Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A "historic" Painting

I posted about our painting session at Stillwater Farm, in Sterling, Massachusetts. I remember when this now-lovely site was getting derelict, and there was concern that the buildings might have been lost either accidentally or intentionally.

While (fruitlessly) trying to get some things organized, I came across a watercolor I must have painted at least 20 years ago, before the site was rescued.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Painting Day at Stillwater Farm


Barn façade at Stillwater Farm, Sterling MA

We had one of those surprisingly warm, sunny November afternoons (this is New England, after all), so some of us went out to Stillwater Farm Interpretive Center in Sterling, MA. for a plein air painting session.

This is an old family farm, where land is now kept for conservation, and the buildings and barn are stabilized and used in order to provide a sense of the area's agricultural past. A pleasant spot for visiting and hiking, and also painting.

On this visit, we were also approached by family members, who were nearby to take care of things after the passing of one of the individuals who had grown up on the farm. In addition to stories of visiting the farm as a child, one woman asked me "Why are you painting this? Is it just something to do? 
Years of patches and repairs.

Where she probably just saw the family's barn looking like it was in imminent danger of collapse, I saw the history of repairs made over the years, in that typically frugal manner of rural New England.
Joseph's watercolor sketch

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Project Time!

Getting caught up now that fall is here -
and it always feels good when something leaves the work table!

This painted frame was made for an early portrait (going to restorer as we speak, so I Photoshopped it into the frame for this image). More grain painted frames here.

Also had to do a "small" repair job on this frame (and we all know how these small jobs snowball once we get started). More about this project at my website here.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall Color

Egads, it has been a while since last post. September tends to be my busy month, and this year more time was taken up with being on the road, painting with members of the Artists Guild of Shrewsbury, working on house and restoration/framing projects. So to get back on track, here are the obligatory views of the local fall color for 2013.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

At the Maine Antiques Festival (including monsoon)

It is almost a tradition that there will be some sort of weather event at the Maine Antiques Festival held each year at the Union Fairgrounds. This year, on Friday - the day of setup and early buying - we had a monsoon. I was fortunately under cover, and was able to drive my van in and unload before it really started. But it rained in varying rates for the remainder of the day, the fields were flooding, and there was mud, mud and more mud (made worse by the vehicle traffic).
Unloaded, and starting to set up.
I was able to use the doors I found in the cellar as a backdrop to hang mirrors, so I am glad that I rescued them.
Almost ready for customers.

Mirrors by Joseph



And more mirrors by Joseph

The rain didn't keep the shoppers away on Friday (although I can't imagine paying $25 to slog through the water. Those of us under cover seemed to have a captive audience, and the day went well.

Sold lots of stuff, made some more contacts for frames and gilding services, so all was well in the end.
Saturday and Sunday were both gorgeous, so that (almost) made up for Friday!



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Doors

It seems that in New England, we are known for our difficulty in parting with things that would appear to have outlived their usefulness. And in fact, I (and others) often find inspiration in them. you may remember seeing this scene from one of our painting sessions at a florist's premises, where some of us were more interested in the debris pile than the flowers.
 I even completed a water color of this scene.
Then, a few weeks later, I was cleaning out the cellar in Maine, and after hauling these old doors out of the cellar, took some photos to use as a reference for a potential painting project.

I was planning to take them to the dump, even though it was against my nature, but instead, took them home and painted them so that I can use them as a display backdrop. But when I get a chance, I will still do a painting of them as they looked when first seeing the light of day after years in the cellar.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Learning through Museum Visits

Entrance façade - with a mission!


During a recent trip to Maine, we visited the Colby College Museum of Art. They are currently showing the Lunder collection en masse, as well as their beautifully enlarged facility. During this visit, I was paying particular attention to some of the artwork that resonated with me, and that might serve as inspiration.

I found this small oil, View from Olana, by Frederick Edwin Church, which provided some insight for the aspiring (or even experienced) artist.

While the painting is pleasant enough, what is most important is the reason it was painted. According to the label, Church painted this view from his window almost every day, as an exercise in seeing and recording the effect of light, seasons, etc. While we may not all have the opportunity to paint from the window of a Hudson river mansion perched on a hill top, almost any subject can be approached over and over, with the artist learning a bit more each time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Evolution of a Painting

I started this on a very hot day while painting on Shrewsbury Common with the Artist Guild of Shrewsbury. It feels good to do that very quick blocking in, however, as fresh and free as it looks in that state, the more I study it, the more I see it needing refinement and correction.

These photos below show how it evolved when I took it home for further work.

Filling in some of the "raw" unpainted areas of the canvas and correcting the tilt of the obelisk.

Continued correction to the monument (good thing I had some reference photos).

Adjusting values.

More foliage.

Correcting some drawing and proportion issues.

It will now sit for a while, then I will make the final attack.  Will post when finished and framed.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Another Frame Blitz

I happened to wind up with a bunch of frames in various states of completion, and everything came to a head this week. Some needed to be finished for customers, some for myself, and some got finished because it was too darn hot to go outside so I had to make productive use of my time.

Fun having a variety of stuff in the workshop.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Joseph in the Junk Pile

As part of its "Paint the Town" program, the Artists Guild of Shrewsbury goes to various locations for plein air painting. This week we were at Danielson Florists, and Joseph, with his usual perverse nature, ignores the flowers and greenhouses, and instead focuses on a pile of discarded items left behind the barn. Well, it was a hot day, and this location did let me sit in the shade.

I was able to mostly complete my watercolor preliminary sketch on site, then worked up my studio version the next day.

On-site sketch

Studio version

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Volcano Under Glass

I have often seen prints and paintings of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Most of these seem to have been "grand tour" souvenirs, and often depict the eruption at night - probably for the opportunity to have a dramatic lighting effect.

While browsing Ebay, I came across a mirror for sale that had a simple scene of an active volcano - presumably of Vesuvius, since it had an eruption in 1822, and would have been close enough in time to use as a recognizable subject.

Glass found on Ebay
The Ebay glass was far too primitive for what I had in mind, so I devised my own design, working in the style of the European scenes we find on these glasses.

My volcano scene

I installed the glass in the mirror frame discussed in an earlier entry. This frame did in fact, appear to be an antique, that had some restoration work done at some point, with some missing components replaced, and likely an entire re-gilding. As the work is acceptable, I will leave as is.

Installed in mirror

Friday, June 28, 2013

Green Skies, Smiling at Me!

While demonstrating eglomise work during the Grafton Historical Society's Antique Show on June 15, I began my version of the broken original glass shown in this earlier blog entry. This is an interesting glass in that it appears as if the original craftsperson worked from three individual designs and just arranged them in a row. The green color was interesting; I don't know if it was originally blue and had changed over the years, but I elected to use it in my version, as it was what drew me to the original in the first place.

I adjusted the composition a bit, as the mirror my version went into had less height available for the panel, and I actually think it looks less awkward than it does in the original size.
Joseph's version of the original

As installed in a mirror frame

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A crude eglomise mirror panel

This type of mirror shows up fairly often, and is one of the styles that are not particularly popular, but that I would like to know more about. It is common to find them with either this type of crude eglomise panel, or with the "dotted line" outlined paintings, but not usually with something sophisticated. Some people refer to these cruder eglomise works as "gilder's glasses, where the line etching is not well done.

For this one, it looks as if the craftsperson found three separate images of buildings, and used them to fill the space. These motifs of cottages and castle towers show up frequently in mirror panels, and probably had their origins in prints of the period (they do resemble some of the images seen on Staffordshire dinnerwares of the period).

I will be using this design for a replacement panel in a related mirror. I may also replace this damaged one, but am reluctant to do so since it is not particularly attractive in its current proportions.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An interesting Federal (maybe) mirror

You don't usually see many of these mirrors with the spherules set in the side columns. Whether they just weren't popular (or proved too annoying to dust and were discarded), they seem to account for only about one percent of the mirrors I see. So, it was a bit surprising that I came upon two of them at an antique show last week, and then found this one in a group shop on Cape Cod.

I haven't fully dismantled and explored it, but I question the age of it, in spite of the fact that it does have some old repairs. Perhaps I will be able to determine if it is of period, with signs of age obscured due to the restorations, or, as I suspect, the product of some early 20th century manufacture.

The reverse painted panel is definitely not of the Federal period, but I don't know if was a replacement for an earlier one, or one created at the time of this mirror. It has a certain charm, but looks a bit "cottagey" for this formal style of mirror.

My plans are to do a couple minor touch-ups, and create a more appropriate eglomise panel.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Huguenot Street in New Paltz, New York

During our recent trip to Albany, we visited some sights on the west side of the Hudson River. Having seen stories about New Paltz in old issues of Antiques Magazine, we took advantage of the unexpectedly beautiful spring weather to sightsee. Although the buildings and visitor center were not open yet for the season, we did have a chance to walk the historic district and take photos.

According to the Historic Huguenot Street website: Seeking freedom from persecution by Catholic authorities, the "New Paltz Huguenots" sailed to America in the 1660s and 1670s. They travelled to present-day Kingston and founded New Paltz.
Today, the 10-acre National Historic Landmark District includes a visitor center, seven stone house museums, a reconstructed 1717 French church, and an early burial ground.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Making Progress

And the saga of the unfinished projects continues. This dressing table was purchased years ago, languished in garage/Wiscasset house waiting to be worked on. The paint was stripped last summer, and now that I have an inkling of what to do, I put base coats on. Getting this far usually motivates me, so it should move along.