Every painting begins with an idea, however vague. In the case of this painting, The Merry Month, I had a few (very vague) ideas about the sky as it looks reflected on the pond’s surface, about the sweet loveliness of late spring and early summer, and a desire to lighten up my palette and mood. I also wanted to let the accidental drips and splashes, rolls and smears of the underpainting inform the direction of subsequent paint marks. The result is a more intuitive interpretation of my beloved pond.
Technical painting notes: As you can see in this detail from left of center, I let the reflections break-up the mass of reflected foliage. I also let the blue/black/gray undertone show through in places, adding only enough of the greens to suggest the tree. I wanted each step of the process to show through in the final painting. The addition of linear ripples reflecting bright blue sky, as if a gentle breeze had come up, served to increase the sense of air and movement. In the detail below (from the right corner of the painting) you can see the effect of the ripples livening the surface and making the reflected golden orange tones “sink” into the water.
A few leaves floating on the surface (no doubt blown by a brief gust) also reinforce the plane of the water. Unlike some of my earlier interpretations of spring at the pond, this painting leans toward the more abstract end of the spectrum. At the same time, it feels more like the way I actually see the pond, with my eye dwelling on details which eventually coalesce into a memory of the place – like the way the pieces of a quilt form a larger design. Letting the pieces (or vignettes) tell the story – now that sounds like fun.