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Field studies to studio paintings

Field studies to studio paintings

Recently I took a class with Bernard Dellario at the Winslow Art Center to explore the use of gouache as a field study medium.

While gouache is less frequently used than either sketching tools or transparent watercolors, it has the advantages of being opaque. This helps the artist in the field by allowing you to paint color-over color, regardless of value.

Dellario’s methodology includes two approaches: limited palette “wet gouache” method, where a few primary colors are mixed on a disposable palette, and a “dry” method, where a larger palette of dried “cakes” of color prepared ahead of time by the artist allow you to paint in a somewhat thinner manner.

I like both methods, and experimented with them recently. Here is an example of a pondside painting I did, first in gouache, then translating into oil in the studio:

gouache field study of pondside rocks by Meryl Enerson

Gouache plein air study of pondside rocks (6 x 8″)

Oil painting of pondside rocks by Meryl Enerson

Pondside Rocks (oil, 9 x 12″)

Tropical colors

Tropical colors

One thing that has always struck me is the way colors change and imbue a landscape with mood. In different time zones, this can be intensified and is one of the great pleasures of travel (whether you’re an artist or not). The scene above is the

On a recent trip to Hawaii, a “Kona Low” tropical storm hit just as we were landing. This is a once or twice-a-year event, and was not what my party of four was expecting. But it made for some good photos (to become paintings).

I captured the wet, windy trip to the hotel in a moving car (see above). The thing that struck me as a landscape artist was the deep maroon in the earth.

Later in the trip, the wind was still in evidence but the sun had come out and brought out the colors normally associated with the tropics -deep aquatic blues and bright contrasts of tan and apricot-colored buildings. This is the way most people think of Hawaii (and the tropics) but the stormy scenes brought out different colors – and opportunities to paint.

painting of shadows on a hotel building near a beach

“Hotel Shadows” – Oil on canvas (9 x 12″)






2022 “eSalon” at Art Students League of New York

2022 “eSalon” at Art Students League of New York

Last month, the Art Students League of New York began presenting an “eSalon” featuring work from the students in its various “e-telier” classes (virtual classes). The show runs through June 2022.

I am pleased to have my painting “Last Light” (2021, oil on paper) be part of the Chris Gallego’s March eSalon (detail shown above).  The painting is a winter scene of a local farm, seen at end-of-day. I enjoy these evocative moments when the light changes rapidly and the scene is all about mood.

This was a painting done a part of Chris Gallego’s League ongoing monthly class: “Advanced Drawing, Painting & Composition,” which has created a wonderful community of artists. I especially admire Chris’s contemporary approach to representational painting and his many insights on the painting process.

The eSalon is running through May, 2022.

See the League’s entire 2022 E-telier Student Salon

Spencertown Group Show July 10-August 8th

Spencertown Group Show July 10-August 8th

I am participating in the group Member Show at the  Spencertown Academy in Spencertown, NY.

Closed for 2020 because of the Pandemic, the Academy is once again hanging art on its Gallery walls, a cause for celebration.

My watercolor “Early Morning Cornfields” will be on display, along with many other works by Academy members in a wide variety of media (paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture) weekends only from 1 – 5 pm.

The show opened Saturday, July 10th and runs through Sunday, August 8th.

Visitors are required to wear masks.

painting of mist over cornfields

“Early Morning Cornfields” – Watercolor (7 x10.5″)

Same Idea, Different Medium

Same Idea, Different Medium

Recently I have been exploring how to use different art media to cross-pollinate visual ideas. Across the ages, of course, artists have developed sketches in one medium (whether with a drawing or a watercolor) to create large-scale compositions in their “formal” painting medium (i.e., oil paint).

Today’s art environment offers a wealth of options for working up compositions and ideas. At the same time, I also see artists “staying in their lanes” and ONLY working in a single medium (such as watercolor or acrylic or oil).

I love the mental challenge of working in different media. When I work in watercolor, I use a different method (starting with lighter tones, then adding darks). Acrylics and oils, on the other hand, start with darks and add lights last.

Another medium I have ventured into is block printing, thanks to some workshops offered by Molly Hashimoto at the WInslow Art Center. Molly, an accomplished nature artist, works in watercolor, block-printing, and etching. She’ll sometimes take the same idea and render it in all three media.

Inspired in part by her methodologies, I used the same starting point (from a photo I took of Ooms Conservation Area in Chatham, NY), and did a very small color study in gouache (shown above).

This guided me in doing the (somewhat larger) watercolor painting:

painting of a pond with trees in the background

Watercolor (9 x 12″)





Finally, the same composition was used in the background for a hand-colored block print of a Mallard pair:

block print of a Mallard pair on a pond


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