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Showing posts from December, 2012

Mysterious Flame: Rockwell Kent

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Some images just stick with you. This one's got me.
When I was just turning four my family moved to a house on the shore of Lake Ontario, some miles outside of Rochester, NY. There were few other houses around and not too many other kids to play with so much of the time we made our own fun. One of my clearest memories were the huge fires my sister and I would make from the driftwood we'd collect along the rock covered shore. 
With no other lights visible, the night sky was pure ink black. Part pyromaniac, I used to love to make the biggest fires  possible. Like the one in Rockwell Kent'sengraving Flame above, the fires would spit out sparks that would be carried upwards by the heat to disappear among the stars. Looking at Kent's reclining man, I know Kent loved following those upward paths of his fires' sparks too. 
Fire of course when you watch it flicker and burn seems to have a living quality. And in the hands of Rockwell Kent it becomes an amazingly believable sym…

Doing Much With Very Little / Rockwell Kent Prints

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Billis Gallery Show Tour Part III

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Let's conclude my guided tour of George Billis Gallery's current show Earth's Shadow: Landscapes by Philip Koch in New York (note: like many Chelsea art district galleries, Billis Gallery is closed for their holiday break and will reopen the exhibit Jan. 2 - 19, 2013). I'm happy to report one of the major pieces in the show, Otter Cove, will be heading to its new home with some collectors in London.
Here is  Northern Pines, Morning,  oil on panel, 12 x 24".

It was painted on the same small pond that was the source for another oil in the show, Still Pine. My wife and I discovered the source by wandering down an unmarked dirt road on our honeymoon thirty years ago in Acadia National Park in Maine.Sheltered by the surrounding forests, the water there is always calm and can be counted on to have stunning reflections of the far shore's frieze of pines. I like to return every so often to work there.
I have to smile thinking about the first day I set up there to make th…

Billis Gallery Show Tour Part II

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This continues the guided tour of my solo show at George Billis Gallery in New York. (Part I is here).
NOTE:  Like many art galleries in the Chelsea art district, Billis gallery is taking a holiday break from Dec. 23 - Jan. 1. The show reopens Jan. 2 and runs through Jan. 19, 2013.
In the last post we ended talking about works in this group of small oils pictured below. Picking up where we left off, above is After Sunset,  oil on panel, 7 x 10 1/2", 2012 (to see larger images click on any of the photos). This is part of a tidal cove on Deer Isle in Maine. There was a beautiful delicate light at twilight one evening I was there and I rushed to paint it before it faded. The soft yellows and sharper oranges in the sky seemed to capture just the calm feeling I was after so I removed a distant shoreline that was at the right to let the sky's reflection play without interruption in the water.





This is Still Pine,  oil on panel, 12 x 12", 2012. 


It was done up in Maine in Acadia Nat…

Billis Show Tour, Part One

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Here's a tour of my second solo show at New York's George Billis Gallery that is on display until Jan, 19, 2013.

I want to say something about each piece in the show, so probably I'll do this in three parts. You can enlarge any image by clicking on it.

Let's start with the images above. This is Inland, oil on canvas, 44 x 55", the largest piece in the exhibition. For many years I've loved painting the forest interior in New England and the Adirondack Mountains. Often beaver ponds have caught my imagination, like this one. These furry little engineers clear out some of the trees, giving a landscape painter a shot at painting a deeper space like this one.

This is Ascension, oil on panel, 40 x 32". 























Ascension is a large oil painted entirely from my memory and imagination. As the title suggests it conveys a feeling of rising up as its central focus. For many years I had been doing long horizontal paintings of the sand dunes on Cape Cod. But I remembered one of my…

Billis Gallery Solo Show

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Here's part of the crowd that came out Thursday night for the opening reception in New York at Chelsea's George Billis Gallery. The gallery has a big window facing out onto W. 26th St. and you get a preview from the street of the paintings hung in the show.



Here at the right is my painting Otter Cove, 44 x 55". with an unobstructed view following below.

You can see a video of the opening reception (you have to sit through 5 seconds of an ad, but the images of most of the work in the show are very good). Thanks to ODelle Abney.

Otter Cove was painted from some on-the-spot vine charcoal drawings I did on Maine's Mt. Desert Island. Years ago I had been struck by a wonderful painting by the American Hudson River School artist Frederic Church. He made his painting standing at this very spot on the Island but had faced inland toward the island's mountains. With my artistic forefather pleasantly in mind, I turned and faced out to sea instead (I figured Church wouldn't w…

A Tender Cradle

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One thing that's little understood by the public is how artists grow their paintings. I often tell my students that when a good idea first comes to you it tip toes into your consciousness. Even for your best ideas it's more likely to whisper to you than shout.
The trick is to give the idea water, nurturing, and patience until it's grown enough to stand on its own and let you work with it. The whole idea of drawing as a fine art in the Western tradition came from the artists of old gently rocking their ideas in the cradle. They made working drawings. The great masters made drawings, usually lots of them, to figure out where they wanted to go before they did a painting. Drawing, a medium where one can more quickly erase and adjust than with oil pigments, was a perfect bridge between the great masters' imaginations and their finished paintings. 
Above is my painting Equinox, oil on panel, 30 x 45". It came about from the fusion of several images I had been kicking about…