October has two faces – one joyous, one sad. The crisp blue skies and mountains of confetti leaves filling the breeze (and pond) have a way of making your heart leap and your energy rise. Confetti Days describes those times. With its bright golden and russet colors and staccato leaves falling into the pond, the painting is about fall’s fling of energy. Soon enough, the leaves will sink and the days shorten. Colors will deepen and gain a rich tone of melancholy. But that is for another day and another painting. Confetti is for celebrations. Enjoy.
Sometimes’ a painting’s subject is straightforward, and then there are the other times when an uncertain change of light transforms the painting, illuminating the more mystical side of reality. Notes from the Other Side began simply. A close view of two water lilies. But as I painted, I saw possibilities for interesting patterns in the water, then in the partially submerged lily pads, and then the baldderwarts hopped into the picture. As i worked on adding the reflected clouds, I was reminded of the halos around sacred images. The painting started to take a mystical turn. Perhaps it was the influence of showing Morris Graves’s wonderful paintings to my students? Whatever the cause, I was delighted with the turn. Details below. Enjoy.
What is the draw of looking at reflections in the water? Is it trying to compare what’s above the water line with the seemingly similar image on the water’s surface? Or is it the inconsistencies that begin to emerge the longer you look? Where is that color or form coming from? Are the distortions from a breeze, or a fish under the water? The longer you look, the more fanciful it all becomes, until you start to realize that you are Alice, entering a strange world with an insignificant map and no sense of direction. Everything is possible. Every maybe can be answered with a yes! Now the fun begins……
Meditation on a Looking Glass might be the culmination of my years of looking at the pond, or it might be the beginning of the real series. Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, I’m being forced to reconsider what is real and what is my imagination, and where the two can happily co-exist. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I’ve been using my soft rubber roller to re-roll over wet passages of paint in the first layer. This softens the edges of the drips and marks, and can create more subtle afterimages. Multiple glazes, and working with only watercolor brushes, results in an enamel-like finish.
The rain has stopped; the air is filled with drips and the incipient return of splashing frogs and bird song. In this painting, I wanted to show the facts and the mystery of life at the pond, as well as pay homage to one of my early mentors, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot. And if you can hear me, thank you, kind master. Details from the painting are below. Enjoy.
Slipping and falling – otherwise known as transition and possibilities. The question is what happens along the way. This season of transition as we edge toward winter has me thinking about those two gerunds. Every walk around the pond gives evidence of more falling leaves, and the golden light of late afternoon is followed by more deeply embracing blues and shades of indigo. It’s a time that shares some of the best of summer and winter. Fresh food still coming from local farms and gardens, flowers, and the return of denim and corduroy. All these thoughts found their way into Slipping into Fall – the leaves scattering on the pond’s surface, the golden light on the far trees (reflected), the evening’s indigo shadows creeping in, and the ripples in the water, like fine wales in corduroy. Even a few reddish tones where the lily pads and surface vegetation are putting on fall colors.
For a painter, every season brings a new palette and different sensibilities to the process of making art. Even the change of temperature in the studio (cooler temperatures mean the paint will dry more slowly) allows for more “open” time in which to manipulate the paint. It becomes easier to start large paintings. Slipping into Fall is one of many larger paintings I have planned for this season of increasing possibilities. Details from the painting are below. Enjoy.
Every visit to the pond begins with a short walk through the woods, and this painting offers a glimpse of the woods that surround the pond. Like much New England acreage, this was once farmland, but the trees are reclaiming their piece of geography. I love the patterns and smells in the woods; the damp, rich loam and composting leaves are preparing the way for next spring’s joyous growth. My recent visit on an overcast day with rain threatening gave me the idea for a subdued, quiet palette of colors, but it was a happy accident that literally made the rain part of the painting.
Technical painting notes: I began Woodland Rain in my usual way, rolling on a thin layer of paint and “interrupting” it with scraping, wiping, spayed solvents, and more rolling. This time the studio temperature was cooler, and with the paint remaining “open” longer I was able to keep playing with the rolling and re-rolling. The resulting smears and soft edges were interesting in themselves, so I decided to let the surface dry and see how it might work up. Two days later, I started with the sky, developing negative area shapes with a soft brush that allowed for muted edges. Already the panel felt like rain – or more specifically the rain drops on my glasses. I decided to proceed with a light touch, hoping to keep the rain while adding forms (trees). Details below. Enjoy.
TM8506 September’s Pond 30×50 oil on panel
By September, the lilies have vanished, leaving a clearer view into the water. Leaves scatter their gold and burnt orange accents across the dark surface, but there’s a quiet aspect to the pond. The water seems deceptively deeper and darker, as if it were preparing for winter and its incipient cover of ice.
In choosing this view, I exaggerated the contrast between the lighter side with its sapling reflections and the darker middle and right with full woods reflected. The leaves and hints of duckweed, along with sky reflections, serve to weave color throughout the composition. Although some of the orange and gold colors are quite bright, the overall feel of the piece is calm. I kept most of the values and colors subdued, creating a sense of quiet and stillness. I still hear the frogs, however. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: This painting depends on many layered glazes for its color. I mixed transparent pigments into Winsor Newton’s Liquin medium, and applied the glazes with a very soft watercolor “mop” wash brush. Using a very soft brush allows the glazes to be layered while still wet.