What a year this has been!
We moved to Maine a year ago August and have still been busy trying to acclimate ourselves to New England. Everything from the kids with new schools, as well as dropping my son off at his first year of College at U Maine.
New medical providers, new basketball programs, plumbers, Veterinarians, new galleries, but with all of that also came all of the wonderful new painting locations. That's a good one! : )
It has been very busy to say the least. However it's all good.
Just to bring you up to date.
I finished off August with a wonderful plein air workshop at Coastal Maine Art Workshops with Lyn Donovan.
We had a full class with lots of great energy and enthusiasm. We spent five days painting from Owls Head to McCloons, as well as Rockport to Rockland with a variety of weather. One overcast day provided us with some fun misty Maine grays as well as a few sun filled days and one rainy afternoon were we spent time in the studio tweaking our work, which is actually a great way to finish up the workshop.
Due to the response of the class Lynn has already scheduled next years workshop as well as one abroad. I am happy to say that in November of 2018 we will be hosting a plein air workshop in Venice Italy. Sono molto contento di questa opportunita`!! I've been there a handful of times but very excited to spend a long week or so painting in Venezia! If you have any interest in joining in please feel free to contact Lyn.
Also happy to report that my new galleries, Camden Falls Gallery in Camden ME, Studio B Gallery in Easton MD, as well as Vermont are off to a good start. One of the winter scenes I submitted to the Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville VT was purchased by a couple from Norway. May have to look there for future "winter" sales. : )
The Old Homestead 18" x 24" - SOLD
Here are some recent ones that have sold. A big Thank You to all of the wonderful Collectors that have continued to support my work!
Plein Air - RUSSIA
In mid September I finally made my way to Russia for that long anticipated trip.
I was invited along with five other American painters. Joining me were TM Nicholas MA, Stapleton Kearns NH, Stephen Wood MA, Garin Baker NY, and Aimee Erickson OR.
We had an amazing trip!
We all met in Moscow which is somewhat comparable to New York City, just bigger with a lot of that big city energy. We stayed at the Metropol Hotel, which is steep in Russian history and located in the heart of Moscow just steps away from Red Square. A really beautiful place.
We connected with Peter Trippi the Editor-in-Chief of Connoisseur Magazine who drop by the Metropol along with his tour group to meet us for an afternoon drink and chat about our mission there.
We took in quite a bit of sight seeing, including Lenin's Tomb, which I must say was a tad bit unusual. However the Tretyakov Gallery was definitely the highlight of our stay in Moscow.
We saw paintings by Ilya Repin, Valentin Serov, and Isaac Levitan just to name a few. I have seen samples of their work in print but never any originals. To my understanding those paintings rarely if ever leave the country. So naturally it was an amazing feast for the eyes as well as the soul! Always such a treat to see an original painting. The size, actual color, and the over all feel of an original has such a different impact than when seeing it as a reproduction.
One painting in particular that stood out to me was entitled "Sacking Grain" 1949 by Tatiana Yablonskaya. I was familiar with this painting prior to going to Russia however I was unaware just how amazing this painting was.
The value handling in this painting is one of the finest I have ever seen. There appears to be a haze of grain dust that occupies the whole scene which naturally effects all of the values and the value scale there in. This required a very sophisticated degree in handling to make sure everything stayed in the correct value placement. Only a couple of dark darks enter into the scene. It really is an amazing sun felt exploration of subtle color and handling, expressively painted, complicated and yet simple, absolutely beautiful!
After a few days in Moscow we made the six hour drive to Kostroma.
Kostroma is very old, charming, and is designed in the
shape of a fan with all the streets leading to a lovely town center just off of the edge of the Volga River with onion dome churches scattered about the area.
We actually stayed at a wonderful resort, Volshskiy Priboy, just outside of Kostroma also on the Volga River.
We started each day with a traditional Russian breakfast at a large table with five other Russian painters as well as Larisa and Uri, the owners of the resort.
Olga, Irina, Oleg , Max, and Uri and Larisa. Not included in this picture would be Vadeem.
We would pair off each morning after breakfast usually 3 to 4 artists per car along with all of our gear as well as LARGE canvas`. This was no easy feat driving back to the resort with large WET canvas`, but we managed.
The Russian painters were delightful as were Larisa and Uri! We were not sure what to expect going to Russia and during our many conversations, usually with the aid of Google Translate, we found out they felt very much the same as we did! Not sure what to think of the "Americans".
It seems that both of our countries conjure up images that are not exactly a true representation of what the people are really like.
They were incredibly kind, warm, caring, fun, and downright enchanting! We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and found that our lives are very much one in the same.
Happy to say I have some new friends for life. Already making plans with Irina about going back during the winter months to chase some Russian Winter scenes. Cold or not, I am in! Gladly!
Gorgeous winter scene by Irina 24x16
During our time in Kostroma we were also very fortunate to visit the Romanovsky Museum as well as a few Russian studios.
They were hosting an exhibition of Aleksei Bielykh's work, who is a very well known Russian Soviet Realist Painter that passed away last year.
Absolutely beautiful work!
Also Lubov Bielykh who is the daughter of Bielykh, invited us to her fathers studio as well as hers and her mothers, a family business, all three of them are painters. We also met his granddaughter as well who posed numerous times for the family over the years and still does. Delightful young lady.
At his studio we saw more of his work as well as numerous small studies he did in preparation for his larger work, and I mean numerous.
This really left an imprint on me personally. I have produced studies many years ago but have gotten away from it a bit. This has definitely opened my eyes to the value and importance this has. So I will be and already have started talking a page from this mans book this winter.
Irina Rybabkova one of our Russian comrades was kind enough to have organized a visit for us at her studio. We spent the morning viewing her beautiful work and then shared a cup of traditional Russian tea in celebration. It was really nice to get a small peek into her daily life in and around her studio work. On a side note, Irina has boundless energy. We all concluded it must come from the 6th floor studio she has kept for decades. Every day up and down 6 flights of stairs will either make you or break you!
So after many meals, breakfast, lunch, sometimes out in the field, and dinners, which sometimes included a bit of Vodka, we all produced a nice body of work to be exhibited at the Opening.
Fast forward ahead, many more stories to be told about our painting outings, we all exhibited 6 to 8 pieces salon style, hung to the ceiling, and had a delightfully warm reception with much food, laughter, heart felt speeches, drinks, and camaraderie. It really was a moving evening spent between our two countries.
I was also very fortunate to acquire a couple of Russian pieces to add to my collection.
I was so inspired with our trip that I have even begun studying Russian, just basic phrases but it's a start.
I did manage to learn a new word or phrase every other day or so which became helpful. So while painting around the countryside it was nice to be able to interact with some of the locals I came upon.
"Dobroye ultra. Menya zovut Ken, ya khudozhnik."
"Good morning. My name is Ken, I am an artist."
That was always helpful when someone gave me the worried eye look while I was busy taking photos before I actually set up my easel.
Unlike when I started to learn Italian, I am not just focusing on the "Parolacce" (swear words) but actually helpful phrases. : )
So with much thanks to all of our incredibly talented Russian friends for all of their kindness they shared with us we all have come back to the States with much enthusiasm and excitement to get back to work. I have always been a bit of an expressive painter but never really heavy on the paint application. Well, those Russians can throw down some paint!
We Americans were a little apprehensive with caking on the paint knowing our work would not thoroughly dry before our return trip home. However now that I am back I have begun to scratch the surface of that and will continue on my always evolving journey with anew sense of direction. I shadowed Irina and Oleg many times and there really must be something to laying on such thick paint but every time I spoke of it to Oleg, his comment was always the same, with a smile of course, but none the less, "Russian secret". : )
So to reiterate, Russia was an amazing experience! So much more to tell and haven't even had a chance to really assimilate it all. Not only on an artistic level but also on a personal one as well. I love that when that happens.
In my quest to try and keep the number of photos of our trip to a manageable size for this Newsletter, I have added a link which has over 100 photos of our travels. If you would like to see a more in depth view of our trip please follow the link provided.
Below are some of the paintings that were produced during our trip.
Laundry Day 24" x 30" - $3600
Glorious Afternoon 18" x 24" - $2600
Free Range Chickens 12" x 16" - $1500
Mid Day Prayer 20" x 24" - $2800
Time with Grandma 24" x 30" - $3600
Afternoon in Kostroma 18" x 24" - $2600
Life on the Volga River 18" x 24" - $2600
Evening Church Chat 16" x 20" - $2000
Russian Vixon 20" x 16" - $2000
The Old Wooden Church 8" x 10" - $675
Study - Glorious Afternoon 8" x 10" - $675
Life Behind the Hotel 18" x 24" - SOLD
Still on the Run
I arrived back on the 2nd of October. My luggage went missing for two days but wound up on my doorstep as I headed down to the Boston area to teach and participate in the Cape Ann Event. Was a little concerned seeing that I had over 20 paintings in that bag.
All's well that ends well.
Cape Ann was a delightful event. It really is a very charming area with a lot of great history. Thanks to all of the folks involved with putting it on!
Also I was very grateful to have had such an energetic and enthusiastic group for the workshop. It was my first time teaching through the Rockport Art Association and definitely looking forward to doing it again in the future.
Thank you to the juror Marc Hansen as well as Dale Movalli, artist and wife of Charles Movalli, for awarding me with the "Charles Movalli Award" for my painting entitled "Endless Inspiration, from Russia to Gloucester".
Endless Inspiration from Russia to Gloucester 18" x 24" - $2600 - SOLD
It is a real honor for me especially seeing that I have looked up to Mr. Movalli and his work for many years. I was given a forged metal medallion as well as a set of Movalli's choice of acrylic paints hand crafted by M. Graham & Company. I have been talking about getting back into painting with acrylics again after some 30 years but always found an excuse not to. Well funny how the universe works, no more excuses!
Here are a couple of paintings from Cape Ann.
Morning at Pigeon Cove 18" x 24" - $2600
The Lobsta Shack 12" x 16" - $1500
Fall Tapestry 12" x 16" - $1500
Nightfall in Gloucester 8" x 10" - $675
Remember that statement I made earlier about the importance of those little color notes! Here are a couple of 8x10's early morning from the harbor.
Almost back in the Studio
Before I could dive into those acrylics ( I know, NO excuses ) I ran off to Vermont after Cape Ann for a couple of days to chase the fall colors before the snow falls.
Definitely a different landscape than under a blanket of snow as I have become familiar with up until this point. Absolutely beautiful!
So now I am finally back in the studio, maybe one more trip up to Stonington.
Definitely ready to get back to work and finish up a few more Russian scenes I started back in Kostroma as well as dive into the over 50 gigs of photos I shot while being there! That's even more than I shot in China! We saw so many wonderful and exciting scenes but just didn't have enough time to be able to paint them all. Looking forward to exploring those during these quiet winter months ahead.
I'd like to thank you for your time, I know this went on longer than usual. Still so much I'd like to share and I am sure I will make some future references in the months ahead regarding this amazing trip.
Thank you again for your time and your continued support of my work!