgrounds first, and leave the main subject until last, especially with house portraits. More often than not I fail at the sky while I can sail through the rendering of a few bricks !

Brandy passed away last year, and her owners wanted her to be remembered through a painting that can hang on the wall and gaze down at the new canine in the household.

I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to successfully paint this one, but after finding a good combination of photos from which to work...to get that smiling dog expression right, I am happy with the result. In this case, keeping the painting loose and light was the key.

Just don't send me any cats, please.

I can never have enough hydrangea or iris paintings in my portfolio. This one is a larger version of a painting that can be found in the gallery on the Botanicals page.

Hooray...I get to paint in Rockport Mass ! My sister and I visited Cape Ann for a couple of days, and brought the paints. This work was done at Halibut Point State Park, an old quarry site. A beautiful day, a comfortable seat, and some shade: the perfect combination for a good watercolor experience. The still water in the foreground is fresh, and in the distance you see the ocean. A magnificent view, and a unique one, at that.

I painted very quickly, working in the colors of the rocks and sky first. My dilemma was that the composition didn't look like it would work too well, (too heavy on the right and unbalanced) so I decided to leave the water in the lower right largely unpainted.

"Mohonk Lake Gazebos" is a plein air painting with good vibrations. After having a dip in the refreshing water, I found a nice place in the shade and brought out the paints. The stiff rendering of the structures is balanced by a looser and livelier treatment of their reflection in the water.

"Good Neighbors"...this is a gift for a friend. I worked from photos to create an unusual "dual" house portrait. To make the houses appear more intimate, I decreased the distance between them, and eliminated all of the extraneous houses and other distractions from the scene. Key to the painting was rendering the cool shadows in blue, which I find really brings out the architecture of a house as well as defining depth in the painting. The final touch was to place the family pets on the front porches.

Plein air painting on the Spring Path at Mohonk. Three of us took our paints out to a place that we know the rocks almost personally. I have painted in this place before, and this time faced the challenge of shifting light. Most of the painting was completed on site, but again, I had to return to the studio to add in some white to represent the dappled light filtering through the trees. In this painting it was important to paint the light and shadow, keeping in mind the use of yellow ochre to warm up the shadows in which sunlight is being bounced around and reflected from other surfaces.

"Mohonk Lake Swim" is another plein air painting with good karma, after a quick dip into the freezing water, it was nice to sit and warm up with my back to the sun, and a small slice of watercolor paper. This was a very small (4 x 9) and  quick painting, which I brought home to finish, because I had forgotten my Chinese White paint which is really needed from time to time for fixes, when I haven't left enough whites of the paper. I like the drama of the late afternoon light.

"Lily Pond" was painted at Mohonk Mountain House. A group of us, from the five to sixty, hiked up to the pond after breakfast equipped with easels, chairs, paints and water bottles. It is certainly a lot more fun to paint when you are around other people. It is also constructive to have their input while you are working. Of course the chorus of bullfrogs was also diverting. As were the occasional dragonfly landing on my painting !

I was most interested in the interaction of the elliptical shapes of the leaves, a la "Pac-Man", with the surrounding reflections. I took lots of photos, so don't be surprised to see a few more controlled paintings of this subject soon !

Today, I finished this painting of the "Lemon Squeeze" at Mohonk. I had begun the watercolor on site, but was quickly tired out by the heat of the day, and having a good start, did not want to ruin the beginnings of a good painting. I took note of colors, and photographed the subject so that I had a reference point for the shapes of the rocks as well at the shadows. This is perhaps my favorite subject...rocks. Trees, maybe second. Not sure what is next...
What is the most unbelievable thing about this place is that there is a ladder trail that goes through this crack !  


"Empty Nest" is the second painting that I have completed of this subject. It was done from a photo of a nest that I retrieved from the spruce tree in front of my house. I suspect it was a catbird nest, though I am not certain, not having see the fledglings.
I worked on this on and off for a number of weeks, due to the complexity of the subject, and the need to refocus my eyes once in awhile. This work is about 14 x 18. Most of the plein air paintings below are 9 x 12. I would like to attempt a large painting of a nest sometime !

Inspiration from the change in the weather ! In this rendering I made a point not to use cobalt blue, in fact, I avoided the blues altogether, maybe just a touch in some of the greens. I like the frenzy of overlapping shapes, and to me this almost looks like wallpaper. The finished painting will be unmatted, using the natural organic edges formed with the paint. 

"A Tree Grows in Granite"

Finally on vacation where inspiration brews. Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. It is almost exhausting, because everywhere you look, there is another view to photograph, another place to sit and paint. I painted this piece at the end of the day, off the path near the Awahnee Lodge. Even thought we visited in September, it was ninety-two degrees, so finding a cool spot was necessary.

I really love this painting, and it will not appear in my browse box any time soon. It was one of those magical moments in which, even with difficult subject matter and changing shadows, everything falls into place. I think I was channeling Cezanne. I don't normally use outlines, but I had seen some work of Chiura Obata, who first painted Yosemite in 1927. His work uses heavy outlines, I think because he also did a lot of printmaking. I thought I'd try it out, and this is the result.


"Yosemite Falls: 1982 and 2010"

Two visits to Yosemite allowed me to factually render this painting. I painted the canyon walls, but in the fall, there is no water, hence no falls, in fact it is referred to at this time of year as "Yosemite Walls". The painting was kind of boring without the centerpiece.

When I came home, I dug out the slides that I had taken in a previous visit in August 1982, and found one from almost exactly the same viewpoint, with water. I painted in the falls with opaque white. Now it makes a lot more sense !

"Morning Shadows on the Meadow"

From a parking lot, working out of the back of my car I painted this view,  behind me was El Capitan. It is a fantastic conglomeration of rocks, graced by highlights from the morning sun. As in "A Tree Grows in Granite" from September-25, I once again added outlines at some of the edges of the granite forms, and it served to unify the painting, as well as bring the forms forward from the sky.

"Valley View"

This painting was done swiftly, and amongst the constant disturbance of people looking over my shoulder, including a park ranger with a tour group in tow. Normally this would have been distressing to me, but the view was so perfect and I was in the right frame of mind. The light was just right to help define the shapes. El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Falls at the right.
Each of the paintings that I did on this trip are 9 x 12.


"Riverton Yacht Club Study"

This is a study for a commission that I received for a watercolor of the Riverton Yacht Club. I grew up here, and my dad used to paint this subject repeatedly, and he could also be sure of selling it to the one or two last residents of Riverton, who didn't already have a painting of the yacht club above their mantelpiece. For me and my friends, it was always a destination to which we should walk or bike, making sure that we took "the river way" which meant, by Bank Avenue which skirted the Delaware River on which this building resides in a very photogenic manner !

To this day I myself have never sailed on the Delaware.

This commission was totally out of my comfort zone and I accepted it only after having actually painted it ! I didn't really know if I could pull it off, not being an expert at painting people. I worked from a photograph, to which the end work is true. Channeling my dad helped, as well, and I hope that you know that I am only being semi-serious when I say things like that !


This is what it takes for me to begin an acrylic painting, although when the cold arrives each year, I think about getting them out of the box. I really loved using acrylics and oils in college, and I had forgotten how fun and easy they are to work with. I was working on a project with my niece, making and painting "bread dough" ornaments in fun and fanciful shapes, and the leftover paint beckoned to me. This was the result, from an old photo in Rocky Mountain National Park. In this case I used the photo for composition and lights and darks, but the color is completely invented.

The question is: should I stick with acrylics for awhile ?

"Riverton Yacht Club"

Another commission finished ! This is the final version of my entry for November-15, it was quite the challenge, and is a whopping 30 inches wide ! I worked from photographs that I or my dad had taken over the years, one for the architecture and reflections, and a few others as reference for the sailboats. The key to success in this painting was to reach a balance between the architectural detail and the lively reflections in the water, all set on a muted sky that silhouettes the primary subject in a very dramatic manner. The golden light from the setting sun was difficult to achieve without being too obvious, but the effect that it creates, bouncing around in the shaded areas, I think works very well.