A Small Piece of May

TM8994 A Small Piece of May 36×44 oil on panel

It might be the end of May, but I’ve collected small bits and pieces of the month and saved them in this painting, titled A Small Piece of May. It has the new leaves, the ones lost to a storm, the floating clouds and a Robin’s egg blue sky. And warmth.  All the things I’ll need to remember next February when I’m shoveling snow. Enjoy. Details below.

TM8994 A Small Piece of May – detail from left side

TM8994 A Small Piece of May – detail from center

TM8994 A Small Piece of May – detail from right of center with reflections and floating leaves

Willow WInd

TM8995 Willow Wind 36×48 oil on panel

Who isn’t hypnotized by the movement of reflections in a still pond? Willow Wind is a meditation on those movements, an opportunity to surrender to the moment, to float with slender willow leaves on s soft breeze, to be somewhere else. Sometimes that is more than enough. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8995 WIllow Wind – detail from above center with willow reflections and floating duckweed

TM8995 Willow Wind – detail from upper right

Technical painting notes: Willow Wind evolved slowly, beginning as a much more realistic reflection of leaves in the pond. But I was never satisfied with it – it felt too static. When I thought about the initial experience at the pond, I realized that the movement of the leaves was what attracted me most – the sense that I was watching a dance. With that in mind, I took the plunge, mixed some color with Liquin Impasto medium, then started rolling color onto the surface, softening edges. As the edges softened, the painting started to come to life. The movement implied by the softer edges felt more like what I had seen, and it matched the soft quality of the air that day in early summer. The buttery yellows felt more like the warm sunlight. It took quite a few sessions of rolling, letting it all dry, emphasizing some shapes with brushwork, strengthening colors, then re-rolling with the semi-transparent paint to get the final result.

Any Day Now

TM8553 Any Day Now 36×44 oil on panel

Any Day Now is my return to a more abstracted pond – a close-up, angled view with young lily pads and a scattering of grasses.  The details are still closely observed, but the cropping lets one see the pattern first, then the actual objects. Additionally, the staccato rhythm of grasses and reflected tree trunks and branches gives this painting a strong sense of movement and energy. And, as if that weren’t enough, I decided to paint in a breezy, cumulus-studded sky. As for the title….well, I’ve been anticipating the return of lilies….who hasn’t? The pads are here, the lilies will be open soon. Embrace the day. Details below.

TM8553 ny Day Now – detail from right side showing use of layered spatter and scraping

TM8553 Any Day Now – close-up with waterlilies

TM8553 Any Day Now – detail from just above center right

Technical painting notes: I wanted this painting to have more energy and lots of contrast, so the initial layer was a mixture of black and blues, with a touch of greenish umber. I worked quickly with solvents and my soft rubber roller to maximize the textures. Later layers focused on glazing and finding the negative shapes of sky between the branches and pads. Additional glazing with cerulean and ultramarine blue helped to suggest the pattern of cloud and blue sky. At this point, I almost thought the painting was done. I hung it on the wall to dry, and studied it for over a year. Eventually, I realized the lily pads weren’t enough – the painting needed more focus. I added some white lilies, positioned near the center, but light enough in value to “blend in” with the cumulus cloud reflection.

Morning’s Poem

TM8993 Morning’s Poem 36×44 oil on panel

Morning’s Poem is a gentle meditation on pond reflections in the month of May. It is also a play between hard and soft edges, the interlacing of brush and roller work, and the precarious balance between near and far reflections. Throw in some flotsam and pollen floating on the surface, and you have the elements of a visual puzzle. I painted and repainted, glazed and rolled, looking for balance. As I worked, the painting lightened, perhaps influenced by the advent of sunny days. Those blue skies influenced the amount of blue in the painting. A few white clouds also found their way into the composition. One could say the painting is a summation of the week’s weather – cloudy, chilly, clear, then warm. That’s spring. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8993 Morning’s Poem – detail from lower center

TM8993 Morning’s Poem – detail from lower right

Conversations between Clouds and Leaves

TM8990 Conversation between Clouds and Leaves #3 7×7 oil on paper

The skies have been spectacular lately with so many spring storms moving out to sea. Every time I look up, especially through all those young green leaves, I feel compelled to paint what I’m seeing (again). That’s how a series is born, and I suspect my fascination with cumulus clouds seen through trees is still young. These five small paintings were influenced by a recent walk, with blowsy breezes and lots of freshly washed air. More below. Enjoy.

Gossamer Days

TM8979 Gossamer Days 36×40 oil on panel

Color, as reflected in a woodland pond in autumn, is the apparent subject addressed in this new painting. But it’s also about the ethereal nature of time and the ineffable quality of air. Close values and tones describe a moisture rich atmosphere, and create a glow or vibration in the eye. Drifting leaves and layers of reflections speak to the accumulation and passage of time. I relied on an interweaving of roller and brush work to describe reality while allowing for unexpected hard edges and a degree of abstraction. I sometimes tell my students to take off their glasses to see the other world we inhabit/inhibit in our paintings. As Alice found, looking through the glass can yield wonderful surprises in an upside down world. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8979 Gossamer Days – detail near center showing multi-layered approach, use of glazes, roller and brush work

TM8979 Gossamer Days – detail from center bottom with reflections and floating leaves

TM8979 Gossamer Days – close-up showing layers, scraping into wet paint, roller strokes vs. brush strokes

TM8979 Gossamer Days – detail from center top of painting

Technical painting notes: Oil paints dry slowly, so working with layers can take an inordinate amount of time. To speed the process, I use Winsor Newton Liquin medium. When mixing color to roll on, I add a bit of Liquin original to the paint. If I’m rolling on a glaze, I add Liquin Impasto medium. The transparency and glow of layered rolling can be subtly  effective.

Friends on a Road Less Traveled

TM8987 Friends from a Road Less Traveled 36×36 oil on panel

Whenever I take a walk I like to meet the local trees. They are all such individuals, doing important work for the ecosystem and offering me such pleasurable shade, color and the opportunity to know them over time. I’ve watched small trees at local parks grow into gnarly old guards, saplings on the side of the road become majestic patriarchs of New England, and the juveniles – I simply have to smile at their gawky poses. Friends on a Road Less Traveled is a portrait of one group of friends, dressed in their October finery. It is also a study of bright shades of red and coral played against a lifting morning fog of neutral gray, with a hint of blue sky to come. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8987 Friends on a Road Less Traveled – detail showing layered brushwork over spatter base

TM8987 Friends on a Road Less Traveled – detail from upper right

TM8987 Friends on a Road Less Traveled – detail from lower left