The Merry Month

TM8501 The Merry Month 36x44 oil on panel

TM8501 The Merry Month 36×44 oil on panel

Every painting begins with an idea, however vague. In the case of this painting, The Merry Month, I had a few (very vague) ideas about the sky as it looks reflected on the pond’s surface, about the sweet loveliness of late spring and early summer, and a desire to lighten up my palette and mood. I also wanted to let the accidental drips and splashes, rolls and smears of the underpainting inform the direction of subsequent paint marks. The result is a more intuitive interpretation of my beloved pond.

TM8501 The Merry Month - detail from lower left of center showing ripples and reflections

TM8501 The Merry Month – detail from lower left of center showing ripples and reflections

Technical painting notes: As you can see in this detail from left of center, I let the reflections break-up the mass of reflected foliage. I also let the blue/black/gray undertone show through in places, adding only enough of the greens to suggest the tree. I wanted each step of the process to show through in the final painting. The addition of linear ripples reflecting bright blue sky, as if a gentle breeze had come up, served to increase the sense of air and movement. In the detail below (from the right corner of the painting) you can see the effect of the ripples livening the surface and making the reflected golden orange tones “sink” into the water.

TM8501 The Merry Month - detail from bottom right

TM8501 The Merry Month – detail from bottom right

TM8501 THe Merry Month - detail from right of center with reflection, floating leaves

TM8501 The Merry Month – detail from right of center with reflection, floating leaves

A few leaves floating on the surface (no doubt blown by a brief gust) also reinforce the plane of the water. Unlike some of my earlier interpretations of spring at the pond, this painting leans toward the more abstract end of the spectrum. At the same time, it feels more like the way I actually see the pond, with my eye dwelling on details which eventually coalesce into a memory of the place – like the way the pieces of a quilt form a larger design. Letting the pieces (or vignettes) tell the story – now that sounds like fun.

 

 

On Holding a Mirror to the World

TM8499 On Holding a Mirror to the World 36x36 oil on panel

TM8499 On Holding a Mirror to the World 36×36 oil on panel

The quarry that yielded the little fishies (previously posted), is also home to lilies arrayed in a gentle arc along the shallow side. I’ve always loved the way solid granite sets off the softer aspect of water. It also speaks to a sense of time, with granite changing ever so slowly while the pond changes by the hour. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8499 On Holding a Mirror to the World - detail from left side

TM8499 On Holding a Mirror to the World – detail from left side

TM8499 On Holding a Mirror to the World - detail from right side

TM8499 On Holding a Mirror to the World – detail from right side

Now You See It

TM8497 Now You See It 36x36 oil on panel

TM8497 Now You See It 36×36 oil on panel

Fall is coming. I see it every time I mix a green and find I have to add more yellow ochre or red oxide. The warmth of the color in the vegetation seems to need a balancing of neutral gray, as if late summer’s slightly tired exuberance desired a calm vacation. Now You See It is about looking, then looking again. It’s also about the joy of a new brush (but more about that later).

All summer I’ve been missing the usual flock of ducks I used to see at the pond. I don’t know why they are gone – perhaps they’ve just moved deeper into the woodland swamp and out of sight. I miss their quacks and the noise they make as they slurp duckweed. In fact, I miss them so much I decided to paint a couple into the painting. Being shy, non-urban ducks, they like to find places to hang out where they aren’t too obvious. It might take you a while to find them. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8497 Now You See It - detail with duck

TM8497 Now You See It – detail with duck

TM8497 Now You See It - detail from upper right with second duck

TM8497 Now You See It – detail from upper right with second duck

Technical painting notes: The details below show the layering of textures and the way some of the verticals are painted and others are achieved by scraping away paint. Getting back to the new brush – I used a 3/4″ watercolor wash brush, square-tipped, with extra soft hairs to paint the spaces between tree trunks. The flexibility of the brush allowed me to vary the density of the paint and get an almost twinkly effect of light  – great fun.

TM8497 Now You See It - detail from near center bottom of painting

TM8497 Now You See It – detail from near center bottom of painting

TM8498 Perhaps It's All about Expectiations - detail from upper right quadrant

TM8498 Perhaps It’s All about Expectiations – detail from upper right quadrant

Perhaps it’s all about expectations

TM8498 Perhaps It's All about Expectations 36x44 oil on panel

TM8498 Perhaps It’s All about Expectations 36×44 oil on panel

Working with the pond as my source, I can’t help but return to the lilies, but exploring the abstract possibilities inherent in reflections is equally important to me. This version of opening lilies is also a study in mood and color, with late summer bringing a golden, reflective  mood.  The repetition of vertical elements (painted directly with paint application and indirectly by scraping out)  sets up a rhythm that is in keeping with the upthrust of the buds. Details below.  Enjoy.

TM8498 Perhaps It's All about Expectations - detail from left of center

TM8498 Perhaps It’s All about Expectations – detail from left of center

TM8498 Perhpas It's All about Expectations - detail from lower right with buds emerging

TM8498 Perhpas It’s All about Expectations – detail from lower right with buds emerging

Jazz Spring

TM8492 Jazz Spring 36x40 oil on panel

TM8492 Jazz Spring 36×40 oil on panel

It took a long time to complete this painting, which is based on a particular spot at the pond. I’ve painted the location in summer and fall a few times, but Jazz Spring finally expresses the essence of the experience and locale for me. The multitudinous elements of reflection, ripple, and surface vegetation interact to create an almost cacophonious rhythm and “sound”. It’s the energy of spring. I also included a new friend who hung out with me all morning recently when I was on a photo shoot.  Details below. Enjoy.

TM8492 Jazz Spring - detail from lower right with portrait of the frog who spent the day with me at the pond

TM8492 Jazz Spring – detail from lower right with portrait of the frog who spent the day with me at the pond

TM8492 Jazz Spring - detail from lower left of center with sky, cloud, and tree reflections

TM8492 Jazz Spring – detail from lower left of center with sky, cloud, and tree reflections

Looking for the Little Fishies

TM8496 Looking for the Little Fishies 28x332 oil on panel

TM8496 Looking for the Little Fishies 28×32 oil on panel

Looking for the Little Fishies is based on a morning spent with a bag of breadcrumbs at the quarry behind a friend’s house in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was June, and the inquisitive little fish were only too happy to surface for bread crumbs. They never stopped moving, however, so photographing them was catch as catch can. While I was focused on the fish, a frog happily sat on a rock just 18 inches away, partially submerged, and kept me company for at least three hours.  I can’t tell you how many fish are in the painting – you’ll have to count them yourself. I can say the pattern of floating leaves, reflections, and shadowy fish can become hypnotic. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM8496 Looking for the Little Fishies - detail from lower left

TM8496 Looking for the Little Fishies – detail from lower left

Opening

TM8495 Opening 16x16 oil on panel

TM8495 Opening 16×16 oil on panel

A recent afternoon spent kayaking on the Charles River provided an opportunity to look at some lilies close-up. Oh they are lovely – especially just before fully opening – and when they are just past their peak. This small oil portrait is one result of the afternoon. I’m sure more will follow. Enjoy.

TM8495 Opening - detail

TM8495 Opening – detail