I hear people say that New Englanders tend to be unfriendly and closed-minded, set in their ways, or unwelcoming. Not sure where they live or may be from, but I find the opposite to be true. Maybe its because as a lifelong New Englander I am willing to say hello, smile a bit, or offer help when I see it may be needed. Granted I am not one to seek the spotlight and cringe a bit when it happens in my life as an artist. I am also ok with people and strangers needing their space, needing time to adjust to a situation that is unfamiliar, or unexpected. And this may be what is taken as unfriendly behavior.
As a visitor to Provincetown MA over the last few years I’m consistently finding a friendly helpful vibe when I am there doing a return artist residency. It is a laid back place that is awash with strangers and visitors from June through September and beyond. I am able to wander around and watch a whole lot of life happening from tourists being tourists, to locals being locals.
But mostly its a friendly New England experience when you walk slightly beyond the wild and lively heart of Commercial Street. Take a side road toward the water to experience a view not often taken in by fast moving on-the-surface visitors. You’ll find a bit of peace and quiet among the seagulls and the locals who go there to recharge.
Lesson learned: Take the side roads.
As artists we are always on the look out for things that capture our attention. We may not know what we are going to do with that little tidbit at the moment but we file it away for future use. And yes, we forget about them sometimes. But as an individual artist we tend to notice similar things, over and over. And therein lies the key.
Very coarsely-painted beginning
Not sure who said it but “notice what you notice” is such a great statement. Especially if you are an artist looking for direction. Randomness is not an asset when it comes to defining who you are as an artist. Maybe at a later more experienced point it will be, but not at the outset. Looking intensely at a series of photos you’ve taken, making notes of what interests you in the landscape or people-scapes around you. Look for the pattern created when you go out for a walk–are you looking at minute details of flowers, or rolling hillsides, or how the light shines through the woods. The sooner you find your personal pattern, the more directed you can be in your artistic development.
Using the rough sketch to develop painting design further
For me, the coastal waterfront and all its details have been at the very top of my list. Early on impressive sunrises and sunsets were at the very top. I loved them, but did not necessarily want to paint about them. So many people were already doing that. I wanted to paint about things differently and add something that gave the viewer more information about the things I find important.
A red-colored work boat in Provincetown harbor provided the needed intensity to dive into this subject in various ways and create some final paintings. Even after many years I am still intrigued by this working pier in Provincetown. The activity, the aged boats that still work every day, the people who go out on the sea day after day–I admire them for their bravery. I once thought I would like that life but have since come to my senses. Seasickness and I are companions unfortunately but I still love being on the water when I can. So even a landlubber can have great appreciation for things connected to the sea. I have plans to explore this motif and weave in some themes of connectedness, friendship and awe. To be continued…
Closeup look at detail of a 24×24 painting depicting the simple drama of red against blues.
From snapshot, to sketch, to final painting–here’s a sample of how I create my paintings. Not all happen this way but this is a process I find captures an inspiration, allows me to mull over the possibilities, and then sketch options and try out with various media. I generally do not know the color palette I will use when I begin to paint. I will have one key idea about the focal area that I want to retain and then I let the process of painting take over. I’ll make many decisions on the fly. some good. Some not so good. Exploring without knowing my end goal is my idea of great fun while creating each artwork. Visit my website to see more www.anntrainordomingue.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive my newsletter.
Schooner Backlit is an 8×10 study based on sketches I completed while on a whale watch boat in Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod, MA. The whale boat was positioned so several artists could get a close up look at a schooner race from Gloucester, MA to Provincetown in September 2014. I loved seeing the beautiful curves of the sails, and subtle and various whites as they they glided by. Lucky for us the wind was light so we had a good amount of time to stare and record what interested us. Not sure I will go larger with this one but I enjoyed using more subtle colors than I might usually select.
This post is day 29, part of the 30 paintings/30 days challenge presented by Leslie Saeta on her blog,http://www.lesliesaeta.blogspot.com I didn’t post all 30 but I have done many new small works as a result of this challenge.
It is never a simple thing, painting. It is always a matter of selection–from color and medium, size and proportion, orientation and surface, brushes or knives, scruffy or smooth, thick or thin, garrish or quiet, thoughtful or bold, clean or complicated. This image of a small red dory is seemingly simple but has so many paint overs it weighs more than you think! It was a challenge to make a surface complex enough to be interesting yet simple enough to have the little dory (that sits in Provincetown, MA harbor) still be the star of the show. The actual red-orange color is a good amount brighter in real life but I think you get the idea here. A huge amount of blues balance the hot spot of red at the lower part of this painting. And that’s all this one was really about. But you are always welcome to have your own idea of what you see and feel in a painting. 18×36, acrylic on canvas. This is part of the 30 paintings/30 days challenge presented by Leslie Saeta on her blog,http://www.lesliesaeta.blogspot.com
Definitely in boat mode in the studio today. I have so much reference material from my residency on Cape Cod this past summer. I felt compelled today to dig into my sketchbooks and select imagery to push further along. I started several small format works on various media–panels, canvas and paper. Just one of those high energy, high result days in the studio. Looking forward to seeing where all these starts lead. This piece is titled, “Afloat at the End”, obviously a boat at the end of a pier but suggests that maybe it is getting ready to go somewhere–or maybe just came back. Either way it is still seaworthy and ready for another day. 5×7, acrylic on paper, Afloat at the End.
Here is one of those things that happens when you least expect it. Our first meeting was at the Thrift Store as we were selecting items to outfit our studios. Ilona was trying to squeeze through a narrow hallway in the shop and I moved to let her go by. Just that little courtesy was enough to have her comment on what a nice person I was. I was more impressed with the energy of this little lady as she worked her way around the shop and gathered her treasures to have the cashier take her money–all of 3.50 I believe. Then she donates several small coin pouches which she is lightening her load as she is packing to go back to New York for the winter. What a memorable experience and we have only been in Ptown for two days.
Next we head to a life drawing class at the Provincetown Art Association Museum (PAAM) a beautiful facility with many famous artworks by historic painters here on the Cape–Charles Hawthorne, Henry Hensche, Franz Kline, Paul Resika to name a few. And in walks Ilona, who will draw and moderate the timing for the life drawing session. Perfect timing, all business, and ends the class by letting us know this is her last session as she is heading back to NYC. I couldn’t stand it any longer, I has to get a photo with her and some of the class members were kind enough to take the shots. As you can see Ilona is a hoot. Had to fix her bright orange hair before the photo was taken–not sure I can tell the difference but more importantly she could. And adjust her extra long false eyelashes. At age 94–yes 94–she could out think any one of us. She is a well known character around here and we (Barbara Greenstein, another Copley Fellow also in the pic on the right) are very pleased to have met her. If this is a sign of things to come, we can now see that our experience will be way more than what meets the eye.