I'm taking reservations for next years Monhegan Island, Maine plein air painting workshop which will take place September 6 - 9. We will spend four days, totally immersed, painting outdoors around the village, small coves and craggy coast of this Island art colony. This is a relaxed workshop, open to all levels. Cost is $300.
If you would like to sign up or if you would like to purchase a Gift Certificate for someone, I would be happy to mail one to you in time for Christmas. You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (603) 819-9100.
The annual Button factory open studios is happening this coming weekend and I will be opening my doors for the fourth year for this event. My studio is #224, please come by and say hello, I will have beer, wine, cream soda and treats....and oh yeah, plenty of original artwork. This is a fun time as over 70 artist open their doors for this once a year event. Here are the details:
I'm thrilled to announce my new relationship with The Bowersock Gallery in Provincetown, Mass, they will be representing my still life oil paintings in the coming 2011 season. I couldn't be happier as they have been on my radar since 2006. I've had their gallery postcard tacked to my bulletin board for three years and have sent them my work on two occasions since 2006. They are extremely professional, believe in their artist, appear to have a clear mission and vision for their approach to the market and they invest in the promotion of their artist and themselves. This is evident by their advertising in national art magazines and involvement with things like leasing booth space at this weekends 14th annual Boston International Fine Art show. I'm honored to be affiliated with them.
Here (above) is the postcard for the Boston International Fine Art show this weekend. Steve Bowersock included my "Toy blue car" painting on the postcard...thats my buddy Chris Volpes painting on the lower right. They've got a great bunch of talent in that gallery, I'm absolutely thrilled to be part of it and excited for 2011. "Tin Blue Car" (Oil on wood)
I finished this small gallery painting (6x8") that I have been tickling in the studio...I titled it "Breathe". To me, this old working craft is taking a breather before that tide creeps in. It started out as a plein air painting and then evolved into a class demonstration where I showed how to turn your out door studies into a more thought out studio painting.
I did this small little painting (5x7") as a mental exercise in simplicity. I love the idea of "K.I.S.S."...."Keep it simple stupid". I pretty much base my design theory on it as most of my studio paintings are about a singular, simple subject existing in a subordinate space. I borrowed the premis from Ken Beck, my first painting instructor at the Art Institute of Boston almost twenty years ago. He once asked our class to paint a bunch of bananas and then at critique time he suggested we focus or crop in closer to get at the essence of the subject and to make a more interesting design. He stressed the importance of squinting to simplify the big shapes and asked us to step back so we could see our composition on canvas from across the room...ideally, it should pop from across the room. Ken paints huge, pallet knife paintings, usually a singular subject and they pop from across the state line..they are strong works of art and stand out in a room full of paintings. Ken Beck with some of his art.
I just finished this small oil painting on wood panel and titled it, "Sea shack" (6x8"). This is a painting I completed from referencing my plein air (outdoor) study of this salt box shack in Chatham, Mass on Cape Cod not long ago. (see below) Seeing them side-by-side makes me appreciate the characteristics and finishes that each version possesses. I like the freshness, looseness and sketchy-ness of the outdoor study (below) while at the same time, I like the amount of detail, textural variety and mood I put in the studio version (above). I get a different satisfaction from each, not to mention, the experience of making them had there own inherent but different joys. I am currently instructing a Plein air painting class and a studio oil painting class on Tuesdays at the brush and Palett art center in North Hampton, NH. If you would like to join us outdoors to paint the New Hampshire seacoast landscape, or join our class to learn studio oil painting techniques, please email me privately at email@example.com or call me for more info or to reserve a spot. (603) 819-9100. Here is a link to my workshops: Todd Bonita workshops Here is a link to the brush and Palett: Brush and Palett
This is a sketch I did today of Lt. Raymond Murphy. He was a New York city firefighter and a hero who died while saving lives on 9/11/2001. I did not know him but thought it might be a respectful way to pay tribute to him today. Here is a link to a web sight that was set up by his family as a way to remember him. Raymond Murphy Rest in peace and thank you Raymond.
This photo epitomizes firefighters everywhere. It was taken September 11, 2001, after the collapse of the first tower and shortly before the collapse of the second tower. It shows Lt. Ray Murphy and Firefighter Rob Curatola of Ladder Co. 16 walking south on West Street towards the debris of the first collapse to resc ue survivors. They had just assisted in the removal of survivors, one of which was an injured Firefighter. Ray had instructed firefighter Rich Ratazzi, also of Ladder 16, to take the injured firefighter back to the ambulance staging area at Vescey and West Streets, and then to meet up again in the high-rise truck which is to Ray’s right in the photo. As Rich was leaving to care for the injured firefighter, he took a quick photo with a disposable camera many firefighters carry. Shortly after this photo was taken, a general evacuation of the area was called and Ray and Rob were caught in the destruction of the collapse of the North Tower. Rich did not realize until the next day that he had captured such a meaningful photo. Rob Curatola’s body was found on September 12, he had been married just (3) weeks. Ray’s body was returned to us on October 1, 2001. The photo which brings great solace to our family, shows the professionalism, courage, and determination of firefighters everywhere, who have the ability to remain calm and focused in the midst of such chaos! May God Bless You All!
This is from my recent plein air painting trip to Chatham, Mass on Cape Cod.
I found this cool little salt box shack near Chatham harbor and started my lay-in. I'm using the 9x12" Open box M pochade mounted to a tripod and working in oils on an 8x10" wood panel prepared with gesso. In this above photo, I am washing in the local color very loosely with a paper towel and without any drawing. I'm just looking for a loose representation of the big mass shapes, values and colors. Here above, I am taking my time to measure and draw with paint. I've changed a few things in my composition, like taking out that un-sightly "No Trespassing sign". I felt it was stopping the veiwer from entering the picture plane. I kept the foliage pretty simple and used it to silhouette the shack. This is about two hours. At the time of this posting, I am almost finished turning this plein air painting into a finished studio painting. I will post that in a few days.
I am teaching a plein air painting class here on the New hampshire seacoast starting next week. It will run on Tuesday afternoons from 1-4pm beginning September 14th. If you would like to join us outdoors painting the New Hampshire sea coast during the most beautiful time of year, please shoot me an email or call me to reserve a space. (603) 819-9100. Here is a link to the workshop details: TODD BONITA PLEIN AIR PAINTING WORKSHOP
Just getting around to posting this small (6x8") oil on wood panel painting titled, "Lovers". This is one of the paintings I finished for the Kennedy Gallery show and is currently hanging there. The image started from photos I took in Winthrop, Mass (where I grew up) not far from where my mother currently lives near the public boat launch. I've flipped it, adjusted shapes, pushed and pulled compositional elements until I was satisfied with a design that supported this little concept. The darkest darks - lightest lights and the hardest edges are on the boat in the foreground. This is to control the journey of the viewers eye throughout this picture..it begins on that boat and eventually makes it's way to those gulls in the background. The lovers. This is achieved by placement of shapes and softening the edges on the gulls...your eye will go first to harder edges and greater contrasting areas (ie: the boat). As a narrative, you first see the empty and worn surfaces of this quiet and perhaps contemplative boat. Your eye then horse-shoes clockwise to the boat reflection - mooring - land shape - and then to the gulls. It happens in a second. It doesn't matter that the viewer recognizes all this tom-foolery....for me, on the other hand...it keeps me interested when I try to achieve something with another layer beyond picture making. Great fun for me.
I was thrilled to see two of my favorite seacoast painters come to my opening last night at the Kennedy Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Pictured above are Stan Moeller and Mary Byrom. Thank you Wendy, Terri and Lyn from Kennedy Gallery for all your hard work and doing a beautiful job designing the show, you are awesome. This is part of my Bonita crew (above) after the show at the Portsmouth Brewery. (From Left: Sister Kara licking my hand, Mom, Me, Bobby in the yellow shirt; he was the model for my "Smitty" painting..and my sisters boyfriend Scott.
Add for the show from Fosters (click to see larger). It was such a good time, I'm still floating...nice to take a breather after three solo shows in six months. The next show will be the first weekend in December at the Button factory in Portsmouth for the annual open studios. All the best, Todd Bonita
I just finished this (11x14") oil on wood panel painting I'm titling, "Portsmouth Tugs". I used photo reference from an amazing photographer friend, John Winslow. He does everything; landscape, animals, people and architecture. I hope to reference more of his photos in the future. As a painting, I exaggerated the atmospheric perspective between the tugs to give a deeper feeling of space between them. I did this using sharper value contrast, sharper edges and more saturated color on the tug in the foreground..I wanted it to pop in front of the second and third tugs. This painting will be part of a solo exhibition I am having at The Kennedy Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Friday, August 6, with an opening reception from 5-9p. This is my first mention of it on my blog. I will send out my email notice and postcards to follow. If you are not on my email notice list and you would like to be, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to include you. I send out notices about twice a month including events and new paintings as I finish them. I have a lot of small paintings that will be hanging in this show. they are currently in my studio in various stages of completion...please check back, I will post them as I finish them. (Been busy painting for this upcoming show but I still intend to post my notes and more photos from the Don Demers workshop I recently took on Cape Cod).
Today was the first of a three day plein air painting work shop with legendary landscape artist Don Demers. I plan on posting extensively about the entire experience and sharing my notes and images here on this blog. Sitting here with my laptop I'm realizing that there is so much information and I have so many images and notes to share after day one, that I am going to space out the information over the course of the week. He did two demos today, each with a different technique and goal. I'm going to post about the first one today.
In the morning we met at the Creative Arts center in Chatham. There were 14 painters, including myself. Most were from the Cape and after painting and chatting with them, found that all were very capable and some were professional with gallery representation. Most had already studied with Don before..this was my frist time meeting him. He's a really nice guy and I'm not just saying that. He's very down to earth, smart, witty and very passionate about making art. After a brief synopsis of what to expect for the day we all met at Round Cove landing in Harwitch. (click on any of the images to see them larger).
Don set up for his demo using an Open box M plein air set up mounted on a camera tripod. It was mostly sunny with high humidity and heat expected to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit with strong winds. Not perfect but far better than rain. Here are my notes: (I will expand them as best I can but forgive me, it's very late and I need to rest to do it all again tomorrow). Dons plan for this first demo was to help us clarify our thoughts and simplify the subject matter before us on canvas. He started with a thumbnail sketch of the composition using a soft pencil on paper.
His thumbnail sketch, shown above, was only a few inches but proportionate to the size and shape of his canvas. He squints his eyes to better understand the value structure of the composition and then assigns those values in his thumbnail drawing. He's not interested in detail at this point. he's looking for abstract shapes and organizing them in an artistic manner. He's not seeing boats, he's seeing abstract shapes. He's not staying exactly true to whats before him, rather, he may make a shape larger or smaller, longer or shorter...whatever he feels would make the composition serve or support his initial intent. This thumbnail drawing will serve as reference and he will stay true to it as the painting progresses and the sun and shadows move and change.
Dons palette is made up of various oil painting brands, he's not committed to any one specifically but said he was getting rid of his Rembrandts. He likes Utrecht. He talked about historical palettes of former artist and stressed not to get to caught up in all of that, palettes are no big deal. Keep them simple, at least two reds, two yellows and two blues. Don changes his palette with his paintings but mostly lives in the neutrals. His palette today was pretty typical for him. From lower left to right, going clockwise: Alizeran Crimson, Cad Red medium, Cad Orange, Yellow Ochre, Cad Yellow light, Cad Yellow Medium, Viridian, Cobalt blue, Ultramarine Blue...those two earth colored worms at the bottom are Raw Sienna and his favorite Greenish Umber...He swore greenish umber will get landscape painters out of a lot of binds. No white yet!
Here was the scene before Don. He noted that he was attracted to it for it's close value range and smokey air atmosphere. He said that subjects with close value ranges are more moody and have more feeling.
He began by mixing a dark color and added liquin...Liquin is a quick-dry alkyd based medium. He then began drawing the shapes with a small bristle brush, taking care to stay true to his thumbnail and nature before him. For this demo he is working on the white of the canvas (No wash) he's using linen mounted on birch panel. While working, he quoted artist and recommended books. He recommended a Dover publications book titled "Composition" and quoted from it, "Don't seek beautiful objects to paint, instill beauty in the everyday arrangements"....or something like that. Is it too late to say that I am personally responsible for everything that I write here about Don Demers. If I misquote or misrepresent what he communicated in any way, I defer to baking in the sun all day.
When the painted drawing on the canvas was done, he switched to a larger brush and began washing in some of the dark shapes, again, staying true to the values he already established in the thumbnail drawing and trying to interlock pieces of the dark puzzle. He said that in art school, they told him to use the biggest brush to get the job done, but Don disagreed to the extent that it makes more sense to use the right brush for the job at hand. "I understand the concept of breadth with a large brush but it can lead to sloppiness...instead, use the right brush." He recommends using a variety of brushes; flats, rounds and his favorite and most versatile, the filbert brush. He was using bristle brushes but will also use synthetics to soften edges later if needed. He wants to cut down on his brush collection. He shared his thoughts as the painting developed: Areas of inactivity should be complimented by areas of activity. He cleaned his brushes with Gamsol (an odorless turpentine substitute)
Here he has quickly laid in the background foliage and simplified it as a color shape. This was key for me to see personally...I would have tended to fill that background landscape mass with more detail, darks and lights. Don laid it on, pow! He then had to make a critical decision about the sky and water color and value. They were similar but one had to be definitively different from the other in color and value...He made the sky darker. As Don filled in the water, he switched to a bigger brush because he had more space to fill. He's trying to build connections with his color, making it warmer or cooler as needed. He prefers to work from the neutrals outwardly and noted that paintings can live in the neutral zone for almost the entire painting and then in the last five minutes can pop and come to life with the addition of chromatic colors or whatever color is necessary to do so. Again he mentioned the inherent moody feeling you get from using neutrals and similar value ranges. He compared it to the evocative and emotional response you get from black and white photography. He deliberately opted not to begin this with a transparent wash under painting because the smokey and moody atmosphere is better expressed with rich color. Don used a viewfinder to isolate and focus on a color relationship between the sky and where it met the distant landscape. As the painting progressed, the tide and landscape changed, this is where a landscape painter must stay committed to the original thumbnail or they will be chasing their tail.
This was a cool tool...a small metal rod that Don bent the end on and uses to help him paint straight lines. "I'm not a formulaic painter...I'm more reactive to the subject, thats where the truth is".
Don started laying in thicker paint, gliding it across the canvas using the side of the brush sometimes. He went back into the tree shapes on the right and used a darker and cooler color, pushing, touching and dragging color. Using a very light color and a small brush he added small notes to the background looking to add to the spirit of the piece..small punctuations...this is where the art is...even thought he's a realist, he's thinking in abstract terms...looking, thinking, feeling, selecting....Artistic selection of the landscape.
Here is the finished painting. Click on it to see it larger...he added that mooring ball on the lower right and saw it as oriental in it's concept....a small, quiet shape surrounded by all this shape...it was almost like a musical sound..bing! He started the painting at 9:45am and finished an hour and twenty minutes later at 11:05. He asked us to find a spot and do an exercise-not a painting-but an exercise to find structure, organize our thoughts and image. I'll post my exercise manana.
There I am with the very lovely gallery owner of Gallery 51, Christine Hoedecker-George. Good times! Zipped up to Meredith, NH on Lake Winnipesaukee last evening for the opening of my summer exhibition at Gallery 51 and it was really fun. It was my first time seeing the new place and I was charmed. Christine had moved the old gallery (Gallery at Mill Falls) up the street to a new location in a quaint little spot next to the historical society on Main street. We had wine and treats, met some new people, had some laughs...the official word is, "Life is good!". Christine, her husband Kevin and their friends were very cool to hang out with after ward and I'm looking forward to returning on Thursday for a long weekend vacation.
As soon as I'm done typing this, I'll be heading down to Cape Cod for a few days to paint with the legendary landscape artist Don Demers. He is hosting a workshop in Chatham and I plan on sucking up as much info from that mans cerebellum as I can process. I'm very excited about it and promised some of my painter friends that I would post extensively on the experience and Dons process, theory and technique. I'm staying with my old friend Rob from high school so there is an outside chance we may drink rum and cokes instead of me posting. Either way, I will do my best to continue my "Life is good" mantra.
Tonight is the opening for my summer show titled, "Timeless Beauty" at Gallery 51 in Meredith, NH on Lake Winnipesaukee. The gallery represents my work all year, so if you can't make the opening tonight and you find yourself in the lakes region, please feel free to stop in and say hello to Christine Hoedecker-George. She's a painter as well as the gallery owner. Her work is reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth in my opinion, with a fresh and honest looseness that it is definitely her own. Above is the Laconia Citizen online article featuring the details about the gallery and my show. Click on it to see it larger or click this link: Gallery 51 Todd Bonita opening
Here are the details of the opening:
OPENING RECEPTION FOR TODD BONITA "TIMELESS BEAUTY" at GALLERY 51 JUNE 26, 2010 5-7pm
Gallery 51 51 Main street Meredith, NH (603)279-3123
Marilyn Graziano holding her Bonita reproduction True story!...I met artist Chris Volpe yesterday for a "Painter Play date" plein air outing in New Castle, New Hampshire. When I arrived, I saw two artist painting by the ocean; Marilyn Graziano and Barbara L. Clark. I introduced myself and when Marilyn heard my name, she pulled out a postcard from her paintbox that had one of my oil paintings on it. I couldn't believe the coincidence! I was shocked!..but the plot thickened..she went off to her car and returned with a painting reproduction she had done of my oil painting titled "Sunday" from the postcard...I was at a genuine loss for words...Chris Volpe exclaimed, "Wow, dude, your famous!". I'm definitely not famous but I was genuinely touched, moved and flattered by this random act of wowness. For a few moments Marylin Graziano, a fellow paisan from East Boston made me feel really good about the work. Thank you Marilyn (p.s. Marilyn, if you read this, please feel free to email me privately at email@example.com, we would love to get together and paint together sometime with Barbara and yourself).
Finally finished the beast...this is the largest oil painting I've done to date at 48x60". I've painted some larger murals but the focus on this level of finish was much more intense for me. I really enjoyed the experience of this scale and I'm looking forward to doing another and maybe something obscenely larger in the future. That would be great fun. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I painted a smaller version (18x24") of this painting titled "The Lake", but always felt that shallow water in the foreground needed to be almost life size.
I ordered a frame for this and hope to have it in my studio by next week, then I'll carefully package it and ship it off to Gallery 51 in Meredith, NH for a solo show I'm having there at the end of the month. This will be my first official notice for the opening, here are the details:
Todd Bonita solo exhibition at Gallery 51, Saturday, June 26, (5-9pm) 51 Maine Street, Meredith, NH 03253 (on Lake Winnipesaukee)
I just finished this larger version (24x36") of an painting I did last year titled, "First day of the rest of your life". The original was an (8x10") oil on wood and I have wanted to do this larger version ever since. The numbers on the side of the boat are Max's birthday, January 11, 2007...this makes the title even more appropriate for me personally. This will be going to Gallery 51 in Meredith, NH for a solo show I'll be having there the last week of June. I'll do a few post on that with more details as it grows closer to show time.
This is a 48x60" I'm working on for an upcoming solo show at Gallery 51 in Meredith, NH on lake Winnipesaukee this summer. I have been thinking of painting a whopper for a while and this seemed to be a good opportunity. I painted an 18x24" version of this about two years ago. I really liked the way it came out and wanted to explore the shallow water in this on a larger scale. The 18x24" painting sold three days after exhibition so I never really had a honeymoon period with it. She's been on my mind ever since so it's time for a rebirth on a grander scale...Or as Brody put it in Jaws, "Gonna need a bigger boat".
"I'm Max Tyler Volpe". That was my introduction to the three-year-old-swinging wipper-snapper pictured above on the left...The little guy on the right in the GAP shirt is my three year old son Max).
We met Max Volpe and his dad, the very talented painter, Christopher Volpe for a play date this week in New Castle, New Hampshire. Chris Volpe affectionately refers to them as "The Swinging Maxes" in his recent blog post about our getting together for what we hope will become a revolutionary concept, "Painters play dates". The idea is to get together with our sons and plein air easels and take on the great out doors together, having fun with the boys and painting the great New Hampshire landscape.
In addition to being a hell of a painter, Chris is a gifted writer and teacher...I love the way he writes about our get together, his enthusiasm is genuine. Please read his blog post Christopher Volpe Blog
This painting is titled, "The Hauler" and it's 24x30" oil on wood panel. It was one of the paintings featured at The Rockport Art Association show. The image is referenced with permission by an incredible photographer and videographer from Chatham, Mass named Christopher Seufert.
Busy, busy, busy...but who isn't these days? I finished this painting of the Keepers House on Monhegan Island, Maine. It's 10x20" oil on a wood panel. I made it specifically to hang above the fireplace in the Old Tavern gallery at my opening at the Rockport Art Association show this Sunday. I had originally planned for a painting twice this size and had a piece of wood cut to 20x40". Unfortunately, I found myself pressed for time and decided on this much more intimate sized painting. I think these dimensions are perfect for small landscape works. Great fun. This is my last post until the show on Sunday so here are the details one last time....I hope to see you there.
Todd Bonita solo art exhibition Sunday, March 28 from 2-4pm at The Rockport Art Association 12 Maine Street, Rockport, Mass
Maaaa...check it out, I'm on the front page of the Transcript! I live on the New Hampshire sea coast but I grew up in the small Boston suburb of Winthrop, Massachusetts. The local newspaper; The Winthrop Transcript, was kind enough to print an article about my upcoming show at the Rockport Art Association. My mother still lives in Winthrop and she really bought ten copies. Thank you Winthrop Transcript...I thought that was very cool. I still know a lot of people from my old hometown and I've received word that some people who read the article will be coming to the show. Awesome! I look forward to seeing you. This is all a great way to post another reminder for my art exhibition next week:
Todd Bonita One Man Show at the Rockport Art Association March 28 - April 09, 2010 Opening reception Sunday, March 28, 2-4pm.
I finished this painting yesterday in my studio, it's (16x20") oil on wood panel. I'm calling it "Rockport Harbor". I was going to title it "Motif #1 and #2" but that would have been a little hokey I think. This painting will be part of my one-man show at the Rockport Art Association at the end of the month. I will post the info again before the show but here it is for you now:
Todd Bonita One Man Show at the Rockport Art Association March 28 - April 09, 2010 Opening reception Sunday, March 28, 2-4pm.
At the Old Tavern 12 Main St Rockport, Mass 01966
Please feel free to come to the reception, there will be wine, beer, food and a lot of characters. Hope to see you there.