Friday, February 25, 2011

The Comeau series

#15 Comeau Series-Zoe on the Trail
Comeau Series #12 Sawkill Overflow
#13 "Long Falls"
#9 Comeau Series "Which Path Will You Take?"

Comeau Looking West across the Great Lawn #1 Comeau Series
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Here' is my first "oil" painting-actually acrylic-on canvas. It's a bit of an interpretation of the view from the "Supervisor's Cottage"  on the Comeau property in Woodstock, NY. The Comeau and I have a long history going back over a decade. This is a beautiful 76 acre park in the center of town with huge vistas, trails, wildflowers, and yes, a few soccer fields. And this is the Town property former Supervisor Jeremy Wilber proposed be developed for a huge Town Highway Garage-right next to the soccer fields in fact. That didn't happen, due to a large outpouring of support to keep it unchanged and forever a park. It is now, after a very long legal battle, two referendums, and some pretty inept politicians, under conservation easement. Whew.

I always intended to take up painting and finally have the time-I used to sit and watch my father(Bob) paint with oils, usually in the evening after dinner and his several glasses of scotch. Sometimes I would play the piano for him on our old out of tune upright. Other times he would be listening to "Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass" believe it or not. He was a natural artist who drew as a kid in Scotland and who won the New York City Art Award around 1930 which earned him a full scholarship to Columbia University. He was courted by Walt Disney to come to California and work in the fledgling animation art division(wish I had that letter). If he hadn't met my mother in Vermont right before his scheduled trip, history may have been much different for us Veitch's.

I remember the first time seeing him set up to paint-it was on Swan's Island, Maine. We had rented a summer place overlooking the bay and a lighthouse-I was 8 years old. It was 1963-a full solar eclipse happened while we were there-total picturesque Down East beauty everywhere. That first painting of Swan's Island hung in his bedroom for years and while looking somewhat like a Grandma Moses version of Maine, it was, after all, the first and worth keeping. I wonder which one of the siblings has it today?

Longyear meadow looking North
#2 in my Comeau Series. Hanging over my very much in tune Yamaha electric piano here in Munich.  I remember Saturday afternoons when we would stop in to "Firestone" where Jim Capron had a large selection of oil paint, hard canvas and brushes, in addition to all the various house paints and brushes, auto supplies, tires and other odds and ends. There was also the only local record store in the same space with the latest Top 40 Billboard listings posted each week right over the 45 RPM bin. I bought my very first single with my own money on one of those Saturdays-it was "Don't Worry Baby" by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys backed with "I Get Around." I think it may have been number one that week which is why I went for it. It was one of those life changing moments and still one of my all time favorite Brian Wilson tunes.  I don't think I was ever able to get Dad to spring for rock and roll records. He was really tight in a Scottish kind of way . But I know he really dug the Beatles and the fact that they were from England and had conquered America. I remember him sitting with us watching the Ed Sullivan show appearances. He gave them the thumbs up.

Sturm Over Woodstock
#3 in the Comeau Series.  This one tries to capture the "Bishop's Nose" on Overlook Mountain as well as the general feel of the town most of the time-anxious. Overlook is  probably one of the most painted features of the Catskills of all time. I was told that Bradley Meadows, now a paved parking lot for a few stores and a bank, was once considered the best spot  in the Catskills from which to paint "Overlook" and painters made special trips to Woodstock just to work from this vantage point. Maybe so then, but today, Overlook from Bradley Meadows has been obscured  by overgrown trees to the north, an ugly 60's shopping center in the foreground and the exhaust fumes you would have to breathe in to sit for any length of time and paint. I worked from the Comeau view of Overlook for this, still a nice view from the upper meadow.

All the paintings are on fairly large wood frame canvases -60x60 cm or 60x80cm- I mix the colors here using dry pigments-I have the good fortune of being very close to a large art university and there are great stores that sell this amazing stuff fairly cheap-I haven't found any that sell 45 rpm singles however.

Sunrise on the Sawkill
.#4 in my Comeau Series. I watched a very cool show on Charles Rosen's work this morning on Channel 23 in Woodstock ( via the computer of course) It helped me to finish this one. Thanks Charles!

"Clouded Moon Over Comeau"
  #5 in my Comeau Series. Thanks again to the spirit of Charles Rosen. For those looking for secret messages in these paintings,  note the Mt. Laurel in the lower right corner.

#6 in my Comeau Series. Found a photo I liked in the Draft Citizen's Stewardship Plan. Many thanks to whomever took it. I'm liking this style that is developing. And the water is fun too.

The Sawkill at Comeau #6 Comeau Series

Number 7 in the Comeau Series-"Sawkill Spring"

I'm working from photos I have stored here on my computer. It also helps to have walked the Comeau a zillion times to remember some of the little things. The photo I had for this was actually taken in late winter-no leaves or forsythia.
Sawkill at Comeau Winter Scene-#8 Comeau Series.
This one is near the eastern most edge of the Comeau after you make the decent down the path behind the Shakespeare stage. You have to look back over your shoulder and through the trees to see it.

Comeau Series #10 "Western Edge"
Winter sunset looking West through the pine forest-Lang's Field is beyond the trees.To the right is where the Jeremy Wilber proposed Highway Garage would have gone.

#14 "Last Light" Comeau Great Lawn.

Longyear Meadow #11 in the series

With the Comeau Series now complete ( for the moment) it's on to a new group and maybe style using the English Garden here in Munich as the subject. Also, it's worth noting that there are more wonderful spots on the Comeau that are not included here and could be revisited in the future. Also of note, as I got closer to the end, the canvases became smaller and smaller, #15 being the smallest of the lot. It's still very cool to see them all together in one room-hopefully soon in Woodstock.