New England Woods


Every day exploring New England is a gift, especially the opportunity to paint rock walls in the woods. The four small paintings above depict “regular” days, nothing special happening, just the confluence of light, nature, fresh air, and paint. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: Again, I used textured and smooth papers. The first two paintings are on textured paper, and you can feel how the texture informs the feel of the rock surfaces. The last two paintings are on smoother paper.

Early Snow

I hadn’t planned on starting any snow paintings.  It only took a couple of crisp nights to put me in the mood. I pulled out my reference binder of favorite winter photos, and from that point I couldn’t resist. Maybe it’s the look of bright white snow against the remnants of fall color, or the orange red glow of scrub growth with snow and a blue sky. The six small paintings (will it be a series?) mark my foray into winter, and my anticipation of the bracing season that waits around the corner of November. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: The first two paintings are on a primed, rough watercolor paper. The texture of the paper strongly influences the feel of broken color.  I liked the casual effect, but wanted to try a smoother paper. The next four paintings are on smoother, acrylic gesso- primed rag paper. The smoothness allowed for finer detail. All the paintings were developed in layers, with a base layer of roughly laid in color mixed with Liquin Imasto medium. When the base was dry (usually the following day) I went back into the painting with selective knife and brushwork to bring out details. Sometimes I find the inclusion of pencil drawing at this stage, defining the image but separate from the blocks of color, enhances the overall effect and keeps the image fresh.

A Day at Bass Rocks

Bass Rocks is impressive – a stretch of honey and rust-colored rock ledges facing out to the Atlantic on Cape Ann. The constant force of waves and winter ice breaks the rocks into a myriad of sizes and  has created a vast, complex geometry of fractures. When you stand on the ledges at high tide or after a storm, the violence of the pounding surf translates into tremors that start at your feet and rise through your whole body. I love it. It’s the energy and exuberance  of the place that I try to capture in my paintings from Bass Rocks. Enjoy.


Crazy with Color

Autumn is a welcome excuse to go crazy with red and orange. It’s an exuberant time of year. The brisk weather energizes me, and the energy translates into the paintings. This week I painted red with real abandon, as you can see below.

TM8807 Ardent October 6x6 oil on paper

TM8807 Ardent October 6×6 oil on paper

TM8815 Crazy October 6x6 oil on paper

TM8815 Crazy October 6×6 oil on paper

TM8808 An Excess of Autumn 6x6 oil on paper

TM8808 An Excess of Autumn 6×6 oil on paper

Technical painting notes: All three paintings above relied on mostly palette knife work to build the image. Each started with an abstract base of color mixed with a large amount of Liquin Impasto medium. The Impasto medium gives thickness and dimension to the paint, resulting in a rich surface.. Adding some Liquin original medium to the tip of the knife lets one manipulate the slipperiness of the paint and create skips of color. The mediums also speed the drying. When the base layer is dry, I go in with a touch of brush work to define the major elements. In each of these paintings, I wanted the excitement of juicy abstraction, but I also wanted to retain the feeling of landscape space and an acknowledgement  of the particular place that inspired me.

Coming Out of the Woods

With all the recent Into the Woods paintings, one might well ask do you ever come out? I do. The collection of recent paintings  below explores the opening, the glimpse, and the broader view. Enjoy.

Love that Ledge

I can’t help it – those looming grey granite surprises in the woods always add excitement to a hike and a composition. The collection of woodland paintings below all feature wonderful hard rock in contrast with the delicate trees. It’s a yin/yang thing. Enjoy.

Looking for a way in….

The woods around me are not ancient. The land was primarily farmland until the early twentieth century, so the trees can be quite young, saplings really, stretching and dancing in the sun and breeze. Even in the more mature woods, the going can still be tough as there are thickets, swamps, and poison ivy to avoid. I’ve been thinking about the density of it all – how to paint it. These small paintings are studies of density and thickets, places where the way in is missing.

Technical painting notes: I’ve been trying different rag papers, some with a shellac primer and some with an acrylic gesso primer, trying to see how the texture of the primer and the paper affects the look of the painting. The brushmarks from the gesso can be interesting when they show through, but the surface is more slick and the paint slides around (this does allow for some nice “skips”). The shellac primer disappears into the paper, allowing the paper to grip the paint. While I prefer the smoother papers, a cold press watercolor paper does enhance the textural possibilities – even if it is aggressive.