October Days Diptych

TM8580 October Days Diptych 36×96 oil on panel

Based on an October day at my favorite pond, this diptych looks at the gorgeous red trees of fall as they are reflected in the water’s surface. The floating duckweed, which will soon disappear for the winter, offers a sharp golden green note. Floating red leaves add punctuation and pop. Because of the larger panoramic size, the viewer is almost engulfed. It’s easy to get lost in the details, indeed almost hypnotized, by the last, luxuriantly gleeful gasp of autumn. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8580 October Days Diptych – detail from bottom of left panel

TM8580 October Days Diptych – detail from upper right corner of right panel

TM8580 October Days Diptych – detail from upper left of right panel with saplings reflected in pond and floating leaves

TM8580 October Days Diptych – detail of reflected trees from bottom edge of left panel

Technical painting notes: Working on a large diptych necessitated two easels, set side by side, each holding one panel. I kept them at the same height, and worked them together. When I needed to spatter or work horizontally, I set up two card tables with the panels on them, butting the sides of the panels.

 

Bright Blue Days

TM8959 Bright Blue Days 36×60 oil on panel

A few warm days, a bright blue sky, and moods just have to lift. Mine did. The experiments with abstracting the pondscapes (on a small scale) led to this larger interpretation. Both the mood and the space open up, in part due to a change in the scale of the mark-making. I used my soft rubber rollers as much as possible, instead of relying on brushes to define the masses and objects. The result is a wider range of marks, more nuanced edges, and a feeling of air moving through and around the painting. It was an exhilarating experience. The use of the rollers also opens up the option of working larger – uh oh. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8959 Bright Blue Days – detail from left of center with overlapping reflections set against blue sky

TM8959 Bright Blue Days – detail from center with foliage reflections

TM8959 Bright Blue Days – detail from upper left with reflected sky and vegetation – note use of geometric roller marks to create a variety of soft and hard edges

TM8959 Bright Blue Days – detail from right of center showing use of roller to achieve layered soft edges

Technical painting notes: I started the painting by rolling on a mixture of umbers and blues, mixed with Liquin, linseed oil, and mineral spirits. I “disturbed” the wet paint with rags, solvent, and scraped some gestural lines . When the first layer was dry, I started working with my smaller rollers (1-2″) to layer in masses, letting the roller skip around (I added some Liquin to the paint to speed drying). After each layer was dry, I defined negative spaces and plant forms with some brush work, then rolled into the wet paint to integrate new work with the earlier layers. I kept repeating this process until the image felt resolved, understandable but still as loose and gestural as possible. My color choices were determined by the bright blue sky and greens of the reflected foliage. With so much blue green, I had to introduce some complementary orange. The use of olive green and green gold to contrast with the thalo and minty greens provided one source of range. The lemon yellows contrast with the warmer yellows (edging toward mustard). I added the almost pink/salmon details to again offset and complement the blue greens. The blues range from cerulean (warm) to vivid cobalt (cold).

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.

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.

Ode to the Shallows

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows 34x40 oil on panel

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows 34×40 oil on panel

Ode to the Shallows was begun late last summer, then put aside to dry….and dry…..and dry. By the time the base layer was dry and ready for more painting, fall was in full throttle and I was in love with red, not the blue/greens of summer. But an unusually warm January has put the joys of June back into focus, and I’ve finally been able to remember the feelings of an early summer day at my pond. This view, based on the shallow end of the pond, is a study in warmth and shade as well as luxuriant growth. It’s also about anticipation – the bud is about to open, the grasses are moving in a gentle breeze, the puffy white  clouds are dancing their way across a bright blue sky…..maybe it’s idealized a bit. But isn’t that a part of what art is for – concentrating the memories so that we can remember them longer, being able to recall the feelings when we really need them. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows - detail from center with reflections, grasses, and floating pine needles

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows – detail from center with reflections, grasses, and floating pine needles

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows - close-up of water lily

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows – close-up of water lily

The World Flips Upside Down

TM8914 White Clouds - Why Not? 7x7 oil on paper

TM8914 White Clouds – Why Not? 7×7 oil on paper

TM8915 The World Flips Upside Down 7x7 oil on paper

TM8915 The World Flips Upside Down 7×7 oil on paper

TM8913 Oh Cobalt Blue! 7x7 oil on paper

TM8913 Oh Cobalt Blue! 7×7 oil on paper

Upside down – have I lost my bearings? It seems so. But that’s part of the fun of painting a pond and its reflections. Looking down to see up there, out there, everywhere. This trio of 7×7 paintings explores woodland reflections and a shared palette that sets violet blues against a range of greens, with touches of earthy brown contributing their own bass notes. One bright white cloud muscles its way in – ever the optimist. Enjoy!

Ode to a Quiet Rain

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain 30x40 oil on panel

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain 30×40 oil on panel

A walk in the woods inside a quiet rain – the colors are muted, the air is soft and clean, smelling of pine needles and damp earth. Of course a pair of boots is in order, but the joys are generous. Those are the qualities I wanted in this new interpretation of my favorite woodland. It’s an invitation to ramble and roam, be still and consider.  Who knows, you might see the egret, or the ferret. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain - detail from center looking beyond trees

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain – detail from center looking beyond trees

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain - detail from center foreground

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain – detail from center foreground

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain - detail from left side looking into the woods

TM8908 Ode to a Quiet Rain – detail from left side looking into the woods

Technical painting notes: I started the painting by rolling a layer of dark blue/gray/green oil paint onto the surface, purposely trying to leave gaps and be gestural. While the paint was wet, I used a silicone scraper to draw many of the tree branches and trunks, and scumbled solvent onto areas where I wanted texture to suggest foliage. Spatterings of solvent, then loose paint, added to the dense texture. After this first layer was dry, I proceeded to define the negative shapes (sky) and describe the trees more exactly. I used a palette knife to keep the things interesting. Layers of glaze and more palette knife and brush work followed. I wanted a feeling of the native chaos of young woods and at the same time a sense of some order. The openness of the swampy foreground is important for offering a way in, and for opening a slight window to the sky and fields beyond the woods.