Saturday, January 13, 2007

radnor dusk

Looking through some old photographs today, I came across this image of Radnor Lake, a beautiful natural area just outside Nashville. At the time the photo was taken, I was living much closer to Radnor and it was a favorite hiking spot for Derek (now my fiancee) and me. Many happy memories here, and a beautiful evening as well.

Friday, January 12, 2007

hillside mist

This image came from the USDA agricultral research station where my father works. We were out for a drive on a rainy afternoon last summer and he took us to see the spot where his station is planning a research project dealing with land use and urban development. At the top of the hill, we looked down over one side where the houses would simulate a typical suburban development to measure the amount of runoff of motor oil, lawn pesticides, fertilizers, etc., into the water supply. We are hopeful that the UDSA funding will continue to do this very important research.

The view in this painting is looking away from the proposed "development," at some of the most beautiful land in the county. I will be painting a larger version of this image tomorrow.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

mountain dream

I have been spending a great deal of time indoors this week, due to catching an awful case of flu and having tight deadlines for finishing some paintings. All this has led to a wandering mind, dreaming of "greener pastures." I found some beautiful images from the mountains of Western North Carolina, where we plan to move this summer. Even though it seems very far away right now, painting it was a lovely escape on this cold, gray day.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

river sunset

When I first began painting landscapes, I did several pieces with very intense color, some with bold reds and purples against a black treeline. This spot along the Cumberland River reminded me of those early opporunity to return to a bold style and take some chances. There was just something about the red light against the black trees and silent water.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

sweet kentucky

On a beautiful autumn drive through Kentucky this fall, I noticed a strange sight. I was driving through the fabled Muhlenberg County when I saw a barn that appeared to be on fire, spewing white smoke through all its cracks. When I looked over the hill to the next farm, its barn was smoking, too. I rolled down my window, took a deep breath, and realized that I was witnessng for the first time the scent of tobacco curing. The sights of white smoke reaching for the sky and workers piling the sticky leaves into little stacks reached on for miles. I am fully aware of the dangers of tobacco smoke and the harm it has caused millions, but for that one afternoon I was transfixed by the sweet smoky scent, travelling on the breeze. I remember thinking that if I had grown up in Kentucky, I would be homesick for that smell the way landlocked former seashore dwellers miss the ocean.

This meadow was across the road from one of the smoking barns. I paused to photograph there, drawn by the edge of the grasses meeting the soybean fields beyond. The workers barely took notice of me stopping there as they tended the barn and gathered tobacco leaves.

Monday, January 08, 2007

cumberland twilight

One of my favorite painters when I first began to paint was James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Most famous for his painting of his mother in profile, Whistler was well-known in his time for his lawsuit with art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin criticized Whistler's painting technique as "flinging a pot of paint" at the canvas, prompting Whistler to sue for libel. Whistler won the case, but was awarded only a farthing, bankrupting himself for his principles. As issue was one of his night landscapes, a favorite series of mine that is almost completely abstract; although the landscape subjects are recognizable, they are visible through a dark fog, only the faraway lights on the shore giving contrast.

This view of the Cumberland River during a walk a few nights ago reminded me so much of this series that I could not resist trying my hand at it. I would have to paint many more to come close to the brilliant simplicity of Whistler, but that simplicity is always at the heart of my efforts.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

wetland study

When I was young, my father took me birdwatching at this marshy lake. I have fond memories of getting up very early, heading out with a thermos of tea and the binoculars in his pickup truck, and parking by the side of the lake, hoping to catch a glimpse of some ducks through the morning fog.

I painted a large version of this last year in a rectangular format, but I wanted to revisit it and try it in a square composition. This is a study for a larger piece I plan to complete this week.