Monday, September 26, 2011

The South Shore Marshlands

The ever changing marshlands is something that will always inspire me.  It changes with the seasons, and at times in the dreary cold months of January and February it looks like the surface of the moon. Or in a deep freeze you'd think you were in the crevases of Antartica. The October and November sunsets are the most impressive. They reveal the sublime beauty that is nature.

    A sunset in November  24x36

The grass,  as october approaches are starting to turn from green to golden green.  As the sunlight shines across the plane it luminates the tips to reveal the multi colored layers.

Low Tide at Sunrise  10x18

At certain lighting conditions the patterns of light and shadows appear to be dancing together

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Santa Fe Bound to Plein Aire

I am looking forward to going to Santa Fe on October 4th.  I will be part of a group show at the Gerald Peters Gallery,   I was in Santa Fe, ("Holy Faith"),  once before on a ski trip in Taos New Mexico. I was so inspired by color of the landscape and the pueblo villages and the Indian people. It's not going to be a long trip but just enough to get a few field studies for some larger works.  I may add the plein aire paintings to the show if they are successful.   Would love to do a workshop out there one of these days.

The city was originally occupied by "Pueblo Indians around 1050 to 1150.  It is surrounded by the Sangre Di Cristo Mountains.  It's  another southwest state  where the landscape is often refereed to as "Big Sky Country" 

I will publish my trip on my return.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The American Society Of Marine Artists 15th National Museum Show.

My submission for the ASMA 15th National exhibition will be  "The Boathouse" Lake Winnipesaukee.

I was invited up to the Lakes region by one of my galleries.  It was a beautiful day do paint outdoors. I stumbled upon this striking motif in the distance that attracted my attention.  There was some sailing activity in the distance but I wanted a catboat in the foreground to balance my composition. 

The lake is enormous. It's the largest lake in New Hampshire. It covers about 69 square miles  with depths up to 200 ft.  It's 21 miles long and contains many Islands.

The Native American name Winnipesaukee means "Smile of the Great Spirit" The Winnipesaukee Indians lived and fished there at a village called Aquadocton.  On this particular day the Great Spirit was smiling down on me  as I completed the plein air for this larger piece.

This painting will travel to 7 museums across the USA.  in a 3 year exhibition.

Cornell Museum of Art, Delray, FL

Mobile Museum of Art,  Mobile,  AL                                 

Art Museum of southeast Texas,  Beaumont,  TX

Museum of the Southwest,  Midland,  TX

The Haggin Museum,  Stockton, CA

Coos Art Museum,  Coos Bay,  OR

Minnesota Museum of Marine Art,  Winoma,  MN

Please check back soon, 
Happy painting

    Plein air at Echo Lake N.H.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Painting The Coast of Rhode Island's Ocean House Resort at Watch Hill.

Hi,  This past labor Day weekend, on Sunday,  I was invited by Russell Jinishian,  one of the nation's leading specialists in 19th,  20th,  and 21st century marine art in America and Europe, to paint on the lovely grounds of the Ocean House resort in Westerly Rhode Island. The Hotel sits on the top of Watch Hill,  a quaint, nautical village.

This majestic, victorian style  hotel originally opened in 1868 and catered to the era's high society that offered croquet on the lawn,  bathing and sailing and afternoon tea. It cost $150M to be  restored to It's original state and it was truly beautiful.

I met my colleagues at 10:30 a. m.  and shortly after our greetings we set out to paint.  We needed to complete the paintings by 4pm for a group recepting in the lobby.  There were many large paintings of
ours already hanging in the lobby as part of a month long marine exhibition and the plein air paintings that we were to complete added a bit more glamor and also reinforced the possibility to sell our work.

I decided to paint the "Watch Hill Lighthouse" sitting out on the point.  The day started out sunny and hot, but as the day progressed, it turned rather cloudy and a bit  hazy.  I decided to paint the sun peeking through the haze.  I had to finish by 4pm.  I set up my gear on top of a small sandy plateau right behind the sea wall.

It was a day of intense observation,  but then again, It's always intense in plein air.
The tide was rapidly getting higher causing the waves to crash on the sea wall spraying a light mist all over my gear.  I new that I had to move back.  The crashing waves kept missing me by a foot.  I was very glad that the painting was close to completion.

I completed the painting in just under 3 hours.  The 4 pm deadline kept the painting loose, fresh and spontaneous.  I am hoping to return next season. I was invited  by owner, Chuck Royce to be an "Artist in Residence" in the Spring. of 2012.  I diddn't have to think twice about it. I gladly accepted.  This plein air painting was framed and put on an easel in the lobby. And is offered for purchase.  Please contact The Russell  Jinishian Gallery  at 203-259-8753

Me and my collegues that were invited.

Until next time,  Happy Painting.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Plein Air Demonstration in Stowe Vermont

This is is story that I wrote for the American Society of Marine Artists quarterly journal.  The "Fellows Corner", a section written by the Fellows of the society.  This was my story.

The Fellows
Insights and Inspirations
from ASMA’s top artists
It’s always easy to spot a Sergio Roffo painting
- even on a crowded, group-show gallery
wall. His are the ones that always look and
feel authentic; lovely, quiet scenes that are
sensitively composed and painted, imbued
with a master’s understanding of light and
atmosphere. Here, he takes us to Vermont
on a plein aire trip for an inside look at his
materials and techniques.
Photo #2 Russ Kramer, Managing Fellow

Hi, I'd like to share a personal moment from a plein air trip, from which I recently returned.  I've been painting coastal landscapes for over 20 years (wow, time flies). Every once in a while, we artists get the urge to paint something different or, in my case, a subject matter that doesn't have water in it.  After painting  for my Nantucket solo show this year, I've decided to head north. My mind was in "mountain mode"

 Painting landscapes of valleys and countryside is nothing new to me. I often return to my native 
San Donato Italy, a remote village on the slopes of the Apennines mountains. It's my own little
Tuscany, and I have frequently painted it's pristine valleys, its olive groves, and rolling hills.

As I was driving north on Interstate 93 in my Tacoma pickup toward Vermont's Green Mountains national forest, I kept thinking if I remembered to pack all of my tubes of paint. There is always one color that you missed.  I recall a time when I forgot my Titanium White. Try painting without it sometime. It was very interesting.  My destination was Stowe, Vermont,  where I married my beautiful bride about 25 years ago. It is also the home of the Trapp Family Lodge, The Vermont Mozart Festival, and a world ski resort, often referred to as the "Aspen country of the East".

Upon my arrival in Stowe (photo #1)  I drove down Main Street  to see if things were the same as I left  them 25 years ago. It seemed as though time stood still.  I was going to enjoy the slow pace of mountain life for a few days. It was overcast, and the forecast did not look any better for the following day.

The next morning I set out in search of the subject matter around 8 a.m. If it were sunny, I would have been out the door at dawn. it was extremely overcast with a chill in the air.  I was hoping the rain would hold off.  It didn't take me very long to find a suitable place to set up shop  out  of the way of traffic, in a corn field. Open fields and farmlands abound in Stowe (photo #2 and #3)


I like to complete a field study in one sitting, "alla prima."  This is one of the reasons why I like to work on location with a comfortable size, such as 8x15, or 9x12.  This particular day I decided to use an 11x14 panel, toned down the night before with an earth tone oil wash.  A slightly larger panel, but since it was overcast, i wouldn't have to rush as much trying to fill it all in. But the weather was turning for the worse.

The feeling or the mood of the painting should be completed in 3 to 4 hours. After that time, the light would normally change somewhat, but since it was a cloudy day, the light would remain constant. I worked very diligently, trying to get as much information on my panel as I could before the rain came. 
Also, the more information I had, the easier it would be for me to do a larger version in my studio, if I chose. The studio versions tend to take a life of their own, sometime lacking lacking the freshness and the spontaneity of a field study.  On the other hand they can be rendered with more control and accuracy.
Furthermore, because time is not an issue, glazing can be done too.  And a nice espresso enjoyed every now and then in the comfort of your own studio, enhances the creative process immeasurably.

In my early years right after art school I worked as an Illustrator, doing freelance work for art directors. They were very demanding about meeting deadlines, but not nearly as demanding as the sun, which forces you you to complete  a study before the shadows change. Since the day was overcast, I didn't have to battle with the sun. Being an Illustrator taught me how to be prolific. Painting outdoors requires the mixing of color and finding the right values fast. It also imbues your painting with freshness and spontaneity.
 I use a Julien french easel for plein air painting with a french easel companion,  which is basically is a palette  in a folding box (photo #4).
I've glued a 1/4 inch glass plate inside, which makes for a quick clean up of the palette. It also allows me to scrape the dry paint off more easily. For brushes I use various size filberts with sable rounds (Photo #6). 

And for paints, I prefer W&N, Gamblin, and Grumbacher tubes.  I always arrange the colors on my palette in the same location, from warm to cool. (Photo #5)

I started  with a simple charcoal  line sketch to establish my composition. All I needed was four simple lines to create the shapes for this painting. (Photo #7)  

a time, starting with the background and moving on to the foreground. Normally, I fill in all my shadow areas first so I don't loose them as the sun shifts,  but there was no need rush,  other than the fact that it could rain at any moment.  I would start with the sky first and add the mountains with various greys, mixed with cobalt blue and orange and white.  I subsequently added some violet blue, along with hints of sap green. (Photo # 8)
The area where the foreground trees were to be painted, I kept the paint very thin, so when the time came to add the trees, my brush strokes wouldn't pick up the background color. Please note that its very important to use as much of the sky color that's on your palette throughout the painting to establish harmony.
Moving along, I completed the detail work on the mountains and added the middle ground of trees with hints of highlights, using my greys from the palette and adding darker values of sap green and cobalt blue and violet.  I layered in the field as a foundation for the trees, using a combination of cadmium green pale, sap green, yellow ochre and some sky color. (Photo #9)
I then started incorporating some texture and different values of color and lines on the field in the same direction as the rolling plane. (Photo #10).  I also began adding some foliage in the foreground with warm and rich tones of green, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and umber for the darks.
Up to this point,  filbert brushes were the only brushes used.  For the trunks of the trees I mixed an area of alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, and burnt umber. I applied the color with my sable rounds and a rigger- a long thin sable brush. (Photo #11)
The trees were painted over the background. Accents of deep reds and orange in the foliage provided a reminder that Fall and Winter were around the corner. In (Photo #12) the field was continued. I was rapidly approaching the completion of this study. I continued adding texture to my foreground and softening any hard edges, absent in nature, where the trees met the field.  The painting was almost complete but it needed an element on the right side for balance. So I used my artistic license to add a red barn, which was actually behind me, into the composition. 

This  completed my session. (Photo #13)

and sure enough,  it started pouring as I was packing my gear.  Oh, and by the way,  I did forget my ultramarine blue, so I had to improvise with cobalt blue. After packing up, I immediately drove to the closest art store that was on the other side of the mountains, thirty miles away.

I'm a landscape painter. I paint what I see, not what I think is there. It's all about painting the feeling and the mood. This particular scene was painted in just over three hours on location.  "There is no better reference than painting from life."
See you in the field.

Sergio Roffo,  "fellow" of the American Society of Marine Artists 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 4 with no Power from Hurricane

Should be back online by late today or tomorrow, they are telling us.  I kind of like it, i'm getting used to it.  There is more interaction with young daughter.  Chance to read more at night, or play games with family.  I will miss that when pwr is restored. The family circle will disperse a bit because of technology.
Getting a lot of painting done.