Small Works

WOODLAND STREAM, acrylic on canvas, 12×9

IT WAS JUST over a year ago that we took our dog Molly on what turned out to be her last overnight camping trip. Heading north on the Appalachian Trail from Bennington, Vermont, we had to stop after about five miles due to a fast-moving stream swollen by heavy rain the day before.

We set up camp next to the stream and listened to its rush and gurgle all night and the next morning. By then, the water had subsided enough to reveal a few steppingstones, and several young men skipped gingerly across. But after a leisurely breakfast we headed home, due back for something-or-other, reluctantly retracing our steps away from the hypnotic scene.

Yet my mind lingered for a long time among the morning sun glistening off the water collecting and swirling in small pools and bouncing off the rocks, the bright, crisp air, the fragrant October foliage. 

I began “Woodland Stream” soon after returning to my studio, its poignancy amplified by Molly’s absence less than a year later.

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I GENERALLY prefer to work on larger canvases. It plays to some of my strengths, such as my physicality: I can make grand, bold gestures with fewer restraints.

But there is a lot to be said for working small. It sharpens hand-eye coordination and is easier to control the surface “universe.” My mentor, Al Lachman, recommends it as a path to greater progress, as more small paintings can be completed than large ones.

So over the past few years I have completed a number of canvases 12×16 and smaller, including “Woodland Stream.”

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92 Race St., Holyoke, Massachusetts.

A DIFFERENT small painting, “After the Rain,” has been accepted for Gateway City Arts’ 4th Annual Small Works Exhibit, which opens Wednesday, December 1. Come see it!

This juried exhibition (works cannot exceed 12 inches in any direction) featuring the work of more than 40 artists will be on view through the end of the year.

The opening reception will be Friday, December 3, at 5 p.m. I hope you can join us.

I’ll post “After the Rain” after people have had a chance to view it in person.

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