July Slides By

TM8559 July Slides By 36x44 oil on panel

TM8559 July Slides By 36×44 oil on panel

Certain motifs captivate (or haunt) me. Bright blue days in late spring and early summer are an example. This is the season when everything seems to be reflected in the pond, and it’s a joy to walk the perimeter and take it all in – the sounds, the temperature, and of course the visual feast. Each walk proffers its own delight, and demands its own painting. July Slides By is the newest addition to the series, a gentle meditation on floating, as if one could swim and float into the sky and stay there for as long as one wished. Details from July Slides By are below, along with earlier paintings in the series and a photograph showing one of the days on which the series is based. Enjoy.

TM8559 July Slides By - detail from upper right

TM8559 July Slides By – detail from upper right

TM8559 July Slides By - detail from lower right quadrant with reflecting sky, trees, and clouds under a film of pollen

TM8559 July Slides By – detail from lower right quadrant with reflecting sky, trees, and clouds under a film of pollen

TM8559 July Slides By - detail from center with cululous cloud reflection

TM8559 July Slides By – detail from center with cumulus cloud reflection

Technical painting notes: All of the paintings in the series were begun by rolling a layer of dark, fairly neutral-colored oil paint onto the surface of the primed wood panel. I deliberately apply the roller with a skipping and staggered motion, to create a staccato rhythm of marks. I next use a mixture of oil and solvent on a plastic bag to push the paint around and loosen it up, again trying for an interesting pattern of marks and streaks. Solvent is spattered onto the panel, and more rolling is done to soften the marks and redistribute some of the paint. When this layer is dry, glazes are applied and some definition of the subject begins. Each day I add more glazes and try to define the subject without losing the abstract gestures in the underpainting. Sometimes I add layers of paint spatter in various colors, either to soften an edge or to suggest the pollen on the surface.

Each painting in the series looks at a different aspect of the subject, or explores a different approach. The process teaches me to look more deeply, and to let my imagination run free.

Below is a photograph from the pond, followed by other paintings in the series.

Photogrpah of the pond at Hamlen Woods showing tree shadows on the pollen-dusted water's surface

Photogrpah of the pond at Hamlen Woods showing tree shadows on the pollen-dusted water’s surface

TM8549 Dear June 36x36 oil on panel

TM8549 Dear June 36×36 oil on panel

TM8513 Inside July 36x44 oil on panel

SOLD TM8513 Inside July 36×44 oil on panel

TM8484 In All the Shapes and Shadows 36x44 oil on panel

SOLD TM8484 In All the Shapes and Shadows 36×44 oil on panel

TM8501 The Merry Month 36x44 oil on panel

TM8501 The Merry Month 36×44 oil on panel

TM8491 Midsummer 36x44 oil on panel

TM8491 Midsummer 36×44 oil on panel

Watching Time – Autumn

TM8558 Watching Time - Autumn 30x60 oil on panel

TM8558 Watching Time – Autumn 30×60 oil on panel

Watching Time – Autumn is a summation of everything I love about the season and the place. I chose the long horizontal format because it immerses the viewer in the experience, and because the stretched format echoes the way I always want to stretch the season and make it last longer. I can never get enough of the glorious crimsons and russets, especially since the pond will all too soon be frozen over and inaccessible, dormant until spring. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8558 Watching Time - Autumn - detail from middle of left side with reflected trees and sky

TM8558 Watching Time – Autumn – detail from middle of left side with reflected trees and sky

TM8558 Watching Time - Autumn - detail from foreground with fallen leaves and lily pad

TM8558 Watching Time – Autumn – detail from foreground with fallen leaves and lily pad

TM8558 Watching Time - Autumn - detail from just above center showing floating leaves and reflections, spatter pattern in underlayer showing through, use of semi-transparent "washes"

TM8558 Watching Time – Autumn – detail from just above center showing floating leaves and reflections, spatter pattern in underlayer showing through, use of semi-transparent “washes”

 

Morning Reaches the Pond

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond 36x44 oil on panel

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond 36×44 oil on panel

As work continues on the pondscape series, I find myself drawn to the more subtle light and intricate reflections of early morning. Morning Reaches the Pond looks at the tangle of brush and trees reflected in the water not too long after dawn. I chose to not paint the duckweed or floating debris this time, but to concentrate on reflections and the various conditions of the water – ripples, riffles, and the sheen of luminous morning light. In some ways this is my most abstract pondscape. There are fewer recognizable “facts” to orient the viewer. I more consciously worked to preserve the textures and accidents of the base layer – to let them intersect with observable conditions in and on the water. The result is tapestry-like and mysterious,  closer to my goal of finding the spirit of the pond. I’ve included a number of close-up details below. Enjoy!

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond - detail from upper left with reflections and riffles

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond – detail from upper left with reflections and riffles

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond - detail showing layers, use of additive and subtractive techniques

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond – detail showing layers, use of additive and subtractive techniques

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond - detail from right of center

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond – detail from right of center

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond - detail from lower right showing layered textures and use of transparent pigments

TM8555 Morning Reaches the Pond – detail from lower right showing layered textures and use of transparent pigments

Technical painting notes: As can be seen from the detail shots above, the interplay between transparent, semi-transparent, and touches of opaque paint form a recurring theme throughout the painting. The initial layer (put down with a soft rubber roller and monoprint techniques) provided all the textures and linear gestures of reflected woods. Layered glazes established the major colors and tones. Layered, semi-transparent light tones “carved” the sky into the pond. I painted onto a glazed, wet surface to achieve the soft edges, and used soft watercolor brushes. Small additive strokes suggest movements on the water, and slivers of opaque paint provide tiny jolts of color and perhaps suggest some of the floating pine needles I always find at the site.

 

Not Long Now

TM8488 Not Long Now 24x44 oil on panel

TM8488 Not Long Now 24×44 oil on panel

Another variation on time passing and the drift through seasons, this time floating us from late summer into fall. Working on this painting, I wanted to emphasize strong movement from the upper left to the lower right. I increased the subtle rippling  to give a sense of movement across the water, and added leaves dancing and landing on the water’s surface to bring in a more three-dimensional feeling of space and time. The reflected cumulus clouds imply movement overhead. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8488 Not Long Now - detail with tree reflections,leaves floating on current, and reflected sky with cumulus clouds

TM8488 Not Long Now – detail with tree reflections,leaves floating on current, and reflected sky with cumulus clouds

TM8488 Not Long Now - detail showing transparent layering of paint, use of opaque paint on leaves

TM8488 Not Long Now – detail showing transparent layering of paint, use of opaque paint on leaves

TM8488 Not Long Now - detail from lower left showing multi-colored reflections of autumn

TM8488 Not Long Now – detail from lower left showing multi-colored reflections of autumn

Technical painting notes: Painting the transition between seasons allows for a more varied palette of colors. Working with all the warm tones of fall, I needed to add some cool reds for balance. Fortunately for this realist, nature doth provide.

In the Neighborhood

TM8557 In the Neighborhood 24x44 oil on panel

TM8557 In the Neighborhood 24×44 oil on panel

I read today that the lily is supposed to be my birth flower, well what do you know….now I feel justified in my fixations. That said, the 2015 parade of lily paintings has commenced. In the Neighborhood takes a side glance at two white lilies, one of which is just beginning to stretch its petals. The slanting reflections, numerous, half-submerged lily pads, and streaks of underwater lily stems set up a sense of dynamic movement. When you look more closely, two fish, heading upstream against the current, push into view. In the Neighborhood explores the entire environment – trees and sky above, fish and vegetation below, and the almost ethereal transience of the flowers floating on the surface. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8557 In the Neighborheed - detail with opening lily, scattered duckweed

TM8557 In the Neighborheed – detail with opening lily, scattered duckweed

TM8557 In the Neighborhood - detail from upper right with surfacing fish

TM8557 In the Neighborhood – detail from upper right with surfacing fish

TM8557 In the Neighborhood - detail from top left of center showing reflections, lily stems and underlayers of texture showing through

TM8557 In the Neighborhood – detail from top left of center showing reflections, lily stems and underlayers of texture showing through

Technical paintnig notes: In the Neighborhood began with a dark blue black roll-up of oil paint. I consciously left parts of the primed panel exposed, hoping for a dramatic chiaroscuro. I spritzed and dripped solvent on the wet paint, then pushed the small pools around with a piece of plastic bag. I also dipped the bag in oil and solvent then lightly skimmed it across the surace to create streaks. When the surface was dry a few days later, I glazed the color in, and defined the sky patterns with pale blues.

The lily pads were defined by the lights around them, then developed further with greens. Duckweed helped to weave the patterns together and reinforced the plane of the water. Underwater stems provided a jolt of color. I spattered paint onto the water to imply pollen and dust. When this stage was dry, I reworked the reflections, sky, and vegetation again, balancing tones and continuing to weave together elements of the composition. The lilies appeared, and the first fish surfacing. More drying time and more glazing followed. A second fish demanded to visit the neighborhood. I said sure!

 

They Come First

TM8556 They Come First - 30x40 oil on panel

TM8556 They Come First – 30×40 oil on panel

Every spring it’s the same, those little yellow fists thrusting up out of the water, announcing that spring is here. The bullhead lilies aren’t elegant or seductive like their later cousins, but they are fabulous. Their stubborn, precocious personalities shout I’m here! They Come First celebrates their appearance with two bullheads sharing a secret, and a third stretching to find out what it’s all about. Detail below. Enjoy!

TM8556 They Come First - detail from center

TM8556 They Come First – detail from center

Late Summer at the Pond

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond 30x54 oil on panel

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond 30×54 oil on panel

The inspiration remains the same, but often the painting keeps changing. I thought Late Summer at the Pond was finished several months ago, but when I took it off the wall to give it its last finish coat, I suddenly realized there was a lot more to be done. The painting’s composition was strong, but the values seemed too dark, and I thought I could bring more space and that feeling of ahhhhh…… into the experience. The image above is the new final version. The image below is the earlier version

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond 30x54 oil on panel

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond 30×54 oil on panel

So what happened?  I lightened the sky, grayed down and lightened the distant trees (pushing them back in space), Lightened the duckweed and added more of it, especially against the far bank and in the close foreground. I also heightened the value of the sky reflections, especially in the center, carrying them further out into the painting. Tucking some purple loosestrife into the waterside vegetation helped to balance all the green and stress that we are coming into late summer. Overall, the mood is lighter and the feeling of deeper space invites you in (bring a kayak along with your imagination). Details from the new and final version are below. Once the painting  is dry, you will be able to see it at Arden Gallery during my August 2015 show.

TM8505 Late Summer at the Pond  - detail from left side

TM8505 Late Summer at the Pond – detail from left side

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond - detail from center right

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond – detail from center right

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond - detail from foreground shallows

TM8509 Late Summer at the Pond – detail from foreground shallows