I Sing a Song of Praise – to the new year and to things unchanged, to the poetry of motion and to the vibrating stillness at the heart of everything. Enjoy!
Technical painting notes – based on a glorious day at Bass Rocks on Cape Ann, this painting presented many challenges.
Because the painting is on panel, seemingly infinite blends of color with soft edges can be tricky. Unlike forgiving canvas, a smooth panel reveals the trail of every hair on the brush. To paint the sky, a number of shades of blue and gray were mixed, then, starting at the top, I worked quickly to “stripe” in the various blues going from a darker blue near the top to a lighter, softer blue above the departing fog bank. I then blocked in the clouds, again using a specially mixed range of grays and warm and cool whites. The fog bank, with its violet undertones and staggered clouds, was last. I then used a number of differently sized fan brushes to blend the colors – again working quickly before the paint could start to set up (alkyd mediums speed the drying time, which means working as fast as one can – on the other hand, because they dry quickly, glazing can begin the next day). The accident of staggered streaks coming from the clouds in front of the fog bank was fortuitous, suggesting a slight passing shower. The ocean and rocks were loosely indicated with transparent color and a bristle brush. I blended the horizon line into the water slightly, after which it was time to let the painting dry.
The following days were begun by glazing warm or cool tones into the sky with a very soft watercolor glazing brush, and developing the water. The scale and perspective of the foam lines in the water necessitated a fine lining brush and mornings without coffee – my hands had to be steady enough to traverse the length of the wave. Some of the lines were “dragged” with another soft brush to suggest movement. I used a square-tipped nylon brush to lay the planes of the foreground rocks, and used the seaweed to introduce notes of stronger, warm orange and gold.
Lastly, I used semi-transparent and transparent green and pale, blue gray glazes to develop a sense of light on the water and to introduce hints of green and brown into the shallows.
That is beautiful! Are your paintings based on particular locations?
The paintings are certainly inspired by specific places – often Bass Rocks at Cape Ann, Massachusetts or perhaps the quieter Cape Cod National Seashore. I usually base each painting on a number of photos and views from various seasons, trying to capture the feel of a place over time. I might take cloud forms from one visit and a swelling wave from a different day. I might move trees around, or eliminate or exagerate forms for the sake of the overall design. The goal is to create a “place” that the viewer can spend time in, a place worthy of their continued attention.
Nice tune in the key of life.