Monthly Archives: January 2010

Painting Progress: Ideas and Inspiration

24 January 2010

Sometimes ideas and inspiration find me: a stunning sunset, a spectacular cloud formation, raking gold light on rolling fields. That this often happens at inopportune times only proves to me that the Muse has a sense of humor. Even so, breathtaking beauty viewed through the windshield in the middle of heavy traffic is still a gift and I’m grateful. (I am not, however, so naive as to believe that the driver riding hard on my bumper and gesticulating vigorously is trying to tell me how much he shares my moment of joy.)

Sometimes, however, a painting germinates from within: an idea, a yearning, a message I want to express. My Chesapeake Bay painting falls into this category. Being a Maryland native, the Chesapeake watershed is an integral part of my being. From childhood days spent bobbing like a sunburned cork in the Magothy River and filling the family’s bathtub with crayfish out of Herbert Run, to later years of sailing off Kent Island and kayaking on the placid Pocomoke, this “land of pleasant living” is my personal heritage. I cannot hope to express a lifetime of memories and feelings in one painting, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to say with paint and canvas.

My thoughts circle like birds assessing a night’s roost. Always they come back to those wonderful and rare moments when I’ve been all but alone in one of the Chesapeake’s most precious (and endangered) ecological places: the salt marsh. In fall and winter, especially, it is possible to find a sublime solitude in that sea of grasses, with only the birds and the wind for company. In a world that presses so closely and hard against every last wild place, the remaining salt marshes of the Chesapeake evoke something of the abundant and fertile wilderness that once was here.

There is a universe of painting subjects provided by the Chesapeake Bay, but it is the salt marsh that compels me. With binoculars and sketchbook, I set out.


16 January 2010

Welcome to my Brush Log (which I’ll call “blog” for short)! I hope you will enjoy sharing in my artistic journey. Art is the journey of a lifetime, and it is a lifestyle, not simply a process engaged when there is a brush, pencil, or pen in my hand. It is a way of seeing, feeling, and being part of this great and wonderful mystery of life.

There is a famous quote to the effect that “writing about painting is like dancing about architecture”. The target of this barb was art critics, who see only the finished product of the artist’s efforts, and may not understand, at that all-important emotional level, what they are seeing (or have given you, in particular, a bad review). I hope that writing about my art, as I journey from inspiration to finished painting, will be inspiring itself. As in writing a novel, where the characters can willfully take on a life of their own and the ending may not be in accord with the author’s plans at the outset, creating a painting is never a plod down a predetermined path to an inevitable destination. That is both a frustration and a joy, and is why painting is, indeed, a dance between the artist and life!

I’m going to take you along on a single painting. This artwork is intended for a specific exhibition on the Chesapeake Bay, a joint venture between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Washington Society of Landscape Painters.  I scarcely need a mandate to paint something that is so much a part of my heart and soul, so I am eager to participate in this artistic endeavor. This is a “real time” miniseries, so I do not myself know how it will end. We both will have to find out!