Upside down – have I lost my bearings? It seems so. But that’s part of the fun of painting a pond and its reflections. Looking down to see up there, out there, everywhere. This trio of 7×7 paintings explores woodland reflections and a shared palette that sets violet blues against a range of greens, with touches of earthy brown contributing their own bass notes. One bright white cloud muscles its way in – ever the optimist. Enjoy!
A walk in the woods inside a quiet rain – the colors are muted, the air is soft and clean, smelling of pine needles and damp earth. Of course a pair of boots is in order, but the joys are generous. Those are the qualities I wanted in this new interpretation of my favorite woodland. It’s an invitation to ramble and roam, be still and consider. Who knows, you might see the egret, or the ferret. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started the painting by rolling a layer of dark blue/gray/green oil paint onto the surface, purposely trying to leave gaps and be gestural. While the paint was wet, I used a silicone scraper to draw many of the tree branches and trunks, and scumbled solvent onto areas where I wanted texture to suggest foliage. Spatterings of solvent, then loose paint, added to the dense texture. After this first layer was dry, I proceeded to define the negative shapes (sky) and describe the trees more exactly. I used a palette knife to keep the things interesting. Layers of glaze and more palette knife and brush work followed. I wanted a feeling of the native chaos of young woods and at the same time a sense of some order. The openness of the swampy foreground is important for offering a way in, and for opening a slight window to the sky and fields beyond the woods.
In autumn the invasive bittersweet vine spreads its orange berries through the woods and field edges. I have mixed feelings about it. It is beautiful, and its twiny branches and brilliant berries are wonderful in seasonal decorations. But oh does it spread, spiralling out of control and choking native species. Never the less, I feel compelled to pay it homage. So here it is – Bittersweet Season, injecting cheery orange into the quiet tones of late fall. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I began the painting with a base layer of rolled oil paint, selectively wiped, scraped and spritzed with mineral spirits to create interesting textures. I used glazes and flat watercolor brushes to add color and block in the sky and trees. However, the result felt too controlled. Bittersweet is rampant by nature, and the painting needed to have the same energy. I also wanted to experiment with palette knife and scraping into wet paint, much as I have done in my small 6×6 Into the Woods Series. So the knife and silicone scraper came out, and I used both liberally, mixing my paint with Liquin so it would be juicy. The result feels more like the woods, in all its controlled chaos.
One more winter, many more winter paintings. The storm is over, the trees are white, and the shadows are brilliantly blue. I often think the best thing about winter is the glorious blue and blue/violet shadows making their way across the sparkling snow, as if to caress it. Enjoy.
With snow predicted and travel plans cancelled, I thought it a good day to enjoy painting one of my favorite places. Next time I go there, it will be with boots……. then snowshoes? Enjoy.
I think of autumn as a brocade of rich colors and textures. Glory Days explores the mental meanderings encountered while working with the effects of richly textured fabric and deeply patterned and textured painting.
The sumptuous green/golds and coral colors are achieved through multiple transparent glazes over a heavily patterned base created with paint (burnt umber and raw sienna) using monoprint techniques. As I built the layers of arboreal reflection with tiny strokes, I was reminded of stitches. Allowing the monoprint spatters and bursts to show through only enhanced the feeling of a substantial woven material, with apparent slubs and the feel of textured thread contributing a tactile sense to the painting. I was also reminded of the gardens and forests in Jean-Antoine Watteau’s paintings, which reminded me again of elegant fabrics, like brocades, that would have been worn at court. Odd how a view of across a watery surface could turn into a meditation on late sixteenth and early seventeenth century French court life and the romantic paintings it inspired. Details below. Enjoy.
When I look at a pond, I see the parts first – patches of sunlight sneaking through the trees and illuminating the pond’s surface, floating leaves, scatterings of duckweed, then the larger elements of reflected trees and sky, the interlace of bare branches, the sumptuous greens of distant trees, perhaps a slight fog. Then I know it’s a pond. Constructing the painting is similar. I build layers of observations and weave them together into a composition that recalls the feel of the place where it all started. The voids and empty spaces have grown in importance. Shadows provide a place for the imagination to roam, and connect the parts. Is it an abstraction? Maybe. But that raises the question – an abstraction of what? Or who?
I was recently reading Franz Wright’s book of poems “God’s Silence,” and found a poem that resonated.
The mask was gone now, burned away
By God’s gaze
There was no
Was no he –
There was no text, only
What the words stood for;
What all things stand for.