Farm-to-Canvas Workshop Report

Last weekend’s inaugural farm-to-canvas plein air painting workshop at Golden Well Farm and Apiaries was a huge success! I had eight students, three who stayed in B&B rooms at the farmhouse (and one who opted for the $20/night camping option) these folks were treated to a beautiful farm-to-table breakfast each morning while the rest of us convened at 8 AM for a full morning of painting. While the weather was a little wet, we managed to work around the rain and get some good painting time in. For lunch we sat down to a three course meal made with ingredients picked that day on the farm or sourced from nearby dairy and meat producers. A special treat was the honey kombucha, and honey caramel sauce sourced from Golden Well’s own bees!

I am so grateful to our hosts Nicole and Ryan for their hospitality, generosity, great cooking, and for sharing their home with us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is the farm I grew up and it’s been the most wonderful turn of events for me to feel welcomed back to the farm by it’s current residents. While our group was quietly painting, we were able to witness the rhythm of life and work on the farm, which involves several employees, visiting interns, and  Miela, Nicole and Ryan’s 3-year old daughter who was a constant source of entertainment for all of us. We were also treated to an impromptu yoga class taught by Jennifer Parmelee after painting one day, and I am now convinced this will be an integral part of my next workshop. As any artist knows, the long hours focused in front of your work can leave you feeling stiff, emotionally drained, and tired. The yoga session was just what we needed to loosen up and re-set our energy with a positive vibe. After this I am excited to plan future painting workshops that intentionally combine yoga and mindfulness practices.

Our workshop also coincided with some fun local events – Friday night we went to Lincoln Peak Vineyards a mile down the road for picnic party with a live band and 300 people in attendance! Saturday night we strolled through downtown Middlebury and went out to dinner together, and Sunday night ended with a community pizza night on the farm with live music, brick-oven pizzas, rustic hay bale seating, and desserts made by neighboring farmer V Smiley Preserves. Currently we are looking at some dates in September for the next workshop/retreat at this location! Scroll through these pictures for more detailed account of our weekend on the farm. Thank you to all the wonderful students who took the time to travel up to Vermont and spend the weekend with us!


Just an Update!

Spring came and went and now it is summer. I have been busy painting, teaching, and thanking my lucky stars each day that I am living in Vermont. I’ll share a quick update on what I’ve been up to and get back to it! I have an open studio event tomorrow night from 5-8 if you want to come see the latest paintings in person.   – Emilie



Morning session: 9 -12, Afternoon session: 1-4

This weekend intensive will be an introduction to academic figure drawing methods, emphasizing an intuitive approach that combines expressive drawing and comparative measurements to achieve accurate proportions and anatomy while expressing the gesture and flow of the  pose. Some warm-up exercises from the 19th century Charles Bargue drawing course and lessons in anatomy will be included. The studio is furnished with a model stand and controlled lighting. There is only room for 5 students in this class, so you will be sure to get plenty of hands-on instruction! SIGNUPHERE



Three days of instructed landscape painting and drawing on a 100 acre historic Vermont farm. Instruction will emphasize a logical approach to planning and executing a successful piece while considering the unique challenges of working outside. This will be a supportive environment for beginners and experienced artists alike with plenty of one-on-one instruction tailored to your goals. Swimming on the property and chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided each day! (Lodging available on the farm at extra cost). New Haven, VT. MORE INFO HERE

*Paintings in group shows this month: FOFA Art’s Alive Show at 1 Main St. Landing, Burlington, VT  June 3-27, and SEABA 404 Pine Street, Burlington, VT

* ONGOING: paintings for sale at Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury VT

Now for some pics from all the fun things I’ve been up to:

MARCH: An energizing trip to the 4-corners region to work with an inspiring crew of artists while being filmed and interviewed for Convergence Film, a project by 3 Strings Productions. Film release to be announced, so stay tuned!

APRIL: It was still winter up here. So we did some skiing and worked in the studio:

MAY: SPRING!!!! Painting outside, lots of hiking, teaching plain-air class along the lake, loving life!


Farm to Canvas Plein Air Painting Workshop

The location for this workshop is very special to me because this was my childhood home! Our family enjoyed ten blissful years on this idyllic farm, and it is an absolute dream come true that the current owners are welcoming me back to their property to teach a workshop. Golden Well Farm and Apiaries will be hosting us and providing a chef catered farm-to-table lunch each day, featuring food grown here on this property. Make sure to bring your swimsuit because there is a beautiful river running right across the front yard!

Sign up here


Locals all know of the “Old Nash Farm” and it’s rich history as a working farm that has nurtured generations of different families who lived here. It’s newest incarnation as Golden Well Farm and Apiaries promises that the legacy of wholesome farm family fun will continue! The best part is that we can all take part through the community minded events they are offering, including a CSA, a summer camp, and yoga classes.

IMG_4467In this workshop I will be teaching a traditional approach to landscape painting as it was taught to me by my mentors at the Hudson River Fellowship. I will be referencing the methods and techniques of 19th century landscape painters. Beginners and experienced painters alike are welcome, and I will be tailoring instruction to meet each individual’s goals and needs. Topics I will address are:

  • how to set yourself up for success given the specific challenges of painting outdoors (changing light, weather, and time limitations)
  • how to choose a compelling subject and composition
  • how to create an underpainting that will be a strong foundation for your work
  • using pencil sketches and written notes to aid in developing your work back in the studio
  • how to use color, atmosphere, and line quality to create a sense of depth
  • how to capture a fleeting moment in a tiny sketch and later develop that idea in the studio without using photographs
  • tips for staying comfortable and happy while working outdoors!




8:00 –  Meet at the farmIMG_2193

8:30 – Introduction and demonstration of how to begin a painting, choosing a subject, creating thumbnail sketches, working out a composition, and making an underpainting.

10:00 – Students will take time to choose a subject and start their own thumbnail sketches

12:30 – Chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided by Golden Well Farm and Apiaries

1:30 – Students will continue working on their paintings while receiving individual instruction throughout the afternoon. 

3:00 – end of class, swimming in the river! Students are free to continue working on their own.


8:00 – Meet at the farm

8:30 – Demonstration of full color painting focusing on foreground objects.

10:00 Students choose a new subject to paint for this day

12:30 – Chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided by Golden Well Farm and Apiaries

1:30 – Students will continue working on their paintings while receiving individual instruction throughout the afternoon. 

3:00 – end of class, swimming in the river! Students are free to continue working on their own.


8:00 – Meet at the farm

8:30 – Demonstration of full color painting focusing on a long-view scene with skies and distance

10:00 – Students choose a new subject to paint for this day

12:30 – Chef catered farm-to-table lunch provided by Golden Well Farm and Apiaries

1:30 – Students will continue working on their paintings while receiving individual instruction throughout the afternoon. 

3:00 – end of class, swimming in the river! Students are free to continue working on theirIMG_2698.jpg own.


When:  July 8,9 & 10. 8 AM – 3 PM

Where: Golden Well Farm and Apiaries, 1089 River Road, New Haven, VT

Cost: $450 per person. Includes 3 chef catered lunches. Early bird special: $400 before May 1st.

Lodging: Rent a room on the farm through Airbnb (choose from room one, room two, or room three). OR pitch a tent in the field for $20/night (includes breakfast and facilities). Other local options can be found in Middlebury.

Sign Up: and pay online here, or email me if you have questions: I will send a packing list for gear and materials list to confirmed students.



Summer in the City

I came home a month ago after a grand adventure in the west, where I spent one month painting on the American Prairie Reserve and one week showing new work at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. Time is flying, and I’ve been busy teaching, working on a new commission, and preparing for my next trip to the prairie. Here are some highlights from the past month in New York City.


My painting “Fortitude” won first place at the Mills Pond House Gallery juried show. You can see this and another painting of mine “Saco River” at the gallery in Saint James, NY (Long Island) until July 22.




Saco River


These two paintings are in an upcoming juried show at the National Association of Women Artists. 80 5th Ave, New York, NY. July 8-29. Opening reception is July 16, 5-7 PM


Portrait Study


Ball Mason


I came home to my studio and couldn’t find enough room to hang up my latest paintings from the prairie, so it’s time for a spring clearance sale. In the past I’ve sold my work through emails and Facebook connections, so I hope this new store will help make the process more efficient.



We managed to dodge the frequent thunderstorms for my Tuesday plein-air painting classes in Central Park, but for the workshop last weekend the weather caught up with us. Despite the rain we had a productive weekend and everyone made great paintings!


These two paintings were done by students in my class


staying dry under the terrace


Commissions like this are a dream. One of the shareholders at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, MA, asked me to make a painting of this very special place. The farm was founded in 1636 and operated by the Appleton family until 1967 when it was acquired by a local conservation organization. It is the oldest continuously operating farm in America, producing dairy products, beef, and produce. Sustainable farming practices ensure that the landscape also provides a safe habitat for wildlife and birds. I spent two days working on location and have since been finishing the final painting in the studio.



From August 15 – September 15 I’ll be in Wyoming at the Jentel Artist’s Residency where I’ll be working one of my big studio paintings inspired by my time on the American Prairie Reserve. Jentel is located in the Bighorn Mountains, just five hours south of the Prairie Reserve, and offers writers and artists a quiet place to focus on their work. They don’t even have cell or internet service, I can’t wait! After the residency is finished, I’ll be driving north to the Prairie Reserve for a week of plein air painting in mid September. It will be interesting what this landscape is like in a completely different season.



An essay I wrote for Alpinist Magazine’s fiftieth issue can be read online as well as in print. The Dumpster Diaries, Then and Now  reflects on an adventure I wrote about for the Alpinsit ten years ago. It involves climbing, art, and the Trader Joe’s dumpster. Read the original 2004 article here. An article I wrote about my ongoing project on the American Prairie Reserve was published in the RISD XYZ spring/summer issue, free to read online here.

IMG_4462Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.40.57 PM




’tis the season for openings and parties

Please come celebrate the opening of Eleventh Street Arts — our new gallery in Long Island City — during our inaugural group show on December 5th. The show will feature over eighty works by fifty artists from the extended Water Street and Grand Central Atelier community. Adjacent to the gallery, in our individual studios, guests will be invited to explore even more artwork, both finished and in progress. Over the last few months I’ve been working on a new painting–one that is much larger than my usual landscapes and that combines my plein-air work from Rabbit Island with a life-sized self portrait. I’m looking forward to publishing photos online but will wait until after the show opens before doing so.

 December 5th, 6-10 PM at The Grand Central Atelier, 46-06 11th St, Long Island City, Queens. On view until January 23, 2015.

 gca show invite


I’m excited to share two portraits I made of iconic conservationists John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. It’s great to have my work commissioned by the Best Made Company and included in their collection of classic and timeless products. And what a great era in American history to be celebrating! John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt were instrumental in launching America’s early conservation movement through literature and legislation while many of the landscape painters I admire were heading into the mountains and using their art to promote the same cause. Limited edition signed and framed prints available in the TriBeCa flagship store or online.

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Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 9.52.34 PM


In preparation for the Grand Central Atelier’s open studio event on December 5th, I’ll be continuing to promote the smaller paintings I have for sale through social media. The response I’ve received from patrons has been wonderful and within the past month I’ve sold the following paintings to collectors who came to visit my studio in person or found something they liked online. I still have dozens of paintings like these for sale. Please see this album and don’t hesitate to contact me for my current price list if you are interested.


Four of my paintings are currently on exhibit in the group show Art in Nature at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, NJ. Proceeds from this show will benefit the Monmouth County Conservation Foundation–preserving open space and wildlife habitat in this unique area along the New Jersey Shoreline. These two paintings are still available at the show, which will be up until Jan 5th.


For eight Tuesdays in a row my students and I enjoyed perfect weather during my plein-air painting workshops in Long Island City. It was such a pleasant treat to spend afternoons along the New York City waterfront observing clouds, sailboats, the skyline, and basking in the sun. During each session we spent two hours working en plein-air studying nature, making quick paintings, taking notes, and sketching with the intention to later recreate these scenes from memory in the studio. Once in the studio our memories were tested as we worked from the gathered notes and sketches.  This is an important exercise to introduce techniques needed to execute studio paintings without the use of photography, a rare skill in our modern age.

Recently winter has been knocking on New York City’s door and soon will be here to stay. Thus we are taking a break from plein-air painting and will resume again in April. In January I will be leading a workshop in the Grand Central Atelier studio that introduces landscape painting through the practice of performing master copies. I will be teaching students how to approach the landscape by copying in gray scale, limited palette, and, ultimately, in full color. I am excited about this workshop as it is an ideal way for the beginner to learn landscape painting and a great way for experienced painters to hone their skills in time for the coming spring. Think of it as pre-season training for the summer. Read more and register online through the GCA. Here are some pictures of the recently concluded Plein-Air to Studio classes.


New Landscape Painting Workshops in NYC

The last few months have been an exciting time of transition …  I finished off a series of big landscape painting commissions (will share pics soon!), and I’ve been busy helping to launch the new Grand Central Atelier in Long Island City, Queens.  This atelier fills the needs of an evolving community of artists that have come together through the Water Street Atelier and the Grand Central Academy. Located in a 12,000 square foot space lit by specially designed skylights, the new GCA is a collaborative workspace for artists pursuing the methodology of historic ateliers to create drawing, painting and sculpture from life. The space will include a gallery and private studios for artists like myself. There is also shared work-space for artists-in-training and another portion of the studio dedicated to ongoing workshops that meet during the days, weekends, and evenings. Stay tuned for more offerings, including events, exhibitions, competitions, lectures, and parties! We are conveniently located in Long Island City, 20 minutes from Grand Central Station on the 7 train. Below are two workshops I am offering through the new GCA.

Landscape Painting: Plein Air to Studio Process

Tuesdays, 1-5 PM Long Island City waterfront & GCA studios, 46-06 11th St, Queens, NY

painting from memory and sketches, by Emilie Lee

painting from memory and sketches, by Emilie Lee


A successful landscape painting relies on the mastery of nature’s vocabulary and this fluency is best achieved through direct observation from life. However, working only from life can be limiting due to the interference of weather, fleeting light effects, and the constraints of time. This class will introduce a technique that will strengthen your ability to work from memory, liberate your imagination, and instill effective observation habits. No photography!

We will spend the first half of each class session making plein air studies and taking notes on location in the outdoors. With our memories fresh, we will go immediately back to the studio and learn how to use our outdoor studies and our creative vision to create finished paintings that are inspired by nature. We will also study examples of how this method has been employed by artists from the past and present. We will be working on the waterfront of the East River in Long Island City, just three blocks away from the new GCA studios.


weekend workshops in NYC cemeteries, co-taught by myself and Anthony Baus

Oct. 10-12 Green-Wood Cemetery (Fri-Sun) , Oct 17-19 Woodlawn Cemetery (Fri-Sun)

Grant's Tomb, by Anthony Baus, ink wash

Grant’s Tomb, by Anthony Baus, ink wash

Relieve yourself from the darkness of the classroom! In the spirit of Halloween, Emilie Lee and Anthony Baus will be using the backdrop of Green-Wood and Woodlawn cemeteries for the setting of two 3-day landscape workshops. Explore the decorative gravestones, richly ornate mausoleums, and guardian angels that haunt these New York City landmarks. Perhaps we will even commune with the spirits of the deceased!
In plien air fashion artists will be encouraged to complete 2-3 oil paintings and/or ink drawings at each location. Anthony’s instruction will focus on the shortcuts of perspective to accurately depict built structures and properly scale objects from foreground to background. Emilie will introduce an efficient approach to plein air painting, addressing concerns of time management, shifting light conditions, atmospheric perspective, and color in nature.
Good drawing is the foundation of every great painting, and in this workshop, we will spend the first day focused only on drawing, establishing accurate perspective and strong composition. On the second and third days, we will show you how to use your initial drawing as a foundation for your final painting.
Individual critiques will be tailored to suit your personal goals for each weekend. The benefit of two instructors is a rare and special opportunity not to be missed!

SOLD! See what went at the studio sale

Last weekend’s studio sale was a huge success, thank you so much to all of you who bought paintings last weekend!  I am completely blown away by the response I got, and feeling very encouraged by your support.

Here’s what’s up next – it’s looking like another busy and fun summer full of painting adventures!

*Im teaching a workshop this weekend in Prospect Park Brooklyn where we will focus on careful studies of nature in the tradition of the Hudson River School Painters.

* I’m busy making some new paintings for a group show in Cos Cob, CT at the Drawing Room Gallery, the opening reception is in June 8th.

*  I’ll be exhibiting at the Bennington Center for the Arts in my home state of Vermont – June 15th is the opening reception

* I can’t wait to start on my next big studio painting project – a commission of a spectacular private view on Lake Champlain!  Looks like that project will occupy my month of June.

* I’m teaching another workshop at the Hudson River Fellowship July 21-24 in Jackson, NH.  Sign up through the GCA.

* This will be my 5th year as a fellow at the Hudson River Fellowship and I’m just as excited as always for our annual summer landscape painting retreat.  I was on the selection committee this year and the applicants we had were the strongest group ever.  I’m so excited to meet the new fellows who are accomplished academic artists coming from all over the world to follow in the footsteps of the Hudson River School Painters.  This annual experience has been the most defining influence on my work and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

Meanwhile, here’s a recap of the open studio last weekend:


I turned my studio into a little gallery – salon style!


talking with visitors

Below are the paintings that sold, either online, or at my studio.

Liberty Sunset

Liberty Sunset, 6″x8″ oil on linen

My first NYC plein air of the 2013 season!  Sunset from the Red Hook Pier. 5"x10"

Liberty Sunset # 1,  5″x11″ oil on archival bookboard


On the Saco River, 8″x10″, oil on linen


Mud Season in Vermont, 8″x10″ oil on linen



Desbarats Sunset, oil on paper, 7″x11″


Shoreline Study, 6″x8″, oil on linen


Morning After the Blizzard, 5″x11″, oil on archival bookboard


Warm Shelter, 6″x8″, oil on linen


Liberty Sunset #3, oil on linen, 6″x8″


Ranch Road, Sonoma. 7″x10″, oil on linen

to be in plein air exhibit 11/30

Highline Sunset, 5″x7″, oil on panel

Silver Lake, Storms, oil on panel, 6"x12"

Silver Lake, Storms, oil on panel, 6″x12″


Chocorua Sunset Study, 3.5″x10″, oil on panel


Study of Chocorua, pencil and sepia ink on paper, 9″x12″


Notes on Chocorua, 9″x12″, pencil and sepia ink on paper

Painting Silver Lake – A Studio Landscape

I’ve recently completed my first “big” studio painting, and I wanted to share some of the work that went into it here. Over the past four summers I’ve been developing my plein air painting skills, working on drawings or small panels under 9″x12″. All along my goal has been to take these outdoor studies into the studio to use as reference for larger paintings. The years of rigorous life study at GCA has been incredible training but I feel limited in my ability to express larger ideas when I can only work with a live subject in front of me. I would love to work from my imagination and still  represent nature truthfully. Ultimately I would like to combine figure, landscape, and other elements into my paintings without using the aid of photographs or digital technology. For me landscape painting has been a perfect place to start experimenting with this process.

the final painting: Silver Lake, 22"x43", oil on linen, 2013

the final painting: Silver Lake, 22″x34″, oil on linen, 2013

This painting was commissioned by Mark and Teresa Richey, who have an incredible view from their lake house in New Hampshire.   I felt I had plenty of freedom for my own creativity, but I enjoyed spending time with the Richeys on location hearing what they loved most about their special spot.  Mt. Chocorua is the star here, but they asked if I could fit the entire mountain range into the composition, which became the main challenge in designing this piece.  The panoramic view meant that most of my canvas would be occupied by sky and water, so I paid special attention to cloud compositions and learning how to paint water.













The foundation of this painting is made on the piles of careful drawings and notes that document my observations from life. When I was on location, my mission was to absorb as much information as possible about the structure of the landscape. Detailed drawings of the mountain ranges, the foreground elements, and the behavior of the clouds helped form my vision. With the light conditions constantly changing, my ability to paint detailed scenes was limited and my color studies were abbreviated. What the paintings lack in structure, the drawings accomplish. In these I focused on understanding the three-dimensional form of the landscape so that in the studio I could put the sun wherever I chose and paint the scene accordingly.  I may have gone a little overboard with the amount of sketches I made, but now I have enough information to do several more paintings of this spot!  I’d love to try a sunset or sunrise.

When I look at each of these studies, I am transported back to the moment I was observing when I made them.  I use this time-travel device to help re-create the moment in my mind.  The full sensory experience is important, so I try to recall the smells, sounds, emotions, and thoughts that I had at the time I made the initial study.  I make my painting decisions from this state of meditation, fully occupying the memory.   Ultimately, not everything can be recalled, but the most important things make it through and into the final piece.  Over time this exercise makes your memory stronger!


This sketch shows contour lines on the mountains that helped me understand the 3 dimensional shape. If I ever want to paint Mt. Chocorua in different lighting circumstances, I have all the information I need in drawings like this.


This drawing shows a more specific cloud shape, especially at the top of the cloud


more contour lines.  Here focusing on understanding a certain passage of subtle receding land masses


These sketches may look like chicken scratches but they were some of the most helpful material I had in the studio painting process!


clearly I was freaking out over an awesome sunset. These notes help bring me back to that exact moment.   I could still use this to make a color version from memory



Here I observed the light coming from the spot where I eventually chose to put the sun in the final painting


This drawing was a little boring to do, but I knew I would need some detailed information about the foreground so that it wouldn’t look too generic


The middle ground, focusing on capturing some of the individual personalities of these trees


more detailed study of Mt. Chocorua. It was hard not to spend the entire time just painting this scene. As the centerpiece of the view it was definitely the most interesting part to focus on.



8″x10″ oil on toned paper.


8″x10″ oil on toned paper


foreground trees

This painting

This painting drove me crazy!  I spent two or three afternoons trying to learn how to paint the little waves on the beach.  It was worth the struggle because it helped me in the studio so much.

Clouds Over Mt. Washington

Clouds Over Mt. Washington.  I painted this in another location later on in the summer but this specific study had a big influence on the clouds in my big painting.

Storms at Dusk, Silver Lake, oil on canvas, 2012

Dusk was one of the most magical times of day! This was mostly painted from memory right after the sun set.

Silver Lake Sunset #2, oil on panel, 10"x8"

oil on panel, 10″x8″

Silver Lake Sunset #3, oil on linen, 8"x4"

Silver Lake Sunset #3, oil on linen, 8″x4″

Silver Lake Sunset #4, oil on linen, 5.5"x3"

Silver Lake Sunset #4, oil on linen, 5.5″x3″

Silver Lake Sunrise #1, oil on paper, 10"x5"

Silver Lake Sunrise #1, oil on paper, 10″x5″

Silver Lake Sunrise #2, oil on linen, 8"x3.5"

Silver Lake Sunrise #2, oil on linen, 8″x3.5″

Silver Lake Sunrise #3, oil on linen, 9.5"x4"

Silver Lake Sunrise #3, oil on linen, 9.5″x4″

Silver Lake, Storms, oil on panel, 6"x12"

Silver Lake, Storms, oil on panel, 6″x12″


Silver Lake Sunset #1, oil on linen, 4"x7" (for sale in Silent Auction)

Silver Lake Sunset #1, oil on linen, 4″x7″

Two months passed before I had a chance to begin the studio painting phase. Meanwhile I was continuing to paint outside in other locations, and always keeping in mind the things I would need to learn in order to tackle my commission.

Once back in the studio, I took out all my drawings and began working on a composition.  Using a perspective grid, I was able to piece together my different sketches into a believable space.  I placed a few sailboats in the scene to help give a sense of distance since the receding shore line is nearly horizontal and I thought it might be hard to sense how far away the right hand side of the far shore is.


After shuffling around all these parts until it felt right, I transferred the drawing to a small 9″x14″ canvas to start a small version of the painting I envisioned.

Color Study for Silver Lake, 9"x12" oil on canvas, 2012

Color Study for Silver Lake, 9″x12″ oil on canvas, 2012

The small painting was a crucial step in this whole process.  It gave me a chance to work through a lot of the questions I had in a more forgiving scale.  After Mark and Teresa approved of this version, I dove into the final process.


final painting: Silver Lake, 22″x43″, oil on canvas, 2013

Working through this whole project has taught me so much.  When I come up against a section that I don’t know how to paint, I go do some research.  I look at master paintings of a similar passage, or go outside to observe nature.  Back in the studio I try to bring my observations to life in the painting.  The process becomes a feedback loop – from plein air study to studio painting and back.  It keeps my mind constantly challenged and learning.  Among the many reasons I don’t paint from photographs is that it prevents this analytical learning process.  The photo flattens out the world and it’s too easy to just copy the flat shapes in the photo.  It feels limiting and lifeless.  I’d much rather struggle through some unknown territory and learn along the way!

If you took the time to read all of this, thanks for sticking with me, I hope some of it was helpful or interesting!  I welcome comments or discussion too, so don’t be shy.

at the office


November Exhibits

It’s been a very busy season for me here in New York with a packed schedule of art shows, teaching opportunities, and the Union Square open studio event.  All that was dramatically put on hold over the past week while our city has been rocked by the unbelievable disaster that is Hurricane Sandy.  I am incredibly lucky to have survived the event out in Brooklyn without losing power, and since I am painting at home right now I didn’t even have to stop working.  However many of my friends and family are today going on their SIXTH day with no power, no heat, and it is getting cold out!  All in my immediate community seem to be taken care of, and I’m taking a break from painting this weekend to find some ways to volunteer my help elsewhere.

up now in “mood indigo” show

Meanwhile, the show must go on, and I have some updates in the calendar due to Hurricane cancellations at the Salmagundi Club (at 47 5th Avenue) who just got their power back last night:

Up NOW:  “Mood Indigo” in the lower gallery.

Nov.  9, 8 PM: rescheduled auction date for 3rd Auction.

“Sunset from the Highline” to be in plein air exhibit 11/30

Online bidding now!

Nov. 11,  2PM: rescheduled auction date for 2nd Auction (see previous post to view the paintings I have in each of these auctions)

Nov. 14: Annual Member’s Exhibit in the main gallery.

Nov. 30: Plein Air Exhibit in the Patron’s Gallery.  (All paintings created en plein air in Manhattan)

Nov 17, 18 Parallax Art Fair, Prince George Ballroom, NYC, 15 E 27th St


I’m SO excited to be participating in this art fair.  I’ll have 13 paintings here – a mix of figures, still life, and landscape paintings, from small affordable sunset paintings to larger more time-intensive paintings like the painting of “Libby” below.  The weekend-long

Libby, 15×26

event looks to be both inspiring and eye-opening.  I love the spirit behind creator and curator Dr. Chris Barlow’s concept: “Parallax offers an intellectual framework that encourages risk to buy what you actually like for a change—there is nothing worse than making a purchase you like and some ‘specialist’ sneering down their nose at you.”

I’ll be joining 200 established and emerging artists from around the world who were all selected by Dr. Barlow.  This is the fifth edition of  PAF, which started in London and has also been held in Miami and New York.  All work will be for sale with 100% of the sales going directly to the artist.  Really?!  I think Parallax is too good to be true!

Before signing off I want to add a quick link to the Grand Central Academy, where I teach evening cast drawing and landscape painting workshops.  At the Open Studios event we had more than 800 visitors over the weekend and a large number of you were asking for information on these classes!  So check it out: The evening and weekend classes are open to all abilities, even if you are a total beginner! If you are at all interested in the Water Street Atelier, I suggest trying out one of the part time classes to get a feeling for the curriculum.  Email me with questions if you have any.  See you in the cast hall!

p.s.  these paintings sold at the open studio event!  Thank you to the buyers, you’re rocking my world!



Painting the Landscape from Memory

One of the most challenging things about landscape painting is the fast changing light conditions.  Especially at the most colorful times of day – the sunrise and sunset.  Over the past season, I had a fun time learning to paint more from my pencil sketches and my memory.  I’m committed to never using photography as a reference tool, and I found that this approach actually strengthens my observation skills.  Inevitably I never remember everything, and those gaps serve to highlight the things I don’t know, so that next time I see those things in nature, I will pay attention more closely!  I also found that the conscious act of conjuring a memory strong enough to result in a painting is a great way to clarify what kind of emotional feeling initially inspired me to paint the scene in the first place.  So here are a few of my memory paintings along with some corresponding sketches and notes.

Pale Moon, oil on canvas, 8″x6″, 2012

the quick pencil sketch I used to make the above painting “Pale Moon”

I saw this lovely moon rise scene during a dinner outside.  I was able to sneak in this quick sketch to help me remember what I saw that night.  The next day I did the painting while observing the same location in the daylight and referring to my sketch.

Midnight at Marsters Point, oil on canvas, 2012

I saw this scene when I woke up in the middle of the night.  Something about the movement of the low clouds scudding across the horizon caught me and I stayed outside a few minutes longer to take some mental notes.  I was probably too sleepy to get out my sketchbook.  In the morning I did this little painting from what I could remember.


Storms at Dusk, Silver Lake, oil on canvas, 2012

Storms at Dusk, Silver Lake, oil on canvas, 2012

In June I spent 10 days painting at this location on Silver Lake in Madison, NH.  I saw this happen on my last evening as I was packing my bags.  I tried to paint it from memory the same night.


Sunrise at Marsters Point #1, oil on board, 2012

Sunrise #1, oil on board, 2012

During the final two weeks of my summer travels I was in Desbarats, Ontario with this view of the sunrise every morning.  I got in the habit of waking early to sketch the daily light show.  The sunrise is a real slippery fish, it changes very fast, morphing into innumerable glorious and paintable moments.  I found that sketching in pencil, taking written notes, and painting from memory (choosing one moment) was the best approach.  I embarked on this series of paintings right after seeing and being inspired by Frederick Church’s sketches and memory sunset paintings at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine.

I found that by making repeated attempts every day, I was able to see where the gaps in my knowledge were, and each morning I found myself trying to learn something new that I may have struggled with the day before.

Sunrise  #2. oil on paperboard, 11.5″x6″

here is the sketch I did for the corresponding sunrise painting above

Sunrise  #3, oil on canvas, 2012

I think this one goes with the last sunrise painting on this page