Shining Rocks describes many places in New England that I love, but the inspiration for these small paintings in particular is Purgatory Chasm, a state park in Sutton, Massachusetts bordering the town where I was raised. The park is situated along a dramatic geological fault line. Rock formations line a natural gorge in the woods. The trees’ roots do their best to find sustenance in the scant soil covering granite and schist. Large quantities of mica and quartz sparkle in the sun. It is a remarkable place. The paintings below are explorations and studies. More will follow, as I refine my ability to “see” what’s there and figure out how I want to paint not just the place, but the spirit of the place too.
Technical painting notes: All of the paintings relied on a palette knife to describe the forms, with brushwork limited to sky and a few tree details. I wanted to capture the rough and tumble quality of the place, and the sense of surprise when the ground drops. Each painting starts with a rough, abstract base layer utilizing Liquin Impasto medium. A silicone scraper is used to suggest the trees. When this layer is dry, I go back in to define the sky and trees more thoroughly, again using Liquin Original and Liquin Impasto mediums. I’m looking for the major forms and colors, without too much detail, at this stage. My goal is to become familiar with the subject and figure out diverse ways to describe it – in service to starting some larger paintings.