Early April in the Woods

nc web TM8970 Early April in the Woods 36×40 oil on panel

An observation – early April in the Woods looks a lot like late fall. The snow is gone; there are a few papery leaves still holding. Color is muted.  But oh joy! there is warmth in the sun and it feels like buds will be popping soon. I actually love this intermediate season with its subtle tones and promises. Gray and tan predominate, with a nod to the green pines. It feels so linear before the foliage returns, and I happen to like lines. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8970 Early April in the Woods – detail from upper center with pines and lingering leaves

TM8970 Early April in the Woods – detail from lower left quadrant

TM8970 Early April in the Woods – detail from below center

Technical painting notes: I used the soft rubber roller to lay down a dark oil paint (mostly burnt umber and black), then worked into it with rags and spattered mineral solvents to create a pattern of lights and darks with interesting textures. While the paint was wet I used a scraper to draw the major tree forms and branches. With the first layer dry, I alternated spatter and dry brush with applications of loose paint. Glazes modulated the color.

Walking Out of the Woods

TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods 36×40 oil on panel

I look at a stand of trees and I always feel the need to paint their portrait. Maybe it’s my respect for them and all the important work they do, providing housing for native fauna (and humans), cleaning the air, providing cool relief in summer….the list could go on. There is a majesty in their upright form, and I can feel the struggle and joy of young trees reaching up to the light. Throw in the gaiety of autumn and the whole thing becomes irresistible. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods – detail from right of center showing layered textures and spatter

TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods – detail from lower right quadrant showing loose suggestion of closer foliage

TM8968 Walking Out of the Woods – detail from left side

Technical painting notes: I began the painting in my usual way, applying dark oil paint with a soft rubber roller, then scraping into and wiping away paint to suggest the basic lines and forms of the subject. Spattered mineral spirits, blotted and rolled, created interesting textures to suggest foliage. I also spattered the panel with some green and burnt sienna paint. When the base was dry, I mixed a blue for the sky and painted the “negative” space, going lighter in value as I worked toward the horizon. I wanted to create windows of view through the trees. Glazes and additional scraping followed. I used a fairly dry paint to suggest foliage and define lights in the tree trunks. In general, the goal was to create pockets of focused detail while allowing other parts of the painting to be merely suggested.

Greening Up

TM8966 Greening Up 36×54 oil on panel

This might be wishful thinking, considering there are still piles of snow on the ground, but spring is just around the corner. Soon, there will be shoots of green emerging, and the trees will be blushing every shade of pale yellow, green, and pink as they announce their buds. Greening Up looks at the first green reflections in the pond, and the growth of wetland grasses. It is a dense painting, full of layered detail and layered paint. The viewpoint is from a narrow path that bisects part of the wetland, near an area where beavers are always patrolling, looking for supplies for their newest engineering projects. Bless them; supplies are bountiful. Details below.

TM8966 Greening Up – detail from bottom edge with reflected tree limbs

TM8966 Greening Up – detail from top center with young grasses emerging through pond reflections

TM8966 Greening Up – detail from center with dense foliage reflections in shallow water

Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to roll a layer of greenish blue and dark brownish green oil paint onto the panel, then used a silicone scraper to draw out the tree limbs. A spritz of solvent, blotted, added textures. When the base layer was dry, I developed the painting with traditional oil painting techniques, doing limited scraping into the newer wet paint. Multiple glazes added depth to the color. A last layer of  rolled, blue/gray transparent oil paint added a slight sheen to the water

October Days Diptych

TM8580 October Days Diptych 36×96 oil on two panels

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.