One of my favorite things about Portland is the way the fog desaturates the landscape, creating layers of washed out greys and blues. Here are a couple of recent studies from my window one particularly foggy morning.
On Sunday we ordered room service and sprawled out in bed with our breakfast and the NY Times. Then I started the day with a selfie in my plushy Red Lion Inn bathrobe.
I was determined to draw some farm animals, so we checked out of the inn and set off for another adventurous day of driving aimlessly down winding back roads.
We happened upon these sheep grazing on a hill & pulled over so I could make a quick drawing. Even though the area was pretty desolate, the people in the nearby house did not seem to appreciate us parking out front, so I hurried to capture the fluffy little dudes and we were soon on our way. Coming from NYC where people live in such close quarters, I have to laugh at how protective country folk can be of their sprawling properties.
Next, we found these horses huddled together for warmth in a picturesque field lined with trees and some blue mountains off in the distance. They were all standing together in a clump (probably for warmth) which made them hard to draw or photograph, so, hungry and cold, we headed back to Lee, MA for brunch at our new favorite cafe - appropriately named the Starving Artist Creperie.
We were pleased to discover that there was a musician playing during Sunday brunch. This little kid in his pom-pom monkey hat and his baby sister (in a matching hat) seemed pretty excited about it themselves.
Then it was back to the road, because we needed to find some more lively animals! Luckily, it didn't take too long to stumble upon a dairy farm. The cows were so cute and curious!
I got a little nervous, as one by one they approached the gate and started poking their heads out like they were trying to make a break for it. They made quite the ruckus, mooing and ramming themselves into the gate. Fearing an angry farmer would soon make an appearance, we set out in search of some more animated horses than the duds we'd encountered earlier.
These guys fit the bill! It was freezing, so we pulled over and I made a few paintings from the passenger's seat. While I was working on this one, a cop came by and peered quizzically in the window. Once he realized what I was doing, he lightened up and asked us to pull farther to the side of the "busy road." Again, coming from NYC, I couldn't help laughing - in the past fifteen minutes, we had seen no more than one truck amble by.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, Grey & I drove up to the Berkshires to see our friends Ted & Betsy give a reading from their new book, How to Babysit a Leopard: and Other True Stories from Our Travels Across Six Continents at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA. I'd never been to the Norman Rockwell Museum, and it was a real treat.
After the reading, we ventured outside to check out Rockwell's studio (above). It's closed after October, but I snuck in a quick drawing of the exterior. It was a moody, grey day with soft diffused light. The deep azure mountains were blanketed in thick sheets of fog. I could get used to a studio with that view. We set out to capture some landscapes.
Grey had a vision for a photograph of a dilapidated barn in the woods, so for the rest of the afternoon, we went barn hunting. Driving aimlessly down winding country roads, we'd pull over every time we found one. I was freezing, so all these drawings were made from the passenger's seat with the heat blasting.
Grey deemed the barn (above, left) too dilapidated, having collapsed completely.
This barn was not dilapidated enough.
This barn, leaning and sagging at angles I'm sure were not intentional, was juuuust right.
Last September I was commissioned by Berlin-based Front Row Society to design and illustrate a fall/winter collection of 10 scarves. When I got the job, I had been spending a lot of time drawing in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Japanese Hill and Pond Garden. I was feeling really inspired by Japanese art & culture. So I started researching winter activities in Japan. I found out about these amazing ice festivals they have, where massive, intricate ice sculptures are carved and illuminated with multi-colored lights. I decided this would be the theme for my collection. The colored lights inspired the color palette, while the sculptures of symbolic animals informed each design. Here are some of my early thumbnails:
Wishing a very happy anniversary to friends Jenn + Nick Vigliotti! I am honored to have been commissioned by Nick to do this piece for their first anniversary. It is based off a photo taken on their honeymoon at Montefioralle Winery in the village of Greve in Chianti, Italy. Apparently this winery has a painting contest every year - artists meet at the winery, partake in a complementary wine tasting, and spend the day painting the premises. Winners receive cases of wine and their work reproduced on a limited edition bottle. I know where I'm going on my next vacation!
Happy Labor Day! This summer flew by, and was a busy one for me. While I didn't get much vacation time this year, I'm grateful to have had a few opportunities to slow down and do some drawing just for me. Here's a quick sunset painting from early August, at one of my favorite spots in Pocasset, on Cape Cod MA, where I grew up.
In honor of Herman Melville's birthday today, here's a drawing I did last summer of the Whaleman's Chapel (aka the Seamen's Bethel) from Melville's Moby Dick. The Seamen's Bethel was built in 1832 as a nondemoninational church for the many whalemen to whom New Bedford was home port. It was tradition that one would visit the bethel at least once before setting out to sea. Melville himself came to New Bedford in December of 1840 and stayed until January the next year, attending many services here.
In honor of Independence Day, I'd like to share a few drawings of the Mayflower II done on location in Plymouth MA last weekend.
Although the tradition of Independence Day was born of the Revolutionary War, the seeds of our country's independence were first planted on September 6th 1620 when the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth England carrying 102 "brave" (or certifiably insane, depending on how you look at it) passengers looking to start a new life.
After two agonizing, stormy months at sea, cramped in dank conditions below deck, the colonists arrived in the New World. Five passengers perished at sea, and during the first winter more than half of the colonists died from malnutrition, disease, and harsh weather.
Two women gave birth on the Mayflower; Elizabeth Hopkins gave birth to a son, Oceanus during the journey, and Susanna White gave birth to a son Peregrine while the ship was anchored in Cape Cod Harbor.
It's believed that none of the colonists would have survived the first winter without the help of the local Wampanoags, who taught the colonists how to hunt, fish, and grow corn, beans and squash.
So today, while we celebrate our independence and recognize the people who risked their lives to found this country, we should really be recognizing and thanking the Native Americans, whose generosity and respect for life helped many of our ancestors survive the first few years here (and who, not long after, faced genocide and were forced out of their homelands at the hands of the colonists, leading to hundreds of years of systemic oppression which continues to be perpetuated to this day).
With a snowstorm to ring in the first day of spring this year, I was certain winter would never end. As sick as I have become of layers, hunching into my jacket and doing the penguin waddle over treacherous sidewalks, the harsh cold was not without its beauty. Here are a few little watercolors I made on a trip to Mystic Seaport with Dalvero Academy this past February. We will be back this weekend, and here's hoping the snow and ice have thawed!