Conifer Chorus

TM8978 Conifer Chorus 36×40 oil on panel

At the edge of any opening in the woods is a nursery – the place where young trees grab some light and grow as fast as they can. It always feel like a joyful place to me, with all the little tree limbs reaching up and shaking in the breeze. Sometimes, with the taller trees lined up behind the adolescent and baby trees, it feels like a formal chorus, with everyone lifting their spirits and swinging their limbs in song. Makes me want to sing too. And then paint. Conifer Chorus depicts such a place and moment. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8978 Conifer Chorus – detail from left side showing layered brush and roller work

TM8978 Conifer Chorus – detail from lower left with young saplings

Technical painting notes: The painting began with a roll-up of dark oil paint, which was manipulated with rags, solvents, and the use of a silicone scraper to “draw” into the wet paint. Solvent and paint were spattered into the wet surface to add color and texture. When this base layer was dry, I used soft brushes to begin painting the “negative” sky areas. Additional brush work and glazes developed the trees. Not wanting the painting to feel too stiff, I used a soft rubber roller to apply highlights and broadly define needle-laden boughs. Additional layers of loose brushwork interspersed with rolling softened some edges while continuing to describe the gestures of the trees.


Getting to the Point

nc web TM8583 Getting to the Point 18x36 oil on panel

TM8583 Getting to the Point 18×36 oil on panel

There’s a spot near the tip of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada that I have visited regularly for a decade. It’s a remnant of mountain, buried up to its neck in the stony debris that has eroded from it over the millennia. I make the trek because it feels like a sacred place. The sharply faceted and eroded ledge separates two long stretches of shingle. It is possible to stand at the tip and look out on (what could be) a prehistoric world. There are seldom signs of humanity. I know that native people once fished near here. My own family history, as handed down by my grandmother, leads me to believe those fishermen might be among my long-lost ancestors. In the solitude at this spot, I can almost imagine them. Detail below.

nc web TM8583 Getting to the Point - detail

TM8583 Getting to the Point – detail

Island Bog

TM8442 Island Bog 28x32 oil on panel

TM8442 Island Bog 28×32 oil on panel

When I stumbled upon the unfinished painting Quarry Pond last week, and finally finished it, my interest in “whole” views of watery places was reignited.  I’ve been visiting and photographing Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada (almost) annually. There are a number of northern bogs on the island. My favorite is near the southeastern tip of the island, and almost connects to the Atlantic but for a shingled bar of magnificent sorted stones (which I have painted, click on “Stones Portfolio”  in the header). Bogs, being highly acidic, are quite different from ponds, though they offer opportunities to paint reflections and beautifully tannic water. Island Bog is my first foray into painting a bog. The time is early September, with its seasonal shift toward golden tones in the aquatic bog vegetation. The parade of fir trees (including some white, skeletal trees who ventured too far into the water) provides a backdrop (note the distinctive gray-green color of some of the lichen- drenched trees in the distance). I look forward to trying different approaches to painting this subject, perhaps aiming for less detail and more mystery? Enjoy.

I Watch the Day Depart

TM8290 I Watch the Day Depart 18×24 oil on panel

Favorite places require and deserve repeat visits. So here we are again, on Campobello Island looking out toward a rapidly disappearing Quoddy Head in Maine. Closer, we see the meandering channels of low tide leading to our (somewhat!) precarious perch on this ancient headland. I admit to loving the complex textures of these rocks, and their subtle colors. James McNeil Whistler painted his mother as a Symphony in Gray. I have often watched the opaquely gray fog banks roll in…my version of a symphony in gray. Below is a close-up detail of the granite. Enjoy!

TM8290 Detail #1

Development of a Squall

Earlier version of Squall, known as Fog and Snow

Based on a view from Campobello, New Brunswick, this painting has been slowly evolving in the studio. You might have seen it in an earlier post, titled Fog and Snow. It hung on the wall beyond my easel for a few weeks, taunting me. I liked the rocky outcrop and low tide, seaweed-covered land beyond, but something was missing. It seemed too quiet. My experience in situ was that the geography and weather are quite harsh, or at least dramatic. This past week’s arrival of our first northeaster of the season showed me what was missing. I needed a device that could express the wind, and the variability of the climate in that location. Why not paint in a bit of a squall? Blowing and drifting snow might serve the purpose. Below you will find the new version of this painting, now titled Squall. Enjoy!

TM8284 Squall 17×17 oil on panel

Two Views from Campobello Island

TM8288 Homage to an Ancient Mountain 16×16 oil on panel

Campobello Island, with its rugged terrain and location near the tip of the Bay of Fundy, offers uncountable subjects for painting. I like to paint one spot from slightly differing vantage points. Homage to an Ancient Mountain is based on a visit to the Con Robinson part of Campobello, and it’s the bright gold lichens viewed against distant gold-green seaweed that caught my eye. Quoddy Head in the distance establishes the sense of big space one experiences when looking out to sea.

TM8287 Of Low Tide and Lichens 16×16 oil on panel

Walking over a few yards (or should I say climbing over a few yards of sharp,wet terrain), one gains a slightly altered view. In Of Low Tide and Lichens, Grand Manon comes into view, along with the same Bay of Fundy. The gold lichens are even more abundant; the stone breaking the horizon seems to be saying look at me too! So I did. Below are close-up details from this painting, showing the foreground rocks and distant seaweed. Enjoy!

TM8287 Detail #2

TM8287 Detail #1