Ode to the Muddy River

TM9183 Ode to the Muddy River 36×40 oil on panel

Ode to the Muddy River is my appreciation of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, especially the part that runs through the Fenway neighborhood in Boston. I walk it daily, usually with my dog and often with fellow artists.  The Muddy is a shallow, silty river which enters the Charles River at the Charlesgate.  Full of wildlife and gardens, the park and river provide leafy green views. Noticeable are the extensive phragmites lining the banks of much of the river. They are graceful, invasive, and we both love and hate them. A painting of the Muddy must include the phragmites. This late afternoon view in autumn shows some of the grasses as they dry and collapse. The reflected tree trunks seem almost formal and solemn. The late sun catches a few patches of russet bank and illuminates the muddy bottom of the shallows. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9183 Ode to the Muddy River – detail from right side with reflections

TM9183 Ode to the Muddy River – close-up with dried reeds

Technical painting note: After laying down a dark brown/blue base layer of oil paint, I used a silicone scraper to carve out the reeds, revealing the light primer below. When the base layer was dry, I glazed extensively then applied more opaque color to some of the reeds, adding more reeds with a brush. I wanted to show the chaos, so irregularity was my mantra. I used a roller to “dab” blue water between some of the reeds, and to suggest shifting blues for the water.


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