Beach Patterns

TM9137 Beach Patterns 30×30 oil on panel

Back and forth, up and down, sideways, everything is moving at the beach, and that is the challenge of painting it. With Beach Patterns, the crisscrossing waves caught my attention first, but the shallows and sand bars took over.  There are no straight paths, no clear directions, only the endless shifting, and that incredible white foamy lace. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM9137 Beach Patterns – detail

TM9137 Beach Patterns – detail of foam achieved with brush and soft rubber roller





Painting with Corot

TM9113 Painting with Corot 36×40 oil on panel

I suppose it could be call a conceit. A series of paintings based on imagining what it would be like to paint alongside Corot – at his ponds, in his favorite weather and time of day. Painting with Corot is the third in my series, in which I explore various ways of capturing the feel and mood of Corot’s work, but informed by techniques and approaches from my own work. This straightforward view of a June morning at “our” pond shares Corot’s soft focus and close values, and his delicate touch. It also speaks to the sense of calm and serenity that so evidenced Corot’s sensibilities. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM9113 Painting with Corot – detail from left side

Technical painting notes: Unlike Corot’s views, this painting has little real brushwork. I started it with a soft rubber roller loaded with thin oil paint, which I manipulated using monoprint techniques. Much of the foliage was built up with daubs of paint applied with crumpled plastic wrap. A few glazes balanced the color. Most of the brush work was limited to the tree trunks and branches, and a bit of duckweed.

From a Walk in the Woods 1-4

One can never do enough studies; nature provides such continually changing subject matter.  This past week I visited some favorite woodlands, camera in hand. Back at the studio I couldn’t wait to record what I had seen and felt. The smell of pine needles baked in warm sun, new leaves bursting everywhere, and the glittery look of sun on mica-laden ledges. The four studies above will find their way into larger paintings, but first I might have to go back to the woods for more studies. Oh fun!

Technical painting notes: All the paintings were done on prepared, heavy weight watercolor paper (primed with a coat of shellac front and back). I used a palette knife and lots of Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to lay in a base arrangement of dark shapes and colors. Later, I blocked in the sky and refined the trees and rocks with a brush and more palette knife work.  The layering process and use of Impasto medium creates a rich surface –  more of a finished painting than a sketch, though still fresh.

Early April in the Woods

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.

Walking Out of the Woods

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.

Greening Up

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

Willow Wind

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