More Time in the Woods

The 6×6 oil on paper paintings are a daily meditation, leading me into my subject while keeping me open to possibilities.  The last two days took me into a nearly impenetrable thicket of trees and scrub,  defined by color and line. It was an exciting trek, even though it’s mostly through my imagination.  Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: The paintings are on rag watercolor paper primed with shellac front and back. I used Liquin Impasto medium and original Liquin extensively, applying the color primarily with a palette knife. A base coat of abstract color was applied, with some removal of the wet paint with a silicone scraper. When the base layer was dry (usually the following day) I worked into the image again, adding color and refining the details.

In pursuit…..into the woods

I’m back to the woods, looking for the way in, trying to find a path that will yield something new. This week I drew closer to the subject, tried a limited palette with closer values and more simplification. It feels right. Into the Woods #13 is below.

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TM8747 Into the Woods #13 6×6 oil on paper

Happy with #13, I began again, trying to take what I learned into the next painting. I approached #14 in a similar way, but used a gesso-primed watercolor paper. I wanted a bit more texture on the surface under the color. I painted a close grove (the wall) quite realistically, then took a roller and started rolling over it to see what would happen. The colors melded and the simplification that resulted was interesting. I went back in with a brush to enhance the trees, added some graphite drawing, detailed the sky, and let it be. The balance between real and abstract, detail and suggestion was improving.

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TM8748 Into the Woods #14 6×6 oil on paper

Excited by #14, I decided to do another experiment, but this time I picked up a study I had started in 2006 of the same subject. Unresolved, it had been leaning against a shelf begging for another effort. I painted the trees again, letting much of the original attempt show through, then started drawing into it with pencil, looking for the stark gestures of trunks in a space. I used the roller repeatedly, to soften and mute the results, then redrew the trunks. l like the feel of working this way with a roller (soft rubber). It allows for more spontaneity. Pulling the image out of the matrix keeps the process exciting. It also introduces an element of non-control – something I used to love in watercolor. I think #15 is the turning point. Process and subject are on the same path.

nc-web-tm8749-into-the-woods-15-6x6-oil-and-graphite-on-paper

TM8749 Into the Woods #15 6×6 oil on paper

 

 

 

On taking a walk into the woods…

The woods is a real place out there, and a metaphor for our own unknowns.It can mean an adventure, or a leap into getting lost. There may be a path, but one could just as easily find an extensive swamp or thicket needing navigation.  Who will find the way? Beginning a new series of paintings means leaping into the unknown. What approach to take, what techniques need to be developed? What should the scale of the paintings be, or the palette?  My small studies give me a chance to explore composition and color but more importantly they force me to find the essential “woodsiness” in the woods.The six oil on prepared paper studies below explore openings to a path vs. the wall of trees.

Watching the Waves Come In and In and In…

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TM8743 Watching the Waves Come In #182 6×6 oil on paper

It’s limitless,,,,the power of waves to engage our entire focus, to keep us in the moment and transfixed. I’ll always be hypnotized by them and wanting to paint more, more,,,,,,

These two small paintings are from Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Escape, and enjoy.

nc-web-tm8744-watching-the-waves-come-in-183-6x6-oil-on-paper

TM8744 Watching the Waves Come In #183 6×6 oil on paper

Technical painting notes: The paintings are on primed, rag watercolor paper. Much of the painting was done using a palette knife. I added Winsor/Newton Liquin Impasto medium to the paint to give it more substance and lend an interesting three-dimensionality to what is essentially a spontaneous study.

October’s Pond

TM8741 October's Pond 36x44 oil on panel

TM8741 October’s Pond 36×44 oil on panel

Red season is coming, that time when all the permutations of red make their appearance in the landscape. October’s Pond revels in some of the in-between tints – more coral than red, not pink, not orange. Of course it’s also about brilliant autumn trees reflected in a pond. It’s also about the passage of time, and about mindfulness – slowing down to absorb and enjoy color for it’s own sake, before the snows come. Enjoy. Detail below.

TM8741 October's Pond - detail from center with sunlight on reflected trees

TM8741 October’s Pond – detail from center with sunlight on reflected trees

Here Comes Autumn

nc web TM8740 Here Comes Autumn 36x44 oil on panel

TM8740 Here Comes Autumn 36×44 oil on panel

While this painting seems to be about autumn, it’s really about yellow, that high-keyed, exuberant color that never sits still and always wants to leap off the panel. I’ve always admired yellow’s power, but I also respect the difficulty of getting it to sit alongside other colors without totally dominating the painting. Taming yellow was the challenge for Here Comes Autumn. I wanted the joy and exuberance  but in balance with the other colors of September. Of course I did take some artistic license – with this year’s drought I doubt the colors will be as rich as usual. But that’s the fun of a painting – it can be whatever you want or need – and I need yellow. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8740 Here Comes Autumn - detail from left of center

TM8740 Here Comes Autumn – detail from left of center

TM8740 Here Comes Autumn - detail from right of center showing use of scraping and spatter

TM8740 Here Comes Autumn – detail from right of center showing use of scraping and spatter

TM8740 Here Comes Autumn - detail from lower right with foliage reflections and floating leaves

TM8740 Here Comes Autumn – detail from lower right with foliage reflections and floating leaves

August Afternoons

TM8729 August Afternoons 36x60 oil on panel

TM8729 August Afternoons 36×60 oil on panel

August Afternoons could have been called Meditation on Floating Pine Needles, like its earlier cousin. It’s a reverie based on tranquil summer afternoons at my favorite pond, watching the pine needles float by on a slow current as the sun slowly lowers. Late sunlight glances into the water and shimmers on some of the tree trunks, a warm counterpoint to the deepening shadows. My pond is ringed by a wooded ridge, and evening whispers its presence early.Details below, along with notes on the process used to create the painting. Enjoy.

TM8729 August Afternoons - detail from upper right quadrant showing layered base textures overpainted with glazes and spatter

TM8729 August Afternoons – detail from upper right quadrant showing layered base textures overpainted with glazes and spatter

TM8729 August Afternoons - detail from upper left quadrant with pine needles and foliage reflections

TM8729 August Afternoons – detail from upper left quadrant with pine needles and foliage reflections

TM8729 August Afternoons - detail from lower left showing use of layered fine spatter, scraped and painted pine needles

TM8729 August Afternoons – detail from lower left showing use of layered fine spatter, scraped and painted pine needles

TM8729 August Afternoons - close-up showing tree branches reflected in pond

TM8729 August Afternoons – close-up showing tree branches reflected in pond

TM8729 August Afternoons - detail from lower left quadrant with reflections

TM8729 August Afternoons – detail from lower left quadrant with reflections

TM8729 August Afternoons - detail fro lower right quadrant with shadowed and sunlit reflections in water

TM8729 August Afternoons – detail from lower right quadrant with shadowed and sunlit reflections in water

TM8729 August Afternoons - detail from upper right quadrant with tree and sky reflections, floating leaves, and pine needles

TM8729 August Afternoons – detail from upper right quadrant with tree and sky reflections, floating leaves, and pine needles

Technical painting notes: I started the painting one year ago, establishing the overall composition and textures using a roll of oil paint (soft rubber brayer) and my usual “kit” of monoprint techniques – wiping,  scraping, and blotted spatter. I used more oil than usual to lengthen the “open” time (that time before the paints get sticky, when the paint can be easily pushed and wiped, scraped away and re-rolled). It took a year for the base layer to dry sufficiently to start painting again. I glazed the surface, manipulating different colors and scraped away the glaze to suggest shadowed pine needles (lower left). The negative spaces of reflected sky were blocked in next, then the foliage patterns in brighter green were painted. Many glazes later, the darker branches were defined, then the sunlit tree trunks.  I started to add the orange pine needles and scattering of bright green leaves. More glazes add depth to the color, and subtle layers of spatter gave a feeling of dust on the pond’s surface.