I often think of the small 6×6 oil studies as small treats – something I do because they are fun, and because they function as warm-ups for the big paintings. They are also like candy – I can’t do just one. Enjoy.
Unlike the boisterous waves crashing in my earlier paintings, Swell presents the quieter energy of a swell approaching the beach. The calm feeling comes from crisscrossing patterns and multitudes of subtle blues. At the same time, this is a wall of water, and close to the viewer, so when it does break, look out. A corner of bare sand on the lower left will give you a piece of safe footing. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started this painting with a roll up of dark blue paint, much like a monoprint. I dripped and spattered mineral spirits on the surface to create a subtle texture, and used a plastic bag to streak the paint. when the initial layer was dry, I used a palette knife and to spread the paint (into which I had mixed Liquin impasto medium). Before it dried, I used a large, soft wash brush to spread the paint and layer glazes . Once this layer dried, I glazed, then painted into the wet glaze to define the water patterns. Another spritz of mineral spirits provided a slight bubbly pattern in the water.
So much of the sensory experience of being by the ocean is based on what we hear – fog horns, gulls, and the ever-changing music of the waves. Song in a Pale Key is about the subtleties, when the moist air absorbs and expands the sounds. The gentle movements of water can seem to energize the space between droplets of moisture, generating a background chord behind the higher pitched liquid melody of waves overturning. It isn’t a dark sound. Instead, it seems light and evanescent, maybe because evaporation is its conclusion. I chose to keep the tonal and value key of the painting high, to emphasize the lightness of the music and its transient nature. The foggy, atmospheric distance speaks to the presence of droplets of moisture, which equates with notes in this artist’s imagination. Enjoy.
This week winter entered the picture, with some dramatically cold views. In winter, there’s a heavy quality to the water, as if it, too, didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Perhaps it’s the cold temperature of the water, the way it can turn into an icy slush that moves slowly. All I know is that it is wonderfully dramatic and a great challenge.
Technical painting notes: I used a considerable amount of Liquin alkyd medium and Liquin impasto medium mixed into the paints. The more viscous quality of the paint allowed for a sumptuous, thick yet slippery quality in the paint handling. The liquidity emulates the watery subject and gives these small studies the rich surface quality of a fully developed larger paintng.
Work on the small experimental studies continues. This week I played with using more Liquin medium in the paint, making for a more creamy consistancy. I found I could spread the paint more easily, letting one loaded knife stroke work its way across the image while at the same time being able to layer the paint. I tried to keep the freshness of any small skips and jumps, knowing that nature also seems to take advantage of the little accidents. Additional new 6×6 oils can be seen on the 6×6 oils portfolio page (found in the menu at top of page).
There’s red and then there’s the red explosion also known as the month of October in New England. I have been swept up by autumn’s vibrancy and range of reds – each shade of coral and orange, all the warm, cool, dark and tonal in-betweens. October Throws a Party is a tribute to the color red and to the season.
As I worked on the painting, orchestrating the colors and layers, I also thought about piano roll music with its sequenced dashes corresponding to notes. Each dash of paint (or scraped negative dash) felt like part of a score, a way of grouping colors into chords, of building a rhythm into the visual experience of the painting. The cloe-up detail below shows the way glaze was applied then scraped away to “echo” the paint applied with strokes of the brush, contributing depth and surface interest to the image.