The first week of Peter's studies from his Landscape a Day Blog were sent out last week. Rick Rinaldi of San Diego, CA emails, "As beautiful as the online jpegs look, they really don't capture the fire and life of the actual studies."
Peter and I would both like to thank everyone who has been watching his blog and to all of those who have been quick enough to purchase a study.
Peter spends a lot of time looking and studying old and new locations. When he finds a location that inspires him, he photographs it extensively at different times of day, different weather and in different seasons. Depending on where we are I often take pictures too, challenging myself to find my own motifs as well as those that might inspire Peter. Certain locations are better at different times of day. Where the sun is setting or rising can either illuminate or hide the subject.
Peter processes his photos on his computer and takes them out to the studio. Never lacking for inspiration, His computer in the studio is filled with hundreds of his photos.
For a new subject, he will often, but not always, do a small study first and work out the details for the larger painting. The studies are like a practice run and are beautiful little paintings in their own right.
Once Peter has a subject he enjoys painting he will revisit it often. He was once asked how he explained his multiple paintings on the same subject. His answer was "if you prepare a great meal, you want to enjoy it again, right?"
There seems to be a lot of animals appearing on this blog! I've been spending a lot of time updating email lists and websites and learning how to use blogger (and feeding deer baby). So other than preparing for the launch of Landscape a Day, there's not a lot going on right now. Here's a little bit about our 2 dogs; Fiesta and Camy.
Fiesta is 85 pounds of pure dog. Although she's slowing down, she still has what we like to call, personality plus. We adopted her from the ASPCA when she was eight months old. I had fallen in love with her online and had no idea what we were in for. She spent the first night circling my NYC apartment on the tops of all my furniture. When I tried to get her down, she bared her teeth and growled at me. I cried. I had never met a dog that didn't like me! She finally came down and peed all over my magazines. I didn't know what to do with her. I thought I might have to take her back, an idea that was inconceivable 12 hours earlier.
The next morning, I took her for a walk in Central Park. This was it, her last chance. She walked quietly beside me and was startled by the dirt under her feet and the birds overhead. She was curious and interested in everything. After walking for a while, we sat down on a rock and she leaned against me. That was it. She was ours. Underneath all that craziness was a sweet dog. She's been a lot of work, but it's all been worth it. I can't imagine life without her.
Camy is a 13 pound (sometimes 14 depending on how many snacks she's had) dappled dachshund. When Peter's daughter Lisa was 10 she wanted a dachshund. "Oh Daddy, can we have a dachshund. Please Daddy can we have a Dachshund" And so, we have a dachshund and I can't imagine life without her either. Camy, aka the zen master, is very sweet and sometimes a bit stoic. She lives a simple life. She likes full body massages and sleeping on the couch, usually under a blanket. That's her zen den.
We've been working on Peter's new blog, Landscape a Day. All of the details are coming together and people are really excited about it. The response already has been overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who has emailed us with well wishes and excitement at purchasing their first study. Buyer beware, once you start you may not be able to stop!
This afternoon, I went for a walk beyond our property, across the ravine and onto our neighbor's land. There's a thick layer of ice on top of the snow that made every step an effort. Step. Crunch. Step. Crunch. Step. Step. Crunch. Our dog Fiesta is a real snow beast and even though she is getting older and sometimes moves like a table sliding across the floor, she always wants to go. She kept up with me despite the fact that she too broke through the snow every few steps.
As we crunched along, we sent the deer running. I'm sad that we disturbed them but it was exciting to see how quiet and graceful they move. They stood on the ridge and eyed us suspiciously. We scrambled up the slope following their tracks and sent them further into the woods.
It was a beautiful sunset and I took some photos, perhaps some images that will inspire Peter; weeds poking through the snow with the distant hills illuminated by the setting sun.
We received a nice email from one of Peter's former workshop students, Grace Hopwood. She wrote, "I just came in from taking pictures of a winter sunset over a farm at the top of my drive and I thought of you two. I have lived here for 22 years and have never painted a winter scene, and probably never would have if it weren't for Peter's gorgeous paintings."
We just got back from lunch and found deer baby under the bird feeder looking for food. He adopted us earlier this winter after the first big storm. He and his mom come around to check what's under the feeder and to get an occasional handout after snow or ice storms.
I went out to the studio this morning to see if Peter felt like going out to lunch today. We do that often -- it's good to get out of the house sometimes when you work at home. Peter's studio is a separate building from the house. It is only 40 feet from the front door but feels like a world away.
Today as I enter I try to imagine it's my first visit. The smell of paint and solvents is present but not overwhelming. I take a deep breath, it smells good, like work or art school. There's a small dark hallway stacked with paintings, framed and ready to go out to different galleries and book cases filled with art books and reference books from his days as an illustrator and stacks of other books and papers all over.
Absorbing the ambiance
Then I step into the light of the main room where he is busy at his easel. The room is filled with paintings in progress and empty frames and supplies and photos of family and items from his past, like his draft card and his acceptance letter to Pratt. It's a bit of a mess, but he always finds what he's looking for. It's comfortable but It's definitely a work space.
Peter at work on a study
His glass palette is crowded with brushes and paint tubes and paper towels. He mixes paint in the small area that is left for him. He works quickly and makes it look effortless. He's happy to go to lunch, as soon as he finishes.
We were up at 5:30 this morning to catch the sunrise on Wisner Farm in Warwick, NY. Peter made coffee and carefully poured it into the thermos, while I took the dogs out for an early morning walk. By six, we were out the door, a little sleepy, but ready to go picture hunting. Peter had already scouted our destination on several occasions, but the light was never quite right. Always in the afternoon, the bright light of the setting sun behind the white barn wasn't interesting him. He photographed some other barns and a small stream running through the open fields, but he knew that if he could come back at sunrise, the barn, illuminated by the warm morning light, would be perfectly carved out from the distant treeline and sky. It would be magical.
It took a couple of weeks from when his cousin Gary first suggested the location to when we were finally there on a cold February morning; 12 degrees to be exact. We had waited for the weather and life to cooperate and it was finally the right time. 35 minutes after leaving home, I waited in the car while Peter got his camera ready, mounting it to a monopod to steady his camera in the low light. I drank coffee and occasionally rolled down the window to check on him and take his photo. He took a few photos of the barn, surrounding Fields and me napping (briefly) as the dawn light changed subtly from cool blues to peach and lavender.
7:07 was the official sunrise time, we had looked it up the night before. The farm was in a valley and we we waited for the sun to come. 7:10... 7:15... 7:20... The land around us was beautiful and quiet as we waited for the sun to break over the distant hill -- the sky and cool snow covered fields were similar in color with a subtle band of clouds over the barn. Peter stamped his feet to stay warm. 7:25... a distant hill catches the first rays of sunlight. The anticipation is growing. We both know that in a few minutes, the barn that is so quiet now, will be ablaze in warm oranges, pinks and yellows. The grass that is dark and lifeless, will look like a fire running across the blue snow covered fields. At long last, the sun breaks the top of the hill and the show begins. Peter and I both start photographing.
In less than an hour of arriving at the farm, the light had completely changed. The orange glow of a morning sunrise is so fleeting. Still beautiful, the sun was up and the light already cooler and harder.
On the way home, Peter was jubilant. He reviewed his photos in the back of his camera and said, "I feel like a big-game hunter that just bagged a big one." When we get home, he downloaded his photos and headed straight for the studio. He couldn't wait to get started painting.
Barbara Fiore started her artistic career as an illustrator and web designer and has worked for some of the world's most prominent companies and publishers. She has always been inspired by the physical and visual world of animals and nature and has discovered sculpture as the perfect medium to express her vision. Barbara lives and works along the Delaware River in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, artist Peter Fiore, and their two dogs.