Thanks to those who came in and acquired some original art as well as commissioned pieces, we had the best May in our 14 year history. I the business of art galleries, one never knows what will happen from one month to the next, but generally our trajectory has been on a significant climb since 2008 (with a few blips here and there). With so many galleries going out of business, this is indeed gratifying!
Much of this past month was spent on this single project. More time consuming than most, it was nonetheless an enjoyable piece. It consists of 48 individual, smaller paintings to make the whole. To see more about how it was done, please click on the "What's New Button above.
The rest of the month was spent fine tuning earlier paintings and honing portrait skills. In addition to the ones above and below, several others were done as well. I hope you'll check out those and read a bit about each on the "What's New" page.
We hung out the open flag the first time in May of 2005. Back then half of the store was a vintage book shop but in two years it was all art and we have never looked back. We've had thousands of tour busses stop in front, tens of thousands of customers come through, including a future US President and two US senators. Many new friendships have been forged and we have terrific clients scattered all across the country and in many other countries as well.
We hope you'll come join us starting May 5th when we reopen for another season. We're located in historic Bath, NH, a quintessentially New England village and yet completely unique. Just two doors down is the Brick Store; America;s Oldest General Store while behind us is a beautiful 1832 covered bridge, one of the longest and oldest in the nation. Below the bridge is Herriman's Falls. We are so fortunate to live in an area that tourists travel thousands of miles just to visit.
At the start of every new season, I take old work down and add in brand new paintings. This year will be no different.
And like every year, I'll be painting while sitting at an easel that I built into an old broken buggy. When I saw it at an auction in 2002, it had only two wheels left and they were both broken. The whole thing was covered with mud. Consequently, no one else wanted it. But after a bit of work it gained a new life and has served me well all these years.
I took this picture after I cleaned most of the mud of and before the serious work.
The final two weeks at the Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale really escalated and we left on a great high note. It is such a wonderful event with 100 artists working every day for 10 weeks. I really enjoyed meeting so many terrific people and getting to rub shoulders with so many creative people. And occasionally someone would come into the booth and become a subject for a painting or two.
Like young Ireland who came around wearing a fake tattoo and generated this idea.
Or Pingping who told me her name meant "Apple" in Chinese. She was so named because her mother said she was born with such a round and red face. I immediately saw this painting in my mind and asked her to pose. She has such an endearing personality the painting was titled "Pingping; The Sweet Apple".
I am still at a great event in Arizona called the Celebration of Fine Art. 100 artists all working at their craft while the public wanders through. I enjoy getting a chance to talk with people here as well as rubbing shoulders with the orther artists. We are here seven days a week for 3 months and it is a productive time indeed. The large painting above is one of many I have done here this year. I hope you'll check out the "What's New" category above and see what this one is all about in addition to tidbits on other work done in February.
One of the real perks of being at the Celebration is meeting thousands of people and occasionally someone like Pingping above or Bethany, below who just needs to be painted. See more about her story in the "What's New" section.
Though I would be proud to claim it, this is not my work. And believe it or not, it is the work of a brilliant 16-year-old named Livia Hamel. I don't believe I have ever touted the work of another artist on my website, but you should be aware of her and her work. Please click on the "What's New" button above for more on Livia.
For the second year, I am part of a terrific annual event in Scottsdale, Arizona called the Celebration of Fine Art. In one location there are 100 artists working at their craft and talking to the public about what we do. It is a tremendous group of people involved from the organizers to the artists and I am very proud to be a part of it. We are all working seven days a week for 10 weeks ending in late March. If you happen to find your self in the Phoenix area, please stop by and enjoy the event!
Above, you'll see my booth here and some of the new work displayed.
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Last month I showed this work in progress (see below) and I have recently finished it here in AZ. When I posted it and the story of what it all means, it exploded on Facebook. I have never had such a reaction to anything I have ever shown and that is certainly gratifying. I encourage you to read the story in the "What's New" section.
I always appreciate worling on portrait commissions and meeting those involved. In this case, a man came in the gallery last year and discussed having his daughters painted as a gift to his wife. He even brought one of the dresses to help me get the colors right. Not only the dresses were significant to the piece, but also the location. Even more important was what I learned about the personalities of these young ladies as a good portrait shows something of who they are and not just what they look like. It was especially gratifying to have it so well received. Below are some very kind comments from the proud owner.
"Kristin LOVED the portrait of the girls. She CRIED and declared it the best gift EVER. "
"The commission of the portrait of my daughters Brooke K. and Kendall S. Ford was expertly executed by Artist Craig Pursley of Bath, New Hampshire. The painting was a surprise gift for my wife Kristin for our 10th wedding anniversary. I had never before commissioned art and I was in search of an artist that had the talent to bring my vision to canvas but also someone that was easy to work with who would share the progress of the project to better make certain my expectations were fulfilled.
I found Craig's website on a random search and the images of his completed works appealed to me. We commenced an initial online dialog and then I set an appointment to drive the three hours to his Studio in Bath. I was at once taken by the depth and quality of his paintings, particularly the portraiture which to a canvas featured not just the physical characteristics of the subjects but a very distinctive portrayal of the individual's expressions. You could readily "see" the emotions of the person within the painting. Craig let me take my time around his studio and I asked my full compliment of questions. I was pleased that he had as many questions for me as I did of him. We engaged in back in forth on everything from size of work to personal questions about my daughters, the clothing to be depicted to where I might display the completed painting. My two hour visit made it apparent that I had found the right artist and I was pleased to make arrangements.
Over the six weeks he worked I was provided e-mail photographs about every 3 or 4 days with photos of the canvass and detailed descriptions of the techniques he was employing. The first number of images looked nothing like I expected and at least once I wondered if things were going to work out but then other colors came into play and I began to understand the progression and I eagerly anticipated my next e-mail. Also, from start to finish, Craig would frequently ask my opinion on his work and offer to change or improve anything I wanted. Additionally, there was an open invitation to come back to his studio whenever I chose to inspect the painting. I did this just once and was pleased with everything I saw. Because of this open collaboration the end product was everything I wanted.
My daughters painting is now a family heirloom. The enthusiastic comments of those that know Brooke and Kendall can't believe how life-like the painting is and how accurately Craig captured their fun loving spirits. Needless to say this portrait is the centerpiece of the room it hangs in.
I was lucky to randomly find Craig Pursley and I wrote these few words to assist the reader in narrowing their search for the right artist.
Sincerely, Paul S. Ford, Portsmouth New Hampshire December 2017
I have always been more comfortable painting fairly small (18x24 and under) but it is time to get out of my comfort zone. So recently I have been working much larger; in the case below, four by six feet! And to my surprize, I'm really enjoying it. There is a sense of freedom using more paint, bigger brushes and larger gestures. Many of you will recognize Miranda, shown here with a work in progress. She has been the subject of 40 paintings to date.
The upcoming Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale prompted the move toward bigger paintings. There is a lot of competition there with 100 other artists displaying their work so I need to show some impressive (and my best) work to stand out. For more on this event please visit their website.
In the third portrait workshop that I have taught at the Landgrove Inn, we had an exceptional group of people, both as artists and human beings. I think they really enjoyed each other and the work too. We also had a terrific pair of models, Miranda and her husband, Jason.
I highly recommend the Landgrove Inn, even if you're not interested in taking one of my workshops. They have art workshops every weekend from April to Novemner, a terrific staff, great food and the facilities for painting are amazing!
For years, I have been comfortable painting rather small works, rarely going over 24x30. But in the near future, I will be expanding those numbers and self-imposed restrictions in hopes that there will be an appeal to a wider group of clientele. Here is the first of these at four feet square. Other than a couple murals, it is the largest I have ever done. I expect soon to do some even larger. A special thank you to Allie (shown here) for providing the inspiration for this piece which you can read about, as well as, see better in the "What's New" section.
Also, in "What's New" you'll find the best of other paintings done last month along with descriptions about their inspiration of techniques. I hope you'll take a look.
In the space of a couple days I got two pieces of great news. One, "The Blue Kimono" was given an "Award of Excellence" at the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society "Best of America" show in Indiana. It was a terrific honor just to get into the show and I am over the moon about this recognition. Earlier in the month I learned that the Celebration of Fine Art (Scottsdale) used this image to promote the 2018 show in a full page ad in Fine Art Connoiseur Magazine. I was deeply honored by this as well.
Then we closed out the fall season in the gallery on a high note. Even though our little village was nearly a ghost town last year due to the two main stores closing, we rebounded with our second best October ever! And this followed out second best September in the same 13 year span. I am very grateful to all those who made this season such a wonderful recovery! Maybe Mona Lisa on a pumpkin drew some people in!
With the huge influx of tourists in the fall it is always fun meeting and talking to people. This year (on successive days) I had three people walk in from my hometown of Lexington, Nebraska, including this lady who actaully babysat me!
Please visit the "What's New" area of the website for the latest paintings and descriptions of what inspired them or how they were done.
The beautiful Landgrove Inn of Landgrove, Vermont will be hosting a workshop for me called "The Portrait Sketch in Oils" the first weekend of November. The inn is a wonderful old 1810 farmhouse with great facilities and terrific innkeepers. They host workshops each week from April to November where students work in a great studio with windows on three sides. If you are interested, please contact them at www.landgroveinn.com. I promise it will be worthwhile.
And I am VERY please to announce that Miranda and her husband, Jason will be our models. I have painted Miranda nearly 40 times over the years and Jason several times more recently. they are tremendous people too and I know you will enjoy them.
I am continuing to try to think outside the box when it comes to framing. I have used mirror frames, fireplace screens and even clocks in the recent past as frames for paintings. In this case a century-old curio cabinet was converted. And I took this one a step further. Inside the cabinet is another painting which I feel may have been my best work of the month. To see it, please click on the "What's New" button above.
I paint autumn scenes of our area year round but I step it up in the fall as so many are coming from all over the world to our door and occasionally, they want to take something home with them to remind them of the trip. Here's a recent one that is one of my favorites I've ever done of our beautiful village. To see lots more, please click on the "What's New" button above.
In late August, Julie and I took a drive in Central Vermont on roads we'd never before traveled. It turned out to be the most beautiful drive we've ever taken. Maybe the best scene was this one that looked so appealing to me. However, it was not exactly like this. Click the "What's New" button above to see a bit on what I did to hopefully, make it a better painting than the photo showed.
I've had several artist friends tell me that they have had paintings sell before they were finished. While I haven't done that, this is the first case I've had where one sold before it was dry. Thank you and congratulations to Craig and Mary Ann in Idaho for snatching this one up quickly.
And this couple called ahead and told me to mark "Circus Girl" as sold until they could come pick it up. Before they left, they took two more! They are very excited to hang them in their new home in Florida and I was very excited to help them do that. With this sale it made the best August we've ever had in the gallery after 13 years! A big thank to the Katzs'. AND it started some floodgates to be opened where ten paintings sold in a span of three days!
This new one is an example of an idea I've had of using non-traditional frames. For more on this and others, click the "What's New" tab above.
About once or twice a year I will dedicate more time and effort into an old style painting done in a method that the Old Masters used. (More on this in the "What's New" area of the website where you'll also see her family's reaction to the painting). It is much more invloved and often tedious but I always like the results. I used this method for the painting above of Allie and consider it one of the best portraits I have ever done.
This particular painting has a soundtrack. This is explained in the 2+ minute video I made of the process accompanied by the beautiful music of my friend, film score composer, Mark McKenzie. I hope you'll watch and listen as it enhances one's appreciation of the work, I believe. Please click the link below to see it.
Our gallery, The American Heritage Gallery of Art in Bath, New Hampshire is located just two doors down from the Brick Store, known as the Oldest General Store in America. In late 2015, they went out of business and the store as well as the ice cream shop between us sat empty all through last year. But a great couple bought both businesses (and our building) and have it up and running again! Last year for much of the time it seemed like a ghost town as I was the only business on the town green still open. With their opening on July 4th, an immediate and continuous flow of life returned and I am so grateful to the new owners for all the work and improvements they have made.
One of those improvements (and the coolest thing in town) is a full size replica of a Civil War cannon, shown here next to the gallery. It will eventually move to the north end of the Brick Store and I know it will stop traffic. The boardwalk here is new also and they used hand-cut square nails to install it just because it would be accurate for the age of the buildings. Ours is 1833, the ice cream shop, 1844 and the Brick Store, 1824.
I just found out that "The Blue Kimono" was accepted into the "Best of America" show sponsered by The National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society. This show will be in Indiana in the fall. I am very honored to be among those chosen to hang on the walls.
Recently I got a commission to paint a local farm and the idea came up to show it from the air. So the client got me a ticket for a helicopter ride to shoot reference photos. What a great exerience and I loved every second of it!
Such a wonderful perspective from the air, showing the New Hampshire farm in the foreground, the Connecticut River and Vermont on the other side. And SO green!
We had the biggest crowd ever for this, the fiftth show of portraits of local people and I think everyone had a good time. I was very happy to see so many of the models there and none more than Maia, who has become an honorary granddaughter to me. People really get a kick out of seeing the real people next to their painted images. These 41 portraits are on display through July 7 at Alumni Hall in Haverhill in the show called :The People in Your Neighborhood." For more photos from the show, click on the "What's New" button above.
I am VERY excited about "Pieces of a Dream" which is a book of the series I did called "Dreamscapes" while at the Orange County Register Newspaper. The series ran from 1985 to 2006 with more than 40 illsutrations which were accompanied by titles and captions. I have just ordered a few of these and they are now available or when these are gone you may preorder the next group. They are $135 which includes shipping and handling.
Each of these appears to be for a story but no story exists. It is up to the reader to make up their own tale. It is great for creative writers or just to let your imagination run away. Also with each is an explanation of the process of doing the work, something about the subject and often with some of the reference photos I used. For more on this, please click the "What's New" button above.
To see the latest paintings from the easel along with details of methods, inspiration and more, please visit the "What's New" area of the website.
Starting June 10th, The Alumni Hall in Haverhill, NH will be hosting a show of portraits I've done of local people. This is the 5th such show since moving to New England and is always a fun event on the night of the reception. Generally, many of the models are in attendance and attendees get to meet the people on the canvases. If you're in the area, please stop by. Details are on the poster below. Also, I'll be doing a portrait demo there on Saturday, June 24th from 1 to 4.
This marks the 13th year we've had the American Heritage Gallery of Art in Bath, NH. At the start of each season I clear out some old work, put new ones up and clean extensively. Here's what it looks like today.
While in the gallery, I'm nearly always painting and doing so while sitting in a century-old buggy without wheels. I built an easel into it and with the original upholstery, it is very comfortable. Here's a photo of me at work taken by friend, Stephen Restelli that looks remarkably like a Norman Rockwell painting in itself!
In the past, I have made some books to use as portfolios for the portrait society. This year for the first time, I've decided to make one combining the best of recent portraits with the best of landscapes from several years. It is 12x12 inches, 60 pages (all in color), on good stock and very nice reproduction. In addition to the 100+ paintings shown, I have a bit on the processes I use and a look back at six decades of painting. If you would like to order one, please contact me at
(603) 747-3020. And if you would like it signed, I'll be happy to do that as well. They are $110 including shipping and handling. Below are a few of the pages you'll see.
As a former art teacher, I have long seen the value of instructing others. Besides the improvement and edification of the student, it also has great benefits for the one doing the instruction as well. In order to not be embarassed as a teacher one must know what one is talking about and that requires much learning and thought. It helps focus on what you're doing rather than just continuing in a rut without consideration. It helps one consistently improve I believe. I ahve always enjoyed the interaction with students, some of whom remain friends 40 years later. I have certainly benefitted from the other side of this as well and continue to do so.
Here's a case in point. This photo taken two years ago at the Portrait Society of America Annual Conference shows l to r, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Michael Shane Neal, myself and Nicole Vargas Santiago. This is a significant chain of mentors of which I am very proud to be a link. While I have mentored Nicole, I was and am mentored by Shane, who was and is mentored by Ray Kinstler. Among Kinstler's teachers was Gordon Stevenson who was taught by John Singer Sargent! Sargent is the #1 hero for most people who paint portraits realistically so you can imagine how proud I am to be linked. And everyone I teach in my workshops become more links in that chain.
A fewyears ago I painted a portrait of Executive Councilor, Raymond Burton. Ray served his constituents for nearly 40 years and did so as the greatest example of a public servant I have ever known. Unfortunately, Ray passed away recently after battling cancer. Last week I found that he had willed this portrait to the state and after a legislative vote, it was confirmed that it would be displayed permanently in the Governor's Council Chambers in the State House right behind the chair he occupied for so long. I am very honored to have this displayed there and sincerely wish it could have been many more years before this would have happened. In a memorial service in mid-December at Plymouth State University it will be my pleasure to present this portrait Governor Maggie Hassan. It will be the second portrait I will have hanging in the Capitol Building, joining one of former Gov. Henry W. Keyes on the second floor.
On September 12th I was very honored to execute a portrait sketch in oil at the Saint Johnsbury Athenaeum. For a little over two hours I painted and talked to a nice crowd who came out to brave the rainstorm. All the while, behind my canvas loomed a giant painting by Albert Bierstadt (10x15 feet!!) and at the same time on my left, a small Bouguereau painting. I really enjoyed the evening and am thankful to those who attended as well as the Athenaeum staff for organizing it and hosting my one-man show which was on the second floor.
If you are interested in having a portrait done or commissioning a landscape, please don't hesitate to call or email me. It may surprise you how affordable it is. And with all commissions I send email updates with photos describing the entire process and usually include a CD with a time lapse movie of your painting. Past clients have been very happy with these and they will greatly increase your understanding and appreciation of the process. And they are free!
Here's what one client had to say about it.
"......and every time you correspond I learn something new.....Julie and I have talked quite a bit about the processes you used in painting our "Carney Barn" and we have come to the conclusion that there is so much more to painting that we had ever imagined......thanks for sharing what amounts to only a very small part of your knowledge... even though it is not much to you it is enormous to us....very very interesting and always send me anything about the process you want because I know it will be interesting and informative..." - Mike Carney
For anyone who has not visited our little village of Bath, New Hampshire, I sure recommend it. It is quintessentially New England and yet very unique at the same time. Though it is so small it has a lot to offer someone looking to relax a while in a place that is a slice out of another time. In just the space of 100 yards you will find America's oldest general store, chock full of goodies (wonderful smoked meats and cheeses and the best home-made fudge you've ever tasted), a nearly 400-foot-long covered bridge built in 1832 and waterfall right beneath it, a church (1873) that was the location of the nation's first Sunday School, an ice cream shop (1844) that is also a virtual rock and roll museum, and our art gallery (1833) with more than 125 paintings displaying the beauty of our area. The painting above shows Bath from just upstream. I hope to see you here someday. If you like rural America, you will love it here. My wife and I found it on a fall foliage bus tour in 1993 and she said that day "I want to live here!" We are so fortunate to have made a home here since 2002. If you are able to visit, please keep in mind the gallery (and the ice cream shop) are only open from May to October each year.
And I feel so blessed to be able to sit in the gallery and paint for a living. I work in a very comfortable old buggy without wheels into which I built an easel. I recall my dad having to get up at 5:30 a.m. and go to a job he hated in order to provide for his family and it just doesn't seem fair. Then to put the icing on the cake, I have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people who come through the shop and chat about art or Bath or New England or life in general.
I have a list of people to whom I send out regular updates on new paintings. These are generally a couple of times a month and include descriptions and/or inspiration for doing it. These are not to pressure anyone into a sale but at the same time they are offered here before going to any other galleries so anyone interested may have first crack at them. If you would like to be included on this list, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you right away. Your email address will not be given or sold to anyone else.
Thanks for visiting!