Any Day Now

TM8553 Any Day Now 36x44 oil on panel

TM8553 Any Day Now 36×44 oil on panel

Any Day Now is my return to a more abstracted pond – a close-up, angled view with young lily pads and a scattering of grasses.  The details are still closely observed, but the cropping lets one see the pattern first, then the actual objects. Additionally, the staccato rhythm of grasses and reflected tree trunks and branches gives this painting a strong sense of movement and energy. And, as if that weren’t enough, I decided to paint in a breezy, cumulus-studded sky. As for the title….well, I’ve been anticipating the return of lilies….who hasn’t? The pads are here, the lilies will be along soon. Embrace the day. Details below.

TM8553 Any Day Now - detail from right of center with grasses and partially submerged lily pad

TM8553 Any Day Now – detail from right of center with grasses and partially submerged lily pad

TM8553 Any Day Now - detail from upper left corner with sky and branch reflections

TM8553 Any Day Now – detail from upper left corner with sky and branch reflections

Technical painting notes: I wanted this painting to have more energy and lots of contrast, so the initial layer was a mixture of black and blues, with a touch of greenish umber. I worked quickly with solvents and my soft rubber roller to maximize the textures. Later layers focused on lots of glazing and finding the negative shapes of sky between the branches and pads. Additional glazing with cerulean and ultramarine blue helped to suggest the pattern of cloud and blue sky.

After Rain

TM8552 After Rain 30x30 oil on panel

TM8552 After Rain 30×30 oil on panel

Last year I spent some time kayaking on the Charles River in Boston and Newton (a delightful experience, which I heartily recommend). I took loads of photos of water lilies and the varieties of vegetation that crowd the river bank. The problem, was what to do with all the information. I tried working up some paintings, but the gorgeous summer afternoon was too “perfect” and just not mysterious enough for my taste. Eventually, I sanded every attempt down. A few weeks ago, I decided to take a new tack. This time I used the crazy and lush tree forms but changed the weather, rain and fog being my favorite weather conditions. After Rain might be a keeper. Details below. What do you think?

TM8552 After Rain - detail from upper right

TM8552 After Rain – detail from upper right

TM8552 After Rain - detail from left of center with loosestrife and golden rod

TM8552 After Rain – detail from left of center with loosestrife and golden rod

TM8552 After Rain - detail from foreground with duckweed and lilies

TM8552 After Rain – detail from foreground with duckweed and lilies

TM8552 After Rain - detail from left side

TM8552 After Rain – detail from left side

Watching the Fog Roll In

TM8551 Watching the Fog Rol In 34x40 oil on panel

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In 34×40 oil on panel

Early morning light on a northern stretch of the Atlantic. I’m surrounded by deeply weathered granite and seaweed as I gaze south and east toward the headland of Grand Manon. The gently lapping sound of water stretches in from the Bay of Fundy at 5 a.m. This is bliss. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In - detail from upper center

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In – detail from upper center

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In - detail showing fog and distant headland, closer ledges with seaweed

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In – detail showing fog and distant headland, closer ledges with seaweed

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In - detail from foreground with weathered outcrops

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In – detail from foreground with weathered outcrops

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In - close-up from lower left of weathering granite

TM8551 Watching the Fog Roll In – close-up from lower left of weathering granite

Technical painting notes: I knew from the start that the underlayer of textures would be vitally important to the outcome of this painting. I used a roller and thinned oil paint to put down warm and cool darks, then spritzed like crazy with solvent and kept rerolling and swishing the paint to create contrasty droplets and smears. The goal was to have textures so strong they would show through subsequent applications of paint and suggest the strong texture of eroding granite. Once this layer was dry, I started at the top, painting the sky and water, then loosely indicating the headland with semi-transparent pigments. Next, I began to suggest the lichens and salt, cracks and fissures on the granite. A day of drying followed. Semi-transparent glazes indicated the fog. I glazed the rest of the painting and started to indicate the far ledges and seaweed while the surface was wet. Further development of the foreground followed, then a day of drying. Over the next few days I alternated glazes and refining the textures in the foreground, often stippling with an “exploded” old nylon brush. Final transparent glazes brought depth to the foreground colors.

Early Morning at the Pond

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond 28x31.75 oil on panel

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond 28×31.75 oil on panel

There are mornings when I find delightful surprises at the pond – a frog who lets me get a bit closer, the heron stalking breakfast, blueberries, or even a graceful fog. But the painting Early Morning at the Pond isn’t about any of that. Instead, it looks at the essentials – the stage, if you will, where life takes place. The shallows winding back toward the swamp, trees sporting their newly naked branches, and a gauzy morning light just reaching over the hill and through the trees to lick a bit of color and warmth into the scene. This is the pond at its most contemplative. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond - close-up of woods from upper left of painting

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond – close-up of woods from upper left of painting

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond - detail with floating leaves

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond – detail with floating leaves

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond - detail from water's edge, left side

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond – detail from water’s edge, left side

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond close-up fof water's edge and wooded hill

TM8550 Early Morning at the Pond close-up fof water’s edge and wooded hill

Dear June

TM8549 Dear June 36x36 oil on panel

TM8549 Dear June 36×36 oil on panel

Between floating and dreaming, Dear June suspends the sense of gravity for a moment. The painting is based on a visit to my favorite pond on a day filled with breezy cumulus clouds, newly leafed trees, and the air of expectancy that only spring can bring. The pattern of light and shade across the pollen coated-water creates its own poetics, partially obscuring the reflected trees but at the same time enabling the closer leaves of over-hanging trees to gain definition. Details below. Dream on.

TM8549 Dear June - detail showing layered reflections and use of vari-colored spatter to suggest pollen and subdue edges

TM8549 Dear June – detail showing layered reflections and use of vari-colored spatter to suggest pollen and subdue edges

TM8549 Dear June - detail from lower right quadrant showing pollen layered over reflections and floating duckweed

TM8549 Dear June – detail from lower right quadrant showing pollen layered over reflections and floating duckweed

Technical painting notes: The painting began with my usual roll-up of dark, thinned, blue-black-green oil paints. While the paint was wet, I wiped and lightened areas, spritzed the surface with solvent, and blotted or re-rolled. My goal was to create a strongly textured surface with gestures of light and dark to simulate the placement of the trees and darker shadows. When the paint layer was dry, I glazed blue tones over it, then started to define the trees reflected against a blue sky. Later in the week, I began to define the sky, using a soft nylon brush to block in the negative shapes of blue or white. When this was dry, I began work on the shadow patterns, glazing them down in value and defining the individual leaves. Additional patches of blue sky were added, along with some floating vegetation. I let the painting rest (and dry) before starting to spatter on shades of gray, blue, and green. The spatter layers softened the edges and suggested the dense effect of heavy pollen on the water. I also began to seriously detail the duckweed, mixing three greens (bright to cool and dark). I used a small nylon flat to paint the individual, four-lobed clusters – brighter in the patches of sun, subdued in the shadows

Feels Like Home

TM8548 Feels Like Home - 24x36 oil on panel

TM8548 Feels Like Home – 24×36 oil on panel

I was driving the back roads of Worcester County, my birthplace,  this past week enjoying every swamp, pond, and glacial erratic. It’s a landscape full of chaos in slow motion – early uplifted mountains ground down by glaciers and turned into rolling hills, exposed ledge, kettle hole ponds, assorted wetlands, and old (sometimes new) stone walls everywhere. I’ve painted these scenes for years, but I never tire of them. Putting order to the chaos is like a puzzle. I want everything to fit in its own natural way. The laws of physics and gravity are important. This same adherence to natural laws is also evident in my more abstract paintings. The patterns may be denser, or there might be more layers, but gravity persists.

My landscapes act like an anchor. No matter what series I’m working on, I can go home again by spending time painting another scene from this central Massachusetts county. It’s a reunion. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8548 Feels Like Home - close-up of trees from upper right

TM8548 Feels Like Home – close-up of trees from upper right

TM8548 Feels Like home - detail from right side

TM8548 Feels Like home – detail from right side

TM8548 Feels Like Home - detail from left side

TM8548 Feels Like Home – detail from left side

Starting to Rain

TM8547 Starting to Rain - 36x30 oil on panel

TM8547 Starting to Rain – 36×30 oil on panel

You can feel it. The sky darkens, the air starts to smell fresh, there’s a sudden quiet, then the first few drops reveal themselves on the water’s surface. Starting to Rain is about that very special moment, but slowed and saved. The fish will soon be biting. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8547 Starting to Rain - detail from upper left

TM8547 Starting to Rain – detail from upper left

TM8547 Staring to Rain - detail from top center with young firs

TM8547 Staring to Rain – detail from top center with young firs

TM8547 Starting to Rain - detail from below center showing eroded granite

TM8547 Starting to Rain – detail from below center showing eroded granite

Technical painting notes: To suggest the overcast light of incipient rain, I narrowed the tonal range, keeping values close.  I also kept the colors softly unsaturated, relying mostly on variations of warm and cool grays made from white plus  burnt sienna, burnt umber, ultramarine blue, or indigo. Red iron oxide glazes suggested the iron oxides in the granite (I love when the paint is made from the minerals I’m depicting). The crystal-like textures on the granite were the result of spritzing mineral spirits onto the wet base layer, then blotting. I also dotted in additional color specks and highlights. Lichens were suggested by dabbing paint on with a beat up “exploded” old brush.