Spring Poem from the Pond

TM9714 Spring Poem from the Pond 36×40 oil on panel

One philosophy says less is more, and I often feel it is a good approach for painting winter. Another philosophy, playfully expressed as less is a bore, is more baroque and positively enjoys excess and exuberance. Spring is the place for that energy, and don’t leave anything out! My new painting is full of the explosion of life that happens at the pond in spring. A praise poem to life and renewal. Details below. Enjoy!

TM9714 Spring Poem from the Pond – detail from top of painting
TM9714 Spring Poem from the Pond – detail from center showing use of pencil, spatter, and roller along with brushwork
TM9714 Spring Poem from the Pond – detail from lower right

The Noble Grasses – Homage to the Rimpa Artists

TM9713 The Noble Grasses – Homage to the Rimpa Artists 42×42 oil on panel

Visiting the pond regularly, I’ve watched the slow transformation of tufted swamp grasses from green to gold to nearly a parchment color as winter takes hold. Bound by ice they have a grace and nobility about them that I admire. Perhaps my deep respect for the Japanese Rimpa artists and their gorgeous screen paintings of grasses also informs this new painting. The way these artists concentrated on nature and subjects others might consider insignificant appeals to me. Everything in nature is important. Everything has a purpose. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9713 The Noble Grasses – Homage to the Rimpa Artists – detail
TM9713 The Noble Grasses – Homage to the Rimpa Artists – detail from right side
TM9713 The Noble Grasses – Homage to the Rimpa Artists – detail from lower right

I chose to draw as well as paint the grasses for several reasons. First the aesthetic quality of line dark gray/black contrasting with color, but also I think the line drawing performs another role – that of reminding us the grasses are like a memory and a premonition of what they will be again.

Early Spring at Hamlen Woods

TM9712 Early Spring at Hamlen Woods 36×30 oil on panel

This local wetland has been on my mind for a good 15 years. This year it happened. Enough painting experience, a more knowledgeable eye, and the motto if not now, when? Now, I can’t wait to do more interpretations of this rich ecosystem. Details below. Enjoy!

TM9712 Early Spring at Hamlen Woods – detail from upper left
TM9712 Early Spring at Hamlen Woods – detail from center
TN9712 Early Spring at Hamlen Woods – detail from right side
TM9712 Early Spring at Hamlen Woods – detail from upper right

Technical painting notes: I started with a 4″ soft rubber roller, drawing gestures of trees and some values on the white panel. When that was dry, I glazed, then began the process of defining the major values and shapes using soft brushes and oil paint with an alkyd medium. As the work progressed, I switched back to the rollers for glazes and to soften or smudge some areas. At this point I wanted to liven things and reintroduce crisp marks, so I worked with an ebony pencil drawing into the wet paint. A few days of back and forth – brush, pencil, roller, scraping – and it was finished. Looking at the finished painting, I can see where this could lead in several directions. More views throughout the seasons, but also zooming in on different aspects and letting the paintings become more abstract. What fun!

Early Signs of Spring

TM9711 Early Signs of Spring 36×36 oil on panel

Early Signs of Spring is really about that in-between time when green shoots rising from the shallows (and some crimson branches showing signs of life) are still surrounded by the rough and scratchy vestiges of winter. When I see those little green shoots I want to sing, and thank them for returning. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9711 Early Signs of Spring – detail from upper right
TM9711 Early Signs of Spring – detail from right side
TM9711 Early Signs of Spring – detail from lower right

Technical painting notes: This painting evolved over time, starting as a view of the pond in this snowless winter but evolving into late winter and early spring. Something about too much gray, perhaps? I just had to add color, and after layers of rolling and drawing, the heavy impasto textures seemed to evoke the heaviness of mud and sticks, reminding me of the energy needed for green sprouts to emerge and claim their space.

The Early Days of Spring

TM9710 The Early Days of Spring 30×36 oil on panel

The Early Days of Spring is a new look at my pond using new tools and a more poetic approach. I started with monoprint techniques on the panel, then switched to oil glazes and some brush work before digging in with pencil and roller. Alternating the means gave me the gentleness and mystery I wanted with just enough definition. As a student I was always intrigued by the way some artists could go back and forth between seeing as a drafter and as a painter. It has taken a while, but I’m beginning to see both ways simultaneously. What fun! Details below. Enjoy.

TM9710 The Early Days of Spring – detail from upper right
TM9710 The Early Days of Spring – detail from middle left side
TM9710 The Early Days of Spring – detail from center
TM9710 The Early Days of Spring – detail from right side
TM9710 The Early Days of Spring – detail from lower left