Wetland Woods

TM8958 Wetland Woods 36x54 oil on panel

TM8958 Wetland Woods 36×54 oil on panel

Wetland Woods is my homage to the deceptively quiet feeling one can have gazing into a pond in the woods. The water’s edge disappears into the trees, the trees disappear into the water, and there is a subtly wonderful balance to it all. On this day, a white cloud was drifting across my gaze, and I could feel the sun warming the russet tones of the September trees. By this time of year, the lilies are pretty much done, and the water clears. Only a little dust and pollen catches the soft grazing light across the water.Details below. Enjoy.

TM8958 Wetland Woods - detail from center with russet trees and passing, sun-reflected cloud

TM8958 Wetland Woods – detail from center with russet trees and passing, sun-reflected cloud

TM8958 Wetland Woods - detail from right side with reflected trees

TM8958 Wetland Woods – detail from right side with reflected trees

Technical painting notes: the image began with a roll-up of dark green and sienna oil paints, which were manipulated with solvent and scrapers to capture the gestures and textures of the woods.  When the base layer was dry, I applied a multitude of glazes to modulate the color, waiting for each layer to dry before applying the next.  I developed the details of branches, painting into the scraped gestures with color and highlights. Some spattering into the foliage added textures suggestive of leaves in reflection. The sky was painted negatively, as space between positive forms, then glazed to strengthen the blue. The white cloud was painted in toward the end, to add light. A final glaze of crimson over some of the russet tones added richness and a cool note. I kept lots of neutral colors in my palette to enhance to quiet, meditative feeling.

Strong Tides Part Two

Who could get tired of the hypnotizing effect of watching the waves come in? Not me. Below are four more small oils, alliteratively delivered for your enjoyment.

Strong Tides Part One

The small oil on paper paintings are the best way I know to practice improvisational painting. The inspiration can be plein air looking,  or a few photographs taken on a walk. Either way, doing the paintings as quickly as possible, and feeling free to exaggerate, pretend, make mistakes, and try again….allows the imagination to roam while being anchored to reality. While the results look good, it’s the lessons learned from the accidents and the freedom to improvise that I hope will carry over to the larger paintings.

Quiet Day at the Pond

TM8940 Quiet Day at the Pond 36x44 oil on panel

TM8940 Quiet Day at the Pond 36×44 oil on panel

I was recently asked to do a more distanced view of a local pond, and I said to myself why not? So here it is, a classic early autumn view looking across the pond to a screen of trees, and behind them a distant ridge.I added a local friend, a goose who is usually there when I visit. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8940 Quiet Day at the Pond - detail looking to far bank with paused goose

TM8940 Quiet Day at the Pond – detail looking to far bank with paused goose

TM894 - Quiet Day at the Pond - detail looking through screen of trees to distant ridge

TM894 – Quiet Day at the Pond – detail looking through screen of trees to distant ridge

TM8940 Quiet Day at the Pond - detail showing autumn tree reflected in the water

TM8940 Quiet Day at the Pond – detail showing autumn tree reflected in the water

Ode to Spring

TM8939 Ode to Spring 36x40 oil on panel

TM8939 Ode to Spring 36×40 oil on panel

Years ago I used to do mostly woodcuts and linocuts. Each year I would carve a new block and title it Anticipating Spring. It was my way of saying good-by to winter, but mostly it was a way to dwell in the anticipation of spring and everything it brings – warmth, moisture, green, and especially a gentleness in the air. Ode to Spring renews my old ritual, but this time larger and with paint. The view into and across a body of water with its reflections and scattered, floating leaves says it all.

But there is another way in which Ode to Spring harks back to the earlier woodcuts. Instead of relying on a paint brush, this painting was (mostly) worked up with the same brayers I used to print the woodcuts.  Full circle, or nearly. The rollers, with their ability to lay a thin coat and blend edges, provided an unexpected softness to the image. At the same time, the hard edges and larger “marks” lent a boldness. The light bulb in my head was blinking – the rollers could provide a way to work larger and “open up” the space in my paintings. Needless to say, it has been an exciting week in the studio. I’ve started priming some larger panels.

 

Rough Seas

TM8936 Winter Waves #7 7x7 oil on paper

TM8936 Winter Waves #7 7×7 oil on paper

A last hurrah for winter? Maybe. The dramatic winter waves series is probably coming to an end for this year, at least in its smaller dimensions. The process of working quickly and spontaneously did teach me to trust my instincts more, and to let the paint be paint – thick, thin, runny, fat….love it! Four more paintings below. Enjoy.

Ode to the Sunlit Days

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days 36x48 oil on panel

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days 36×48 oil on panel

Ode to the Sunlit Days is an alternative response to being in the heart of February. Or, to put it another way, after concentrating on so many winter waves, and playing with more abstract ways to depict them, I decided to try my new way of thinking on a pondscape.  Being in a cold studio (thank you winter) meant that the paint didn’t “set up” quickly. I had all day to push it around, overlay, and rework. The more I layered the translucent paint, the more it glowed. The painting quickly became the warmest thing in the studio. I decided to emphasize the warmth, and returned with a greater range of soft yellows later in the week. The recent wave paintings, stripped to black and a range of blues, express winter and probably are my response to the times. Ode to the Sunlit Days is a reflection on possibilities, and a time when life might again be abundant and filled with grace and joy. Details below.

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days - detail from right side with floating leaves

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days – detail from right side with floating leaves

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days - detail from upper right

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days – detail from upper right

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days - detail from upper left

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days – detail from upper left

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days - detail from right of center with reflections and floating leaves

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days – detail from right of center with reflections and floating leaves

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days - detail from right of lower center with reflected pond-side vegetation

TM8933 Ode to the Sunlit Days – detail from right of lower center with reflected pond-side vegetation

Technical painting notes: I started the painting by rolling burnt sienna and warm green paint, mixed with a bit of alkyd medium, onto the surface of the primed panel. This was spritzed with mineral solvents then re-rolled, wiped, and manipulated to create a highly textured surface. When the panel was dry, I used soft brushes to block in the blues of the reflected sky. When this layer was dry, I used my smaller rollers to apply the paint, blocking in the leaf shapes, going back and forth between brushes and rollers to achieve detail then mute the edges. The roller’s hard-edged, dancing shapes  quickly evoked the dancing quality of leaves in a breeze, adding considerable movement to the painting. As with the smaller paintings, I used a silicone scraper to “draw” into the paint.