Coming upon this photo was like meeting an old friend.
This picture of Sunflowers was taken in James' studio in our old house.
My studio was in the room through the door way at back of the photo.
This room, James' studio, and the things in it feel all so familiar to me and the memory of taking this photo of the in progress painting with the sunflowers is vivid.
I was interested due to the fact that both the canvas and subject matter could share the scene. On the canvas is an under painting put down relatively quickly in earth colors like Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber. So here the "process" of creating is captured.
oil on canvas
As paintings progress they take on a life of their own. Comparing this image of the completed "Sunflower" painting it can be noted that James changed the shape of the vase. In terms of color he stayed within the same color family as the flowers; he chose to use the yellow Busatti fabric. The landscape is coastal New England and in particular Appledore Island, one of the group of islands known as the
Isles of Shoals. The Shoals are interesting and somewhat mysterious or even could be said a haunting place that has attracted artists and writers for centuries. The landscape of the islands captured James' imagination.
The new studio is working out very well for James. Moving took some time away from painting and preparing for his upcoming show at Hirschl and Adler Modern, but he has settled in and has been painting up a storm!
The ceilings are high and the large windows supply good light, although the days have been rapidly getting shorter on light as they do this time of year. He is pushing through with his Kolinsky sable brushes, which by the way are getting impossible to find any more. Why?
The work he is creating is very exciting. He continues to use the inspiration provided by our garden and our trips to Italy. The landscape of Umbria and Tuscany are very ordered. Looking at the paintings of artists like Perugino, Raphael and Lippi also leave their mark in his memory.
Many of the paintings are strongly American and influenced by the rugged coastline paired with the history of painters that have worked here before, Hassam, Marin, Harley and Kensett to point to a few.
Always carrying a sketch book and pencils, James works from sketches he draws on site, whether it be Appledore Island, Down East Maine, Panicale Italy, Rome or our own garden. The drawings are the vision that fuels the painting.
Sometimes things just do not work out the way it was planned!
While James was sitting back and just looking he knew what he had sketched in with paint was not working. Too heavy. The bottom was not relating to the top. It was not at all what he envisioned for this painting. A long mornings worked wiped out in minutes. He knew immediately that the painting felt better, lighter.....more air to it.
I will keep you posted and let you know how this story goes.