TM8505 Sweet Nothings 36×48 oil on panel
In early July, there are tiny yellow flowers on thin stems that grow along the shallower edges of the pond. If you were in a rush, you would miss them, but their cheerful presence grows the longer you look at them. Suddenly they are everywhere, perfectly erect in posture, smaller than the nail on your little finger. Compared to the tough, HUGE waterlilies, they might seem insignificant, but I think these diminutive flowers (which might be called Greater Bladderwort) are there to remind me that small is, indeed, beautiful. Details below. Enjoy.
TM8505 Sweet Nothings -detail from lower right of center with reflections, close-up of flowers, dappled light
TM8505 Sweet Nothings -close-up detail
Technical painting notes: This painting was supposed to be about light striking pond scum along the edges of the pond, creating an array of beautiful patterns. That was before I saw the bladderwort, and they stole my heart. I adapted the original painted first layer to accommodate the new subject, letting the underpainting show through. I decided to exaggerate the effect of dappled summer light on the pond. I also framed the flowers with yellow halos, as if they were glowing with an inner light, which I think they do. Now the magic of their discovery is embodied in the painting. It is essential to take liberties with the reality of what’s “out there” in order to capture the reality of what occurs in the mind, eye, and heart together.
TN8503 Composition on a Theme of Time 30×30 oil on panel
When I started this painting, I thought there would be trees, distant sky, and of course the outcrop and water. Plans change.Once I started working on the granite and its reflection in the water, I realized that the grand, timeless dignity of the granite deserved to be the focus of the painting. I eliminated almost everything else, but kept the staggering yellow lilies – not just for their color, but because they epitomized transience in contrast to the nearly unchanging rockface. A slight indication of the water’s current implies eternal change, but also allowed me to bring subtle blue into the water. Moss on the granite speaks to damp and shadow while providing an excuse to distribute touches of green throughout the painting. The depth of illusion and reflection in the water, along with the subtle color and stark composition, gives the painting an abstract feel. Enjoy. Details below.
TM8503 Composition on a Theme of Time – detail from left side with granite and waterline
TM8503 Composition on a Theme of Time – detail with foregound lilies, granite reflections
TM8503 Composition on a Theme of Time – detail with foreground lily
TM8502 Let It Grow Quiet Here 36×48 oil on panel
Let It Grow Quiet Here follows on the heels of Perhaps It’s All About Expectations, with a similar view but a very different palette and mood. Whereas the first painting expressed the exuberance of a late summer afternoon heading into Autumn, Let It Grow Quiet Here is about the longer, more tonal slant light of early evening. The mood (and title) were inspired, in part, by the poem Green by Paul Verlaine (19th century French poet, as translated by Yvor Winters). The painting features a wide array of subtle colors, orchestrated around the dominating soft grays and blue-grays of reflected sky and the deep violet-tinged darks of wet tree trunks and shadows. A sense of peaceful quiet permeates this view across a shallow pond found deep in the woods. Details below. Enjoy.
TM8502 Let It Grow Quiet Here – detail from upper right corner
TM8502 Let It Grow Quiet Here – detail from right of center showing sky and tree reflections, underpaintinig with textures and droplets showing through
TM8502 Let It Grow Quiet Here – detail from lower right corner with two opening lily buds
TM8502 Let It Grow Quiet Here – detail from left of center showing scraped and painted tree trunk reflections, directional streaks of underpainting used to suggest movement
TM8502 Let It Grow Quiet Here -detail from lower center showing use of layered transparent oil glazes over textured base layer
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
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 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.
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 right side
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 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
TM8498 Perhaps It’s All about Expectiations – detail from upper right quadrant
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 Perhpas It’s All about Expectations – detail from lower right with buds emerging