Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Contenders

Hello Fellow Photographers and Painters,

As I said yesterday I am going to submit a portfolio of my photos for consideration of membership at the Cape Cod Art Association. My photos will be in the May portfolio Review and I'll take stab at submitting paintings in the fall.

I must submit five recent original pieces. I am posting the first seven contenders here. Take a look and give your thoughts. Go ahead I can take it. If there are pieces that should come out to strengthen the submission or if I should go back and look for more don't be afraid to tell me. Criticism is how we get better.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Embarrassment of Artistic Riches

As an Artist [Painter and Photographer] I thank my lucky stars everyday for where I live and was born. Growing up in the Hudson Valley and close to the Catskill Mountains, I have been surrounded by natural beauty my entire life. Whether it is the wild natural beauty of the Hudson and the Catskills that drew Thomas Cole, Frederick Church and the other Hudson River School Painters here in the 1800's or the current crop of painters and photographers working today there is so much to draw inspiration from. Every trail I Hike and park I visit reveals vistas that are new for me to explore as well as sites made famous by those before me.

Two of the outright masters of photography capturing the beauty of this region are Nick Zungoli and Hardie Truesdale. Both have books about the region that are just amazing and inspire me to get out and shoot and paint as often as possible. Thank you both for the beauty you have been able to capture. I don't know Mr Truesdale personally, but I have taken a workshop with Nick Zungoli on nature photography and the digital work flow and find him to be an excellent teacher and amazing photographer. I will take more workshops with him in the future. Both are masters of their medium and have produced images that have inspired me and taken my breath away for years. I highly reccomend you looking for their books and photos.

Keep painting [and taking photographs]


I Have Given Myself a Deadline

Hello Fellow Artists:
No more mucking about. I have given myself a deadline and am forcing myself to take a critical work at my photographs and paintings. I have decide to submit my portfolio for review and consideration for membership in the Cape Cod Art Association. I will be submitting a portfolio of five photographs for the May portfolio review and then I will submit watercolors for the fall review. This makes the most sense as I feel closer to ready and have more strong work to pick from on the photographic side. This will give me the summer to finish up my painting portfolio. Wish me luck?
I'll be putting a bunch of photos up in posts over the next couple of weeks for you my friends to help decide what to submit. This will be scary, but I hope it will stimulate some conversation as well.
What do you do to raise the bar for yourself when you need that jump start? Both in Art and in the other area of your life?

Keep Painting and Photographing,

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Hi Friends and Fellow Artists:
I am glad I painted on Sunday! Today was GRAY and BLAH. There was nothing that inspired me to paint. That and being at work for 11 hours. Who's got the energy to paint after that. I wont bore you with work details... we all have to do that and I would bore you. I am looking forward to painting this weekend. I have nothing on the schedule except art and a few projects around the house.

Keep Painting!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another Sunday Another Lighthouse

Hello Fellow Artists:
After my winter hibernation I am starting to stretch out my art muscles again for coming months of warm weather and photography and painting! It is still chilly here in New York, but the light is clear and the earth is beginning to yield to the approaching spring. While it is still to chilly out for the plants that provide some of the nice colors in my work I am again practicing by painting my favorite lighthouses on note cards. This weeks is Nobska Light on Cape Cod. These little exercises are fast and help get my brain in place to be thinking about painting and photography the world around me. Try it you'll love the exercise and be ready when the first flowers appear in the yard you want to paint.
What do you do to prepare for the season?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday - Painting - the Pitfalls

Hello Fellow Painters (and Photographers)

You have heard me grumble here about being uninspired or not having time to paint (Ad Nauseum). On further reflection that is not the reason... After all I have time to complain about not painting right?? So what is it then? I love to paint and it inspires me. So what gets in my way?

Well I searched the dark corners of my artistic soul... Don't worry friends I am not about to slice my ear of for art... or any reason. What I found is I put too much pressure on myself to make a masterpiece in the 60 minutes I have given myself to paint this week. I really have to get over myself. The best painters in the world fail as often as they succeed. So why should I feel driven to create a finished masterpiece every time I pick up a brush? Who knows. I do know it can be crippling. Thank goodness I don't take this approach to the rest of my life or I'd never get anything done. So what did I do you ask??

I changed (Not exactly lowered) my expectations. First I reminded myself that I started painting because it is fun and I enjoy it. Next I realized I am painting for me and if I need to make a messy, muddy, wreck of painting because my mind is processing stuff from other areas of my life and I cant commit 100% of my focus to painting that is my prerogative. Painting makes me feel good so I should do it just for the sake of doing it. Art as therapy is a fine thing and not to be discounted.

Having said all that I still want my painting time to be productive. After all if it is not I could be working on my blogs, cooking, brewing etc etc. So what do i do? Well.... I give myself a break and paint a subject I know well and have had success with before. How do i keep this fresh you ask? Good question. I always find a I need thank you cards for plenty of reasons so I paint thank yous. Strathmore makes a line of watercolor cards and envelopes in a 5x7 size. This gives me a chance to knock out several in an hour. It keeps my supply of thank yous stocked and gives me a chance to explore a familiar subject in different ways. This is great! I get the satisfaction of painting, my time is not "wasted"
The examples at left are of Highland Light on Cape Cod. It is one of my favorite subjects. Now I have painted. I feel good about what I did and I have an idea about how to go about painting it the next time I am ready to work on a larger version of it.
What are your little tricks to keep you painting and enjoying what you are doing?
Keep Painting,

Friday, March 14, 2008

Work me 1 - Artist me 0

Hello Fellow Artists,

Well Artist me never had a chance against work me this week. We have a big server upgrade going on at the office and I was in bouncing between preparation and panic mode this week. I'll be up tonight communicating with my team and at the office by 6:30 for phase two.... The computer upgrades. Hopefully we will be done by noon with a successful upgrade. I'll crash then for the day and hopefully paint on Sunday. Stop back here Sunday. If I painted I'll show you what i am working on.

Keep painting

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I have nothing today. Just thought I'd share this DaVinci drawing of a young woman. I am of course struck by the beauty of the sketch... but also the genius of drawing itself. How can an image with basically three tones (and one of those being the color of the paper) jump out at you with so much power and depth.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Katterskill Falls - Thomas Cole

Hello Fellow Artists,

Well my long winter hibernation is drawing to a close. How about you? I think it was the daylight savings shift or something, but finding myself driving home through the Catskills at night and being able to see reminds me of the project I started last summer. I bought some books on waterfalls of the Hudson Valley and Catskills. I discovered that some of the waterfalls of my favorite Hudson River School paintings are not difficult to find and hike to. OK some are not easy, but others are not bad. I photographed some and have had them at one time or another on the site. I plan to paint watercolors of some. Most notably I photographed Bash Bish and Indian Brook. This spring I plan to shoot Katterskill Falls. Pictured here from the beautiful Thomas Cole painting. I hope to photograph and paint Fawn's Leap and Awosting

Falls. One is easy the other a bit tougher to get to. I will do a post in the coming days on my process for photographing waterfalls. I will break it into the capture portion and the post capture workflow portion. I'll also include tips for you die hard film based photographers. I profess a nostalgic love for shooting with film once in a while. there is something satisfying about shooting with film. There are some simple techniques you can use to get GREAT waterfall shots. This Shot of Indian Brook in Garrison, New York is pretty easy to get to and is a great waterfall to start photographing. I am very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country around any bend in the road on almost any day there is a wonderful scene ready to be painted or photographed.
What about the approaching spring gets your artistic juices flowing and makes you want to get out there and make great art.

Happy Painting,


Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Vincent Van Gogh. Ok March 30th is the actually date, but I was thinking about some of Van Gogh's paintings today so I thought I would mention it now. If I didn't do it today I might get bogged down in work and forget to do it all together.
Van Gogh was one of the painters I found at an early age and said... Yeah I like that look at all those colors. Starry Night is my all time favorite Van Gogh painting.
How about you. What is your favorite Van Gogh painting? and why? I can't look at these bright colorful paintings without being inspired to paint, draw or take photos. So once again an early happy birthday and thanks for the inspiration to Vincent Van Gogh.
Happy Painting!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

About the picture of the week

this weeks photo of the week deserved a little more information.

TIP: When photographing simple elements in water, like a single rock walk around your subject as much as possible. look for the angle that can give you a solid or interesting background to make your subject stand out. In this case I used the reflected trees in a time exposure to give the reflection a smooth green color. It really adds interest and makes the rock standout. Sometimes you need to note what time of day would work best. Keep a notebook with you on your rambles and photo jaunts and make notes of times when direction and color of light will make for the best photo. Don't be afraid to return to the same location multiple times. I have 5 or 6 spots that I know at the right time of day and time of year will yield new and beautiful results. having said that don't be afraid to explore new locations and keep looking at the work of other photographers in your area. Don't copy them, but feel free to be inspired by the beauty of their work and even interpret common locations with your eye. before you know you'll have your own look and style reflected in your photos of the region in which you shoot!

Whether you shoot film or digital .... Spring is fast approaching. do some planning and then get out there and shoot. Comment and tell me what works for you.

If you are uninspired and need to boost your energy to get out there take a workshop!

Happy Shooting!

Lake Kanawauke - Foggy Morning Part 2

Hello Fellow Artists:

Well here is the photo and the my watercolor of the image I was working with last week. I took some artistic license to push the tree forward hopefully getting more of a feeling for the fog. I also tightened the color palette a little squeezing it more into the colors I like to work with which generally are a triad of earth tones and french ultramarine blue.

How did I do? You tell me. I am pretty happy with the effort. I think I need to anchor the island a little more... Maybe by darkening it's reflection. I still need to tweak just a but, but all in all I am very happy with my first painting in a month and a half.

What have you been painting this winter?

Happy Painting!


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lake Kanawauke - Foggy Morning

Hello Fellow Painters,

This post will be part of a series as I show my process for doing a watercolor painting. The photo on left in this picture is of a small island in Lake Kanawauke, in Harriman State Park near my home. The first thing I did was to crop an image I wanted to paint in Photoshop so that it scaled to the final painting. In this case both are 8x10. I then did a loose sketch on the watercolor paper and penciled in (lightly) grid lines to keep my drawing close. The painting you see on right is the first layer. The sky is a graduated wash of ultramarine blue fading down to the horizon. The water with reflected sky is the same blue with a little burnt sienna to darken and tone down the blue. I applied the wash very wet and runny and moved the paper around quite a bit to smooth out the transitions. Were the fog has a defined edge in the sky and horizon I lightly blotted with facial tissue. Tomorrow I will work on the mountains and reflections. I will take a photo of my progress for my next post.

Happy Painting,


Hello Fellow Artists,

You will note a new feature this site. On the left hand side there is now a subscribe by email widget. When you enter your email address here it will deliver email version of new posts to you mailbox. I like this feature and have subscribed to several blogs this way. Let me know what you think and if you find this feature useful.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tell Me About Your Artistic Self

I have seen a lot of posts (memes) I think they are called. Where some people are tagged and asked to answer some questions about themselves. I must admit that I found these to be silly at first. After reflection... though I think there is some value in this exercise in getting to know the people who read my blog. I will tag a few people but also invite anyone who reads this post to comment back with answers to these 5 questions.

I'll go first to start the ripple in the pool. Feel free to jump in!
  1. Who is your favorite Artist and Why?

  2. What is your favorite medium to work in?

  3. What brand of paint do you prefer (photographers what type of camera)?

  4. What motivates you more criticism or compliments?

  5. Who's artwork do you admire, but wouldn't want yours to be like?


Who is your favorite Artist and Why? - Edward Hopper is my favorite painter. I am drawn to his work. I especially love the paintings he did on Cape Cod. The light is amazing.

What is your favorite medium to work in? - This is a tough one. I have been a nature photographer since high school, but I think watercolor is my favorite. It challenges me (and frustrates me more) and forces me to think and examine. Photography is like breathing for me. I am unaware of my process entirely it just happens.

What brand of paint do you prefer (photographers what type of camera)? - I currently like the American Journey watercolors from Cheap Joe's art supply best. A great value, but more important great clean hues that are luminous.

Camera choice is a toss up. I love my Canon Digital SLR for color work, but prefer a manual medium format for black and white work (I will post my reasons for this in another blog one day)

What motivates you more criticism or compliments? - By nature I need self affirmation from compliments, but when you want to fire me up to solve an artistic problem a little criticism does the trick.

Who's artwork do you admire, but wouldn't want yours to be like? - Vincent Van Gogh. I love the bright colors and impressionistic feel, but I find my finished pieces are much more constrained for good or bad.

That's it for me.

I tag - Wenderina / Josie / Aimee Greeblemonkey / Cheap Joe / and you my blog readers

Be prepared to be spontaneous??

I took this Portrait of my Great-Nephew "Little Man A" as he is called.

He is a great little guy! This pose was a bit of a happy accident. Something happened off camera right and he looked in wonder at what was going on. I was able to get this great profile shot of him. He has grown a lot in the 6 months or so since this shot. I'll need to take more portraits this spring!
I posted this image because it represents a theory that is becoming a grounding principle in all of my art be it painting or photography (or cooking for that matter). Preparation is the key to success. It is counter-intuitive I know, but the I find the best way to be ready for the spontaneous, crazy, happy accidents that make great art is to plan and prepare. I used to think the exact opposite that you needed to just roll with it and see what happens. I got this idea from how spontaneous and free looking the best watercolors are. As I painted more and more and realized just how many variables affect a watercolor painting and by having the color pre-mixed, a good drawing done and a value sketches figured out you can be there in the moment when the colors and the water mingle in just the right way and give you a chance to make that masterpiece. I guess Einstein was right when he said.."Genius is 99% hard work and 1% Luck,"
As I am writing this I guess it really applies to just about everything in life. What do you think?
Keep Painting (or photographing)

What would Ansel Adams Do?

I was recently thinking of some of the amazing landscapes of Ansel Adams and wondered what would he think of today's digital photography? Looking at this beautiful shot of the Snake River and the Tetons I pondered What would Ansel Adams do?

A few years ago I read several books by and about Adams. While we all have an image of the master perched atop a wooden platform he built on top of his car with a tripod and an 8x10 field camera. The man was a real student of the science of optics and film. Much of what we know about expansion and contraction of tonal ranges (thru exposure and development time adjustments) comes from his development of the Zone System. He was constantly testing new equipment for the different manufactures. I think had he lived long enough to the the full bloom of digital photography that was in its infancy at the time of his death he would have embraced the new medium with gusto.

As of two years ago I got my first Digital SLR and have not looked back (until now that is). First of all the control over the final print now rests fully in the hands of the photographer and with tools like Photoshop the full potential of the captured image can be printed in ways that traditional C-Prints just could not do by the very nature of how the image is projected onto the paper. The other huge advantage is having a workfow that with a good (and not very expensive) photo printer a photographer can produce beautiful archival prints at home the same day (or even hour) they are shot. Whether you are a weekender just taking family photos in the yard or a working pro today's technology has enabled you to get better pictures.

Having said all that.... the truth is I miss film. Not for all occasions, actually ninety percent of the time Digital is the way to go for my portraits and nature photography. I do miss my older medium format (120 film) cameras. they were rugged and reliable ( and cluncky and mechanical too). there was a satisfying whoosh and click as you exposed the image and the mirror swung out of the way so the shutter could open. These devices are engineering marvels! On the downside. If you shoot film you have to carry more types of film with you and you have to wait for the lab. You also have to rely on someone else to produce your prints for you.

Here is my answer to the digital quandary I am in. For almost all of my work I can't beat the combination of my Canon Digital SLR /Photoshop / Epson 13x19 Archival Inkjet. However for black and white landscape photography I will use my trusty 6x4.5 medium format film camera. I found a lab that will develop the film, scan it and provide enlarged contact sheets and cds in a couple of days. Granted this throws an analog step into some of my work, but I am willing to try it for the joy of shooting with a manual film camera once in a while.

One other thing the explosion of digital photography has done for the folks who always wanted a medium format camera, but could not justify the cost. Ebay is flooded with great film cameras for very little money. I find once you know how to shoot on film the transition to digital is easy. How about you? Anybody else have a film vs digital dilemma??

I will try this little experiment for a few months and let you know how it goes.

One thing I am sure of. I will always be a photographer (and a painter). On that note I am off to the studio to paint for a while.

Happy shooting (or painting)