Monthly Archives: June 2010

Here, There and Everywhere

“I am still learning,” Michelangelo. So I feel like I’m in pretty good company as I continue studying my craft. Last night was my last class in perspective drawing. Tomorrow morning I’ll head up to the White Mountains for a three day painting workshop with Stapleton Kearns. When I started painting again, I took about every class I could. Now, it has more to do with who is offering the class or workshop. Being able to learn from those who have mastered drawing and painting is a gift, especially those who enjoy teaching and sharing their knowledge.

 So while the mountains await me, it was just a couple of weeks ago we traveled down to Montauk, Long Island, New York for an art show. Being a painter seems to instigate a bit of travel for different purposes. Even though I grew up in neighboring New Jersey I knew nothing of Long Island, especially the end of it where Montauk is. As with all art shows, we packed the truck with as much as we could and set off. 

We had tickets for the ferry in New London, Connecticut at 3:00. This being a new destination we weren’t quite sure how long each leg of the journey would take. Taking the ferry was a new experience as well. The last time had been many years ago, on a trip to Nova Scotia, but this was different.  We had a schedule to meet, this was not vacation.

We arrived in New London early and were able to get on on earlier ferry. That was lucky because they were all sold out, it being Memorial Day weekend. We would have two more ferries to go before we reached our destination. The motel we were to stay in was very close to where the show would be so that was easy. Also, we could set up Friday night which always makes for a better process.  Having to frantically set everything up a couple of hours before people arrive, and it being early in the morning, never is a good combination, for me anyhow. 

So once we arrived at the center of Montauk and found our spot we started to unload the truck and set up the displays. The paintings would wait until tomorrow morning to be unpacked. There were many tents already set up and closed up in anticipation of tomorrow’s show. As we saw license plates for others we realized people had come from all over for this show. My neighbor to the left was from Wyoming and on the right was from Chicago.

While our original plan was to have lunch in New London before boarding the ferry, we chose to get the earlier ferry and so had forgone eating. So getting set up took on a greater urgency. Of course Rick was more patient and thorough than I and went about his business as usual. We have a system in setting up, Rick barks orders and I obey. Yea, not the usual way things work, but he’s the best roadie I’ve ever had. It’s pretty much the same at break down time too.

So once done, we headed off to our motel and checked in. Then off for some food. The weather report for the weekend looked great. The next morning we got up early to go hang my paintings. This part of the setup is all me.  So magically, our little 10′ x 10″ square turned into my showroom.

This was the first show with my paintings of Italy. I wasn’t sure how they’d be received, both because of familiarity and since they are quite different from my usual landscapes. I was pleasantly surprised at how many compliments I received for them. I had really enjoyed painting them and I was glad others enjoyed them as well. For some, it was because they too had been to Italy and loved it, for others it is a place they dream of going as well. Dealing directly with people looking at my paintings is my favorite aspect of doing these shows. Seeing their faces as they look tells you more than any words can say. But, once the show was over. we packed everything and loaded it into the truck, now,  it was our turn to enjoy the scenery.  The weather was beautiful just as predicted and one more adventure was over.


Time, no matter what you do for a living, time seems to always jump into the conversation. For painters it’s a question that comes up often. How long did it take you to paint that? It seems like a reasonable question and in all likelihood just a matter of curiosity. But it’s not that simple. And artists tend to feel as though you’re asking how much do you get paid per hour.

Tracking the amount of the time it takes to create a painting, starts well before the paint ever hits the canvas. Painting plein air (outside) or in the studio has to start with a subject. When I decided to start my series on the White Mountains I wanted to capture them in different seasons for the variety of color.  I also wanted to include at least one painting of Mount Washington, more if possible. That’s easier said than done because it is covered by clouds more often than not.

It’s a three hour drive so I often checked the weather and the web cam’s of the area before beginning the trip. Even with all my preparations, after multiple trips I still was unable to see the peak of Mt. Washington so I would paint or take pictures of other scenes. Finally, staying up there for a weekend, the clear blue sky showed off Mt. Washington’s snowy peak in all it’s glory. I completed several paintings that weekend and then I worked on a larger version of one in the studio. I also worked from photographs of previous trips to continue the series.

So how long did it take to paint the studio version? When did the clock start ticking?