Morning’s Poem

TM8993 Morning’s Poem 36×44 oil on panel

Morning’s Poem is a gentle meditation on pond reflections in the month of May. It is also a play between hard and soft edges, the interlacing of brush and roller work, and the precarious balance between near and far reflections. Throw in some flotsam and pollen floating on the surface, and you have the elements of a visual puzzle. I painted and repainted, glazed and rolled, looking for balance. As I worked, the painting lightened, perhaps influenced by the advent of sunny days. Those blue skies influenced the amount of blue in the painting. A few white clouds also found their way into the composition. One could say the painting is a summation of the week’s weather – cloudy, chilly, clear, then warm. That’s spring. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8993 Morning’s Poem – detail from lower center

TM8993 Morning’s Poem – detail from lower right

Conversations between Clouds and Leaves

TM8990 Conversation between Clouds and Leaves #3 7×7 oil on paper

The skies have been spectacular lately with so many spring storms moving out to sea. Every time I look up, especially through all those young green leaves, I feel compelled to paint what I’m seeing (again). That’s how a series is born, and I suspect my fascination with cumulus clouds seen through trees is still young. These five small paintings were influenced by a recent walk, with blowsy breezes and lots of freshly washed air. More below. Enjoy.

Gossamer Days

TM8979 Gossamer Days 36×40 oil on panel

Color, as reflected in a woodland pond in autumn, is the apparent subject addressed in this new painting. But it’s also about the ethereal nature of time and the ineffable quality of air. Close values and tones describe a moisture rich atmosphere, and create a glow or vibration in the eye. Drifting leaves and layers of reflections speak to the accumulation and passage of time. I relied on an interweaving of roller and brush work to describe reality while allowing for unexpected hard edges and a degree of abstraction. I sometimes tell my students to take off their glasses to see the other world we inhabit/inhibit in our paintings. As Alice found, looking through the glass can yield wonderful surprises in an upside down world. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8979 Gossamer Days – detail near center showing multi-layered approach, use of glazes, roller and brush work

TM8979 Gossamer Days – detail from center bottom with reflections and floating leaves

TM8979 Gossamer Days – close-up showing layers, scraping into wet paint, roller strokes vs. brush strokes

TM8979 Gossamer Days – detail from center top of painting

Technical painting notes: Oil paints dry slowly, so working with layers can take an inordinate amount of time. To speed the process, I use Winsor Newton Liquin medium. When mixing color to roll on, I add a bit of Liquin original to the paint. If I’m rolling on a glaze, I add Liquin Impasto medium. The transparency and glow of layered rolling can be subtly  effective.

Friends on a Road Less Traveled

TM8987 Friends from a Road Less Traveled 36×36 oil on panel

Whenever I take a walk I like to meet the local trees. They are all such individuals, doing important work for the ecosystem and offering me such pleasurable shade, color and the opportunity to know them over time. I’ve watched small trees at local parks grow into gnarly old guards, saplings on the side of the road become majestic patriarchs of New England, and the juveniles – I simply have to smile at their gawky poses. Friends on a Road Less Traveled is a portrait of one group of friends, dressed in their October finery. It is also a study of bright shades of red and coral played against a lifting morning fog of neutral gray, with a hint of blue sky to come. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8987 Friends on a Road Less Traveled – detail showing layered brushwork over spatter base

TM8987 Friends on a Road Less Traveled – detail from upper right

TM8987 Friends on a Road Less Traveled – detail from lower left


May Pondscape

TM8982 May Pondscape 7×7 oil on paper

Sunshine and clouds chasing each other across the sky, that’s been my inspiration this week as I work on some small pondscapes. The sense of movement in the pond reflections feels like a race – both for the clouds and for me as I try to paint them. The cheerful yellows and May greens predominate, but you can see the cloud reflection at the bottom of the painting. With so much luxuriant life present, I felt the need to layer in sumptuous paint, letting it slide around, letting it hop, skip, and jump across the paper. May Pondscape is my homage to lightness of spirit, and the joys of play.

In the Spirit of May

TM8980 New Leaves, Out for a Spin 7×7 oil on paper

TM8981 Giddy Yellow 7×7 oil on paper

Early May is full of yellow and yellow green leaves bursting out all over, shaking themselves out of their bud forms and reveling in the fresh air. There’s so much energy, and the question is how to paint that energy. The two small paintings above rely on layering  and a spontaneous approach with the palette knife. I use lots of Winsor Newton Liquin to keep the paint drippy and still maintain substance. Both paintings are views looking up, but could almost be looking down into the reflections of sky and leaves I often find at my favorite woodland pond. Looking up – looking down – it’s all good. Enjoy.

Conifer Chorus

TM8978 Conifer Chorus 36×40 oil on panel

At the edge of any opening in the woods is a nursery – the place where young trees grab some light and grow as fast as they can. It always feel like a joyful place to me, with all the little tree limbs reaching up and shaking in the breeze. Sometimes, with the taller trees lined up behind the adolescent and baby trees, it feels like a formal chorus, with everyone lifting their spirits and swinging their limbs in song. Makes me want to sing too. And then paint. Conifer Chorus depicts such a place and moment. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8978 Conifer Chorus – detail from left side showing layered brush and roller work

TM8978 Conifer Chorus – detail from lower left with young saplings

Technical painting notes: The painting began with a roll-up of dark oil paint, which was manipulated with rags, solvents, and the use of a silicone scraper to “draw” into the wet paint. Solvent and paint were spattered into the wet surface to add color and texture. When this base layer was dry, I used soft brushes to begin painting the “negative” sky areas. Additional brush work and glazes developed the trees. Not wanting the painting to feel too stiff, I used a soft rubber roller to apply highlights and broadly define needle-laden boughs. Additional layers of loose brushwork interspersed with rolling softened some edges while continuing to describe the gestures of the trees.