Wetland Spring #1

TM8538 Wetland Spring #1 36x36 oil on panel

TM8538 Wetland Spring #1 36×36 oil on panel

It will happen, it will happen, spring will come. Maybe if I paint enough spring ponds my favorite one will appear from under its layer of ice and debris? With that as my mission, I’ve been revisiting photographs I took last spring and reinterpreting the compositions. They provide a lovely escape from dirty snow, and allow my imagination to roam. I can almost smell the lilies. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8538 Wetland Spring #1 - detail from upper right with inlet, distant hill

TM8538 Wetland Spring #1 – detail from upper right with inlet, distant hill

TM8538 Wetland Spring #1 - detail from foreground with reflections, floating vegetation

TM8538 Wetland Spring #1 – detail from foreground with reflections, floating vegetation

 

On Visiting a Friend

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend 36x48 oil on panel

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend 36×48 oil on panel

Last spring I introduced George, my favorite mallard duck, with the painting George Is Back! Well, I guess I’m not the only person who is fond of George.  Folks have responded with the request to bring George back, with Mrs. George. I promise I will send her an invitation to “float” for me, but until then, here’s George, leading us into the gentle season with another painting titled On Visiting a Friend. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend - close-up of George

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend – close-up of George

I like to make sure George has plenty of duckweed to slurp – the sound is so cool!

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend - close-up from left foreground with lily pads

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend – close-up from left foreground with lily pads

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend - close-up from far left bank

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend – close-up from far left bank

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend - close-up of far right bank showing use of layered textures to suggest foliage

TM8536 On Visiting a Friend – close-up of far right bank showing use of layered textures to suggest foliage

Technical painting notes: I find that “sneaking up” on the trees is, for me, the best way to capture them. Painting them directly seems too stiff, but indicating them loosely with scraped out paint (in the initial layer) then using layered textures to suggest foliage seems to allow for more of a sense of movement and life. The first layer had textures pressed into the wet paint, blotted spatters of mineral spirits, and scraping out of some trunks and branches with a silicone shaped scraper. When dry, glazes modulated the color and paint was again pressed into the wet glaze to create textures. This was repeated several times. Trunks were heightened with thin, semi-transparent paint, then branches were added. Sky, seen between the trees, was painted with a more opaque paint.

Terra Rosa

TM8535 Terra Rosa 30x60 oil on panel

TM8535 Terra Rosa 30×60 oil on panel

Terra Rosa, the name of a color and the color that signals the arrival of autumn.  It’s a pigment I seldom used in the past, but I’ve become entranced with it’s warmth and depth – not red, not orange, easily shaded warm or cool, and a little goes a long way. I used hints of this color throughout my newest painting – in the half-submerged grasses, in the foliage reflections, and under layers of glaze in the shadows. As with all the pondscapes, the abstracted reflections captured by the pond  form the composition and subject of this painting. The gradual tonal shifts speak to the subtle, tell-tale signs announcing a new season. Green is disappearing, ochres and rose tones are slipping into their place. I wanted to capture the warm air of early fall, hence the slightly warm blue in the sky reflections and in the sheen on the water. There are still a few lily pads, but the actual lilies are a memory. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8535 Terra Rosa - detail fromlower right with grasses and reflections, floating leaves

TM8535 Terra Rosa – detail from lower right with grasses and reflections, floating leaves

TM8535 Terra Rosa - detail fromlower left with half-submerged grasses and floating leaves

TM8535 Terra Rosa – detail from lower left with half-submerged grasses and floating leaves

TM8535 Terra Rosa - close-up with reflections, lily pads

TM8535 Terra Rosa – close-up with reflections, lily pads

 

Accompaniment

TM8534 Accompaniment 36x40 oil on panel

TM8534 Accompaniment 36×40 oil on panel

Late light, that time when colors begin to warm and soften. A time when colors lose their names, but gain adjectives – reddish brown, lavender-tinged gray, crimson black. The poet W.S. Merwin wrote a poem titled “To the Morning (1)” which contains a line that sums up the circumstances I encountered on the day I began this painting. Merwin says

“…Was there once a day when I knew what to ask looking into the bright hour while it was arrayed before me…”

The bright hour, luminous light with an undefined source. Magical – few words, but perhaps a series of paintings?

Encountering a radiant lily, then seeing the petite bladderworts in its company, is also the subject of the painting. Flagrant beauty surrounded by modestly enchanting companions. I identify more with the bladderwort, which can be so easily overlooked.

Enjoy. Details below.

TM8534 Accompaniment - close-up of lily and bladderwort

TM8534 Accompaniment – close-up of lily and bladderwort

TM8435 Accompaniment - detail from left side with lily pads, bladderwort, duckweed

TM8535 Accompaniment – detail from left side with lily pads, bladderwort, duckweed

TM8534 Accompniment - close-up of lily pads and duckweed

TM8534 Accompniment – close-up of lily pads and duckweed

Technical painting notes: Layered transparent glazes were used to create the in-between tones in the painting (transparent pigments mixed into an alkyd medium, applied thinly)

 

 

Observed

TM8533 Observed 33.5 x 40 oil on panel

TM8533 Observed 33.5 x 40 oil on panel

Anticipating glorious spring, I bring you the year’s first bullhead lilies.  They are sharing the pond with a stalking heron, one whose acquaintance I made last year during my morning photo walks at the pond. Breakfast is nearly within grasp. Enjoy!

TM8533 Observed - close-up with stalking Heron, bullhead lilies

TM8533 Observed – close-up with stalking Heron, bullhead lilies

TM8533 Observed - detail of foreground, right side

TM8533 Observed – detail of foreground, right side

First Signs

TM8532 First Signs 34x40 oil on panel

TM8532 First Signs 34×40 oil on panel

When I think of spring, I envision the time when winter’s last melt turns everything upside down. Watery illusions spread across fields, parking lots, yards, and pull ponds well beyond their summer banks. The debris of fall mixes with new growth as pale, papery leaves float between blooms of duckweed and green scum. Color and life are returning. These are the signs I remember, the signs I will anticipate as the daylight lengthens. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8532 First Signs - detail from upper right with reflected sky, sheen on water, floating vegetation

TM8532 First Signs – detail from upper right with reflected sky, sheen on water, floating vegetation

TM8532 First Signs - detail from middle left with floating leaves and reflections, effect of layered spattering alternating with glazes

TM8532 First Signs – detail from middle left with floating leaves and reflections, effect of layered spattering alternating with glazes

Technical painting notes: I’ve been playing with alternating layers of fine paint spatter and glaze, looking for ways to create soft transitions of light on the water, and to suggest a certain depth of color. I use very soft nylon brushes fro the glazes, and old, beat-up nylon watercolor brushes for spattering. I add a bit of alkyd medium to the mixed spatter color, plus a touch of mineral spirits. I tap the brush against a paint stick. Less paint on the brush gives a finer spatter.

TM8532 First Signs - detail from middle left with drifting leaves

TM8532 First Signs – detail from middle left with drifting leaves

Spirit Flowers

TM8531 SPirit FLowers 36x36 oil on panel

TM8531 Spirit Flowers 36×36 oil on panel

Some paintings begin with something seen, while others, like Spirit Flowers, begin in a dream. I do know what influenced the dream – a long, dark winter with (eight feet) of constantly falling snow, the yearning for spring and flowers, and a memory of watching fireflies in the meadow behind the house where I grew up. All of it went into the painting. Though it might seem like a departure from my usual pondscapes, it really isn’t. Like with the ponds, I’ve taken elements and patterns from nature and played with them, re-assembling the parts into a layered composition. I hope a bit of magic found its way in….enjoy! Detail below.

TM8531 Spirit Flowers - close-up from center of painting

TM8531 Spirit Flowers – close-up from center of painting