Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Acorn Squash

Another small still life study (6"x6"). I actually bought the acorn squash a couple of weeks ago. It was mainly green when purchased and has changed over to a pumpkin orange since then. I always loved acorn squash - split it apart add butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and bake it - yum! 

The orange squash reminds me of fall and pumpkins. It is late August and fall is really on the way now. The mornings are now getting cool and I am sitting here watching the news on Hurricane Irene which they are saying will probably hit my beloved NC Outer Banks. I wish the best for the people there. The color and angle of the sunlight is also visibly changing. Fall is my favorite time of the year, but like spring it does not last long enough.

I will have to start painting outdoors more now that it is getting cooler. Thanks for your visit and I hope all of you have a great autumn!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Buddleja Davidii

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The house and land I currently own was in sad shape when my wife and I purchased it years ago. Part of the clean up process included moving and disposing of  a huge mound of limbs and other yard waste which was next to an old shed on the property. As I tore into the pile, I began to experience a wonderful discovery. From under the pile emerged an old flower garden from one of the previous residents. Some of the treasures I found included rose bushes, Iris, pyracantha, lilac bushes, hollyhocks, and three butterfly bushes. One deep purple, one lavender, and one white. All of the plants were in pretty bad shape, but with a little care judicious pruning they revived and were healthy and beautiful the following year.

Not only do I enjoy the beauty of the bush but they also provide an amazing sight each year as they draw an gathering of beautiful butterflies and moths. "Buddleja" is the genus of the butterfly bush and "Davidii" is the white flowering form of the bush. This is the time of the year when I see the most butterflies around the bushes. And for some reason, they seem to enjoy the white bush more than the others. Maybe some of my more knowledgeable friends can comment on this. All types of butterflies and moths are drawn to the plants and it is truly a glorious sight to see the plants hanging full of different colors and sizes of the insects.

The 5"x7" study above is a sprig of blooms from the white bush. I have used all of the different bushes in still life and other paintings in the past and I will keep doing so. The painting above was a challenge as the sprig started to droop quickly as it was not in water. This forced me to work quickly which is actually a good thing as it keeps your image somewhat loose and fresh. You might say it is the same concept we use in life drawing when we start out with 1 minuet, 3 minuet, 7 minuet, etc. poses. Your aim is to reproduce the most important and obvious visual information and not worry about the small details. The viewers mind will fill in the details. The resulting quick sketches can be quite beautiful in their simplicity.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the painting and my butterfly pictures and will return often!

Thanks - Ralph

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

From Silver Lake

From Silver Lake, 24" x 36", oil on linen

There are few places I love better than coastal areas and indeed many of my paintings depict those areas. Most of my coastal wildlife, landscape, and seascape reference comes from a small island off the North Carolina coast called Ocracoke Island. The name derives from the Woccon tribe of Native Americans who lived in the mainland tidewater and came to the island for seafood feasts in fair weather.

Ocracoke Island, established as a port in 1790, has a rich history. Sir Walter Raleigh landed on the island in the late 1580's and Edward Teach (Blackbeard) was captured and subsequently beheaded  in 1718  as he and his ship hid in waters behind the island. The only access is by ferry and the island community is still small, charming, and life is leisurely. There is not a great deal of the resort type construction you see in other coastal towns and the National Park Service has preserved over 5,000 acres on the island, including 16 or so miles of beach. So there is a great deal of natural beach and marsh area on the island. In fact, I would say most of the island is undeveloped.

The painting above is looking across Silver Lake towards the Ocracoke lighthouse. Silver lake is a beautiful small harbor which is surrounded by the town of Ocracoke. I was intrigued by the rustic old waterfront building and dock which rests below the view of the lighthouse. I wonder how long the old building will be there. Even though many of the old structures still remain, I am sure that money and shiny new buildings will win the battle in the end. It seems to  most always end up that way. But for now Ocracoke is still a small piece of paradise to me, a breathing space in a insanely busy world. I hope it stays that way for my grandchildren to see.

Thanks for you visit - I do so appreciate it!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Green Glass and Rose

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Today I painted another small still life study. The green vase is from my wife's grandmother and the rose is from a bush that grows outside my studio door. I was reflecting on how my paintings tend to feature "treasured" objects. Objects that my wife and I will one day pass on to our children or others we love. I wonder if these items will bring fond memories to them also. Hopefully of a house filled with love and fun in the short time spent here.

Thank you so much for visiting!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hydrangea and Peach

When we think about seasons of the year, certain images comes to mind. Those images are part of the reason we anticipate (or sometimes dread) a certain seasons. Think about it; fall and apples, winter and snow, spring and daffodils, summer and the beach. What do you reminisce about?

Another set of summer images that play in my mind are depicted in the painting above. The hydrangea bushes in my yard in all their glory and peaches from the local orchards. Both have significance to me beyond their beauty as mere objects. Memories from my life are triggered by simple objects such as these. Possibly I reminisce too much, but my recollections are always with me. They give my life a richness that is both pleasurable and painful. It is one of the main reasons I paint - I want to share what is important to me. Even if it is just hydrangeas and peaches.

Thanks so much for visiting.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

“Making Change” Waterfront Park Pier, Charleston, SC

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What is it about a street vendor that draws our attention? Somehow they seem to wake up a sleepy place or calm down a busy one. How can they possibly do both? With their offerings and many times colorful wares, they draw both young and old. Either way, artists have always felt compelled to paint them as they interact with their buying public.

I met this vendor at Charleston’s Waterfront Park Pier when she needed help raising her umbrella (she was not tall enough). After helping her, my daughter and I took some photographs of her as we watched her greet and serve her customers. The small oil study I have painted above will eventually be a larger painting.

Waterfront Park Pier is a great place to paint or get images to paint. People are about like the vendor I mentioned above, or others sitting on benches, resting with their loved ones, or reading newspapers. There will often be folks fishing off the end of the pier. You also have the chance of photographing a passing sailboat and of course the water and marsh areas present many other opportunities. As an artist, I am always looking for places and scenes like this. For me, it is the rare place that has so many artistic possibilities like this pier has. I always find myself drawn to Charleston – and this place is one of the reasons why. 

Thank you so much for visiting!