Thursday, March 15, 2018

In Like A Lion

So March, which can usually be counted on to give us a break from the cold, snowy monotony of December, January and February, has failed miserably on that count. In fact it is being a bit of a douche bag. I biked to work on the morning of March 1 in 40 degree weather, road home in a steady rain and ten minutes in the door the rain turned to snow on the prow of a Nor'easter that was pounding the coast and 8 hours later we had 10 inches of snow and no power. The wind and weight of the snow took down trees all over town like a lumberjack on meth. 
This is a tree in my front yard bowing to the rising sun the morning after, followed by a picture of a thirty five foot long spar of a silver maple that snapped off of a giant tree in the back yard and pitched head down in the yard held up by some power lines. Spectacularly beautiful, this storm, but deadly for people along the coast of New England.
Since this storm we've had two more and we are really close to having over 200 inches of snow which beats the old record by quite a bit. Go big or go home I guess.

Finished a couple of paintings while waiting for the weather to break. On the train to Colmar this summer I was intrigued by this field of sloping yellows and this is what came out.  Homer could take a diagonal and turn any landscape into an adventure. Lessons learned or at least attempted. Two versions trying to work some bugs out...don't know if I did, but I do like the end result.

This version has been altered considerably since the photo was taken. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

The Weight of Winter

This year's version of Winter has been a bit relentless. Started early and we are now in mid-February and we have finally gotten a couple of days above freezing. There have been some sunny days, but they were the crystal-cold kind of days that make it hard to understand why the sun isn't doing its damn job...all show and no heat. We topped the record for snowfall a week or so ago and I'm pretty sure we will add a few more inches before the deal is done.

 I've been down to our beach a couple of times to see the ice up close and personal. I don't know if the lake has completely frozen over, but at least on our beach things are locked up, but in a way that suggests some dynamism.  Big plates of ice lie stacked and shuffled like decks of cards all along the shore.

 When you see these huge slabs of ice tossed around and jumbled up it gives you an additional sense of respect for those people who have tried to traverse the Arctic in attempts to get to the pole. Trying to sled, ski or walk any distance on these surfaces must have been grueling. The scale of the slabs in the Arctic and the disarray of the ice-scape must be on a much larger scale than our local version.

 In a totally unrelated train of thought. I finished a second piece, a pretty labor intensive work, derived from photos I took of the cathedral at Strasbourg. I did a smaller study earlier and with what I learned, I did a bit more elaborate version. Happy with the results. It was one of several works which made use of a lot of  different yellows. I needed to get away to something a little warmer than the blue-grey palette of daily life.

To add to the weight of winter, this week saw another horrific school shooting. And although a lot of factors go into the mix to get this result. The fact that in this country you can buy an assault weapon of the kind that was used is appalling. Children deserve better than this, but legislative cowardice is not likely to go away any time soon. And of course it would only be one small part of a bigger problem.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A First Winter Visit to the Beach

During the warm spell I finally made it down to the beach. The first time for the year. Despite the bitter cold of the first couple of weeks of January and the end of December, the lake remains open. Ice runs off the shore about 100 feet but even there it is shattered into plates. Below you can see a lovely little ice peninsula stretching out a ways, but as you can see it is calm and iceless out to the horizon.

The plates of ice that crowd the edge of the frozen dunes along the shore take on all kinds of shapes and sizes. It was worth the trip down just to see this. If there would have been a bit of surf the whole thing would become more dynamic, but it has its own charm at rest as well.

The eastern wall stretching out from the Stonewave has been largely obliterated and what remains is encased in ice for the time being and the embankment survive intact for now. In this light the wall looks pretty grim.

Two painting recently finished. The leaf piece is in a watercolor show at Mercyhurst U right now and the other is another wave experiment that didn't quite turn out the way I planned. I will try one more time.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Some Final Landscapes for the Year

Still in the Romantic Turner inspired landscape mode in the last two months..Hannibal Crossing the Alps, Slaveship, Burning of the Houses of Parliament etc. except its local versions. The top piece is our beach with one of its spectacular sunsets...3rd Best in the World proclaims a local T-Shirt. I like its humbleness...the t-shirt that is. The second piece is waves and ice dunes...Hannibal crossing the lake in a snow storm. The bottom piece is an homage to the late Riverside Inn. Lost tragically in a conflagration, but it went out with a bang not a whimper.
We've been hit by record snowfalls starting on Christmas Eve and still going today. I don't know the official tally, but it was over 50 inches the first two days and we've gotten another foot over the last two days. Quite beautiful right now in Erie.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Spent some time in France this summer going to see the Isenheim Altarpiece in Colmar, The Strasbourg Cathedral and the Moses Well and other works by Claus Sluter in Dijon. An amazing trip of art ogling. The wine wasn't bad either. Did a couple of pieces related to the trip including this watercolor of superimposed facades and walls of the cathedral. Turned out OK, I think I could do a more interesting work with what I learned but the thing was so labor intensive I'm hesitant to commit to it.

Working on the Beachwork this weekend. Actually went into the water which is still bearable at this time of the year thanks to an 8-day warm streak.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Power of Light

These are two pictures of the current Stonewave project. The only difference is the time of day and the light. It is amazing how different the stone looks. There are no filters or alterations, just raw iPad photos. The bottom photo makes it look like the stone is like the stone in the southwest. 

 Regardless of the light, this summer's high lake levels and frequent storms have washed the front part of this away twice so far. It has been a Sisyphusian summer as far as the stone work is concerned. The shoreline has lost 8 to 10 feet of land and countless tons of topsoil to high waves. Twenty year old trees have been washed into the water and in some places even much older trees are threatened

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Third Wave

Trying to work some bugs out of the system and so far this has been the best result. I'm going to give it at least one more try. This piece is about 24" by 40". Meanwhile I have got a couple of nice figure paintings done as well as putting in several hours on getting the "Beachwork" back together after several disassembling events at the hands of Mother Nature. The lake is really high right now and combined with the absence of a beach, the shoreline is only about 6 feet from the stonework. therefore every puff of wind strong enough to make a wave imperils my efforts. Hopefully the beach fairy will make a deposit soon.