The Russet Afternoons

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons 36x40 oil on panel

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons 36×40 oil on panel

One of autumn’s afternoons, and I’m looking into the pond’s mirror of the surrounding woods. Hardly a breath is stirring; all sound is hushed. Am I lucky or blessed? Or both? I know I’m grateful. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons - detail from right side showing layers and use of scraping into wet paint in tree trunk reflections

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons – detail from right side showing layers and use of scraping into wet paint in tree trunk reflections

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons - detail from above center with reflections and floating leaves

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons – detail from above center with reflections and floating leaves

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons - detail from top center

TM8885 The Russet Afternoons – detail from top center

Technical painting notes: As usual, I had an idea when I started this painting, which is based on a photo I took at my pond in November. The dark green shape near the center of the composition, surrounded by shades of red, caught my interest, and the contrast between the vertical reflections and horizontally drifting leaves set up a certain tension I wanted to explore. Originally, I was going to paint a considerable amount of reflected sky along the left edge. However, when I started to block it in, I realized I didn’t want to hide the rich textures and colors achieved in the base layer. So I changed course, and the painting’s focus became all the russet foliage and reflections. Instead of sky, the nearly crystalline reflections of the woodland dominate.

Winter in the Woods

From the season of melt, a small painting of a stream in the woods as ice and snow are melting away, followed by another painting of the first heavy snowfall. Winter can be grand. Enjoy.

TM8879 WInter in the Woods #1 6x6 oil on paper

TM8879 Winter in the Woods #1 6×6 oil on paper

TM8880 White Mountains Winter #4 7x7 oil on paper

TM8880 White Mountains Winter #4 7×7 oil on paper

Technical painting notes: Both paintings are on prepared paper. The first received a coat of acrylic gesso front and back, which left thin ridges and a slippery surface – perfect for dragging a knife and layering stains of color. The second painting is on smooth paper with a coat of shellac front and back. Because the shellac soaks into the paper without leaving ridges, the surface is smoother but less slick. It takes the paint more substantively and with less accidental texture.

 

Red Autumn

TM8883 Red Autumn 36x54 oil on panel

TM8883 Red Autumn 36×54 oil on panel

Each stage of autumn has its own rewards. The late reds and russets when the oaks change color is probably my favorite time. I know I said earlier “I need yellow,” but that was temporary. Coral, burgundy, scarlet, terracotta, sienna, and a touch of fuchsia – all set against a pale blue sky – now  that’s what really makes my heart leap. Red Autumn is that feast of color reflected in my pond’s surface, but the mood, for all the intense color, is still quietly contemplative. The water is moving slowly, the air is still. I invite you to stop everything and enjoy the glorious moment. It’s usually brief. One storm, one gust of wind –  all will be gone. Enjoy. Details below.

TM8883 Red Autumn - detail from lower left quadrant with reflections and floating leaves

TM8883 Red Autumn – detail from lower left quadrant with reflections and floating leaves

TM8883 Red Autumn - detail from upper right with reflections, floating leaves and diminishing duckweed

TM8883 Red Autumn – detail from upper right with reflections, floating leaves and diminishing duckweed

TM8883 Red Autumn - detail from below center with reflected red tree and floating leaves

TM8883 Red Autumn – detail from below center with reflected red tree and floating leaves

TM8883 Red Autumn - detail from upper left

TM8883 Red Autumn – detail from upper left

Technical painting notes: The painting is on an alkyd-primed panel. I used monoprint techniques for the base layer, applying dark-valued oil paint with a roller then wiping and spraying the surface with solvent, followed by a spattering of color and minimal scraping of paint. When the base layer was dry, I glazed the whole thing, then started working into the wet glaze with soft brushes and color to establish some of the highlights and forms. Additional drying, then I reglazed and worked up more details, followed by more glazing and a touch of spatter.

 

They Keep Coming….

TM8876 Watching the Waves Come In #190 6x6 oil on paper

TM8876 Watching the Waves Come In #190 6×6 oil on paper

TM8878 Watching the Waves Come In #192 6x6 oil on paper

TM8878 Watching the Waves Come In #192 6×6 oil on paper

TM8877 Watching the Waves Come In #191 6x6 oil on paper

TM8877 Watching the Waves Come In #191 6×6 oil on paper

I’ll never tire of watching the waves at Gloucester’s back shore. These three “minis” were the result of some stormy weather intersecting with my palette knife. So much fun! And a useful project while waiting for the base layer on two new, large paintings to dry.

Technical painting notes: All three paintings are on rag paper with a shellac primer. I used Winsor Newton’s Liquin Impasto and Liquin original for the medium – lots of liquin original. I wanted the paint to have lots of body so I could apply it with the knife, but I also wanted fluidity so it would emulate the liquid I was painting – waves.

Second Time Around

Painting is a process. It starts with an idea, maybe a subject or color, a form. Then you coax it onto the panel, the canvas, the paper. While you are trying to put the idea “down,” life and everything else in the world interrupts and intersects with that wonderful little idea and turns it around. Sometimes it takes years before the essence of the idea is realized and the painting is finished. I recently received some paintings back from a dealer who is moving, and as soon as I saw the paintings, I couldn’t wait to get back into them. Three years is a lot of time to rethink and learn. I can see more possibilities in a subject now, and the opportunity to explore has conveniently presented itself.

Deepest Summer was a lovely painting, but when I looked at it after a few years I could see more ways to open up the space and light and extend the color range. Below is the new version, followed by the earlier version.

TM8438 Deepest Summer 36x36 oil on panel

TM8438 Deepest Summer 36×36 oil on panel

(earlier version)

TM8438 Deepest Summer 36x36 oil on panel

TM8438 Deepest Summer 36×36 oil on panel

 

Let the Moments Last has been through a series of changes, each time working its way toward more light and subtle color. The newly revamped painting is below, followed by a close-up detail shot.

TM8463 Let the Moments Last 36x36 oil on panel

TM8463 Let the Moments Last 36×36 oil on panel

TM8463 Let the Moments Last - detail from left side of center with reflections, floating maple and willow leaves

TM8463 Let the Moments Last – detail from left side of center with reflections, floating maple and willow leaves

(original version)

TM8463 Let the Moments Last 36x36 oil on panel

TM8463 Let the Moments Last 36×36 oil on panel

 

Pond Poem was and remains a quiet meditation on the color blue and time passing. The newer version intensified the blues and lightened the glow of light. I also decided to strengthen the leaves that were in the painting, and add more, which established a stronger current across the width of the “pond” and provided more movement, all while giving me an excuse to add spots of color. I removed a few tiny lilies – they were too small to add much to the painting and took away from the essential quality of movement and time passing.

TM8373 Pond Poem 36x40 oil on panel

TM8373 Pond Poem 36×40 oil on panel

TM8373 Pond Poem - detail from just above center right with floating leaves and luminous cloud reflections

TM8373 Pond Poem – detail from just above center right with floating leaves and luminous cloud reflections

(earlier version)

TM8373 Pond Poem 36x40 oil on panel

TM8373 Pond Poem 36×40 oil on panel

 

 

 

First Snow

TM8816 First Snow 36x60 oil on panel

TM8816 First Snow 36×60 oil on panel

Snowfalls are magical.  A woodland that, in November, can seem so sadly bereft of its green adornments suddenly begins to sparkle.  The air seems to vibrate with a quiet excitement, and everything is suddenly clean and pure. I look forward to that first snowfall every year. When it doesn’t come soon enough to meet my needs, I invent it. So here it is – the world wiped clean, in all its stark and lovely splendor. No human voices to interrupt the stillness. Maybe the rustle of a few branches, but we won’t see the creature treading the undergrowth. It is the  woods, offering us respite. Enjoy.

TM8816 First Snow - detail from lower left of center looking into young woodland thicket in late November

TM8816 First Snow – detail from lower left of center looking into young woodland thicket in late November

TM8816 Firat Snow - detail from lower left side

TM8816 Firat Snow – detail from lower left side

TM8816 First Snow - detail from lower center with tangle of fallen branches

TM8816 First Snow – detail from lower center with tangle of fallen branches

TM8816 First Snow - detail from lower right looking through tree trunks and the season's last blowing leaves

TM8816 First Snow – detail from lower right looking through tree trunks and the season’s last blowing leaves

Technical painting notes: The painting is on an alkyd-primed panel. I began work on the painting thinking of it as a monoprint. I used a soft rubber roller to apply a mix of burnt sienna and black, establishing the rhythm of vertical tree trunks. I then interrupted the lines using a mix of stand oil and mineral spirits applied loosely with a remnant of plastic wrap.  A silicone scraper was used to delineate some of the branches, and paint  (sometimes just solvent) was spritzed onto the surface. When this first layer was dry, I worked into the image with soft brushes and thin paint, glazed, and added brushfulls of flung “snow” (white paint mixed with an alkyd medium).  Actually, I thought the painting was finished at this point, but after a few weeks consideration, I glazed more color into the woods and strengthened some of the yellow twigs. Additional snow finished the painting.

TM8816 First Snow 36x60 oil on panel

TM8816 First Snow, partially completed

October’s Reds

TM8870 October's Parade 6x6 oil on paper

TM8870 October’s Parade 6×6 oil on paper

TM8869 Into the Woods #58 6x6 oil on paper

TM8869 Into the Woods #58 6×6 oil on paper

TM8871 October's Red 6x6 oil on paper

TM8871 October’s Red 6×6 oil on paper

October is the season of red – cool, warm, saturated, subtle, and everything in between. The first and third paintings rely on mostly napthol red for their intense color, while the second painting uses primarily Venetian red for its more subtle color. I sometimes think of the painting’s color as a chord, a select group of three or four, or maybe five colors setting up a tonal harmony, much like in music. The harmony can be bright and joyous, quietly somber, melancholy, or broadly balanced. Painting the same scene with different harmonies changes the emotional tenor of the subject, and yields surprises, something Claude Monet showed us so beautifully. Thank you Claude.