Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lowells Legacy (20x40")

"Lowells Legacy"  (20x40") oil on canvas
I finished, signed, framed and sent this one off with Howard at the Camden Falls Gallery in Camden Falls, Maine.  It's always a good feeling sending off a painting into the world.  This is one of many of the hand made dories drifting off shore in Amesbury, Massachusetts at Lowells Boat shop.  The oldest handmade boat building workshop in the country.  I go down there from time-to-time to peruse possible subjects.  They have graciously allowed me to borrow a few of their boats and shoot with a model.  Good folks and a very cool and richly historical New England treasure.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Painting Demo at the SeaCoast Art Association, Exeter, NH April 13, (2-4)

"Summer, Brackett Road" (24x36") oil on linen
If you are free on Sunday, I am giving an oil painting demonstration at the Seacoast Art Association in Exeter, New Hampshire from 2-4,pm.  I love doing these events, always a good crowd of nice people interested in art and the process.  I will talk about the steps I use to complete a painting and demonstrate a grissailles under painting.  I have somewhat prepared in the fashion of Julia Childes in that I have several paintings in different stages and will "pull them from the oven" at the appropriate times to help tell the chronological story of my painting steps.  It's free to Art Association members but there is a fee at the door for non-members.  It goes towards the Art Association and is a great cause...they are a treasure in the community and the local art scene.  Should be a hoot, I hope you can make it for some art and laughs.  Here are the details:

Todd Bonita oil painting demonstration 
Sunday, April 13, 2014  from (2-4)
Seacoast Art Association
225 Water Street
Exeter, NH 
(603) 778-8856
Website HERE

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Down East Trapper (27x50")

"Down Est Trapper" (27x50") oil on canvas
Finished and framed this good sized oil of a lobsterman and sent it off to the Camden Falls Gallery in Camden, Maine.  The model is my good friend Johnny Hames again.  To his credit, there is no better role player than him, he gets it.  Fun to work with a good friend too.  I had planned on adding color to this but was pleased at the underpainting or grissailes state.  Essentially, it's a monochromatic painting...I used Raw Umber, a little Ultramarine blue for the darks and white.

Monday, April 07, 2014

With my thoughts (20x40")

"With My Thoughts"  (20x40" oil on canvas
Just finished this (20x40") oil on canvas that i titled, "With my thoughts".  The guys from P.S. Art frames dropped off the frame just in time to pop it in.  They do amazing work, clean, solid craftsmanship.  I keep a lot of frames in my studio, different colors and styles.  When I finish a painting, I'll pop it in a few different frames to see if it compliments the work or detracts from it.  It's hard to not use the P.S. Art Frame guys, their frames almost always get my approval.  They cost more than the ready made frames I use but lordy-lord...they are works of art in their own right.  If you want your work to look it's best when it leaves the studio, for me, the frame is a huge part of the overall look.  I'm not getting a kick back by plugging them here, to tell you the truth, it effects my bottom line in a negative way every time I use them...cha-ching.  Check out their website HERE.
They are the Cadillac of frames, love these guys.
(p.s....did I mention that they drive from Rhode Island to hand deliver the frames each time...I live in New Hampshire but they make the rounds around New England regularly).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Plein air painting with Donald Jurney

Anytime Donald Jurney calls you to go plein air painting, you grab your gear and make it happen...even if it means ankle deep snow and sub zero temps.  Donald Jurney is American landscape painting royalty...in my opinion, one of the best practitioners of the craft today.  Just awesome in so many ways.  

Donald is a friend and incredibly generous mentor.  In the few years I've known Donald, I've observed him share so much to so many aspiring artist.  Five things about Donald Jurney you might like to know;  
1) He makes them up!!!...Yes!...that's right, his landscape paintings come out of his head.  No reference.  2) He starts with burnt umber and ultramarine blue and completes an underpainting with these two colors only.  3) He uses a small bristle round brush for most of the painting process...even the really large canvases.  He scribbled, calligraphs, scrubs and marks.  4) The only other brush I've seen him use is a wide, inexpensive house chip brush.  5) He spent a large part of his early career filling sketchbooks with landscape sketches drawn from life while living in the French and English countryside.  I believe it was these valuable years, massing hundreds of drawings that he built his outdoor visual vocabulary that enables him to make them up with convincing results and with such virtuosity.  Amazing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bosc Pear....in progress

This is the current state of an oil on linen monochromatic underpainting of a Bosc Pear. I will add color this week.  It is (11x14") and is a commission for a client who saw an old study of mine posted years ago and requested a larger version of it.  You never know what the web Gods of yesterday will yield, I was so pleased to have this request and the opportunity to visit this old friend of a painting.  I usually will do a small study before going up in size, in this case, it simply took five years to do so...it will be fun to see how the painter I am today differs from the result of this same image from five years ago.  Anyhoot, here below is the first steps in how I created this underpainting to this point.  

 This is the first step, shown above...after I do the drawing in charcoal, I go over the lines with an India ink pen and let that dry for a few minutes.  I then cover the entire surface with a whisper thin coat of refined linseed oil...this is super thin, if you run your fingers over it, it will leave a thin residue.  This oil step is simply to seal the surface and combat subsequent layers of oil from being absorbed into the canvas....It also serves to enable the coming layer of oil paint to glide on smoothly and evenly.  I then cover the entire canvas with a thin, what amounts to a transparent layer of raw umber oil paint.  You can still see the drawing through the umber.  Observe above, the layer of umber all around the pear is what I laid in, I then used a paper towel to wipe away the light areas, (The pear).  I wrapped a paper towel around my finger to get to those small areas.  Note that I have not wiped away anything but the light family, (the pear) and have resisted the temptation to wipe away any foreground.  Intellectually, I can discern the clear difference between the foreground and background but I am not going to wipe away any more paint to establish that contrast.  Instead, I will add another layer of umber to the background to darken it, therby making the distinction between the back and foreground planes.  See below...
 Here it is clear once you see the additional layer of raw umber that I added to the back ground and cast shadow of the pear...pow, the foreground now pops from the background and we can begin to clearly see the two planes and also begin to feel the weight of the pear on that surface by way of the newly established cast shadow.  A key element to note here is the decision to distinguish the foreground from the background by adding paint and not wiping away.  By understanding before I begin that I will have three value families; A light (the pear), A dark (The background and cast shadow) and a mid-tone (the ground plane the pear is sitting on), I now have a simple and bold design plan based on the strength of clearly defined value families.  Paintings pass or fail based largely on the success of a well thought out and realized value plan...a distinguishable contrast between light and dark.  Squint your eyes and look at the image above and see for yourself the three families, light, mid-tone and dark.  From here I will further enhance these families and eventually begin to glaze thin, transparent layers of color over this under painting.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Happy New Year to you!!!....I'm pleased to officially announce the opening of the Todd Bonita Art Gallery in Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine this coming spring (Late May / early June)...Official date forthcoming.  I could not be more excited about this and busy with preparations.  This blog will serve as the Galleries blog, so please feel free to check back here for happenings, events, openings, new artwork and announcements.  I have also put together a new web site for the Gallery here;


There is a permanent web link in the upper left hand corner of this blog too..click over to glimpse humble beginnings of my first brick and mortar gallery space.  I'm beyond thrilled and fired up to paint the best work of my life.

More info coming soon....


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

GRIT (24x30") Finish

Finished and framed this (24x30") oil on linen painting that I titled, "Grit"...I posted the study not long ago.  This is my usual practice...I typically do a smaller (often (6x8") oil study to check drawing, composition, value, color, edges, etc to make sure it's all working.  When I think it will translate to a larger version, I may take that leap and give it a whirl.  Ya never really know, sometimes I'll think it's going to work as a larger painting and I'm dead wrong.  There are paintings wear I felt I wasted my time and should have simply been complacent with the study.  Anyhoot, I like this larger version of "Grit"...It's some of the richest color I've managed to paint in a while.  The Orange and Blues make this one sing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bucket Hauler (6x8") underpainting study

Here is the "Bucket Hauler", (6x8") oil on wood panel underpainting study for a larger version I did as a (16x20").  Funny, I did an underpainting for the larger version and meant to color it but thought it looked just fine in it's brown and white state.  I think they look like old photos at this stage.  Very nostalgic and pulls at my memory heart strings.  For me, this little study had some breakthrough take-aways like the simple abstract shapes of the background landscape.  I was looking at the backgrounds of some master painters and seeing how they handles foreground, middle ground and background...I was smitten by some of nineteenth century figure painter, George Clausens figure works and how if you took your hand and covered the main figure, the backgrounds seem so simple and devoid of detail...adding more visual importance the figure in the foreground.  Click here to go to Mathew Innis fine blog Underpaintings post about Claussen..note how simple some of those landscapes are as peripheral elements...astonishing work!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Oarman underpainting

This is a 9x12" oil painting study I did on a masonite panel that I titled, "The Oarman".  The model is my good friend Johnny Hames again.  I used this smaller version to complete a larger painting with full color of the same title, you can see that (here).  
At the risk of sounding conceded, I will tell you that I like this little monochrome study just the way it is.  For this reason, I felt no need to add color (As I had done that with the larger version anyway).  For some artist, they cannot fathom the idea of doing a study first then working on another version of the same painting. For me, the smaller one is simply a study exploring values and design in an effort to achieve a larger, more finished painting.  On some occasions, I like the study enough to call it a completed work and will sometimes frame them.  Winslow Homer did over seventeen versions of some of his paintings, reworking compositional elements and exploring ways to push it or look at things another way.  I think thats a healthy way to proceed and push the limits of what a design can do...I will paint something if it's still in my head haunting me to resolve it another way.  For me, the process is a blast.  Sitting in my studio with music and simply painting is almost too much fun.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sea Dog (5x7") oil on wood

"Sea Dog" (5x7") oil on wood
I thought I would post this small (5x7") oil on wood study I did of my brother Bobby that I titled, "Sea Dog".  I used this study to complete a much larger version at (20x40") that I titled "Old Salt", you can see that (here)
I learned that I love painting really small or really large paintings.  The large ones force you to stand back to absorb the breadth of the work in it's entirety, whereas the smaller ones require you to physically move in close, almost nose-to-nose with the art.  It's more intimate.  I heard someone refer to small paintings as almost jewel-like...the really good ones maybe.  For me, the joy comes in making them, getting up close and painting from my chair for the small ones and backing up ten feet or more in my studio for the larger ones.  Great fun.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Plein air painting with the Dirty Eleven

Todays post is cut and pasted from the blog of my good friend and mentor, Donald Jurney.  With his permission, I have simply reposted his post from a mid October outdoor painting outing trip with eleven scalliwags.  I must tell you that I derive great energy from being around other painters, I love the cameraderie, talking shop and all the nonsense that goes with it.  Donald invited not only some good natured fellows but some damn talented painters...I was in my glory and am looking forward to the next outing.  I wanted to post this simply as a record of the memory.  A thousand thank you's to my good friend Donald for putting this together and thinking of me.  You are indeed one of the good ones my friend....Here is the post as it appears on Donalds blog:

The Dirty Eleven

Riparian Fellowship

Eleven painting friends convened at Deer Island today, in the middle of the Merrimack River between Newburyport and Amesbury, Massachusetts, for some fresh air, laughter and, yes, some painting.  Thanks to Todd Bonita there were plenteous muffins and, thanks to Tom Bailey, a vat of hot java.

There was river fog to begin, but soon it brightened up, becoming a sunny day at 72 degrees. Here's a photo of the view downstream, toward the ocean.

And a photo of the assembled group...

L-R, Back Row: Barrett McDevitt, Stan Moeller, Frank Hyer, DJ, Tom Bailey. L-R, front row: Brent Rosko, Alastair Dacey, Chris Volpe, Todd Bonita, Nick Corvinus, Mike Dorsey

Barrett, Stan, a sliver of Tom, DJ....all hard at work

Todd, Frank, Barrett, Chris, and a sliver of Stan...all equally hard at work.
Mike, Chris, Tom, DJ, Brent?, and Alastair, discussing the meaning of life.   

Todd demonstrating that real men aren't bothered by high tide

Chris and Alastair

What's His Name
Nick getting his feet wet


Apologies to Stan and Tom, to whom I didn't say goodbye as I slinked off.
Thanks to Nick for his great photos.

We shall do it again.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Study for Grit (6x8") oil on wood

This is a small (6x8") oil on wood panel study I did of my good friend Johnny Hames.  He modeled for me and was a great sport at putting on fisherman's clothes and cooperating with my art directing nonsense...great fun working with my old chum.  It's common practice in my studio to use these small studies as reference for a much larger version.  These paintings can be so time consuming, I find if I can sort out composition, values, drawing and color on the small scale, then I stand a better chance at putting all of my gusto into the larger version.  I'll post photos of the larger 24x30" when it's complete.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Study for the "Dirty Oar" Grisailles

Above is a Grisailles painting of my friend and model, John Hames.  As you can see, this is at the underpainting stage, executed with raw umber and white oil paint.  It's usually at this stage that I will glaze and layer color, however, I felt it was complete...and honestly, I don't think I could improve upon it with the addition of color...I felt this way with previous paintings but never followed through.  After living with it in my studio for a few months, I was convinced, put a frame on it and called it done.  For this image I think it works.  This is, "Study for The Dirty Oar" (12x24") oil on linen.