Monday, December 5, 2011

Alexandra Tyng's Work at the Maine State Capitol in Augusta

The following article appeared in the Bangor Daily News on 10/27/11:

New art exhibit unveiled at Maine Capitol Complex

Posted Oct. 27, 2011, at 1:19 p.m.
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The artwork of Alexandra Tyng, including this one titled &quotPainting on Cadillac," is now on display in Maine’s Capitol Complex as part of the Maine Arts Commission’s Arts in the Capitol program.
Alexandra Tyng
The artwork of Alexandra Tyng, including this one titled "Painting on Cadillac," is now on display in Maine’s Capitol Complex as part of the Maine Arts Commission’s Arts in the Capitol program.
The artwork of Alexandra Tyng, including this one titled &quotBack to the Lakes," is now on display in Maine’s Capitol Complex as part of the Maine Arts Commission’s Arts in the Capitol program.
Alexandra Tyng
The artwork of Alexandra Tyng, including this one titled "Back to the Lakes," is now on display in Maine’s Capitol Complex as part of the Maine Arts Commission’s Arts in the Capitol program.
The artwork of Alexandra Tyng, including this one titled &quotBoat Sailing in Sunset," is now on display in Maine’s Capitol Complex as part of the Maine Arts Commission’s Arts in the Capitol program.
Alexandra Tyng
The artwork of Alexandra Tyng, including this one titled "Boat Sailing in Sunset," is now on display in Maine’s Capitol Complex as part of the Maine Arts Commission’s Arts in the Capitol program.

Augusta, Maine — The Maine Arts Commission announced Thursday that the artwork of Alexandra Tyng and James Dodds is now on display in Maine’s Capitol Complex as part of the agency’s Arts in the Capitol program.

The exhibit has been loaned by the Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, and will remain on display until February 2012. The work is viewable by the public throughout the week at the Maine State House from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and at the Blaine House from 2 to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays. Those wishing to visit the Blaine House are advised to call ahead.

“The Maine Arts Commission is delighted to be hosting this exhibition of paintings,” said exhibit facilitator Donna McNeil. “These world-famous artists depict familiar visions of life in Maine and guide the viewer toward a deep and joyful attachment to Maine’s landscape and way of life.”

Tyng began drawing and painting the Maine landscape as a teenager while staying at a nineteenth century rustic camp on one of Mount Desert Island’s lakes, and at her brother’s lighthouse home in Penobscot Bay. In the 1990s she began chartering planes so she could take reference photos of the glacially carved land formations of coastal Maine, which she uses as references to create large-scale paintings. She also paints panoramas from mountaintops, and closer, more intimate views of places. Every summer she spends several weeks painting outside on Mount Desert, Monhegan, Deer Isle and various other locations.

Tyng has had solo shows in Maine, New York and Philadelphia. She was selected as one of Maine’s outstanding artists by Maine Home+Design in 2008. Her Maine landscapes have been featured in “The Art of Monhegan” by Carl Little, and in art magazines, including “Fine Art Connoisseur” and “International Artist.”

Dodds was born in the small fishing town of Brightlingsea, which is nestled on the east coast of England. He trained as a shipwright in the nearby town of Maldon before moving to London to study painting at both the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.

Dodds, who is a frequent visitor to Maine, has exhibited paintings and prints of boats throughout England and here in Maine at the Dowling Walsh Gallery.

All Arts in the Capitol events are free and open to the public, however, exhibitions are self-guided and may only be viewed within prescribed times. For information on this and all programs available through the Maine Arts Commission,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Film Debut!

At the opening for my exhibit at the Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia, a local film maker, John Thornton, interviewed me about my work. It was a wonderful opening event, and lots of fun to talk to John. We had been friends and classmates back in the seventies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. I was thrilled to see the results of his filming and I will post the link here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Red Mist Descends

Painting on Monhegan is always moving. This morning was particularly beautiful with this pale-reddish mist moving back and forth through Gull Cove. One minute the view was completely obstructed and the next it was being delicately revealed through this pinky-red mist. Touches of blue sky kept appearing and this became one of my favorite plein air paintings days on Monhegan.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Over the summer, MLG member, Eliza Auth, took part in an auction to benefit the Boothbay Region Land Trust. Her painting "Summer's End", along with work by wonderful painters like Donald Demers and Tony van Hasselt, raised a substantial amount of money to help preserve the land in this state we love to paint.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maine Landscape Guilders Back to Monhegan!

Gull Cove

We arrived on Monhegan Saturday with a smooth crossing and gorgeous weather. Alex and I are enjoying two new painters in our house this year. Sue Braswell an old painting partner of mine from the Art League in Alexandria and Linda Brandon a fellow portrait painter of Alex’s. Fellow Maine Landscape Guild artists Mary Walsh and Eliza Auth will be coming next week to the island. Nancy Bea Miller has gone off to grad school! Judy Carducci, Greer Jennison, and Carrie Lewis have also joined us and they are staying at the Monhegan House.

Island life of course can be fun. I had totally forgotten that my phone actually goes dead in it quest to search for service. We really feel like official islanders as we have now outlived the propane crunch. It gets down to basics. If we want to cook then we don’t bathe or have heat!

Maine Landscape Guild Members Diana Ansley and Alexandra Tyng with new members
Sue Braswell and Linda Brandon.

This is the View of Manana and the Johnson house where we are staying.

Sue and I got to work painting this scene and then we did the truck below

Light rain today so we have been regrouping, stretching canvas, and finally washed our hair after seven days! Propane arrived last night. We went to the museum and the curator, Jenn Pye, pulled out some wonderful Alice Kent Stoddard portrait paintings for us to see. She Studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with Thomas Eakins, and William Merritt Chase. Like many of our Maine Landscape Guilder's she was an artist from Pennsylvania and lived on Monhegan as well.

Alex and Linda were so inspired they had a paint off this afternoon in the fog.

Linda Brandon

Alex's Sketch of Linda

Linda Painting Alex

Alex sits for 30 minutes and Linda paints and then Linda sits and Alex paints. Each have very different approaches to capturing the face. It is amazing to see the faces emerge. Painting, a fire, and tea can’t get much better.

Gorgeous day and Sue and I took advantage of weather to paint the expansive view from White Head to Blackhead.

Deep fog this morning lasting most of the day, but we were all anxious to paint. Sue and Alex at their easels.

Alex in Gull Cove

Fog in Gull Cove

Gull Cove where Alex, Sue, and I painted the lovely pool of water, the cliffs, and the rolling surf. The sun broke through in bits and pieces creating these layers of soft hues.

Heavy Rain today and great for a much needed rest. We spent several hours discussing painting and photography with our painting friends Judith Carducci, Greer Jennison, and Carrie Lewis. We also had time to see their plein air work in oil and pastel.

It has been a stimulating week with such taleneted artists, interesting discussions, and thoughtful critiques. Many Thanks to Everyone!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Vicarious Maine Painting

I started grad school the last week of August so very reluctantly had to forgo my part in the annual autumn painting pilgrimage to Maine. I am currently engaged on a project called "Women in the Act of Painting" and perhaps to compensate for missing the Maine trip, I found that I am stepping up my inclusion of images of women painting IN MAINE! Here are a few from recent days:

"Two Girls Painting in the Woods", Robert Henri (1865 – 1929)

"Self-Portrait", Alison Hill (contemporary)

"Paintings and Cocktails", Alexandra Tyng (contemporary, of course! ;-)

"Painters on the Beach", Don Stone (contemporary)

"Sketchers in the Woods", Robert Henri (1865 – 1929)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Catalogs Available

The Aladdin Lamp, oil on linen, 20" x 30"

The Dowling Walsh Gallery is offering a 22-page color catalog of my show Right Here: New Maine Paintings for the very reasonable price of $5. You can pick one up at the gallery, or contact Jake Dowling at 207-596-0084 or at if you would like one sent to you via mail.

The catalog includes 20 color reproductions and an essay by Carl Little, author of Edward Hopper's New England and other books. His article on Fairfield Porter and James Schuyler appears in the 2011 Island Journal.

Right Here: New Maine Paintings

Last Friday, on August 5th, my solo show Right Here opened at the Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, Maine. It was a busy night for the arts in Rockland--First Friday Art Walk with gallery openings all over town and in nearby Thomaston, The Farnsworth Museum open late with free admission, and the famous annual Lobster Festival all coinciding--so I met lots of art lovers that evening! Jake Dowling and his talented team never cease to impress me. The work was hung beautifully. And the food (thanks to Hilary) was out of this world. If you are tired of gallery openings at which only wine is served, go to Dowling Walsh for a multi-sensory experience.

I first met this couple a few nights before at the CMCA Auction.

Suzette McAvoy, Director of the CMCA and former Curator at the Farnsworth, and my long-time friend and painting partner, Diana Cobb Ansley. Suzette wrote the essay for the catalog for my 2009 show at Fischbach Gallery in NY. She has known Diana since she interned for her at the Smithsonian.

Artist Lea Colie Wight flew in from Philadelphia to check out the Maine art scene.

Becca in front of Overlook.

Julian in front of Elemental Balance.

Here I'm standing in for Nancy Bea Miller in front of Star at the Edge.

Artist Richard Ranck and Cartoonist/author Tony Auth.

If you are in Rockland, or anywhere on the coast of Maine, in August, please stop by and see the show.

Show dates: August 5th-28th, 2011
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10-5

Dowling Walsh Gallery
352 Main Street
Rockland, ME 04841

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Star at the Edge: Development of a Painting

Star at the Edge

In response to those who ask me about how I create a painting, from the beginning stages to the finished work, I'm posting a step-by-step description of the process of one painting,Star at the Edge.
Every painting I do evolves a little differently. Sometimes I am painting on location and I know right away that my plein air sketch will need almost no compositional changes to turn it into a larger studio painting. Or the small oil sketch might become part of a larger painting. But in this case, I was working in Gull Cove on Monhegan Island, ME, and I had a vague idea of painting a figure with the trees and rocks as the background. The only problem was, I wasn't sure exactly what part of the scenery, and what angle, I would use. I didn't even have a clear idea of who was going to paint, or the idea behind the painting. So I decided to just focus on some trees and rocks that would make a pleasing composition, and worry about the larger painting later. Here is my oil sketch, Rocks and Trees, Gull Cove, 14" x 11".

While I was in Gull Cove, I also took some photos of the rest of the scene.

You'll notice that the oil sketch gives me an accurate idea of the color and value range, while the photos provide some additional information, but certain things are washed out, like the sky. Even with Photoshop you can't bring that back, so I often take more photos of just the sky. It's better to have too much information than not enough.

A few months later, a friend of mine, Nancy Bea Miller, came to a turning point in her career. After many years of working as a professional artist, she decided to go back to school and get an MFA. I decided to paint a portrait of her at this turning point. We had been discussing the idea of "star quality" in art, and how much was determined by popularity, publicity, and connections, as well as talent and hard work. I thought of the starfish, a sea creature with five arms, i.e. a five-pointed star. Here are some symbols associated with the star/starfish: the eternal, the undying, constancy (the Pole Star), aspiration, education (five-pointed star), spiritual wisdom, and divine guidance.

I was also "playing" with the tidal zone between ocean and land, where the waves churn up things that are beneath the sea and throw them onto the shore. To me this brought to mind the border between unconsciousness and consciousness. If we can go to this "zone" we will find all sorts of treasures that can lead to a fuller, richer life.

One thing that I wanted to convey was the uncertainty of finding a star and wondering what to do with it. Because we can find a treasure and use it in many different ways, or not use it at all! So in Nancy Bea's expression I wanted to convey some of this uncertainty.

Since Nancy Bea didn't have time to pose, couldn't hold the expression very long (the sideways look led to dizziness), and the weather was becoming too cold, I took photos of her and worked from them. I made sure that the lighting conditions in the photos were the same (time of day and direction of sun) as they were in the setting.

Now to the nitty-gritty of painting. I decided it was important to show just a bit of the ocean. There were a few days of tremendous surf that created a golden haze (visible in the distance), and this added a feeling of mystery and excitement to the "zone" between water and land. So I decided to set NB's figure against the long view. My oil sketch of rocks and trees was just to the right of the composition, but nevertheless it came in handy for nearby colors, values and brushstrokes, and also the color of the sky and clouds.

When I plan out a composition, I like to print out photos, paste them together, and move borders in and out until I like the balance. I also print out photos of the figure, and play around with size and position in the same way. Making a polished reference in Photoshop doesn't interest me. I'd rather do this cut-and-paste stuff, because the motley-looking photo-pastiche that results from this process is just a compositional guide. I don't want to just "copy" a finished-looking photo with every detail already worked out. I also have my oil sketch to refer to. The real synthesis is in my head.

Here are some progress shots:

I stretch my own canvases with unprimed Belgian linen, prime them with acrylic gesso, and tone them with a warm neutral wash of black, burnt umber and white. First I drew a grid on my photo-pastiche and a corresponding grid on my canvas. Since I work large, the grid helps me to place complex things like rocks. I keep the grid very large so I don't feel like I'm connecting the dots, and I am still drawing freehand.

Here I'm starting to fill in the dark trees behind NB's backlit head--the focal point and area of greatest contrast.

Starting to differentiate light and shadow areas and put in a color mosaic.

More "puzzle-pieces" of color."

Adjusting values, colors and refining the figure.

Further refinements and adjustments.

The finished piece, Star at the Edge, oil on linen, 34" x 42".

Here are details of the head and hands.

This painting, along with 30 + others, will be in my upcoming show, RIGHT HERE: NEW MAINE ISLAND PAINTINGS, opening August 5th at the Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, Maine. The gallery is located on 357 Main Street, right across from the Farnsworth Art Museum. Catalogs include an essay by author Carl Little, and will be available through the gallery.