Art Essex Gallery Tour, Part Three

Here are the concluding five oils in my current exhibit at Art Essex Gallery in Essex, CT (through June 7, 2014). You can read about the other pieces in this 15 painting show in my two previous blog posts here and here. Below are two of my oils in the Gallery's front window (upper right and lower left).

Above is The Reach III, oil on panel, 24 x 36". It's a highly autobiographical painting. My father used to take me sailing at night on Lake Ontario when I was 10 and 11. Frankly I found it a little scary but figured if he was there it must be OK. Sometimes we'd go out when there was a full moon shining through the clouds, an image that's firmly implanted in my memory as the essence of beauty and mystery. 

Sadly he died unexpectedly when I had just turned 13. Memories of those nocturnal sails are something I want to hold onto. Fortunately for a painter there's a ready way to do that at hand. I suspect this back story accounts for some of the mood in this particular oil. 

The painting's background was changed from upstate New York to the beach just below Edward Hopper's old painting studio in S. Truro, MA on Cape Cod. For a source I relied on a vine charcoal drawing of the shore I had made during one of my residencies in Hopper's studio. In keeping with the theme of memory, I drew the line of dunes as they would have appeared in Hopper's day back in the 30's and 40's, before the clutter of modern summer homes.


After Sunset II, oil on linen, 20 x 30" began as a painting of a wooded cove in New England, but as I worked on it most of the land fell away in favor of an open ocean. What's fun in a painting like this is negotiating how the solid land will meet the fluid sea. Each of them needs to maintain their distinctive personalities yet the painter must get them to enter into a conversation with each other.

Thicket II, oil on linen, 28 x 42", the largest painting in the exhibit is certainly the most complicated. It's based on memories of two different patches of birch trees. One I discovered while on my honeymoon in northern New England. The other was a grove of young birches that stood across the street from where I used to wait for the school bus in a rural town in upstate New York. They grew close together, almost as if following some lovely but hidden choreography. 

Uncharted II, oil on panel, 18 x 24" is also a painting based entirely on memories of my boyhood near snowy Rochester, NY. Heavy snowfalls delighted me as a kid, transforming my familiar forested neighborhood into a new and unknown terrain that begged to be explored.  I confess it's one of my absolute favorites for it combines a mysterious invitation to enter its spaces yet sounds just a hint of foreboding.

Connecticut Shore II, oil on linen, 16 x 32" was painted at the mouth of one of the many rivers in coastal Connecticut that flow into Long Island Sound. I began the painting on a hazy morning as the sun was just beginning to burn off the deliciously silvery atmosphere.  You can see it most clearly in the different greys of the far distance. 


  1. Philip, (this is the 3rd or 4th time I'm attempting to comment, not sure why the wordpress id is not working)
    your posts are always entertaining and enlightening. Whether they are about the personal back-story or about technical issues of the painting they are always insightful. Now that I may be trying this blog thing myself you are a model for me. Thank you, Elizabeth Lisa Petrulis


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