Friday, June 14, 2013

New Look on FB!

Sporting a new look on Facebook!
Please stay tuned for more what's new from the studio!
Cheers, ~ Polly ~

Up-Coming Show!

Summer in Connecticut
Show Dates: June 28 - August 31, 2013.
Opening Reception: July 12. 2013. 4-8pm.
Please join us for a lovely evening celebrating the glorious
days of Summer in Connecticut with beautiful Art. 
Thank you for your continued patronage!
Binoculars #177 / 2013.
View from Avery Point - 'Summer's Here!'
36" x 36". Oil on Birch Panel. Copyright.
Available at Susan Powell Fine Art
Binoculars #178 / 2013.
View from Avery Point - 'High Noon.'
10" x 60". Oil on mdo board. Copyright.
Available at Susan Powell Fine Art

Binoculars #179 / 2013.
View from Avery Point - 'Quiet Evening.'
30" x 30". Oil on Birch Panel. Copyright.
Available at Susan Powell Fine Art



Monday, June 10, 2013

New addition to the studio!

New Addition to the Studio!
(Another) Easel Access Tabletop / Shelving Unit!

Since I'm currently in woodshop mode making frame-stock for new paintings!
I thought since I had some 'waiting time' between frame-stock phases,
why not make another Easel Access Tabletop / Shelving Unit
 out of some 3/4" birch plywood that was kicking around in the shop!
Now while I sit at the easel, I can easily access needed items to my left!
Plus, the fireproof can for oily paper towels has a new home! 

 Behind the easel!
The new unit attaches to the other unit
with a couple wood screws.
Small tabletop access unit and extra shelf. 

Top of the tabletop access unit surface area.
Addition to the Addition!!
Two shelves that also act as stability.
Back side view.
Front / easel side view.
I'm looking forward to trying out the new tabletop addition next week
when I'll be back in the studio continuing on with new works!
Please stay tuned for more what's new from the studio!
Cheers, ~ Polly ~

Saturday, June 8, 2013

An Invitation ....

Binoculars #177 / View from Avery Point - Summer's Here!
36" x 36". Oil on Birch Panel. 2013. Copyright.
'Summer in Connecticut' show
Invitation Dates and Times to be Announced!
Speaking of Invitations!
Over the years, creating a studio painting has
become a rather private process for me.
I rarely show works in progress to anyone.
It is very much along the lines of keeping a private journal
where all the untold secrets and confessions are kept
which are fiercely protected and never meant to be shared ....
But, today I feel compelled to share a little with you!
So, I invite you into my studio to have a look at
my process of creating a studio painting.
Stage 1: Blocking in and having fun.
Stage 2: Building transparent and opaque layers.
Stage 3: Blocking in Composition and, darks and lights.
Stage 4: Blocking in Composition and, darks and lights cont'.
Stage 5: Refining form and, darks and lights.
Stage 6: Refining the values, forms,
and other compositional elements.

Stage 7: Refining highlights and compositional elements.
Stage 8: And Voila! Zee finishing touches!
Mind you, I can't divulge all of my secrets in one fell swoop,
however this gives you a basic idea of my painting process.
Please stay tuned for more what's new from the studio!
Cheers, ~ Polly ~

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Artist on Artist Interview with Dave Kaphammer

For this month's 'Artist on Artist' interview, I am honoured and have great pleasure in featuring, Dave Kaphammer - Pastel Painter. The discovery of Kaphammer's work was purely serendipitous and happened through the Quintessential New England: Artists on Facebook group where Kaphammer and I, are both active members. When I first saw Kaphammer's work of 'Fire and Snow' (see the above image) - it was an experience like a moth to a bright light; I was immediately drawn to Kaphammer's brilliant use of light and shadow play, and his affinity for nature. His work inspires me greatly with its compositions that range from simplistic to complicated, its handling of the pastels, its sense of light, and, the overall intimate and connectedness to Nature. 
And now without further adieu, here is Dave Kaphammer's interview along with selected works. 

 Dave Kaphammer - Pastel Painter.

Fire and Snow - 18" x 12"


Dave Kaphammer - Pastel Painter.
Polly - Would you please describe your earliest memories as an artist?

Dave - I can remember loving to draw as a kid, inspired by my Dr. Seuss books. At some point I got into charcoal drawing - my parents had gotten me a set of charcoal pencils and a drawing pad, and I spent a lot of time trying to learn to blend and work with them, without any instruction. My parents bought me Nicolaides book when I was in something like 3rd grade - it was a little over my head! I never heard of a kneaded eraser or vine charcoal till college. In school notebooks I was obsessed with drawing Harley motorcycles, cars, and a few characters I invented - bug eyed aliens, gangsters in suits. I also used to spend hours copying editorial cartoons - I have no idea why I got into that! In high school I drew pencil cartoons of teachers and students, striving for a likeness and a funny situation or caption. In college at an engineering school, I did a weekly cartoon strip in the school newspaper for two years, having taken it over from a member of my fraternity.

Warm Light on Ice - 12" x 18"

PollyCould you tell us about your education and training?
Dave - I wasn't able to take art in high school, though I desperately wanted to, because you couldn't be in the band and take art in my school. In college, an engineering school, I took one semester of beginning drawing my senior year. Loved it, but that was all that was offered. I had no real art education until about 11-12 years ago, when I started taking drawing classes at the Worcester Art Museum. I really loved it, and took portrait and life drawing and other classes for about a year. In my last drawing class, my instructor, Ella Delyanis urged me to try pastels, her specialty. So I tried a beginning pastel class, and was instantly hooked. I loved that I could bring color into my work and still be drawing. After that I took every class offered by Ella for the next 2 years.

The past few years I've been studying with Jeanne Rosier Smith. Her work is brilliant, and she is a very generous teacher - offering up anything and everything she knows. Our evening class group has grown into a supportive artists group where we all support and inspire each other - a wonderful atmosphere fostered by Jeanne.
I've also taken workshops with several wonderful artists - my favorites were Liz Haywood-Sullivan and Marla Baggetta.

Birches on Snowshow Path - 11" x 14"

PollyWould you describe your style and methods of working?

Dave - At this point, I am really trying to keep my work as loose and fresh and painterly as possible. I work mostly from photos I've taken - because I mostly work at night after work, and started out that way in night classes. I'm also very into photography, so I go out hiking on weekends with my camera, looking for inspiring scenes, and composing with the camera. I don't take notes while I'm out shooting, but I revisit the same places over and over again, and try to get as familiar as possible with the colors that are really there, since the camera doesn't capture all of it.

I usually paint quickly - I want the strokes to be visible and fresh. I mostly don't blend with my fingers, but rather try to mix colors in layers and with broken color. I always underpaint these days, usually applying pastel to a sanded surface and setting it with alcohol. For supports, I typically use either UART 400, or a blend of pastel ground, pumice, and water that I apply to acid-free matboard. I love the texture of the handmade surfaces, but sometimes I like the uniformity of the UART - it depends on the subject. I block in the major shapes with either a complement or local color, depending on how much energy and shimmer I want in particular areas, whether I want them to be the focus or to fade out into the distance. I love to finish with loose strokes and highlights - they add excitement and energy. While I do paint realistic landsdcapes, I want my hand to be clearly visible. Plus, I have a pretty short attention span, so I really don't have the patience for tight detail. I love the magic of implied detail, where up close you see just strokes and marks, and when you step back the image just comes together and pulls you in. When that works, it's really a rush for me.
Cold Drama - 18" x 12"

PollyWhat interests you most (in terms of subject and theme) as an artist and why?

Dave - I've been into mainly local landscapes for quite a while. When I started out, it was mainly interesting compositions and subjects that I focused on. But the past few years I realized that all my favorite work was more about the light than the subject. I think somebody else even had to tell me that! I was focusing on the light and shadows, but didn't even realize it at first. When I became aware of it, then I really brought it out and started to take off with it - I brought more energy and feeling into my work then.
The winter before last, when we had snowstorm after snowstorm, I became fascinated with light and shadow on snow. I remember hiking one day with a foot and a half of snow on the ground and a clear blue sky, and was enraptured for hours. That winter I was so in love with snow painting, and when spring came I was totally lost! I had to figure out what to paint again.
Then I made a trip out to Crane's Beach in Ipswich MA on a friend's suggestion, and found a new subject! I loved the rocks on the beach leading off into the distance, and also the beach at low tide where the wet sand reflects the sky. So, another subject to love!
Lately I've been fascinated with reflections on water - from ponds, creeks and rivers nearby. Again I'm painting light, and I also love the abstract patterns in the reflections. It's a great subject for loosening up and getting more abstract.

Converge - 12" x 16"

PollyPeople are interested in knowing what materials and mediums artists use; what do you prefer and why?

Dave - My favorite pastels are Terry Ludwigs - they are wonderfully soft, the colors are vivid and wonderful (also great neutrals!), and the square shape is perfect for so many situations! The corners can make light sharp lines, and the broad sides make for painterly blocky strokes. Sennelier makes some favorite colors too. And lately Mount Vision pastels have been great for blues, violets, and neutrals - my first was their stormy skies set. I have a few Nupastels and Cretacolor hard pastels I use for some under-painting and details.
For surfaces, I always use a sanded surface these days - mostly UART 400, and handmade surfaces I mentioned earlier. I'm always under-painting, so I need a robust support, and the sanded surface allows for many layers. The handmade surface is great for interesting textures you get with the brushstrokes of the applied medium.

Kaphammer's studio space.

PollyIf you could try your hand at another medium, what would it be and why?
Dave - I've been working at oils lately. The thing I love about oils is having the work right out there with no glass between it and the viewer. And I love working wet into wet, blending on the canvas. But man is that a complicated medium - so much chemistry and stuff to learn. I also like to play with the palette knife - it's kinda like the big strokes I can get with pastels. Loose and fun!

Kaphammer's pastel palette. 

Polly - Do you mainly work plein-air or do you work from photographs. Which method do you prefer?

Dave - Mostly I work from photos. I like plein-air, but I don't have much time for it. I am very aware of the limitations of working from photos,and strive to put back some of the color that is lost in the photo. Also, it's so tempting to try to render all the detail you can see in the photo, and you really have to think about what to simplify, to recompose, add or remove elements, etc. They are a great reference, but you have to be constantly aware of your own vision and not get caught up in the photo.
It's All About the Shadows - 11" x 14"

Polly - Would you share the story behind this piece, 'It's All About the Shadows'?
Dave - This was done from a photo that I took the day after the big March snowstorm this year. I was out on my brand new snowshoes for the first time, it was a warm beautiful day, and I was really happy to get outside. I found out that snowshoeing is really tiring by the way. It was one of those beautiful days when the sky is blue, with fresh snow on the ground, which makes for beautifully colored shadows. When I came upon this scene, I was fascinated with the abstract pattern of shadows on the lake surface, and the way they faded as they radiated out from the shoreline. I also loved how the really intense sunlight dissolved some of the shadows on the right. Most of the shadow color was remembered and invented - photos don't capture that much color in shadows. In fact, I often work from prints on plain paper or matte photo paper, both of which make for lousy photos because they reduce contrast and dull out color. That forces me to remember and invent color, which makes for better paintings.
Warm Light in the Cold. 8" x 6"

PollyPlease tell us about your influences?
Dave - I have a few favorite pastel artists whose work inspires me. One of my biggest influences is my current teacher Jeanne Rosier Smith, who I've been studying with for several years. She is a very generous teacher and her work is very inspiring. I've started teaching recently and would love to be as good a teacher as Jeanne.

Liz Haywood-Sullivan is a big influence - they way she captures light is brilliant. I also love the work of Elizabeth Ganji and Christine Bodnar - for their energy and looseness. Paul Shulenberg's oils are wonderful for the way he paints the cape light. Marla Baggetta for the way she abstracts the landscape,and her fearlessness as an artist in taking new directions, and following her passion.

Twilight Blues -11" x 14"

PollyWho has been the greatest support to you as an artist and how?
Dave - That's a tough one - probably have to say Jeanne Smith for the constant positive encouragement and her ability to see the good parts of my work when I cannot. Also my friend and gallery owner Teri Canelle Eramo of Eventide at Periwinkles in Essex. She took me on when she opened her gallery two years ago, and has been a wonderful supporter of my work.

Reflection on the Charles - 12" x 18"

PollyWhat has been most challenging for you as an artist?
Dave - Finding the time to paint is the biggest challenge at this point. Also, I am really working at making my work more loose and abstract - it's a constant struggle to keep from overworking. I'm making progress, but I want to go further - constantly working to keep from falling into habit and rendering too much.
Low-Tide in Afternoon Light - 20" x 16"

Ripples - 9" x 12"

Polly - Why do you make art? Why is it important? Why Pastel Painting?

Dave - Why do I make art - that's something a friend asked me a few weeks ago, and I had to really think about it. I can't not make art. I'm happiest when I'm painting, creating, absorbed in the work. When I am painting my mind is occupied fully in just painting - no thinking, worrying, buzzing, all the bad stuff your mind usually does. It's meditation for me, something I can't live without at this point. I get a little crazy and cranky if I don't paint. I'm more into the process of painting than the end product, I guess. I mean I like to see my finished work, but then I'm just as itchy to be painting again as I was before.
Why pastels - I love the immediacy of applying the pastel - fresh, direct, nothing between me and the medium. And I love the brilliance of the color. Also it's forgiving - you can brush out your mistakes! Really takes the pressure off! That's a big deal for me.

Birch Glow - 18" x 24"

PollyWould you say your art has changed your life and if so, in what ways?
Dave - Well, I can tell you for sure that I'm always thinking about painting when I'm out in the world. Composing images, thinking about the colors I'm seeing, absorbed in the way light is falling on trees, buildings, people. It's changed the way I see! I feel like I see beauty in little everyday scenes that I pass by every day that I wouldn't have noticed before. In fact, I've pulled the car over on the way to work to shoot reference photos numerous times. I'm so glad I am aware of all the beauty I get to notice and appreciate now that I never would have paid any attention to if I wasn't an artist.
Last Light on the Pond - 12" x 18"

PollyMuch of your work focuses on being outside in the woods, sunlight and shadows, could you tell us why you’re drawn to these scenes?
Dave - I love being outside - hiking, walking, running, cycling, snowboarding, etc. When I started painting, I brought along a camera for reference photos. Once I figured out that my work was about light and shadow - kind of stumbling over that fact - I now get such a charge out of seeing the beauty of light in the outdoors . It's just thrilling to see these little magical scenes everywhere - all you need is sunlight and your eyes and it's everywhere! How awesome is that? I love to paint those scenes and bring my love of them to others.
Blue and Yellow - 16" x 20" 
Polly - If you were conducting this interview what one question would you ask yourself and what would the answer be?

Dave'What is most frustrating or difficult about being an artist?'
Dealing with rejection from juried shows is something I have an ever so slight tiny little bit of trouble with. I've been entering a lot of juried shows lately, pastel only and open to all media. I tend to react very negatively when I am rejected from juried shows - thinking I'm no good, my work is just not interesting or original, what was I thinking, etc. Recently I went through that whole plunging routine when I didn't see my acceptance to two shows I really cared about, and then found out that my acceptance notices were either late or lost in email ether. So I learned that those reactions are just a waste of time - either good or bad - and that I have to just work on myself and my art and be happy with the process. Lesson learned! Then the next week I was rejected from another show, and, well, here we go again! Lesson kinda-sorta learned ...

 Creek Reflection - 9" x 12"
Polly - And lastly, what words of wisdom would you offer to young artists?

Dave - Keep painting - just paint and paint. Satisfy yourself with your work, let your style land vision grow organically - don't try to paint like somebody else. It's OK to be inspired by other artists, but don't try to imitate or force yourself into a certain style, just keep working and your own vision will develop and grow.

Winter Sunset - 8" x 6".

Thank you again Dave for this wonderful opportunity and incredible insight into your artistic Life! I wish you the very best.
To learn more about Kaphammer and his work(s), please visit his website  at