Early Evening at the Pond

TM9058 Early Evening at the Pond 36×44 oil on panel

I love watching the light fade. Colors lose their saturation and everything seems to calm down The nuances become important. In Early Evening at the Pond everything is quiet – no ripples, just a slight current carrying a few stray leaves. Shadowed reflections darkly frame the fading blue sky, and a pale cloud seems to be hitching a ride with the drifting leaves.  It’s a good time to pause. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM9058 Early Evening at the Pond – detail from left side



Breeze Please Studies

TM9037 Breeze Please #3 7×7 oil on paper

TM9038 Breeze Please #4 7×7 oil on paper

The joy of movement and color when you look up and see leaves flickering against a bright sky is almost indescribable. Almost. And when it’s all reflected in the pond, who can resist?  The sense of abstraction and reality co-existing is part of the fun. More to come….

Link to other Breeze Please paintings.



When Autumn Weaves Its Own Brocade

TM9026 When Autumn Weaves Its Own Brocade 36×36 oil on panel

I saw the first signs of red on the swamp maples this week, and I felt invigorated. Autumn might be my favorite season to paint – all that color! And it ranges from flamboyant to extremely subtle. So I decided to try an interpretation that would include both extremes. When Autumn Weaves It Own Brocade presents complex tree reflections woven with pale gold, softened Venetian red, muted olive green, a little pink, and a good dose of Naples yellow and cadmium orange  in the floating leaves. There’s a film of dust and pollen on the water, which softens the effect of the color, but this is autumn,

When I was studying studio art, I took an introductory tapestry weaving class. I loved the tactile rhythm of slipping the yarns in and out of the warp threads. Working on this painting, I found myself remembering those motions, and the incremental development of the design. I also remembered the gorgeous bolts of brocade I used to see at the fabric shops downtown, and decided to let all those memories work their way into the painting, or is it a tapestry? Details below. Enjoy.

TM9026 When Autumn Weaves Its Own Brocade – detail from upper right with reflections and floating leaves

TM9026 When Autumn Weaves Its Own Brocade – detail from lower right quadrant tree reflections and floating leaves

TM9026 When Autumn Weaves Its Own Brocade – detail from lower left


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