Pictures I like, mostly sold
Jim Hughes Painting oil on canvas 24x32, private collection
This painting was started in Maine - maybe 10 years ago - on a fantastically raw day in March. T. M. Nicholas and I were there doing coastal subjects; we decided to look in on my father and see if he wanted to go out to paint. Of course he did: he brought us to a - for us - previously unknown cove where an immense old schooner hull sat rotting picturesquely: I didn't think I could make anything of it, so I pointed my easel at one of the other painters, an old tactic. T. M. painted the wharf off to the right of the viewpoint of the picture above; my father painted one of the schooner hull and one of me in my Carhartt jacket and pointy wool hat.
I got a good ways on it at the location, but as usual mostly repainted it in the studio. The only part I didn't touch was the face: it's a mush of marks, but looks just like him. Despite the reported warmth of his Korean War army-issue coat, there was a lot of fuming about the temperature, especially after a few hours: he was a very quick painter and one or two done on a cold day, especially in his seventies I suppose, was plenty. I did love hearing him complain about it, even years later, "I didn't know you _______s were going to be out there six hours!"
Pub Scene oil on panel, 24x18 collection of Janice Ong
The germ of this painting was sketches I did in a pub in Brighton, England in 1997. I made a start on the painting shortly afterward, but after a swipe or two got bogged down in not knowing what to do next. Took it up after ten years of sleeping on it and it went ok.
Drawings for Pub Scene, succeeding sketchbook pages
Sea Windows oil on panel, 30x40 collection of the artist
This painting was one of the first I ever tried using my sketchbook as the source, 1996 probably.
It's a picture of my wife Charlene, then my girlfriend, reading.
Another: Seven Stars oil on canvas, 48x36 collection of Mr. Jeffrey Allen Jr.
Mediterranean Fishermen oil on canvas, 30x44 private collection
Nocturne oil on canvas, 20x12 private collection
I did this one for a show of nocturnes, meant to be night landscapes I suppose. Interesting palette: I started with a phthalo blue imprimatura, then used a weird set of three secondary colorsplus white - Breughel Red (made by Lefranc & Bourgeois, a hot scarlet color), Purple Lake (W&N, old fashioned mixed purple), and an old formulation of Sap Green made by Utrecht.
Jessica oil on canvas, 24x18 collection of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Allen
The source is my sketchbook:
One of my dealers gave me to understand that it would be better if I did paintings that contained a minimum of plastic water bottles.
Oakland landscape oil on panel, 9x12 collection of Mr. and Mrs. Craig Mitchell
Painted this a couple years ago near the Port of Oakland, out with my brother Glenn. I wrote about Dec. 14, 2008 on the What's New page.
Little Truckee River oil, 36x48 private collection
The sunny winter paintings above and below are separated by ten years and 3000 miles, more or less.
Woodlot oil, 24x36 private collection
Provencal Doorway alkyd, 15x11 private collection View of Dieppe alkyd, 22x15 private collection
In 1996, adventuring with Charlene, and then in 1997, tout seul, I visited France and painted a fair number of alkyds on paper. Prepping for the first trip, in which all luggage consisted of two backpacks, I figured that watercolor paper primed with acrylic gesso was neatly portable, and alkyds, which are supposed to paint like oils but dry overnight, would make stacking them up easy. To my retrospective surprise, I was right. I found a quick way with alkyds that worked out pretty well, and painted one after the other: first Paris, then towns or villages in the Vaucluse: St. Saturnin-les-Apt, Bonnieux, Menerbes, Gordes, Murs, Lacoste...
Most of the best ones sold, unphotographed, and wouldn't I like to have them back!
The doorway above was painted in Les Bassacs, a hamlet close to where Charlene and I were staying, and through which I'd walk on my way to the vinyards. The Dieppe pic was painted in 1997, when I was in Normandy with a borrowed bicycle for a week. I worked larger on that trip.
Varenne River, Normandy alkyd, 18x24 private collection
Cressy, Normandy alkyd, 18x24 for sale
Cressy is the village I stayed in on the '97 trip.
Another from Provence
View of Roussillon alkyd, 11x15 private collection
Roussillon is the reddish hill on the right, famous for its ochre deposits. I painted it from Les Bassacs in the afternoon; good time for sky paintings.
Below is a studio oil - I was doing watercolors on location - from a village Charlene and I stayed in in 2004, named Troo (pretend there's a circumflex over the first o), a couple hours southwest of Paris in the Loir Valley - not the Loire, though not far from there. The region is called le pays du Ronsard, after the 16th century poet Pierre Ronsard. Here's the view from the coteau, looking toward St. Jacques on the other shore of the Loir.
Roofs of Troo oil on canvas, 20x24 private collection
Last Light oil, 24x32 Bank of America collection
Started in our de facto back yard - really the trailing edge of the Desolation Wilderness by Lake Tahoe - finished in the studio.
Bricks and Pots oil, 9x12 private collection
This was painted at the back of the driveway behind our place in Berkeley a few years ago.
Back Cove acrylic, 40x60 private collection
A spot in New Harbor, ME, much painted. Painting done in the studio from an outdoor watercolor.
Fog at Back Cove watercolor, 15x22 for sale
Another from the same location
New Harbor oil on canvas, 30x40 private collection
Setting Traps, Stonington oil, 36x72 private collection
In 2000, I visited Stonington, ME for the first time, with my brother Glenn. We were milling about one of the wharves at about 6 am, deciding where to set up to paint. In the harbor around us, fishermen had their pickup trucks backed up to their boats, loading empty lobster traps onto the sterns. I asked the man in the closest of the boats if we could look around a nearby dock that had a private sign strung across it, and he said to me, "Long as you don't get yourself hurt." Some minutes later, the boat - the Barbsie Babe ll - came by, and the owner, George Boyce, called up to us and asked if we wanted to go out with them for a couple hours while they set traps. Oh yah. We left our paints on the wharf and jumped down. I had my camera - film back then and only one shot left on the roll - but no sketchbook, kicking myself all the while. It was a real treat, out early, smell of salty air, cigarette smoke and bait, talking with George and his sternman John while they worked. Later, back in the studio in California, I was dying to do a painting of the subject, but had only the one photo. Glenn had taken some with a disposable camera - the prints all a murky blue color - and he let me have them. I came up with the design above, posing in the mirror myself for the body of George on the left, but was at a loss for what the boat's interior looked like, viewed toward the stern, except for a general idea. The canvas leaned against the wall until the next fall when I went back to Stonington and made a phone call to George; I asked him if I could have a look at his boat; "Come by at about 6," he said. I took a couple pictures - would never have imagined the clock or the bunched-up curtain otherwise - and worked out the painting. A joy from first to last.
Grand Canal at Night oil, 27x35 collection of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Movalli
Charlene and I were in Venice in 2001 - nice place, maybe you've heard of it. I had watercolors with me and went out to work at night a few times. The source for the painting above is a full sheet, done across the way from some bar that is supposed to be famous, while I was smoking a Griffin cigar (thousands of lire probably). The paper was a very old sheet of handmade Fabriano, appropriate for the location, but coincidental; beautiful paper, unlike the puritannical stuff available now - forgiving but not wishy-washy. Result below, something that would headline in the Greatest Hits department if I had a better photo of it -
Santa Maria della Salute at Night watercolor, 22x30 collection of Mr. and Mrs. Randall Gillette
A few years later, I wanted to try an oil using the watercolor as a source. I did a tiny little oil sketch with a premixed set of tints, then did the larger version above with the same colors. The palette was a whole production, lots of color mixing, arranged like a spreadsheet; rows of color, columns of value and half-tones. For once, it worked pretty well to just dip my brush in the apposite pile of color and apply to the painting; I usually have to muck around on the palette swishing with the brush, no matter how carefully I've arranged what I think will be useful tints.