nc web TM8970 Early April in the Woods 36×40 oil on panel
An observation – early April in the Woods looks a lot like late fall. The snow is gone; there are a few papery leaves still holding. Color is muted. But oh joy! there is warmth in the sun and it feels like buds will be popping soon. I actually love this intermediate season with its subtle tones and promises. Gray and tan predominate, with a nod to the green pines. It feels so linear before the foliage returns, and I happen to like lines. Details below. Enjoy.
TM8970 Early April in the Woods – detail from upper center with pines and lingering leaves
TM8970 Early April in the Woods – detail from lower left quadrant
TM8970 Early April in the Woods – detail from below center
Technical painting notes: I used the soft rubber roller to lay down a dark oil paint (mostly burnt umber and black), then worked into it with rags and spattered mineral solvents to create a pattern of lights and darks with interesting textures. While the paint was wet I used a scraper to draw the major tree forms and branches. With the first layer dry, I alternated spatter and dry brush with applications of loose paint. Glazes modulated the color.
TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods 36×40 oil on panel
I look at a stand of trees and I always feel the need to paint their portrait. Maybe it’s my respect for them and all the important work they do, providing housing for native fauna (and humans), cleaning the air, providing cool relief in summer….the list could go on. There is a majesty in their upright form, and I can feel the struggle and joy of young trees reaching up to the light. Throw in the gaiety of autumn and the whole thing becomes irresistible. Details below. Enjoy.
TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods – detail from right of center showing layered textures and spatter
TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods – detail from lower right quadrant showing loose suggestion of closer foliage
TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods – detail from left side
Technical painting notes: I began the painting in my usual way, applying dark oil paint with a soft rubber roller, then scraping into and wiping away paint to suggest the basic lines and forms of the subject. Spattered mineral spirits, blotted and rolled, created interesting textures to suggest foliage. I also spattered the panel with some green and burnt sienna paint. When the base was dry, I mixed a blue for the sky and painted the “negative” space, going lighter in value as I worked toward the horizon. I wanted to create windows of view through the trees. Glazes and additional scraping followed. I used a fairly dry paint to suggest foliage and define lights in the tree trunks. In general, the goal was to create pockets of focused detail while allowing other parts of the painting to be merely suggested.
TM8966 Greening Up 36×54 oil on panel
This might be wishful thinking, considering there are still piles of snow on the ground, but spring is just around the corner. Soon, there will be shoots of green emerging, and the trees will be blushing every shade of pale yellow, green, and pink as they announce their buds. Greening Up looks at the first green reflections in the pond, and the growth of wetland grasses. It is a dense painting, full of layered detail and layered paint. The viewpoint is from a narrow path that bisects part of the wetland, near an area where beavers are always patrolling, looking for supplies for their newest engineering projects. Bless them; supplies are bountiful. Details below.
TM8966 Greening Up – detail from bottom edge with reflected tree limbs
TM8966 Greening Up – detail from top center with young grasses emerging through pond reflections
TM8966 Greening Up – detail from center with dense foliage reflections in shallow water
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to roll a layer of greenish blue and dark brownish green oil paint onto the panel, then used a silicone scraper to draw out the tree limbs. A spritz of solvent, blotted, added textures. When the base layer was dry, I developed the painting with traditional oil painting techniques, doing limited scraping into the newer wet paint. Multiple glazes added depth to the color. A last layer of rolled, blue/gray transparent oil paint added a slight sheen to the water
TM8967 Willow Wind 36×48 oil on panel
I’ve always been entranced by the gracefulness of willows. The narrow leaves seem to be in constant motion, and the luminous color glows toward everything in the vicinity. Willow Wind is a meditation on those qualities, and a chance to further explore the use of a soft rubber roller to layer and build an image. The painting began with a roll-up of dark paint. While the paint was wet, I used a silicone scraper to draw the leaves, then spritzed the surface with solvent to add a touch of texture. With the base layer dry, I started to define the leaves further using a soft brush and oil color. This was followed by subsequent layers of spatter to soften the image and lend a sense of movement. Transparent oils (mixed with Liquin Impasto medium) were rolled onto the surface to soften the image. I used the roller to suggest more leaf shapes, then enhanced the effect with brush painting. Each time I defined a leaf I subsequently rolled over it, repositioning the wet paint. I found that mixing Liquin Impasto into the paint lent a feeling of encaustic painting to the repeatedly rolled surface. I wanted the spirit and mood of the willows, and the softness of spring’s air. The roller was a wonderful tool for that purpose. Details below. Enjoy.
TM8967 Willow Wind – detail from upper right
TM8967 Willow Wind – detail from center
TM8967 Willow Wind – detail from lower right
TM8963 Spring Finds a Way 7×7 oil on paper
TM8964 Ode to the Month of May 7×7 oil on paper
TM8965 Turning 7×7 oil on paper
These three, small oil paintings on prepared paper explore the reflections seen at my favorite pond – they also were an excuse to play with a soft rubber brayer, or roller, for applying the paint. I used a palette knife to apply broad areas of paint quickly, then drew into the paint with a pencil and a silicone scraper. With a “scaffolding” in place, I used the roller to soften and smear the paint, letting it soften edges and mute colors. When the initial layer was dry, I went back with brush and roller to refine the image, then added more pencil and scraping to restore lines and structure. Compared to the bold marks of a palette knife, the roller works well as a softening tool. It can really change the mood of a painting. While each of these paintings began life as an autumnal study, the gentleness of the roller’s effect seemed more appropriate to the softer airs of spring – hence the new titles for two of the paintings.
TM8962 Give Me Yellow 6×6 oil on paper
TM8961 Playing by October’s Rules 6×6 oil on paper
I took a break from working on large paintings this week to develop some new ideas for pondscapes and explore different tools – palette knife vs. roller. The two 6×6 oil studies above were developed primarily with a palette knife, building a base for the painting with values and Liquin Impasto medium, then returning a day later to add and manipulate the color. I used my scraper tool to “draw” the reflected trees, infilling with paint as needed. I also used a graphite pencil to draw into the wet paint. I wanted to emphasize the abstract underpinnings of the pondscape image. Having recently reread a book on Joan Mitchell’s work, I wanted to keep the marks vigorous and the gestures bold. I also took inspiration from the season – autumn is bright, sometimes garish. I went for bold color. The palette knife lends itself to bold marks and hard edges, so I kept to its aesthetic. Looking at the two paintings a few days later, I see a certain resemblance to multiple block color woodcuts – one of my earliest modes of expression.
My next post will feature roller painting……….