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.

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.

Winter Waves (part two)

TM8930 Winter Waves #2 7x7 oil on paper

TM8930 Winter Waves #2 7×7 oil on paper

Continuing my study of winter waves, Winter Wave #2 is larger (7×7) and has that extreme slant of light and shadow so indicative of winter in our northern latitudes. Winter’s brilliant blues and strong whites are cold, but the warm white of the prepared paper ground showing through feels like sunshine. Liking the larger size, I decided to try another, but this time zooming in.

TM8929 Winter Waves #1 7x7 oil on paper

TM8929 Winter Waves #1 7×7 oil on paper

The topsy-turvy angles and ominous heft of the wave are dramatic. I wanted the strong contrast, but within the large areas of contrast I still wanted some luminosity and a hint of detail. Working with both knife and brush, and with lots of medium, I found I could emulate the waves with a flick of the knife. Oh lucky day! Going back into the painting a few days later allowed me to develop subtleties in the dark areas and a tracery of foam near the top of the wave. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM8929 Winter Waves #1 - detail from foreground

TM8929 Winter Waves #1 – detail from foreground

Winter Waves (part one)

TM8931 Winter Waves #3 6x6 oil on paper

TM8931 Winter Waves #3 6×6 oil on paper

TM8932 Winter Waves #4 6x6 oil on paper

TM8932 Winter Waves #4 6×6 oil on paper

Winter waves seem thick, a bit sluggish, but still powerful. Painting them, I chose to emphasize the weight of the water, and its rugged movement. There is a certain abstraction that occurs when the subject is brought closer. And energy – a big thunderous whoooshhhh. I like the vibrations.

Technical painting notes: I mixed Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium into the paint to give it body and to make it almost like frosting to spread with a knife. I also decided to utilize the off-white of the ground in contrast to the cooler white of the paint, letting the primed paper act as a color in itself. The “bareness” of the exposed paper makes the thick paint used for the waves seem even heavier.

After the Storms

TM8928 After the Storms 36x54 oil on panel

TM8928 After the Storms 36×54 oil on panel

Rough weather equals great waves – at least for painting. After the Storms is a close-up view of the Atlantic in winter. Not a place you would want to stand and observe for long, but with the help of a zoom lens I watched those waves come in until my toes complained. Stay warm. Details below.

TM8928 After the Storms - detail from foreground

TM8928 After the Storms – detail from foreground

TM8928 After the Storms - detail from center with ribbons of foam

TM8928 After the Storms – detail from center with ribbons of foam

TM8928 After the Storms - detail from lower right with water cascading over granite ledge

TM8928 After the Storms – detail from lower right with water cascading over granite ledge

TM8928 After the Storms - detail from crashing wave

TM8928 After the Storms – detail from crashing wave

Baby Blues

 

The question is what mood to paint – serenity or turbulence. Small oil on paper studies are my way of investigating both a scene and my own mood. This quartet, based on the sea after a storm, definitely depicts high energy, while the vigorous brushwork reflects my own delight with getting an early morning start in the  studio. Each little painting is an investigation of form, color, and composition. They might well grow up and become big paintings. Or they might remain an expression of one unique Monday morning, filled with the confidence of blue skies and fresh air.

Technical painting note: The key to the palette knife work was the viscosity of the paint. I wanted the paint to not just describe the wave but embody it. To that end, I mixed Windsor/Newton Liquin Impasto  medium and Liquin Original medium into the mixed colors. The result was a very liquid paint that wouldn’t drip when applied to a vertical support. The viscosity of the paint allowed me to work in layers, dragging one color and form over a base without disturbing it. It also aided in making the palette knife strokes feel like the wave – heavy and dense.