Corot’s Pond

TM9063 Corot’s Pond 36×40 oil on panel

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s best-known landscapes possess a silvery, poetic light and pristine calm, as if remembered in a dream. His paintings continue to intrigue me. Thinking about my own woodland pond, especially in the overcast light of this warm October, I’ve wondered how Corot might have treated the various reflections and conditions in the pond. His poetic sensibilities would have been piqued, I’m sure. With that in mind, I decided to try looking through his eyes, painting the pondscape as he might have seen it – close values, cool, silvery tones, and with few hard edges. Each reflected tree seems to merge with its neighbor, forming a dappled pattern interspersed with nearly white wisps of cloud. The greens are a bit stronger than his, but then my little pond is in the midst of changing seasons. I find it interesting that the cool green-golds of fall are so like the lemony greens of spring. I did add a band of pine needles drifting across the foreground. Corot didn’t seem to like strong oranges, but I do. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM9063 Corot’s Pond – detail from upper edge showing use of layered scraping and rolled glazes

Technical painting notes: I used a roller charged with a dark greenish umber oil paint to lay in the darker forms, then used spritzes of mineral spirits and a rag to manipulate the paint. I used a silicone scraper to suggest some of the tree trunks and branches., then spattered paint in various greens onto the still-wet surface. When the base layer was dry, I used a soft brush to start defining the “negative” spaces – the sky poking through the trees. I used the roller to glaze over some areas with thin oil paint mixed with alkyd medium. After tis layer dried, I repeated the process of brushing in details, scraping into wet glaze, and rolling on more semi-transparent glaze. The soft rubber roller allows one to spread a glaze quickly while letting the edges disappear. Some spattering of cool grey green paint echoed the spatters in the base layer.

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