Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Backstop at Van Horn Park, Spring 2022

Revisited that backstop at Van Horn Park, now with green grass and clover replacing the snow of my last sketch.
Ink sketch of athletic backstop in bright sunlight with dark foliage in background

Thursday, May 12, 2022

 My town recently acquired a disused golf course and has been letting it return to a quasi-natural state for recreational uses by the public. It's very beautiful and bucolic, but has an undertone of eldritch, a hint of JG Ballard, especially the overgrown sand traps.

Sketch in black, white and gray ink on toned paper of sand trap, partially overgrown with weeds and generally unkept looking.

Ink and white gouache on toned paper.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Wet panel carrier

 I made a serviceable little wet panel carrier for the 6" x 8"s that I use with the small cigar box pochade out of scraps of birch plywood. It holds up to 8 panels back to back in four slots, which I hogged out with the table saw and cleaned up with the Dremel tool. The top is held on with Velcro.

Homemade wet panel carrier with cigar box pochade box

Closeup of wet panel carrier showing slots to hold panels

Closeup of wet panel carrier with top on

Dump Wagon

I didn't know what this thing was, just that it took the late afternoon light nicely standing by the side of the road. After some Google sleuthing, I think I can identify it as a side dumping silage wagon, or dump wagon. The diagonal tube across the front is a hydraulic piston that lifts the hopper up and pivots it over the top of the horizontal frame to dump the contents.

Watercolor sketch of an orange metal wagon in warm sunlight. The wagon consists of a chassis with four rubber-tired wheels, a frame, and a wedge-shaped hopper. Green fields and trees in background.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Me and my little guys

 Me and my little guys at the Monson Arts Council 28th Annual Juried Spring Art Exhibition & Sale.

Artist posing with painting of landfill, bushes and clouds.

Landfill Near Hadley Dike

Artist posing with painting of snow blowing off roof

Shed Roof

Photos by Michael W. Gilbert

Weekends April 23rd - May 8th, 2022 - noon to 5pm
House of Art,
200 Main Street, Monson, MA

Friday, April 22, 2022

Monson Arts Council 28th Annual Juried Spring Art Exhibition & Sale

 The Monson Arts Council 28th Annual Juried Spring Art Exhibition & Sale opens this weekend.

Weekends April 23rd - May 8th, 2022 - noon to 5pm
House of Art,
200 Main Street, Monson, MA

Background image: painting of boat carrying various bizarre characters Text: Shapes! ...&Colors Monson Arts Council Presents Our 28ty Annual Spring Art Exhibition & Sale Weekends Noon-5:00 PM April 23 -May 8, 2022 Coming Soon to the House of Art  Image credit Copyright Ship of Fools Richard Swiatlowski  Supported by these area businesses Monson Savings Turley Publications Lind Lastoff Leo S. Walsh Foundation Moulton Insurance Agency Inc. J. Stolar Insurance Agency Inc Roberts & Ludlow Printing Karen King Remax Valley Advocate Hearing Life Giclee of New England, Inc

Landfill Near Hadley Dike and Shed Roof  will be on display.

Oil painting of landfill forming a smooth, rounded hill with grass and bushes growing on it, beneath blue sky with fluffy clouds. Chain link fence in foreground.

Oil painting of snow being blown off of roof, revealing vortices and eddies in air currents. Blue gray house with red porch in background.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Railroad crossing and Mansard roof house

 Two sketches from today. The railroad crossing is the same place I did back in February but from the opposite side and now it's spring. I'm concerned about the porch roof on the Mansard house, although it does contribute to its charming/creepy personality.

altInk on toned paper sketch of railroad crossing with signals, looking downhill at at church steeple, trees, and utility poles.

Ink on toned paper sketch of old house with mansard roof and somewhat dilapidated wraparound porch.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Funky little house

 Waiting for an oil change at Auto Express, I sketched this funky little house across the street. Lots of lovely details, including pallets in the yard and traffic cones on the steps. Pen, ink wash on paper.

Pen and ink drawing of small house with front porch, assorted detritus including pallets and traffic cones

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Quick Release Caddy

 I use my tripod with several different pochade outfits, equipped with their own quick release plates, as well as my camera, which isn't; so I need to have a separate plate on hand, but not taking up the space on the tripod head. Using a hose clamp and a 1/4" 20 nut, I fashioned a quick release caddy. After hacking out an opening in the hose clamp strap and supergluing the nut to the underside, I attached the hose clamp to the tripod leg and can now tote the quick release plate by screwing it into the nut.

Hose clamp, quarter inch twenty nut, and quick release plate

Closeup of hose clamp strap with hole cut in the middle

Close up of hose clamp strap with nut glued to underside of hole

Closeup of hose clamp and nut attached to tripod leg

Closeup of quick release plate attached to hose clamp assembly

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Bike repair stand

 I've always wanted one of those bike repair stands like they have at the bike shop, but couldn't quite justify the investment. I realized that I did have a car bike rack that could be kludged onto a stepladder, and it actually worked pretty well to do my seasonal cleaning and tune up. Reminds me of a Duchampian Dalek.

Bicycle held aloft by a car bike rack attached to a stepladder.

Side view of stepladder with car bike rack attached with clamps.

Marcel Duchamp posed with cigar in front of his sculpture, "Roue de Bicyclette (Bicycle Wheel)," consisting of a wooden stool supporting a bicycle front fork and wheel.

A "Dalek" from the Doctor Who TV series. It is a menacing, robotic looking machine, shaped somewhat like a salt shaker, with knobs and various probes and sensors protruding from it.

Ego et Endo at Building Bridges Showcase

Ego et Endo  greeted visitors to the Building Bridges Showcase Event at UMass April 5, 2022

Oil painting of man with beard and glasses wearing tan raincoat and holding a paint brush and a wooden palette, hanging on a pegboard panel in gallery.

Show invitation poster reads: BUILDING BRIDGES Showcase Event April 5th, 12-7 UMass Worker Artists Our Immigrant Voices Panels Music & Performance + More Join us at the Ralph W. Bromery Center for the Arts Building Bridges draws on the power of solidarity and creative expression to bring people together and create a bridge across difference.  UMass Amherst  The Commonwealth Flagship Campus   (In circular sidebar)  Solidarity  Community  Kindness  Visibility Hope

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Exploring the Z-axis!

I wanted to get a higher horizon on the view out back, so I constructed an extension to hold my pochade box at the top of a stepladder. Judy took a nice video (with Foo Fighters soundtrack) of me trying it out for the first time - it went pretty well, even on a brisk, windy day. The other pictures show the elevated workspace, and a side view of the extension showing the 1/4" 20 bolt that fits the tripod fitting on the box and the stabilizer bar at the far end. The near end has a hook that secures it to the top step. It's enough to support the weight of the box, but in practice I added a couple of clamps to relieve the strain.

Stepladder with pochade box mounted on extension to top step. A sketch in blue paint is in progress. An umbrella is attached to the side of the ladder

Closeup of pochade box working area, with palette, brushes, palette knives and paint tubes.

Closeup of extension made of plywood with bolt passing through and stabilizer piece mounted on the end

Closeup of wooden hook assembly holding extension to top of stepladder

Closeup of extension hooked to stepladder top and reinforced with clamps.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Monson Arts Council show

 Shed Roof and Landfill Near Hadley Dike have been accepted into the Monson Arts Council 28th Annual Juried Spring Art Exhibition & Sale.

Weekends April 23rd - May 8th, 2022
Noon to 5pm
House of Art
200 Main Street, Monson, MA

Oil painting of snow being blown off of roof, revealing vortices and eddies in air currents. Blue gray house with red porch in background.

Oil painting of landfill forming a smooth, rounded hill with grass and bushes growing on it, beneath blue sky with fluffy clouds. Chain link fence in foreground.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Little Tinker Hill, Autumn

Last fall I returned to a scene I had painted the previous spring and started a larger version. It was also an experiment with getting a French easel and larger panel onto the back of my bike. I've been working on it and letting it marinate over the winter but I'm calling it done now.

Oil on panel 14.5" x 21.5"

Oil painting of small hill, with green and orange foliage illuminated by late afternoon sun under dark clouds, with trees, houses, and field in foreground

Bicycle and French easel with sketched in painting by side of country road with farm houses in background.

Bicycle carrying french easel and large panel on top of rear pannier baskets

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Backstop with snow

 Another swing at the backstop structure at Van Horn Park, with fresh snow on the ground. Pencil, white Sakura Gellyroll, white gouache, and diluted Noodler's Lexington Gray in waterbrush on toned gray paper in montanapolitancroptic sketchbook.

Ink and white gouache sketch of athletic backstop structure with snow on ground and dark trees in background.

Closeup of hand holding sketchbook with sketch of backstop in front of the actual scene.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Railroad Crossing

I thought this scene had a sweet Virginia Lee Burton vibe to it.

Pen, Ink wash, white ink, white gouache on toned paper 4" x 6"

Pen, ink wash, and white gouache sketch of railroad crossing signal with snow on ground and trees in background. Signal is a pole with a pair of lights mounted on black discs with hoods, similar to traffic lights. X-shaped sign on pole reads "RAIL ROAD CROSSING"

Thursday, February 24, 2022

French Easel Palette

 Many years ago I made a palette to go with my french easel (the one that came with it was hopeless) out of Masonite impregnated with stand oil. It was OK but I never really liked how it took the paint and in recent years I've come to prefer a glass or plexiglass surface with a neutral gray background to brown wood. So I made a sandwich with thin acrylic sheeting and gray paper on the original palette. It takes the paint and cleans up nicely; back in the box and ready for use.

Rectangular painter's palette made of brown hardboard

Transparent acrylic sheeting and gray paper cut to match palette

Closeup of palette surface with orange paint and brush taking a sample

Palette neatly stored in french easel box.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Van Horn Park peninsula

 The Van Horn Park peninsula seen from the far side of the pond. It was a gray day, but the colors still had a nice glow.

Watercolor in MontanaPolitanCroptic sketchbook, 4" x 6"

watercolor sketch of peninsula with yellowish grasses and cattails reflected in gray, semi-frozen pond.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Backstop in Snow

 Oil Sketch of backstop in snow, first time out after fitting my small cigar box pochade with a handle so I could hold it aloft like a plasterer's hawk. The handle came with a #bestbrella but I never had occasion to use it so I ripped out its brella screw and replaced with a 1/4" 20 to fit the t-nut already in place for tripod mounting. @judyendless got a nice shot of me using it. I also made a mini version of a #PaletteGarage from a Rotring pen box (#PaletteCigarage). It all worked well, except that I belatedly realized that my custom of cleaning one palette knife with another palette knife was impossible now that I had to do everything with one hand. So I found a piece of extruded metal with nice flanges and made a one handed palette knife scraper. As is so often the case with accommodations, it turned to also be incredibly convenient even if you have two hands, so I installed them on my other pochade box, french easel, and palette table.

Oil painting of athletic backstop seen from behind, with snow on ground and trees in background

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Van Horn Park Peninsula

The ice is melting and forming puddles on the surface. I tried an experiment with this, putting blue washes top and bottom fading into a rosy wash in the middle, before doing any painting. It had the effect of muting the greens, which is usually a good thing. 

Watercolor sketch of wooded peninsula with icy pond and melted puddles in foreground

Progress shot. Washes are partially visible.

alt="Photo of wooded peninsula with icy pond and melted puddles in foreground and sketchbook with partially completed painting held up in front."

Monday, February 7, 2022

Shed Roof

I love how the wind blowing snow off the roof reveals all the vortices and eddies created by the edge. The swirls and curlicues propagate out into 3-D space and each flake gets a wild roller coaster ride down to the ground. Judy took a photo of me at work, with my pochade box protected by ArtisticInTent, and a video from the kitchen window showing the snow blowing.

Oil painting of house and back porch with snow blowing off roof, creating complex swirls and spirals.

Artist painting in snowstorm, using pochade box and protective tent made of plastic sheeting on metal frame.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Landfill with snow and bulldozer

Ink wash and white ink on toned paper, inaugurating my new sketchbook. This appears to be a John Deere 550 model circa 1978.

Inkwash and white ink sketch on toned paper of small bulldozer parked on snowy landfill. Dark pine trees in background and metal posts and chain link fence in foreground.

Thursday, January 27, 2022


I am mostly very happy with my David Sorg easel, but from time to time I have a problem with the support system and panels. The easel uses coarse grit sandpaper attached to flat boards top and bottom to hold the canvas, which is nice because you don't have flanges covering the art or overhangs casting annoying shadows. However, with 1/8" panels, there is less surface area to grip, and sometimes when I am getting enthusiastic with the palette knife it will come loose with an alarming crash.

This seems to be more of an issue with the top bracket, and with a larger panel, probably because it creates a long lever amplifying the force against it, and because the weight pulls it away from the sandpaper.

My solution is the Scabbet (scab + rabbet), a temporary backstop attached with Velcro. It makes a significant difference to the way it feels to paint, much more solid and dependable.

David Sorg's solution is simpler:

oil painting of mountain on easel, secured with wooden backstops visible top and bottom

alt="Two thin wooden boards, one longer than the other, with velcro attached to the ends"

alt="Closeup of corner of top support bracket, showing velcro stapled to top surface"

Close up of corner of top support bracket, showing backstop behind panel with velcro wrapped around to secure it to top surface

alt="Close up of bottom bracket, showing backstop on top with velcro wrapped underneath"