John Singer Sargent: Boston Strong

John Singer Sargent

I always have good intentions when it comes to visiting a museum exhibiting a blockbuster show. Sometimes I make it before it leaves town, sometimes I kick myself for having been “too this, too that” to attend. Well, I didn’t “too” anything this time and went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) (with my daughter Katie and celebrated her birthday!) and took in the John Singer Sargent watercolors exhibition, which combined the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and MFA.

Because I am a perennial rookie at using public transportation, I prefer to drive my car but only with my new best friend, “Her”, our phone navigator. Love Her. It makes traveling so much less stressful especially in Boston when one day you can slip right down Storrow Drive and wonder where all the people are, and on another day, you’d swear you are sharing the road with everyone who lives in Boston. This past Wednesday’s trip was an easy day. Except the parking part. So after dropping artwork at the Copley Society of Art on Newbury Street for an upcoming show, we headed to the MFA parking garage only to be the first in line when the garage attendant announced the lot was full. Ughh. So around the block we went and finally decided to go to the Prudential Tower and just park there for the afternoon and take the bus back to the MFA. My strong daughter, a veteran of Boston, saved the day.

John Singer Sargent

After a quick lunch at the café, we noticed the piles of people viewing the show moved along at a good pace. Occasionally we’d overhear someone who has probably never picked up a watercolor paintbrush in their life comment on not understanding what the big deal was. Hmm. Let me turn up the volume on my listening device.

Sargent’s use of fast drying layers of intense color with brilliant use of lighter value colors to indicate sunlight and shadows was fantastic to see up close. Sensitive and confidently drawn lines were understated in most works but still demonstrated what a great draftsman he was. He used soft-focused painted edges to add variety to the textures while rendering his artistic interpretation of what the light was doing. The strengths of Sargent’s talent for color, painting, drawing and composing were evident in each piece and I could have surely spent even more time with my nose pressed almost  against the glass of each piece. I’ll be reading through the exhibition book to see if it discusses Sargent’s techniques in depth. As a watercolor painter, I really enjoy reading all the nitty gritty detail as it satisfies my curiosity of how the artist achieved his style.

Boston should be proud of being called home to such a great painter with permanent artworks installed around the city. This was an amazing show worthy of however many modes of transportation it took to be drenched in the sunlight of a true master.

Open Studio 2013, Ann Trainor Domingue– messy, uncommon, friendly, contemporary painter

Open Studio 2013 Ann Trainor Domingue

Saturday and Sunday, November 2 & 3, 10am-4pm. Details on flier.

Sketch Crawl at the Fair

Fair at Sunapee 203

Sketch-crawl-sort of like bar-hopping without the beer but with a pen. Here is a an example of something I find fun to do–other artists are frightened by the notion of sketching people in action in public–I’ve been there, too, I have to admit. But I love the freshness of the results–even the inexact faces and body motions that I continue to give it a try. These vignettes were done directly from life as I wandered around the fairgrounds at the League of NH Craftsmen Fair in Newbury, New Hampshire on August 8th, 2013. The place was bustling with artistic activity and visitors watching with great interest as the craftspeople demonstrated their art. Very inspiring. I moved quickly from location to location and in an hour had enough vignettes on the page to begin the process of painting.

(Note: The NH Art Association (NHAA) and League of NH Craftsmen committees decided to end the many year association with the NHAA. No longer is the tent filled with original artwork and photographs a part of the Fair experience. We had so many people come up to us when we were demonstrating for the day to ask us “Where are the artists? Where are the paintings? I came here specifically to see that part of the show.” Wow. There were some very disappointed people sad to say. We lost count after 50–and it was only the early afternoon, of one day. Hope NHAA and the League will rethink their decision–there are many of us artists who were counting on participating and obviously the Fair had more of a following than it thought.) Please contact either organization if you’d like to see the artists back at Sunapee. Thank you.

Art News from the Front Porch Issue 3 newsletter available now at

Outdoor summer show dates, new work, where to get prints and more.

Outdoor summer show dates, new work, where to get prints and more. Love to hear what you think and please pass the word if you like what you see. Thanks.