Maybe it’s because of all the years spent painting blue/green seascapes, but I can’t seem to get enough of the color red lately. Red October and russet November yield such satisfyingly rich colors – running the gamut of gold orange scarlet crimson through violet-tinged siennas. In the painting Red Drift, we see another view of the pond at Hamlen Woods on a still day with the trees joyously reflected in the still, shallow water. The leaves falling on the water’s surface and slowly sinking are the real subject of the painting, along with the (last) green-gold sprinkling of duckweed. Autumn is about grand finales and quiet moments, A time for our reflections too. Details below, enjoy!
October can certainly have a gray forecast, but every tree does its best to refute such a report. In fact, I find the colors even richer on a slightly gray day. This painting, with its view both into the water and across the water, is evidence of the pleasures to be found under an overcast sky. It is also a reminder, perhaps, to slow down and enjoy the pattern of falling leaves floating then sinking under the water’s surface.
The painting was built up in layers, using primarily transparent pigments (including, but not limited to, napthol red, transparent gold oxide, transparent red oxide, zinc yellow, sap green, dioxazine violet, ultramarine blue). As usual, I used very soft brushes to drag and blend color. Details from the painting are below.
Yes, there has been ice on the pond, but I’m still thinking about how beautiful the summer’s green woods looked reflected in the pond last summer. I explored the idea in an earlier painting (The Afternoon Deepens), but decided to try a different take on the subject – one with more sky and a bit more movement, hence the title Drifting into Summer. Each interpretation of the pond, even if based on the same day and hour, is unique. I’ve started a larger, third version this week, and can’t wait to see where it will take me. Below is The Afternoon Deepens. Enjoy!
Of course all water lilies need the sun. By mid and late summer the lily buds really need to push their way up, out, and around the densely surrounding, colorful, lily pads. Sunshine Lily has just found enough space to start opening up. I wanted to show the underwater complexity of her environment, and the variety of tones on the partially submerged pads.
Technical painting notes: Doing small paintings of parts of the pondscape is a way to experiment with different approaches to the subject. In this painting, I wanted to try a varied palette and feature the layers of vegetation. I blocked in the subject using monoprint techniques – rolling up a layer of dark oil paint with a soft rubber brayer, then wiping out highlights (especially the petals). Once that layer was dry, most of the painting was glazed in greens and a bit of pink and ochre. When that layer was dry, I worked the entire surface almost as an a la prima painting. One more day was devoted to a few last touches in the highlights, and when that was dry an overall glaze. Throughout the process I experimented with mixing complementary colors to achieve a range of grayed tones in the lily pads.
On windy days, I’ve watched water lilies and pads pile up against the shore – a crush of vegetation. The pads might be upturned, but the flowers always find a way to present themselves properly, even if they are showing a few ragged edges. So, this is my salute to weathering the storm with implicit grace and dignity. Enjoy!
I want to thank all my visitors who made this year’s open studios such a success. Lots of interesting conversations and feedback leave me feeling even more enthusiastic about working on the pondscapes. So…I started two new ones, and will soon be sharing them with you….stay tuned!
The yellow lilies arrive like a tight, yellow fist thrusting out of the water, as if to say “Here I am, you better be ready!” I am, with my zoom lens and soggy sneakers. The feeling of density and lush growth around the lily is equally important to capture. The painting is based on a photo of the flower, and a sequence of photos documenting the lily pads over time. The yellow ribbon around the edges grows more pronounced as the pads age, eventually turning brownish red and almost violet. The upturned pad in back, probably pushed aside by another emerging bud, is another common sight at the pond. Add a scattering of duckweed and summer’s enthusiasm is clear. Enjoy!