Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Eagle has (Finally) Landed


This mirror was purchased a few years back, and due to its size and weight, and difficulty in handling, it was worked on in fits and starts.

My guess is that this is 1930s vintage. These late mirrors are usually weak and not substantial, but this one was heavy and bold looking, approximately 36" high, 28" wide. Unlike traditional wood/gesso, the eagle and perch are solidly cast.

When it arrived it had breaks and a few losses to the side garlands, some missing spherules, and was of course, covered in "radiator paint", which was likely its original finish.

The remaining spherules were metal with a brass finish, and had badly tarnished,  so I knew I would be making replacements.

How it arrived

Gummy green bronze paint - Yum!

The first steps were to strip the finish and take care of breaks and missing pieces. It began to look better to me with the finish stripped. I was debating whether to gild, or perhaps paint it white or gray. I had leeway since it wasn't a period mirror.

Once stripped, repairs can begin.

Gesso day (note new spherules)

I liked it so much in white gesso, I was tempted to leave it that way.

Once I had a coat or two of gesso on it, I decided to gild at least parts of it. Then as I went along, I decided it would be totally gilt, and finished to look older than it is.

Wherever this winds up, there had better be some substantial anchors in the wall. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First Plein Air of 2017

Picture perfect setting

Early spring means sometimes we have warm (for New England) days while there is still snow on the ground. Around the corner from my house is an old farm, where the owners have made the majority of the property conservation land, available for use by everyone.

Painters at work

This day, several members of the Artist Guild of Shrewsbury got together for the first plein air of the season.  We have painted here before, but this is the first snow visit. In addition to the scenery, as usual, I was attracted to what might not be considered the most scenic, in this case, the piles of logs being readied for removal.

Logs (and mud)

I find painting outdoors improves my work since I have to work fast (and when it starts getting chilly, you work even faster).

In the first painting, I tried to include too much. The second version reduced and simplified, making the composition stronger.

Overwhelmed by options

Simpler is better 

In the third, I wanted to work on getting more dark areas into my watercolor, so I forced myself to mix some very dark paint for the water.

That water feels cold!

After painting, back to the house for refreshments and critique. Looks like the weather will be warm all week, so maybe we'll get out again!

Critique session

Friday, December 30, 2016

The December Travels

We typically make some sort of December trip. In years when long distance travel is not feasible, we can take advantage of the many options available to us in the northeast. One favorite is to visit the Yuletide at Winterthur, and the holiday decorating at nearby Longwood Gardens.

Winterthur picks a theme relating to history, holiday traditions, or the lives of the DuPonts. This year's seemed to be a mix, with some vignettes coordinated with their current exhibition of Currier and Ives prints.

Christmas morning, DuPont style
Mr. DuPont wanted nice table settings and decorations

The cut-off date for the collection was pre-Victorian, but this display was created to show 19th century traditions.

Longwood's outdoor lighting is beautiful, but if you can't manage the long walk or the cold, just visiting the acres of conservatories and greenhouses is a winter treat.

I didn't need the scarf and coat inside there.

Organist from Australia (with jeweled jacket)

 With rest breaks, including a carol singalong in the organ hall, we managed to see just about all of it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Small Federal Mirror with Eglomise Panel

 I love these small mirrors (probably because you can fit more of them on your walls). Once again, the panel was broken and there were some touch-ups needed to the gilding. But the gilding was 95% original, the original glass was there for a pattern.

If you have followed this blog, you have seen the process for etched gold leaf under glass (eglomise).

As found

Original cracked and peeling panel

Some of these mirror panels are quite sophisticated and skillfully done; others, such as this one, are far more casual, and were probably the products of production-minded artisans. In these cases, you need to do the replacement with the same feeling  - quickly, freely and without fussing.

Scan of original to use for pattern
New and the original
Some gilding required

The original mirror silvering had completely disintegrated, so a piece of replacement mirror was used. Only the critical areas of the frame received re-gilding; other spots were colored with gouache to make them less distracting. The final result is a mirror that wears its age gracefully.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Painting Close to Home

When it's foliage season, with the weather so unusually warm for October, it is hard to resist going out to photograph and paint. And luckily, I don't have to travel far. Down the street is a loop of road where the owners have maintained a picturesque New England setting.

The old cider mill

Even better, they have arranged for the fields out back to be held as conservation land where people are welcome to visit.

No, not Vermont!

Even as the weather turns colder this will be a good place for plein-air painting; - easily accessible and close enough to home for an emergency hot coffee run.

My acrylic of the house

A watercolor of the cider mill window

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Milling About

On the annual (and obligatory) foliage viewing trip this fall I meandered through the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, finally making a visit to Harrisville.

I heard about this old New England mill village years ago, both on the news (You can Buy this Entire Town!) and in various magazines. Seeing as how it was so close, I made the effort to check it out, and I was totally blown away.

I expected to see a collection of old, decrepit buildings with an accretion of industrial and commercial components. Instead, it is almost pristine in its 19th century appearance. In fact, if not for the automobiles of visitors, you would have to look hard to see modern day intrusions.

The short story is that at one point the corporation owning the complex went bankrupt, and a group formed to purchase and preserve the buildings, as well as obtaining easements that preserve the surrounding landscape. While there is not much commercial/retail for the casual visitor, just to wander about is worth making the trip.

The weather was perfect, I took lots of photographs, and expect to get some paintings out of this excursion.

For more information see www.historicharrisville.org

Monday, October 3, 2016

Plein Air Day in Phillipston

A gray day in the country.

The Massachusetts Plein Air Meetup Group spent the day out on the farm in Phillipston, Massachusetts. The farm belongs to the parents of one member, and they graciously allowed us to come paint there again this year (and served  us lunch!).

The huge maple is glorious when the leaves turn

The hilltop has amazing views of the countryside, and even on a gray, damp day it was impressive. Artists eagerly set up their easels to enjoy and paint the vistas. Joseph, of course, with his usual perverse nature instead took his setup down behind the barn.

I first spotted one lone pumpkin remaining in the remnants of the vegetable garden. While everything around it was dying off, this shone brightly in spite of the overcast sky.

The Last Pumpkin

We were not at peak foliage yet, so in a continued search for color I located the heavy equipment in the back. The front of the barn is as neat and trim as anything, but the back, as is typical in New England, doesn't get any attention. I painted this last year as well, but this year's painting was more successful.

Some bright colors

Looking forward to going back in the Spring..

Art work on display

And finally, the critique before heading home