Meditation on Floating Pine Needles

TM8515 Meditation on Floating Pine Needles 36x40 oil on panel

TM8515 Meditation on Floating Pine Needles 36×40 oil on panel

I’ve always loved the fragrance of pine needles in the sun. I also love watching them float abstractly on the surface of the pond, the rusty color complementing the reflected blue sky as everything drifts slowly toward the outlet. I’m sure there must be a haiku about floating pine needles, but I don’t know it. So I’ve painted my own version of a visual haiku. My aim was to keep it simple, but intricate enough to earn more than a glance. I hope it captures your attention as it did mine, and offers the same restorative potential. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8515 Meditation on Floating Pine Needles - detail from foreground with pine needles

TM8515 Meditation on Floating Pine Needles – detail from middle ground with pine needles

TM8515 Meditation on FLoating Pine Needles - detail from upper right with reflected trees

TM8515 Meditation on FLoating Pine Needles – detail from upper right with reflected trees

TM8515 Meditation on Floating Pine Needles - detail from upper left with refelcted tree trunks, duckweed

TM8515 Meditation on Floating Pine Needles – detail from upper left with refelcted tree trunks, duckweed

Technical painting notes: There were many compositional  problems to work out with this subject, but the biggest was how to create dynamic tension in a placid, extremely horizontal subject. The darker tree reflections provided one way to “connect” the top and bottom of the painting, as did the birch trunks. I also used the greenish duckweed as a counterpoint to the rust-colored needles. The sheen on the surface of the water, along with the various blues of the sky reflections and riffles helped to break up the surface and create a sense of space and distance. I repeatedly glazed the panel to enrich the colors, then used slight strokes of more opaque paint to “bring up” some of the needles.

 

 

The Afternoon (continues) to Deepen

TM8358 The Afternoon Deepens 36x40 oil on panel

TM8358 The Afternoon Deepens 36×40 oil on panel

The revisions just keep coming. The Afternoon Deepens has always been a favorite composition of mine – looking at the surface of a woodland pond in summer under filtered light. It’s a painting I keep tinkering with, trying to find a more perfect way to suggest the softness of the light and the subtle reflections of tree and sky. This past week I finally found what I was looking for – by adding more leaves, including some that are lazily falling, there’s more of a feeling of air in the painting. I also enhanced warmth of the sunlight penetrating the water, added more of a column of sky reflections, and added more of a sheen of blue on the water where the floating pollen and shadows meet. All in all, more details and more interesting color. I think this time it is done! Details below, plus an earlier version. Enjoy.

TM8358 THe Afternoon Deepens - detail from upper right corner with falling leaves, reflections, a few young lily pads

TM8358 THe Afternoon Deepens – detail from upper right corner with falling leaves, reflections, a few young lily pads

TM83358 The Afternoon Deepens - detail from right of center with tree trunk and sky reflections, falling leaf

TM83358 The Afternoon Deepens – detail from right of center with tree trunk and sky reflections, falling leaf

And the first version……….

TM8358 The Afternoon Deepens (first version)

TM8358 The Afternoon Deepens (first version)

Spring Redeems (Revised)

TM8462 Spring Redeems 36x44 oil on panel

TM8462 Spring Redeems 36×44 oil on panel

Every painting finished teaches me something new, gives me new eyes. Experience and practice allow one to refine techniques and look for more nuances of color, value, and tone. The result? Last week I decided to take Spring Redeems off the wall, where it was drying, and give it another go. I wanted more contrast, more subtle color, and more movement. I completely reworked almost every square inch, adding light, glazes, and more leaves. I’m much happier with the result. The watercolor-like layers give it a richer feel – much more like what one finds at the pond in spring. Details are below, along with its previous incarnation.

TM8462 Spring Redeems - detail of floating leaves and reflected birches

TM8462 Spring Redeems – detail of floating leaves and reflected birches

TM8462 Spring Redeems - detail showing layered construction of painting, use of semi-transparent glazes, scraping into wet paint, opaque highlights

TM8462 Spring Redeems – detail showing layered construction of painting, use of semi-transparent glazes, scraping into wet paint, opaque highlights

TM8462 Spring Redeems - detail from left of center showing spatter, layered spatter and blot, scraping, layered glazes

TM8462 Spring Redeems – detail from left of center showing spatter, layered spatter and blot, scraping, layered glazes

and the earlier version……………….

TM8462 Spring Redeems 36x44 oil on panel

TM8462 Spring Redeems first version

Last Lily

TM8514 Last Lily 30x54 oil on panel

TM8514 Last Lily 30×54 oil on panel

By the time the last lily of the year opens, the environment of the pond has turned to dark russets and maroons – more somber than the bright greens of spring and summer, but exquisitely subtle and rich. It is a melancholy moment when I think bonjour, but simultaneously have to think adieu mes amis to a whole  season’s worth of richly varied and bountiful lilies. The season of falling leaves is coming, then ice and the grays of winter. Spring looks a long way off; the days are getting so short. I have to remind myself that there is great beauty in winter, too. It’s just more of a challenge. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8514 Last Lily - close-up of lily pads, duckweed, reflections

TM8514 Last Lily – close-up of lily pads, duckweed, reflections

Technical painting notes: The amazing color harmonies in the lily pads at the end of the year are extraordinary. Each pad has so many colors, but they are hard to define. Is that gold? maroon? violet? brown? Glazes are one way to create a nearly infinite range of color. The effect of the lily pads sinking below the surface is achieved near the end of the painting process, by using a soft brush to “glide” the water’s color up and over parts of the pad.

TM8514 Last Lily - close-up of lily from lower right corner

TM8514 Last Lily – close-up of lily from lower right corner

It was important to me that the lily be opening, always a sign of hope, contrasted with the color-defined, and darker valued season of fall.

Inside July

TM8513 Inside July 36x44 oil on panel

TM8513 Inside July 36×44 oil on panel

Some days and views offer countless opportunities to investigate a theme.  Inside July follows in the footsteps of three earlier paintings  which all played with different pond conditions  found on a specific day last July. Ripples, racing white clouds, vegetation, pollen sheen, tree reflections and sweet little pine needles and duckweed – enough to make a landscape  artist fall in love. I did. Below are details from Inside July, followed by the three previous paintings. Monet had his Cathedral, but I have my pond! Enjoy.

TM8513 Inside July - detail from lower center with pine needles and duckweed

TM8513 Inside July – detail from lower center with pine needles and duckweed

TM8513 Inside July - detail with cloud and  tree reflections, floating vegetation (semi-transparent paint and glazes blended with watercolor brushes)

TM8513 Inside July – detail with cloud and tree reflections, floating vegetation (semi-transparent paint and glazes blended with watercolor brushes)

TM8513 Inside July - detail from upper right with reflections (showing use of drips and blotting, scraping into first paint layer)

TM8513 Inside July – detail from upper right with reflections (showing use of drips and blotting, scraping into first paint layer)

Technical painting notes: I’ve continued to experiment with using watercolor brushes for the paint application, mostly because the soft (nylon) hairs allow for such control and subtlety at the beginning and end of each stroke. Numerous glazes were applied on top of the original, more abstract and textured first layer of paint. My aim was to allow each layer to be visible, in all its abstractness, while still serving the goal of building a recognizable image of a place.

Previous paintings from the series:

TM8501 The Merry Month 36x44 oil on panel

TM8501 The Merry Month 36×44 oil on panel

TM8491 Midsummer 36x44 oil on panel

TM8491 Midsummer 36×44 oil on panel

TM8484 In All the Shapes and Shadows 36x44 oil on panel

TM8484 In All the Shapes and Shadows 36×44 oil on panel

Confetti Days

TM8512 Confetti Days 36x44 oil on panel

TM8512 Confetti Days 36×44 oil on panel

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.

TM8512 Confetti Days - detail with floating leaves, tree trunk reflections

TM8512 Confetti Days – detail with floating leaves, tree trunk reflections

TM8512 Confetti Days - detail from lower left

TM8512 Confetti Days – detail from lower left