Rainer Maria Rilke, the German poet, once said, “Praising is what matters…” Painting is a form of praise, for how else to describe years of intense looking followed by weeks of learning to see what one has seen. And then to learn a way to interpret that vision into paint, while learning to see the paint for what it really is. The artist returns to a site to look again, look more deeply. Perhaps the pond series is a group of praise poems (or prayers), whereby I am silenced into color – filled with the wonder of seeing anew the depths of my little pond.
W.S. Merwin, the American poet, wrote a wonderful short poem titled “Travelling Together,” which can be found in his book “The Rain in the Trees” published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1997.
If we are separated I will
try to wait for you
on your side of things
your side of the wall and the water
and of the light moving at its own speed
even on leaves that we have seen
I will wait on one side
while a side is there
The painting Deepest Summer is certainly about looking, and waiting, and looking some more. It is the sum of paintings that have come before, and a glimpse toward paintings that might be. Informed by a specific site at Hamlen Woods in Wayland, it is one of three interpretive paintings based on a summer day and a few photographs I took last summer. Variations on a theme – otherwise known as try, try again. Drifting into Summer and The Afternoon Deepens are the earlier paintings. Close-ups of Deepest Summer and technical paintings notes below:
Technical painting notes: Painted on birch veneered plywood with an alkyd priming. The painting was developed in stages, but with one difference from my usual method. I rolled on a layer of greenish oil paint using a soft rubber brayer, then smooshed it around with a piece of plastic wrap and a mixture of linseed oil and mineral spirits. I them splashed it with the mineral spirits and watched the droplets enlarge. While they were still wet, I rerolled the brayer across the surface selectively, softening the effect of the splashes, and then resplashed the surface blotting with a paper towel. I used a silicone scraper to remove paint (and suggest stuff floating on the water). When everything was dry, I resumed my usual approach with layered transparent glazes alternating with more opaquely painted details. A soft rubber brayer makes many things possible!