Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ashokan Reservoir Paintings

Ashokan Reservoir, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches 

Last weekend I spent a few days at a friend's house in the Hudson Valley, and when there I can't pass on painting the scenery near by. The Catskill Mountains can be seen from most places, but no better view than from the Ashokan Reservoir, which is one of two reservoirs in the Catskills that provide NYC with water. The views from this place are breathtaking, trying to find a spot to paint was difficult since the options were so many. There is something in the air and light that make the mountains look very blue from afar. I think this was the main effect I was trying to capture in this painting.


Ashokan Reservoir, Upper Basin, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches

As the afternoon progressed it became overcast, and although I could not feel it, I cold see the humidity set in, creating a thick layer across the water. The blue mountains became slightly more grey and values were too similar, making it hard to differentiate most of the shapes. As I continued painting the afternoon sun was trying to break through the heavy clouds, creating a beautiful soft glow. This place was peaceful and it was very hard to leave. More trips to this area will take place in the near future, definitely.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Plein Air Painting: Stone Bridge, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

It was long over due, after ten years of living in this city I finally made it over to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and what a place it is! I waited too long, most of the flowers had already bloomed and gone, but even so, the different gardens were great. There were few spots I loved and I will have to go back before it gets too cold. 
Time was flying and I had to set up quickly, to my luck, I found this stone bridge while walking a path. This bridge was very nondescript while walking through it, but soon as you stepped off the path and walked around you got to see it's structure hovering above a little stream. Something about it said "paint me, paint me!", and usually I go with my gut, this spot was a no brainer.
By setting up on this spot I took on a number of challenges. The first challenge was time, I was off to a late start and not only did I have to try to work fast before I lost all light, but I also had plans right after. This was enough to make me work fast! 
The second challenge was dealing with the light. There were moments when the sun was shining bright, and then at times clouds would roll in. To those who don't paint this may not seem like a big deal, but to plein air painters it is, because the amount of light and it's direction changes the colors of the setting. You can spend a whole day adjusting the colors according to the shifting light, but that is not working smart. Choices need to be made from the start to make things easier, and so I chose to paint the golden bright light and focus around that choice. 
The third challenge was how to deal with so much green. It has been said in the recent past that I paint too bright, that perhaps I should tone down my colors. I have always wondered why since I think my perception of color might not be too far off from what others see, but I know in all honesty this is not the case.  While starting this painting I decided I was not going to hold back and I was going to paint what I saw and if brightness is what I see and what I feel, then so be it. Also, it helped that one of my favorite painters recently published a blog post about this matter, and his take on it, not to mention his amazing work, was enough to make me keep working with a brighter palette. 
Stone Bridge, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 12 inches

The finished painting is this explosion of greens and foliage. I will leave you with this quote from Marc Dalessio, the painter I mentioned above:
"First off, I should mention that there are many people whose opinions I highly respect that think my greens are terrible. Acidic, garish, too bright, too yellow, etc… That said, I try to honestly paint what I see and I like my greens. I was always partial to the story of John Constable who, when painting at a time when artists would cover their finished paintings with brown violin varnish to make them look Old Mastery, took a violin and laid it on the bright green grass to show the difference between the accepted pictorial norms of his contemporary artists and the colors of real life.

Enough said. 




Monday, August 04, 2014

New Paintings

Ball Fields in North Meadow, 2014, oil on linen, 10 x 12 inches

These are four new, small paintings started on site and finished mostly in the studio. It seems like I'm back to painting buildings, which I have stayed away from for two years. Not sure why I shied away from it, but this summer I was back at it and to be honest I think I'm getting better and it adds something more interesting to the paintings. I am a contemporary painter after all and why not show contemporary life in my work.
The Hudson from Fort Tryon, 2014, oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches

Aside from painting more buildings I have also noticed that my color sense has changed since I started working in plein air. There was more brown in my greens, everything seemed more earthy, but since last year my use of color has opened up more. Everything is more chromatic, another welcome change I would say, since many of the paintings I have been enjoying looking at have been by amazing colorists and I would like to think that they are rubbing off on me.
The Cloisters, 2014, oil on linen, 8 1/2 x 12 inches

Sheep Meadow, 2014, oil on linen, 8 1/8 x 12 1/2 inches

Monday, June 09, 2014

A Little Bit from Ireland

Cows at Pasture, Ireland, 2014, ball point pen in Moleskine sketchbook
Ireland is an amazing place, there is so much to take in and inspiration manifested itself continuously as we toured through the different towns of the countryside.  We were constantly on the move, but no matter what I still managed to sneak in a little bit of time to sketch and watercolor. Here are three views of the many I got to experience in my recent trip Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher, 2014, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

Irish Countryside, 2014, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 


Thursday, June 05, 2014

New Plein Air Paintings

Here they are, the most recent plein air paintings from Central Park and from a weekend trip to Olivebridge, New York. I have come to the realization lately that I'm no longer a studio painter, it bores me to bee sitting in a room surrounded by four walls with a ton of canvases and bad lighting! The more time I have on a painting the more I doubt myself and unnesesary changes happen, ruining most of my work. Painting outdoors forces me to make quick decisions while trying to capture the scene in front of me. It's  a race against time as the minutes go by and light changes. This is an exciting challenge and I relish in it. This summer will be a good one, I can feel it!
North Woods Waterfall, Spring, 2014, oil on linen, 12 x 9 inches 

In the Woods of Olivebridge, 2014, oil on linen, 11 x 9 inches

Olivebridge View of the Catskills, Early Afternoon, 2014, oil on linen, 9 x 11 inches

Olivebridge View of the Catskills, Late Afternoon, 2014, oil on linen, 9 x 11 inches


Thursday, May 29, 2014

M.I.A. but not Idle


It's been some time since I've updated this blog, the lack of posts sometimes makes me feel like I'm not a real working artist anymore. It has been a busy few weeks, but even though I have been M.I.A. it does not mean that I have been idle.
I have gone out to Central Park on the days temperatures were warm. It feels great to get back to plein air after the long cold winter we experienced. I have not been able to take photos of the paintings yet but they are coming! 
I also spent a week in Ireland, not much painting done there, only two watercolor, but I did get to experience the Irish country side and it was amazing. I took many photos, lots of reference for studio work. More on that in a couple of days. 
Central Park is not the only place where I have been painting. I spent Memorial Day weekend at a friend's house in Olivebridge, NY. Three paintings were the outcome of that visit, and yes, just like the other paintings, I have yet to photograph them. I will have more time this weekend to take care of that and share the work here and on my website. Till then, cheers!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Plein Air: North Woods Waterfall

North Woods Waterfall, 2014, oil on linen, 12 x 9 inches
Spring is here and New Yorkers are as happy as can be. I don't think we can take more of the cold and snow we've been subjected to this winter. Although it is a little early for it, people were out in shorts and tshirts enjoying the sixty something degree weather. The sun was out for a good part of the day and I loved every minute of it. Plein air season is here ladies and gents, and nothing can give me more joy than to be out painting outside (sorry babe :/). This is what I accomplished today at Central Park. I'm very happy with it, and I can't wait to go out there again! More to come.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Watercolors from Mexico

 Clouds Over Riviera Maya 1, 2014, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches
These are a few watercolors I accomplished very recently while I was on vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico. How I wish I was still back there in the hot sun painting the afternoons away. This has been a brutal winter here in the North East, and it was an incredible treat to be able to get away at least for a week. Spring is coming soon, I keep telling myself, I miss painting outdoor. Soon as it gets warm I'll be out side painting as much as I can. 
 Riviera Maya, Afternoon, 2014, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches

 Clouds Over Riviera Maya 2, 2014, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches

 Riviera Maya, Morning, 2014, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches
Clouds Over Riviera Maya 3, 2014, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Currently on View...

Oak Tree, Rhinebeck, 2012, oil on linen, 12 x 18 inches
I have five paintings currently on view at the Salmagundi Club, and the show, Scholarship & Junior Member Exhibition, will run until January 24.  I am happy to announce that the painting above received recognition with the Frank Dumond Award. A nice way to start the year for sure.  
A second painting of mine (in the middle of the image above) was also used for the advertisement of the show, a nice surprise to see my work on view on Fifth Ave.  
These are the five paintings in the show, if you have time please stop by Salmagundi and see the show.  Awards reception will be on January 24, 2013. The Salmagundi Club is located at 47 Fifth Ave., NYC.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Bennett Vadnais: New York

Bennett Vadnais, Robertas, 2013, acrylic on panel, 12 1/4 x 17 1/2 inches
If you have not heard the name Bennett Vadnais I recommend you get familiar with it fast, because this young painter's work is definitely worth noticing.  Vadnais's work is currently on view at the National Arts Club of New York City, and it offers a small collection with a big punch.  
 Bennett Vadnais, West Window 2, 2010, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches
Vadnais uses New York as the inspiration of his current work, exploring the city and the neighborhoods he's most familiar with. Most of the paintings have the same view in common, but each one changes as he explores the changing light reflecting off buildings and rooftops. Each time of day, or climate change offers a a new way of seeing the same buildings, sometimes light reveals more of what's in the background, and other times emphasis is in the foreground.  
 Bennett Vadnais, West Window 3 - Noon, 2010, acrylic on board, 9 x 12 inches 
Vadnais works most of his composition in plein air, making detailed drawings and color studies of his subjects before reproducing them in larger scale paintings in his studio.
 Bennett Vadnais, Morgan Ave., Cement Plant, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 13 x 21 inches
The National Arts Club states "Vadnais takes, as his point of departure, the golden age of 17th century Dutch landscape painting and applies that vivid and luminous paint handling to the depiction of gritty street scenes and once-idylic landscapes littered with post-industrial detritus." It never occured to me that Vadnais's work can be so deeply rooted to Dutch paintings, but it makes sense, perhaps this is why I'm drawn to them so much.
 Bennett Vadnais, Gutted Building Study, 2013, graphite and acrylic on panel, 15 x 20 inches 
Being aware of the connection to 17th century Dutch paintings, the study above immediately made me think of Vermeer's The Little Street, a great example of genre painting and a faithful record of city living during the artist's life time.  Just like Vermeer, Vadnais elevates simple, anonymous brick buildings into a realm of pure beauty and precise moments of magic.  
 Bennett Vadnais, Ward Island Bridge, 2011, acrylic on panel, 10 x 16 inches 

 Bennet Vadnais, The Gutted Building #2, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 40 inches 

 Bennett Vadnais, West Window 1 - Overcast, 2010, acrylic on board, 9 x 12 inches 

 Bennet Vadnais, Upper West Side, 2013, acrylic on panel, 19 x 29 inches 
If inspiration is what you seek and you happen to be in the city then this show is a must see. You will not be disappointed. Bennett Vadnais: New York runs from January 6 - February 1 at the National Arts Club, located at 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY 10003.
Bennet Vadnais, Upper West Side (Sketch), 2013, acrylic on panel, 6 1/2 x 10 inches