Breeze Please

TM9018 Breeze Please 30×60 oil on panel

Breeze Please follows up on a series of studies I did earlier this year of wind-tossed trees seen against blue skies filled with cumulous clouds. I enjoyed painting the small studies so much, I couldn’t resist trying a larger version. Going from 7×7 inches to 30×60 inches became possible when I started using rollers to apply the paint. Weaving brushwork and rolling gives me control and abandon, and keeps the marks exciting. Because I wanted the feeling of leaves dancing, I tried to keep a light touch with the roller, letting it “skip” and do its own dance across the surface. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from center with branches and leaves seen against cumulus clouds

TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from left side with wind-tossed leaves

TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from right side showing use of rubber roller and brush to draw lines

Technical painting notes: The painting started in my usual way, rolling on a mixture of raw sienna and burnt sienna paint thinned with an alkyd medium. I did some scraping and spritzing to give textures and a bit of structure, then let the panel dry. When I resumed work, I started defining forms and branches with brushwork, but the feel of the piece was off. Only when I started using a roller to apply the paint did the energy pick up. From that point, I repeatedly defined with a brush then rolled with abandon, layering the two effects and aiming to maintain hard vs. soft edges. As I worked, the color became more saturated – the joy increased. Perhaps the next experiment will be taking the details from the painting and letting them “grow up.”



Being in the Woods

TM9002 Being in the Woods 36×54 oil on panel

As a child growing up in New England, I loved playing and walking in the woods. There were old trails to discover, swamps to muster through, and so many games to share with my cousins. I think one of our favorites was sitting on huge glacial erratics, sucking the juice out of twigs, and wondering about the native Americans who had populated these woods in the past.  With a farm up the road, there was always the  chance of an escapee to spark our imaginations. The woods filled our heads with possibilities. Thinking back on it now, I also remember the smells, all damp and green. Or sometimes warm and spicy, like the fragrant pine needles baking in the sunspots. Being in the Woods is a painting about all these memories and impressions. It is dense with life, tumult, and  glimpses of blue sky in the distance. It’s a close woods, the kind that creeps into and fills old farmland, the kind where one might find a patch of blueberries to pick, or native wintergreen, an oasis of clean air and nature’s own quiet music. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9002 Being in the Woods – detail from upper right

TM9002 Being in the Woods – detail from upper left with leaves and vines, sky beyond

TM9002 Being in the Woods – detail from right of center showing spattered base layer over-painted and over-rolled, use of scraping

Technical painting notes: I started the painting by using monoprint techniques to establish textures and the major shapes and gestures. Wet oil paint was rolled onto the surface and manipulated with rags, a silicone scraper, and splashes of solvent. I used a soft rubber roller to lay down and pick up (transfer) marks across the surface. When the base layer was dry, I used glazes to enhance the color harmony, then worked into the wet glazes with soft brushes and color to refine shapes and establish edges. More layers of glaze enriched the color. To keep the painting from becoming too tight, I used variously sized rubber rollers to make suggestions of leaves and boughs. This contributed to a sense of “openness” within the dense image, and helped to provide depth.

Early Thaw

TM9003 Early Thaw 36×40 oil on panel

Early Thaw is a meditation on the color blue and its interaction with neutrals and the complement orange. It is also my response to a heat wave and mid-ninety degree temperatures in the studio. I needed to cool off, and what could be better than a winter painting to immerse me in a a chill?

That said, I’ve love the very last leaves that cling to branches all winter. They are papery  thin and manage to hold on through all the gales and bluster. I admire them. I see them every year, and they never disappoint, or fail to inspire me. Pale and rather ghostly in contrast to the brilliant blue sky, they always make their presence known. They add a touch of wit to the serious season. Details below. Enjoy.

TM89003 Early Thaw – detail from left and below center with dry, fluttering leaves reflected in water on ice

TM9003 Early Thaw – detail from above center with leaves, branches, and vines reflected

TM9003 Early Thaw – detail from left side

Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to apply a thin, translucent sheen of pale blue gray to the water, to suggest a hint of ice


September’s Ode

TM8997 September’s Ode 30×50 oil on panel

Strong ultramarine blue can be intoxicating, and I was drunk with it when I painted September’s Ode. The brisk blue autumn skies contrast so well with strong yellow golds and slightly violet browns. The whole painting was an excuse to use those colors, though I did add some vestigial green to balance it. What can I say – happiness and blue skies are meant to be savored. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail from upper right showing layers, use of brush, scraping into wet paint, spatter

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail from right of center showing use of spatter and roller marks

Technical painting notes: As you can see from the details above, the painting is a mixture of controlled and loose painting. I used a soft rubber roller to apply the first base layer, then used it again for some of the last few green and yellow leaves. The roller’s staccato rhythm and choppy marks lend variety. I spritzed the base layer with mineral spirits to create the light “dots”, looking for a way to let it show through and keep the actual paint interesting. The process of layering transparent glazes and semi-transparent strokes increases the sense of depth. I use Winsor Newton Liquin medium to increase transparency and to speed drying.

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail with reflections of cumulus cloud and yellow leaves

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail from right side with reflections on shallow water, sunlit pond bottom showing through

June Morning

TM8996 June Morning 36×48 oil on panel

There can never be enough glorious June mornings. After several days of cold rain, this is the view I encountered. And, lucky me, an old friend was there to share it. Enjoy. Details below.

TM8996 June Morning – detail from foreground with an old friend on his morning rounds

TM8996 June Morning – detail of woods from upper left edge

A Small Piece of May

TM8994 A Small Piece of May 36×44 oil on panel

It might be the end of May, but I’ve collected small bits and pieces of the month and saved them in this painting, titled A Small Piece of May. It has the new leaves, the ones lost to a storm, the floating clouds and a Robin’s egg blue sky. And warmth.  All the things I’ll need to remember next February when I’m shoveling snow. Enjoy. Details below.

TM8994 A Small Piece of May – detail from left side

TM8994 A Small Piece of May – detail from center

TM8994 A Small Piece of May – detail from right of center with reflections and floating leaves

Any Day Now

TM8553 Any Day Now 36×44 oil on panel

Any Day Now is my return to a more abstracted pond – a close-up, angled view with young lily pads and a scattering of grasses.  The details are still closely observed, but the cropping lets one see the pattern first, then the actual objects. Additionally, the staccato rhythm of grasses and reflected tree trunks and branches gives this painting a strong sense of movement and energy. And, as if that weren’t enough, I decided to paint in a breezy, cumulus-studded sky. As for the title….well, I’ve been anticipating the return of lilies….who hasn’t? The pads are here, the lilies will be open soon. Embrace the day. Details below.

TM8553 ny Day Now – detail from right side showing use of layered spatter and scraping

TM8553 Any Day Now – close-up with waterlilies

TM8553 Any Day Now – detail from just above center right

Technical painting notes: I wanted this painting to have more energy and lots of contrast, so the initial layer was a mixture of black and blues, with a touch of greenish umber. I worked quickly with solvents and my soft rubber roller to maximize the textures. Later layers focused on glazing and finding the negative shapes of sky between the branches and pads. Additional glazing with cerulean and ultramarine blue helped to suggest the pattern of cloud and blue sky. At this point, I almost thought the painting was done. I hung it on the wall to dry, and studied it for over a year. Eventually, I realized the lily pads weren’t enough – the painting needed more focus. I added some white lilies, positioned near the center, but light enough in value to “blend in” with the cumulus cloud reflection.