Peter Coes, “Back for the Summer”, acrylic on panel, 32 x 29 inches
The inspiration for the painting “Back for the Summer” came from the neighborhood we first lived in after moving to the Cape. There were several seasonal houses close by. I enjoyed the rituals these houses went through during the year. In the fall families would close up, draining the pipes, covering or bringing in furniture and shutting the windows. In spring the families would come and open up the house. This painting is of that happy time when families were back for the summer.
– Peter Coes
Sam Barber, “Still Life by Window, Hyannisport”, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 26.5 inches
The inspiration for this painting came from the turquoise studio, one of Sam’s favorite rooms, in his Hyannisport home. Facing south and always infused with sunlight, the happy array of colors in the window took on a pure luminosity.
Susan O’Brien McLean, “Sailing in the Bay”, oil on canvas, 36 x 46 inches
-Susan O’Brien McLean
When she lived in England, Susan O’Brien McLean painted cricket matches, English country gardens and picnics by quiet streams. Since living in Osterville, her subjects are children playing by the sea and landscapes depicting the beauty of Cape Cod. She also likes to paint still lifes and portraits.
You can read more about McLean in Cape Cod Art magazine. She was one of the artist featured in this years annual publication.
Jill Bates, “Water Music”, oil on birch panel, 16 x 20 inches unframed, $1,000
Jill Bates –
I grew up on the water. It has been my entertainment and my muse. We are, each of us, composed of water, For me it is a living thing full of living things. It has rhythm and strength. Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. It teaches…if you can’t go through an obstacle go around it. Water does.
Kenneth M. Evans, DAYBREAK, oil on canvas, 18×24 inches (24 x 23 framed), $2,800
Work of the Week
In “Daybreak” early morning walkers enjoy the view at that magical moment when night becomes day. A local Cape Cod beach scene captured at the point of maximum contrast of color, light and dark. Ken Evans, the artist, has a bank of memorized images from which to create and paint when back in the studio. He had just spent a few days on the Hyannis Port, Sandwich and Scargo beachfronts watching what happens as the dark of night fades and the brilliance of day begins. One morning gave him an image and a setting for his Railroad Wharf painting, a rather historically based piece shown at his recent one person Cape Cod Maritime Museum show. Another morning there was no sunrise at all, and it remained dark grey until after 9am. Ahh, but on the next day a scene like “Daybreak” happened and others came out on the beach to enjoy it as well. “I immediately knew it was a painting I wanted to do,”says Ken.
Ken has been painting most of his life, starting in Greenwich Village in the 1960s and progressing through many genres until becoming a professional gallery artist over 20 years ago. By that time he felt most comfortable with realism. It would seem from most of the changes he has gone through, from each something has tended to stay with him. He now says, “For many years I do not paint in any one recognized genre, style or theory.” I use them all. Why not? They exist and are only ways of expressing oneself with producing an image. For instance, he uses paint height and surface to create light and distance effects not possible with a flat surface. Palette knife and abstraction are often used in water and sky areas.” Some are old methods not used much in a while, yet some are still considered very modern, as is his use of Rothko’s Color Field concepts in many of his backgrounds.
Creativity has been a constant passion throughout his life. As he have always lived on the coast and sailed a great deal early on, he often has a strong emotional response not only to the beauty of our coastal seas and lands, but he also has developed a deeper understanding of how these sustain us and are necessary to our daily lives. As he paints he finds these coastal areas particularly magnificent and inspirational. As of late about half of his work would be seascape and the other half marine subjects.
His work has been written of and advertised in all the major art magazines from Fine Art Connoisseur to American Art Review, and his work has sold nationally and internationally.
Carole Chisholm Garvey, FOGGY MORNING, pastel on paper, 13.25 x 14.25 inches (22 x 23 framed), $3,000
Work of the Week
Carole Garvey can’t recall the location – though she’s sure it was on the Cape. What she remembers is the feeling of being caught up in “the softness and the glow,” she says. “It was early morning – I remember the sun coming up. It was fall, but it was warm and the colors were turning. The colors were all very warm. It was one of those foggy mornings that burns off quickly.”
It was also one of those times when – surprised by beauty – she didn’t have a sketchbook or camera. But her vivid memory of the experience served her well as she decided on her palette and composition. “I find some of my best paintings are those that hang in the back of my mind,” Garvey says. “The memory just sits there and gets better all the time. It’s like having a file in the back of your head: The day comes when you need it, and you’ve been thinking about it so long the painting is almost done.”
At the beginning of her career, Garvey worked in the art departments of two Boston printing houses, doing illustration and graphic design. But after marrying and starting a family, she decided to begin painting in earnest. Another artist gave her some advice that helped free her from the precision of commercial art. “Don’t tell the whole story and give all the details, because you can’t compete with the viewer’s imagination,” he said. “You have to stop so the viewer can complete the picture.”
In “Foggy Morning,” a halo of sunlight edges the trees. A hint of the sun’s reflection indicates a stretch of placid water. Although suffused in mist, the actual landscape of trees and low-lying bushes seems to lie, tantalizingly, just beyond the veil. Garvey is now a master of keeping things simple. “You begin to learn what to leave out,” she says.
Mary Moquin, STILL WAITING, oil and collage on panel, 34.5 x 36 inches (36 x 37.5 framed), $3,200
Work of the Week
Probably most artists have had the experience of seeing an earlier work and wishing they could get a do-over. Barnstable village artist Mary Moquin had that opportunity with “Still Waiting,” a piece she originally painted two or three years ago. “My husband liked it, so he asked if he could have it in his office at the bank,” she says. “It hung there and got a lot of good responses. When he retired at the end of the year, it was time for the painting to come back home.”
When Moquin originally completed the painting, she was pleased with it or, at least, couldn’t think of anything else it needed. But when it returned home, she decided it was a little sketchy. “Some paintings are never finished, they’re abandoned,” she says now. “When I saw it again, I saw some things that were unresolved. But I had fresh eyes and more experience under my belt. I had the answers. It mainly needed more paint on the surface.” Since the “facelift” she gave it last month, “Still Waiting” glows with complex layers of colors, interweaving like threads in some rich and beautiful fabric.
Like a great many of her paintings, “Still Waiting” was inspired by the cottage colony on Sandy Neck, where Moquin has family property. For quite a number of years, the oddly shaped boat — abandoned by someone — knocked about the little community, carried hither and yon by the flood tides of winter. “When I went back in the springtime it would inevitably be in a new place,” Moquin says. “It never floated away totally — it would just land somewhere else.” The winter before she painted it, it came to rest between her place and her neighbor’s cottage, which is pictured in the painting.
The boat story has a touching coda. During a storm the winter before last, one whole side was destroyed when it crashed against Moquin’s deck. “I felt like I’d lost a friend,” the artist says. Her husband, however, salvaged a small part of it and is turning it into a shelf for their cottage. Meanwhile, in the painting, the boat remains forever intact.
Kay Ritter, TULIPS AND WATERMELON, oil on linen, 20 x 24 inches (25.5 x 29.5 framed), $5,500
Last year, Kay Ritter was about to paint one of her quirky narrative pieces when the owner of her previous gallery asked if she’d mind doing something more traditional. Ritter agreed, thinking she’d enjoy painting some flowers; and she began by setting up a still life with a vase of tulips and a watermelon, along with some apples and lemons. “I kept rearranging until I got something that lit me up and made me want to paint it,” she says. But by the time she was done, “Tulips and Watermelon” was about as nontraditional as a highly realistic floral still life can be.
More than anything else, the painting became — for her — about the bold and unexpected color harmony: the orange, the green and the yellow. The top two-thirds of the painting is basically orange, the bottom third essentially yellow. Green occupies a middle ground, infiltrating above and below to unify the composition. “It wasn’t like I set out to make a painting about this, but it’s sort of an organic process,” Ritter says. “I can’t channel anyone else’s desires into what I’m painting because it doesn’t work.”
She keeps a large assortment of potential backdrops on hand. In this case, the one that worked when she placed it behind the arrangement was a large piece of salmon-colored Canson drawing paper. “I didn’t expect it to,” she says. “I was flipping through background colors and waiting for the moment.”
The quirkiest thing about the painting, though, is undoubtedly the watermelon. In making the unusual decision to position it so that it makes an almost perfect circle, Ritter draws our attention to the striking pattern of the alternating light and dark green stripes. In addition, she felt the big fruit’s “pose,” if you will, “anthropomorphized the watermelon” to some extent, giving the node the suggestion of an eye. “I like to think of objects as creatures of some sort,” she says. “I think making the watermelon facing towards you gives him a little more personality.”
Theodore Ladd, TROUBLE ON THE MIDWAY, acrylic on board, 8 x 8 inches (11.5 x 11.5 framed), $1,200
Theodore Ladd and his wife, Becky, try to go to the Barnstable County Fair every summer. “We ride a couple of rides and eat fried dough and act like kids,” he says. And sometime around sunset — when the light show in the sky was as dazzling as that on the midway — he shot the photo that became the inspiration for this painting.
The biggest challenge was painting the jumble of amusements in the scene. “My biggest concern was that I wanted the depth to look real,” says Ladd, a 31-year-old Cape native who was profiled as an emerging artist in last summer’s issue of Cape Cod Art. His technique was to paint from the background to the foreground, partially concealing more distant objects as nearer ones overlapped. In this case, the sky came first, then the tree line. “There’s a little trailer all the way in the back, but you can barely see any of it,” Ladd notes.
In viewing “Trouble on the Midway,” part of the fun is picking out the razzle-dazzle of signs — or parts of signs — with the names of carnival rides like Yo-Yo, Sizzler and Pharaoh’s Fury. For Ladd, the most time-consuming labor of love was probably lighting up the Ferris wheel on canvas. Each tiny dot of pink, blue or yellow is four different layers of paint, including a wash around each light to give it a glow. “I found I like to paint light and how it affects everything,” Ladd says.
In general, he tries to paint everything as realistically as possible, with just one exception. “The skies are a little more whimsical for me. The sky has no rules, more or less, other than trying to emulate what it looks like in the photograph. I like my skies to be very vibrant and almost dramatic.” See more of Theodore Ladd’s paintings
Kevin King, HOLY MACKEREL #3, mackerel ash and oil pigment on panel,
14.75 x 18 inches (26 x 28 framed), $2,200
Fish have played a significant role in North Falmouth artist Kevin King’s life. Growing up, he spent much of his free time fishing the lakes and streams in the Berkshire hills near his home in Pittsfield. As an adult, he spent more than a year at sea, in total, working as a research technician on oceanographic expeditions out of Woods Hole. He even wrote a fictionalized memoir (“Bird of Passage”) based on the first shark tracking cruise he took with renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution biologist Dr. Frank Carey in 1980.
It was probably inevitable fish would find their way into his artwork. What’s more surprising is how literally this has happened. And it all started with this painting, “Holy Mackerel #3.” King began by painting the top fish with regular oil paint, then went on to paint the bottom one with fish ash in an oil medium. A fish painted with a cremated fish. King has also used ash from lilies to paint lilies, from a crow to paint a crow and from Ground Zero to paint the American flag.
Oil paints, as he notes, are essentially particles of pigment suspended in a medium of oil. Originally, the pigments were all found in nature, such as titanium oxide for white and earth pigments like umber and sienna for shades of brown. Charcoal, used for black, was one of the earliest, so King’s use of ash as a pigment has a long history. “What’s the difference between taking something from the ground and using ash?” he says. “Instead of rendering something with charcoal or pencil — instead of burning wood — you’re using the actual substance.”
King estimates he’s since done about 50 paintings of fish using this approach. “And I haven’t closed the book on it yet,” he says.
Susan O’Brien McLean, DAISIES WITH ANTIQUE BOWLS,
oil on board, 10 x 8 inches (15.5 x 13.5 inches framed), $600
Loves me … loves me not … loves me … It’s clear just from looking at “Daisies with Antique Bowls” that the artist loves and treasures the simple objects in this still life. “I’ve painted daisies all through my life,” says Osterville artist Susan O’Brien McLean. “The little blue-and-white bowl — I’ve painted it so many times. I got it at an antique market in England.”
Because of her husband’s job, Susie lived in South Africa through much of the 1970s and then in England for 12 years. She went to Wimbledon and the Ascot races and generally immersed herself in the gracious lifestyle of another era. Perhaps because her mother — an Anglophile before her — had china in the blue Willow pattern, Susie began collecting blue-and-white pottery in England. The two little bowls in the painting were relatively inexpensive — probably early 20th-century imitations of late 18th-century antiques. The larger of the two is a teacup. (Teacups were initially handle-less — like those in China — when tea first became popular in England, Susie notes.) “There’s nothing nicer than having tea in a blue-and-white teacup,” she says (while admitting she generally uses a mug these days). “The first painting I ever did in England in the ’80s was all blue-and-white pottery.”
In this still life, she beautifully captured the bowls’ delicacy and luster along with the daisies’ cheery freshness. The challenge, of course, is that daisies don’t last long — and Susie does prefer painting them from life. When her favorite field daisies are in bloom, she drives around with scissors and a vase of water in a box. “I like the small ones you see by the side of the road,” she says. This particular piece was painted over the course of two years because — after her first bunch of daisies faded — she didn’t have time to pick replacements until the following summer.
Odin Smith, SHALLOW RIVERS, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 48 inches (26 x 50 inches framed), $4,100
When Odin Smith paints water — as she does often — it’s usually some aspect of the coastline along her native Cape Cod. With “Shallow Rivers,” however, the scene is in Woodstock, New Hampshire, an idyllic spot right off the main street in the center of town where two rivers flow together. “It was an emerald green,” she says. “It’s very transparent water; you can see right down to the bottom. It looks like three feet but it could be 12 feet.”
Odin based “Shallow Rivers” on a photo she took of her children playing on the rocks during a early fall vacation in the White Mountains, but the children “didn’t make the cut,” she says. That’s only typical, though. She seldom includes figures in her landscapes because they usually don’t contribute to the peaceful mood she’s after.
While the market for New Hampshire landscapes is not particularly strong on Cape Cod, Odin couldn’t resist painting the scene for her own enjoyment. “We don’t have a lot of rocky environments on the Cape,” she says. “Any time you move away from what you’re familiar with, it’s challenging.”
As a longtime art instructor, Odin knows from experience that — when it comes to painting — “there’s no one way to get the job done.” Her own approach changes from painting to painting, but is never what you might call methodical. “I like to jump in and make changes as I go,” she says. “I’ve already done a lot of planning in my head before I execute it. I like to jump in while I’m really feeling inspired.” View more paintings by Odin Smith
William R. Davis, DAY’S END, oil on panel, 9 x 11 3/4 inches (12 1/2 x 15 1/4 inches framed), $5,000
William R. Davis has built his highly successful career around emulating the styles and techniques of 19th-century American marine and landscape artists while following his own vision: It’s almost as if he were of their time and mentality.
Essentially a self-taught artist, Bill initially mastered the approach used by such Luminists as Martin Johnson Heade and Fitz Hugh Lane. (“Luminism” denotes a style of painting characterized by crystalline light, attention to detail and a satin-smooth surface devoid of obvious brushstrokes.) A few years ago, however, he began moving in a somewhat different direction, looking back to the Tonalist style popular with American artists from the 1880s until about 1915. George Inness, James MacNeill Whistler and Dwight Tryon are among the artists associated with this approach, derived from the French Barbizon school and defined by a pervasive atmospheric color and distinctive mood.
Bill first paints his skies and lets them dry. The actual subject matter comes later — as it did with “Day’s End,” a sunset in the hazy heat of summer. “It could have been a yachting scene, but that day I got up and decided I was going to paint trees,” he says. The sky’s orange glow suffuses the whole scene as if the very air were bathed in dusky color. The idea for the steak of light piercing the sky came from a painting by John J. Enneking, a Boston artist who sold a great many sunsets in his time.
While Bill seeks to paint works resembling 19th-century landscapes in look and feeling, he never copies work. Nor does he generally paint actual locations. “Almost all my paintings are made up,” he says. “I like to paint something that’s almost surreal, like a moment in time. I like paintings that make me feel like they suddenly put you someplace.”
The dilapidated rail fence certainly helps establish a strong sense of place in “Day’s End.” “I love old fences,” Bill says. He compares them to the crumbling ruins — such as castles, towers and statues — in many romantic 19th-century landscapes. “It makes you understand someone used to live there.”
Bill also frequently includes crows in his paintings. “It’s like a second signature, I use it so often,” he says. Although each of the birds here is defined merely by two expert flicks of the brush, the V-shaped marks suggest a living presence within the scene. Maybe we imagine a haunting caw or two breaking the evening’s silence. Or maybe — as we “watch” the crows circling overhead — our spirits soar a bit, too. View more paintings by William R. Davis