Two aspects – one painting from a foggy day, the other bringing back the blue. Enjoy.


And then it started to clear…

Of course the storm leaving has its own charms, with those big rolling waves.


Busy Skies


We’ve had some stormy weather lately, and the skies say it all. I used a palette knife and Winsor Newton Alkyd Impasto medium to capture the rough seas and clouds. Enjoy.

At Bass Rocks

TM9042 A Day at Bass Rocks #44 7×7 oil on paper

So many artists have loved and painted Bass Rocks in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It might be the rugged and colorful fingers of granite clawing out to the sea, or the elevation – just high enough to raise the horizon line and provide a different perspective from the nearby beaches. As an artist, I know it could also be the difficulty of anyone climbing out to watch over your shoulder as you paint or sketch. It is public and private at the same time.I was out there recently, and, as usual, found much inspiration for more coastal paintings. The first study, at the top, is looking directly out to sea, while the rest of the gallery concentrates on the rocks. Enjoy.

The Greater Symphony

TM9035 The Greater Symphony 36×54 oil on panel

Life is music, and when I feel and hear the thunder of a great wave I think of the symphony – all the instruments in unison bring a moment to absolute pitch and excitement. Part of me still feels that thrill later when I’m painting the wave, pulling all my knowledge of oil painting and monoprint into capturing the moment. I love the droplets and the spray, and the weighty mass of the water. More difficult is painting the shallow, quiet, salty lace of the foam and ripples. In The Greater Symphony, I layered straight painting with rolling on thin films of paint to imply the density of movement and spontaneous quality of the foreground. The warmth of the sand balances the green/blues. Calm and thunderous. Yin/yang. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9035 The Greater Symphony – detail

TM9035 The Greater Symphony – detail

Adventures with Paint

Transitioning weather – the most interesting time to be outside. On a brisk day such as this one, plein air painting would be impossible, but with a camera I can record the moments and remember them back in the studio. Once I start the painting, I hardly look at he photos – they seem too stiff. Instead, I let the paint itself slip and slide around, taking advantage of the viscous paint to simulate the movement of water – more fun, less predictable. Enjoy!

Technical painting notes: The paper is heavy, rag paper, sometimes smooth watercolor paper, other times printmaking paper like BFK or Stonehenge. I always prime it front and back with a coat of acrylic gesso or shellac to seal it, protecting it from the acids in the paint. In doing the painting, I use quantities of Winsor Newton Liquin medium to thin the paint while maximizing adhesion and dry times.


Angles of Repose

TM8568 Angles of Repose 36×54 oil on panel

When I began this painting, I wanted to concentrate on the “unblue” sea. Many of my previous coastal paintings were based on morning-after-a-storm views, with blue skies returning and very active tides. But I love the multi-layered hues of the ocean on a gray day, especially the hints of green found in the water, and the way those gray greens contrast with the warm, slightly reddish tones that can distinguish the sand. Add thousands of stones in every shade of gray bordering a band of partially submerged sand and I’m content.

As I worked on the painting, I realized that my goal wasn’t just “unblue.” I was composing an arrangement of waves for meditation. The gently crisscrossing patterns of the receding water lead one lazily back and forth, beginning in the foreground and taking one to the distant horizon and sky. The texture and weight of the anonymous stones and pebbles under the incoming tide invite the eye down to the foreground again, ready to begin another journey of recession with the water. I chose the title Angles of Repose because the stones have found a place to rest, because the water is also temporarily at rest as it fills depressions along the beach, and because the diagonal angles of retreating waves induced a sense of hypnotic quiet in me as I worked to describe their motion. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM8568 Angles of Repose – detail from lower right quadrant showing shingle beach with incoming tide