Friday, July 29, 2011


Portrait of the Artist's Daughter
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 7" x 5", 2011

I am primarily known as a still life painter. Although I began my career as a figure painter, the still life and particularly flowers have always held my attention. It is enough to deal with composition, color and dynamic energy, but to throw in human"character", that really complicates everything.
That being said, I have always painted portraits.
I could write a book on the experiences, both good and bad, of dealing with art vs. the human beings perception of themselves.......oy vey!
That is why I most often go to subjects that tend to complain the least,
myself (as in self portraits), and my family; my wife Beth and our daughter Ana. This tiny portrait of Ana began as an example of small scale portraiture. It is a three quarter view of of head and upper torso. She is set against a neutral dark background. I like the stark simplicity of the somewhat off set composition.

Antonio Lopez Garcia
Maria, 1972
Pencil on paper, 27" x 21"

Artists have always used family members as subjects, from Rembrandt's touchingly soulful portraits of his wife and son, to the contemporary Spanish artist,Antonio Lopez Garcia's
hauntingly beautiful portrait of his daughter Maria.


Governor Stephen E. Merrill
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 52" x 34", 2003
State House, Concord NH


In 2003 I was asked to paint the official portrait of former Governor Stephen E. Merrill
of New Hampshire. I chose to paint not only the Governor himself but also deference to the law and people of New Hampshire.
The composition ascends, at the bottom rests a wooden desk, representing the land of New Hampshire with the state seal. On the desk sits open the rule book of legislative procedure signifying the rule of law upon which the Governor's authority is based. The Governor stands in the posture of reading, but he has just looked up at the viewer, still occupied by his thoughts.
He stands in front of a granite loggia with two vertical columns representing the legislative and the judicial branches of government. The linear energy of his body and the panels ascend vertically to the dome of the State House behind and above his head. His eyes are at the transition between the terrestrial and celestial. Artistically this is risky stuff.
The painting now hangs in the State House and belongs to the people of New Hampshire.

copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Blue Hill from Sculpin Point
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 10" x 14", 2011


After spending weeks preparing paintings for a number of exhibits, Beth and I finally had the opportunity of visiting a part of the world we were very familiar with, Downeast Maine. We were invited to visit our friends Bob & Sylvia for a week.
Some say that Downeast begins after Camden, while others say you must go beyond Naskeag, and still others claim that the true Downeast doesn't begin until you reach Schoodic Point.
But I'll tell you , after five hours driving east, our Downeast begins in the beautiful coastal town of Blue Hill, Maine.
We used to live near here. We owned a summer house overlooking Eggemoggin Reach and Penobscot Bay, so we know the lay of the land ( or ocean).

Fitz Henry Lane
Blue Hill, Maine, 1850
oil on canvas, 20" x30"

Blue Hill sits about half way between the Camden Hills and Mount Desert Island and has always attracted artists and writers. Fitz Henry Lane painted extensively in the area just prior to the Civil War. It has always been an interest of mine to visit the sites where painters of the past have made famous. In New Hampshire the White Mountains attracted painters such as Thomas Cole and John Kensett, but Maine is the painter's paradise.

My painting originated back in the 1990's with a small sketch I did of a dock off Sculpin Point at the mouth of Blue Hill harbor. I was there to paint a portrait but I could not resist sketching what has to be one of the best views of the mountain.
The sketch has been sitting in the studio so I decided to bring a canvas and do a little "plein-air" painting ( something that I do not like to do).

James Aponovich
View of Blue Hill, Maine, 2005
oil on canvas, 36" x48"
Private Collection
This painting is included in the book, Paintings of Maine, by Carl Little

Back in 2005 I returned to Blue Hill to paint this canvas from Parker Point. Last week we walked past this scene while a blanket of fog lay over the bay, it was fantastic. I hope to return soon to paint it. There is usually ample fog.

Fairfield Porter
The Harbor Great Sprucehead, 1974
oil on canvas, 20" x 36"

While Blue Hill is beautiful it was still "the city", we lived "in the sticks." Beth and I loved Eggemoggin Reach and the Islands of Penobscot Bay. While our daughter attended summer camp a few miles down the road, we would explore the area. Believe me, there were no shortage of boats and people eager to have you aboard.
Just past Butter Island and the Barred Islands is Great Sprucehead, the former summer home of Fairfield Porter, a great painter and critic. His painting gives you the feeling of the sun washed bay and broad expansive views.
I still have one more painting to do of Blue Hill then it is off to the grandaddy of them all,
Mount Desert Island and beyond.

If what we seem to say
mostly concerns the weather
we can expect Downeast
where tide and undertow
and variable winds work endlessly together,
it is because our stay
in part,
at least depends
on how opinions mix
in talk that has to do
far more, we've grown to think,
with love than politics.

Samuel French Morse

For more on our trip to Blue Hill click on:

Aponovich paintings copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Seacoast Morning Glories
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 7" x 5" (oval 5" x 3"), 2011

During the Renaissance the typical Florentine painter's workshop catered to many clients whose demands were quite varied. At the top were the great mural paintings often commissioned by
wealthy merchants and placed in a church or private chapel. Santa Maria Novella, not far from the Florence train station, is a prime example. These elaborate frescos usually required many assistants to complete the job.
Then there was the decoration of private chapels and the living spaces of grand palazzos. Often these areas contained portraits of the merchant, so now we find the emergence of the individual portrait as an important work of art.
The problem was that the artists needed work year round to fill gaps between these large scale commissions,so they painted things like processional banners and shields as well as domestic furniture. A typical piece of painted furniture was a dowry chest called a 'cassone'. Artists also decorated larger cabinets.

About five years ago
I teamed up with a native New Hampshire Furniture Master, David Lamb of Canterbury.
We began to collaborate on fairly large scale pieces of extraordinary furniture
which we dubbed "Lamboviches".
To date we have completed three collaborations and are now beginning our largest piece called
"The White Mountain Breakfront". It is approximately eight feet high and wide and contains several paintings. Aside from the major painting there are four small ovals that are inset into the four lower doors. I have proposed two concepts, one being the four 'elements' of New Hampshire: seacoast, mountains, industry and agriculture. These are each represented by a still life set into an environment.

Illustrated here is the seacoast represented by an export eighteenth century Leeds pitcher filled with deep blue morning glories. The pitcher on a granite base in front of the Atlantic Ocean with the White Island Lighthouse on the horizon off the coast of New Hampshire.
I faux painted mahogany around the oval to simulate the wood that David Lamb will use to create the actual door.
This is a presentation concept so we will have to wait and see if the patrons like it.
I'll keep you informed.
More to come.

copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Friday, July 8, 2011


Trasimeno Artichokes
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 14" x 10", 2011

If you are fortunate enough to be in Italy in the spring you can expect to be treated to an array of fabulous foods such as fresh pecorino cheese from Pienza where you can still taste the grass that the sheep grazed on. In Rome, spring brings puntarelle, a chicory salad served with an anchovy dressing and perhaps the king of them all, fresh artichokes. Rome is particularly famous for 'carciofi alla giudia', a flattened fried whole artichoke, a specialty of the house at Giggetto al Portico d'Ottavia in the Jewish ghetto.

I purchased these baby artichokes from the Botega in Panicle, Umbria. Panicale overlooks Lake Trasimeno and it is stunning. During rainy days Beth and I would remain indoors to draw. We often would go to either the Green Grocer or the Botega to look for interesting fruits and vegetables. Combined with a bottle of Umbrian Rosso these still lifes did not go to waste.


Study: Trasimeno Artichokes
James Aponovich
pencil on paper, 11" x 8", 2009

These are the rainy day artichokes. This study differs from most of my still lifes in that the light source comes from right to left. I usually prefer light coming from the left.
(Reason: I am right-handed, no hand shadows.)

Canvas with pencil and oil wash

A detailed drawing ids transferred to canvas. I could start using full color but because of there being so much green I decide on a reddish underpainting.

Artichokes with sienna wash and painted sky

The warm sienna wash has established the values. A sky is now laid down using seven colors and values. I now proceed to paint the rest of the canvas.


This painting is loaded with cobalt green, a soft bluish green. The warm sienna underpainting comes through in minute spots to give the green some punch,
but it calls for it's

Box of Cherries
Elizabeth Johansson
oil on canvas, 13" x 11", 2011

At the same time Beth was painting a box of sour cherries for an upcoming exhibit. In this painting the red-orange or the cherries is balanced by the blue-green of the box, set against a neutral white. She suggested that I use some of the cherries to jazz things up.
I had so much blue and green going on that I could not use a lot of red so....I found old Pieter.

Pieter Bruegal the Elder, 1525-1569
Landscape with Fall of Icarus

Here the overall cool green and brown color scheme is punctuated with the red scarlet of the plowman's tunic. You know, a few cherries go a long way.

Copyright 2011 James Aponovich

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Seaside Nasturtiums
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 15" x 16", 2011

Nasturtiums score pretty high on my all time hit parade of favorite flowers. Not only do you have great color in the blossoms but equally fantastic leaf structure. They remind me of water lily pads neatly tiered. This leaf arrangement however is only seen in the garden, for once they are picked the leaves become a tumbled mass. So, for this painting, I simply arranged them from my imagination....where most of this stuff comes from.
Like last weeks roses ( Seaside Roses), I placed them against a clear sky and a cool blue oceanscape. Cool is the key word here. Nasturtium flowers are hot., hot in color that is. To make them even hotter I placed them amongst cool green leaves and blue sky.


Color has visual temperature. We say " red hot" and Ice blue" to express the extremes. Basically, red, orange and yellow are warm, with blue, green and violet being cool. In between colors are yellow -green and red-violet.


Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
No. 5, No.22, 1950
oil on canvas, 10' x 9'
The Museum of Modern Art, NY


Vincent Van Gogh ( 1853-1890)
The Starry Night, Saint Remy, June 1889
Oil on canvas, 30" x 36"
The Museum of Modern Art, NY


Paul Cezanne (1834-1906)
Fruit and Jug on a Table
oil on canvas, 12" x 16"
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Balance ( harmony) is very vital in my compositions.
I have already mentioned Light / Dark contrast (value) as an important component in painting. As we enter the realm of color things get complicated. So, as I move along I will try to break down the elements in my paintings right to the basics.

Oh, did I mention that I have been invited to exhibit a painting or two in a New York City gallery during July and August?
More on that later.