Showing posts from December, 2012

Mysterious Flame: Rockwell Kent

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's   engraving 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 ama

Doing Much With Very Little / Rockwell Kent Prints

I posted this Rockwell Kent angel on Facebook on Christmas Eve. Since then I've been looking at it repeatedly and keep noticing amazing little design inventions Kent employed to make it so powerful. He worked in the extremely limited palette of black against white. By some quirky miracle of his creative mind, instead of inhibiting his imagination this seemed to let him soar. Kent pares down art to just clear hard shapes, contrasts of patterned against empty surfaces, and the starkest black and white imaginable. If you want to learn about design, nobody is a better teacher than Kent. In his snow-giving angel above, look at how he divides up the inky black sky.  Someone else might casually scatter stars throughout the sky like wall paper. But instead Kent sees the background stars as a means to build surprise into a night sky that makes up 4/5 of his composition. He corrals the stars into just the top of the sky making the remaining emptiness feel more vast and the clustered stars

Billis Gallery Show Tour Part III

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. M y 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

Billis Gallery Show Tour Part II

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.

Billis Show Tour, Part One

Here's a tour of my second solo show at New York's George Billis Galler y 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

Billis Gallery Solo Show

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