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Paintings by Craig Pursley

Another Season Ends

As the leaves fall each year and tourism wanes in New England, it is time to close up shop for the winter. Our building is 188 years old and has no heat or insulation. The good news is, that means my landlord cannot expect me to pay rent on a quiet, subzero building for half the year. This allows me also to escape shoveling snow and head to Arizona where I'll take part in the Fine Art Expo in Scottssdale. If any of you are in the Phoenix area from January to March, I hope you stop in and say hello!

 

As the fall is always our busiest season, I work every day for about 40 days in a row. But before you think I am hoping for sympathy, please know that all that time in the gallery is not like work. I get to paint and meet and chat with people from all over the world. 

To see the best of October's work, please check out the "What's New" section.

Fall in New England!

Every year as the colors change, the world around here gets beautiful beyond description. We still marvel at it, even after 20 years. While I love painting those colors, sometimes it is a challenge to not just go crazy with the exaggerated hues. And honestly, in one last month, I failed at that. (See the What's New" section) And it always brings more tourists into the gallery too. With the numbers being so far down with the adjacent and historic Brick Store (general store) being closed, much of the season has been a ghost town. So I am enjoying chatting with real people again.

Mentoring

Recently, I have begun mentoring 11-year-old, Landon who has amazed me with skills so far ahead of what could be expected for someone so young. Here he is with his first oil landscape. By the way, it is for sale in the gallery if anyone is interested. I have no doubt that he WILL be successful as an artist if he so chooses to pursue it so wouldn't it be a prize to acquire his first?!

I have mentioned these two sisters several times before. I still have the priviledge of mentoring them on a regular basis and I thought I would show them with a couple of the paintings that I have done of them. Genevieve, above with a couple recent ones of her and Monique, below. They are not only terrific painters, they are wonderful people and I love having them in the gallery.

I counted how many times I have painted them and/or their family members in the last 13 months and came up with a total of more than 25! Below, are the youngest two, Celine and Gianna with one they inpsired. What a blessing it has been to get to know the whole family!

Please vist the "What's New" section of the website to see the best of the last month's work.

New Portrait Workshop Announced

The Landgrove Inn will be hosting another portrait workshop for me Nov. 4th-7th. It is a great venue for workshops and an amazing place with incredible food and staff! I hope you can join us if you are interested. Please check their website for more information. 

 

https://www.landgroveinn.com/art-workshops

Finally in Print!

My book, "Portrait of Emily Hutchins" is finally available through Amazon and I am very excited about it. I had a great time writing it and I hope you will enjoy reading it if you order one. It is also available in a Kindle version. Here's a brief synopsis of the story on the back cover.

A portrait of a beautiful young woman hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with a story to tell. Through the journals, diaries and letters of the subject and the artist who painted her, the lives and love they shared come to life in Civil War-era New England.

These writings, kept secret for decades, not only reveal the difficulties of finding any kind of relationship with each other; they also show how society and even family sometimes strove to keep them apart. And deep in these personal papers, a brutal murder also comes to light. A story full of life, kindness, humor, rage, cowardice, faith and temptation, heartbreak and forgiveness, it eventually shows the potential value of a human life.

 

Previous Posts

Last month I showed part of the process I use in painting (See just a bit below). Since then, I painted the first from that photo session. To get the best image, I combined ten different photos of the many taken. Three just for her hair, one for the face, two for the arms, three for her legs and feet and another for the water. I have much more to say about this painting on the "What's New" portion of the website and I hope you will go there and read about the spiritual commection and even a piece of music that accompanies this work.

This Just In!!

I strongly encouraged the two girls I am mentoring to enter the art competition at the North Haverhill Fair recently as they are SO good and have not been around others their age in any kind of art class. Consequently, they had no idea just how far ahead of their age group they are. Genevieve (above) and her sister, Monique (below) even worked in a recent session to do these special pieces just for the fair.

They both were awarded blue ribbons for these paintings and Monique won Best of Show for a painting she did of a bear. I'm sorry I do not have a photo of that painting. It is a black and white 16x20 that she did with bold strokes in only 30 minutes!!!! I couldn't be more proud of them!

News from the Brick Store!!

The owners of the Brick Store (and my landlords) have informed me that the store, the ajoining ice cream shop as well as our gallery are now for sale. They closed for business last Christmas Eve intending to reopen in February. After trying for months, they were unable to find people willing to work and so regretfully, they have put the businesses on the market for 1.1 million dollars. I must admit, that much of my traffic depends on their being open, so this season, it has been a ghost town in Bath. While I'm sure with whatever happens, we will be okay, I am very concerned about the future of the town as the Brick Store is the very heart of it. Hopefully a buyer will be found and will want our gallery to remain here. If you are so inclined, your prayers would be appreciated.

Part of the Process

Very often I work from photos that I take and I rarely share this part of the process. But in this case, it may be a bit more interesting than the usual. For the paintings I hade in mind, I needed a special perspective. In the case below, I wanted her reflections shown in the water which meant I meeded to me in the river myself. This made me nervous as the rocks are very slippery and I sure didn't want to end up with my camera underwater.

But some terrific reference photos resulted and it was definitely worth the risk.

For the poses above, we were right below the covered bridge near my home. During the same shoot, I went up into the bridge to shoot out a window straight down as Monique slowly swam in the still waters below. I hope you'll come back next month's update to see what might have resulted from these photos. By the way, these are just three of the best of more than 650 pictures taken this day!

Wrapping Up a Three-Month Show

For ten weeks from January through March, I was in Scottsdale as part of the Arizona Fine Art Expo along with nearly 100 other artists. The show was open to the public with all these artists drawing, painting, sculpting or doing whatever they do and doing it seven days a week. Many think it would be a grind but getting to paint every day and meet a lot of nice people is pretty soft as grinds go. I was able to complete 50 paintings during that stretch and sold quite a few.

Also, a perk of being there is meeting other artists and having the opportunity to trade work. Here I am with Craig Bergsgaard from Colorado. I traded him a portrait of himself a pair of his terrific sculptures. Read about an interesting coincidence with this guy in the "What's New" section.

I am very proud to announce the publication of my first book! This has been a passion project for the last 16 months. Currently it is available online through Amazon Kindle and soon the print version will follow. Here's the blurb and link on it in case you might want to read it.

Some Big News 

In the last week I found out that I did well in two competitions and both made my respective days!

First, International Artist Magazine selected "Over the River and Through the Years" as a finalist in their annual Lakes, Rivers and Streams Competition.

And then just yesterday (Dec. 8) I was informed that "Dancer in Red" was accepted into the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society International Fall Online Showcase. 

The Strangeness Continues

As expected, with no tour buses this year and the overall nervousness of the public, it was a pretty bad October for the gallery. But there will certainly high points. It is funny how smiles are contagious and the painting below proved that to me. Even a painted smile brought one out in me the whole time I worked on hers. More on this painting in the "What's New" section. I hope you click on that and see the best of the other paintings done last month.

By the way, the model for this painting is Genevieve, the older of the two sisters I have been mentoring recently. You can see a photo of her just a couple pictures below. They and their mom came in once a week for the past couple months and it couldn't have come at a better time! Just as the fall business took a downturn, they came in and brought some life back to the gallery. Their lessons will continue at my home studio now that the gallery has closed for the season. I have benefitted greatly from others willing to share what they knew with me and I want to pass it on.

Good News!

I recently heard that I have had paintings that have won awards in three different contests! The Connecticut Academy of Fine Art recognized "Ascension" as a winner in the painting catefory of their annual competition.

Then The Oil Painters of America recognized "The Wildling" into their 2020 Salon of Traditional Oils. Both of these made my day! The third award I am not yet at liberty to reveal. Look for that one in the near future!

Pleasecheck the "What's New" section of the website for the best of new paintings from July!

I was just notified that this painting from last December, called "Ascension" was awarded an Honorable Mention by the prestigious Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts. The subject, Allie, has been a terrific model since I first met her when she was only 13. It is not unusual for a girl this age to have a look of innocense. It is very rare, however that they can still have that look at 17. And yet, Allie does.

From the start of the gallery, I have been painting in this recyled 1900-era buggy seat (no, it is not a sleigh) into which I built an easel. I figure I have painted more than 1,200 works here since then.

Please Check the "What's New" area to see the most recent work

A Rare Breakthrough Painting

While I suspect that the subtle differences probably are not obvious, this painting represents what is called a "Breakthrough" painting for me. For years I have tried to make my shadows lighter, lights a bit darker and get an elusive softness in my protraits. I tried a fairly simple new (to me) technique and found that, without trying, all those things fell into place. I have explained this further in the "What's New" section and I hope you will check that out along with descriptions of other new work.

Things are Looking Up

Last month I whined a little about the occasional lows of being an artist. And forgive me, I should never do that after being given the chance to paint for a living as that is as good as it gets to me. But having done the whining, I feel a bit better about talking of the high of the profession. After changing my technique last month (see What's New section) I have had several paintings in a row that I consider as good as I cam capable right now and maybe better than I was capable before. And this feels REALLY good. During the three days I worked on this painting, it was a microcosym of the highs and lows. More on this in the "What's New" section.

Portrait Sketch DVD Nearly Ready

I am very pleased with the instructional DVD that has been produced on completing a portrait sketch in oil. It should be available any day now and may be preordered at a reduced rate of $60. It is over two hours of demonstration with some bonus fottage of my artistic path to portraits as well as a gallery of images of some of my best work over the past decade. Please contact me at craigpursley@roadrunner.com to reserve one.

On a rain-soaked day last June, professional videographer, Pingping Xiao shot hours of a day's work to edit down to what you will see on the DVD of a painting done from start to finish of favorite model, Hannah. Some of you may recall Pingping's name as she has been a model in the past as well. 

And for more of Mark's music-

www.markmckenzie.org

               My Strange August Connection                   to Norman Rockwell

I recently finished a commission for a painting of the property above which has such an interesting history. Both the home and barn were built during the American Revolution and was originally the poor farm for this area of Arlington, Vermont. The great-grandfather of the current owner took over the property during the Great Depression and he and his wife planted 22,000 trees here over several years. That man's son, when he owned it, was a friend of a local artist named Norman Rockwell, who came for dinner a few times. The young man who commissioned this really wanted that middle ridge of trees to somehow show a nod to the ones who planted all those trees there. So after much thought (and thanks to his short last name) I decided to roughly show the trunks and branches back there to spell out his name. Unless you look hard for it, you'll never notice but he loves that it is there. Then as a surprize to the commissioner, I used the little reflections in the pond at lower left to spell out his name in Morse Code, Read more on the execution of this painting in the "What's New" section of the website.

While I was in the Arlington area to photgraph that property, I was very taken by the beauty all around such as the farm above (one of three paintings I did this month from this trip. I wanted to return soon with Julie to show it all to her so I went online looking for motels in the vicinity. The first to pop up was Norman Rockwell's house which is now a B&B! So of course, that's is where we stayed. A neat old (1792) home in a rural area that just screams Rockwell everywhere. Straight out from his front door is an 1804 church and beyond is an 1852 covered bridge and gorgeous old farms all around. (future paintings await) While there I saw several photos of Rockwell in and around the house and in his studio out back. So I had Julie shoot some pictures of me in the same spots to Photoshop myself into the room with him.

It almost felt like I got to meet my first art hero!

And here is a painting of that 1852 covered bridge just up the road from his place. There will be several more paintings result from this trip to Arlington.

Then later in the same week, I got a commission to paint a gentleman's wife and son with an old pharmacist. He said he wanted it to look like a Rockwell painting. What are the odds that in the space of one month, I'd have three connections like this?!

The Value of Mentoring

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.

Painting Update List

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 craigpursley@roadrunner.com and I will add you right away. Your email address will not be given or sold to anyone else.

Thanks for visiting!




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