TM9024 Drift 32×46 oil on panel

It seems like I’m always hovering around bodies of water. Drift is based on a nearby creek. The creek itself is quite narrow, lined with an assortment of shrubs and overhanging trees, grapevines, bittersweet, poison ivy – all the usual suspects. I walk its length most days, looking for interesting reflections, bits of white clouds in the water, wildlife, and anything that might be swimming. Recently, I saw gorgeous white blossoms drifting on the current. They had fallen from a flowering tree – I don’t know its name. I knew they had to go in a painting. The turquoise and ultramarine speak to the blue sky of that day, with its bright white clouds.  Dancing branches overhanging the water seem to want to tickle the flowers, interrupting their stately progression downstream. A humble creek can be magnificent. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9024 Drift – detail from left side showing creek with overhanging branches

TM9024 Drift – detail from center with fallen flowers drifting on the current

Technical painting notes: The painting shows my use of a soft rubber roller to apply some of the paint, especially to suggest a breeze riffling the overhanging branches. I used a silicone scraper to initially draw the branches into the base layer, then selectively colored them. Alkyd glazes were used to build up color.

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


Sunlight and Shade

TM8464 Sunlight and Shade 32×32 oil on panel – newer version

It’s hard to know when a painting is finished. Sometimes they come back from a gallery and I hardly recognize them. It’s as if someone else painted it, or maybe it’s just that I’ve learned more since , and am seeing it with new eyes. Sunlight and Shade is a case in point. It was on exhibit for a while, then returned to the studio. I knew I would use it as a starting point for a new interpretation of the subject, one with brighter color and a more technically varied painterliness. The first version, below, is restrained. The brush marks are smaller, as if threading a tapestry.

TM8464 Sunlight and Shade 32×32 oil on panel – first version

Technical painting notes: Using a soft rubber roller, I was able to make the large gestures of the new design right over the old painting. I also used a mixture of oil and mineral spirits to smear the paint. This interrupted the original and allowed me to think about what was left in a new way. I added the large white cloud and brighter blue sky, and used the layering of roller and brush marks to weave a more vigorous pattern. Details from the newer version are below.

TM8464 Sunlight and Shade – detail from top edge

TM8464 Sunlight and Shade – detail from low and to the right of center with sunlit cloud, ripples, and reflections

TM8464 Sunlight and Shade – detail from right side showing use of layered textures, brush and roller work






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

Willow WInd

TM8995 Willow Wind 36×48 oil on panel

Who isn’t hypnotized by the movement of reflections in a still pond? Willow Wind is a meditation on those movements, an opportunity to surrender to the moment, to float with slender willow leaves on s soft breeze, to be somewhere else. Sometimes that is more than enough. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8995 WIllow Wind – detail from above center with willow reflections and floating duckweed

TM8995 Willow Wind – detail from upper right

Technical painting notes: Willow Wind evolved slowly, beginning as a much more realistic reflection of leaves in the pond. But I was never satisfied with it – it felt too static. When I thought about the initial experience at the pond, I realized that the movement of the leaves was what attracted me most – the sense that I was watching a dance. With that in mind, I took the plunge, mixed some color with Liquin Impasto medium, then started rolling color onto the surface, softening edges. As the edges softened, the painting started to come to life. The movement implied by the softer edges felt more like what I had seen, and it matched the soft quality of the air that day in early summer. The buttery yellows felt more like the warm sunlight. It took quite a few sessions of rolling, letting it all dry, emphasizing some shapes with brushwork, strengthening colors, then re-rolling with the semi-transparent paint to get the final result.