Mar 28, 2010

Early Spring, Chapel Hill

“A slice of Franklin Street”
7 x 9.5" watercolor

“82 years old and still selling daffodils”
7x 11" watercolor

“Outer wall, Coker Arboretum”
7 x 10" watercolor

“Headed down the arbor”
7 x 11" watercolor

I love this community that is home to possibly the most revered school of higher learning in the southeastern United States, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Provided the students are in agreement, I will be honored to have a show there next year at Frank Porter Graham Student Union. I consider the paintings above warm-up paintings of a series of watercolors I plan to paint of various points of interest on campus and the surrounding community.
I have been to weddings of alumni of the university where groomsmen honor their alma mater by wearing neckties that don the famous Carolina Blue school color. The ties to this university seem never to be broken by those who call themselves “Tar Heels”.

Mar 22, 2010

Late afternoon, Whole Foods

“Bursting with Spring”
9 x 6" watercolor

Whole Foods is a market I like to shop more than I care to paint. However, the beautiful display of tulips and other spring-blooming flowers made this scene irresistible. The sign at the top of the building, I have skewed, but what the heck — this is not an architectural rendering! Wish the customers with their carts didn’t move so fast, but I’ve done my best to capture one of them here. Two commissioned paintings took me to Raleigh last Saturday. I squeezed this one in on a side-visit to Quail Ridge Books, in the same center as this market. What a glorious day it was for plein air painting!

Mar 5, 2010

Sunday morning, Down East

“Praying for fishermen”
18 x 24" oil on canvas

The struggle that has befallen commercial fishermen on the East coast continues. I am very empathetic with the hard working people in the coastal area of North Carolina known as Down East. For generations they have made their living off the sea. All of a sudden they are forced to compete with fishermen in countries like Mexico and Thailand, people who have a whole different standard of living. On top of that, is their struggle with environmentalists. Regulation upon regulation has been cast upon our commercial fishermen. Most of the fish houses have closed. I’ve had the good fortune to visit and paint two of the last remaining.

With no intention of painting a churchyard or crosses last weekend, I ran across this scene en route to one of my favorite stops on Harkers Island. The plight of commercial fishermen is very much about what’s going on today in Down East. And it’s so much about North Carolinians, the prayingest group of people I have ever come across.

I announced my intention to paint the church’s marquis to one of the parishioners who was hurried to catch the next service. Shortly after, Gary Willis, a deacon of the church, greeted me, inviting me to join the congregation. I thanked him for the invitation, but explained that if I took time away from my painting that I would lose my light; that the crosses are like giant sundials, their shadows changing by the minute. Racing the light is clearly one of the challenges of painting en plein air on a sunny day.

Mar 3, 2010

Dine East

“Built for Cape Cod”
18 x 24" oil on canvas

How glorious! Alas! Three consecutive days of plein air painting, this time in the Morehead City, NC area! “Built for Cape Cod” is named for the boats you see here, built in someone’s yard in a coastal area of North Carolina referred to as “Down East” — actually pronounced by the locals as Dine East. They pronounce a long i as oi, and so these people known as High Tiders are commonly called Hoi Toiders. I’m not making this up, promise. Sometimes referred to as the Queen’s English, some believe the dialect to be a hold over from Elizabethan times when this part of North Carolina was first settled. It’s a fascinating area, and one that I love to paint.

The skiffs in the painting are going to be sent up to Cape Cod. The man who operates this boat works hails from Massachusetts. When I asked he and his family if he’s accepted there, his Dine East born-and-bred daughter-in-law replied, “We’re trying [to accept him]. Down East has a tradition of boat building that goes back a couple centuries, and so naturally, I was curious about the intrusion of a boat builder, especially one from up North.

Check out the painting below that shows me at work on the painting. I was heavily layered so am not really as fat as I appear here.

Painting skiffs in Down East