Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods

TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods 40×36 oil on panel

Sanctuary #3 is based on memories from granite quarries in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The rock walls and mysterious pools are wonderfully tactile, especially lovely when framed by Nature reclaiming its original wildness. I love walking among these relics of intervention, looking at the evidence of human-scaled labor replaced by the chaos of lush vegetation returning. There is a sense of history and the feeling that ghosts are watching me. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from center
TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from lower center showing monoprint textures suggestive of reflections
TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from upper left
TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from upper right

518 Profile article featuring my paintings

I’m delighted to share a preview link to an article about my work in the current issue of 518 Profiles

(If you have trouble opening the link, try my Facebook link. instead.)

Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing – on view at The Laffer Gallery in Schuylerville, NY

Ode to the Springly Pond

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond 30×54 oil on panel

Paintings are my way of experiencing the world around me. This close view of the surface of my favorite pond is an example. I love the pollen that collects on the surface in May – the way it both obscures the reflections and reinforces the flat plane of the water’s surface. It is also the season when duckweed makes its appearance, forming an abstract pattern on the surface that reminds me of a tapestry. Interpreting all that with paint is a challenge, but more than that it’s about the joy of finding ways to move paint provocatively around on the panel. I never know how the subject will eventually emerge, but that mystery is part of the process, and keeps me wanting to paint. details below. Enjoy.

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from upper center with sky and foliage reflections
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from lower right of center with duckweed and a slight riffling of the water’s surface
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from upper right showing layered spatter and use of roller for reflections
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from left side with reflections and floating duckweed

Technical painting notes: When I first blocked in the basic composition for this painting, I had an idea, based on photographs from walks around the pond. Below is the painting as it looked the first day.

First day working on the painting, blocking in textures and major gestures with thinned paint, a roller, and scrapers

After a few days, the subject was heading in a different direction, and I liked the broadly abstract strokes and energy. I didn’t think it quite worked, however, and I couldn’t figure out a way to resolve it.

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond after a few days working on it, before radically rethinking my approach

I decided to do something radical, taking indigo paint and a roller to cover parts of the image, then spattered oil and solvent and rolled it again, scraping away some paint and adding spatter. It certainly “disturbed” the original idea and gave me a new way to think about the subject! I compared the totally abstract gestures on the panel to my hundreds of photos and decided to go with a quieter impression of the pond based on views and memories of May, with a larger sense of space and depth. The rest of the week was spent nudging the radical abstraction toward that end.

Woodland Pond

TM9678 Woodland Pond 30×54 oil on panel

It’s fascinating to see how quickly life is coming back to the pond now that we’ve finally had some rain. It’s as if a bit of spring is colliding with early autumn. I see new leaves emerging and flowers that were missing are trying to bloom. I guess that was on my mind when I was painting Woodland Pond. It feels like deepest, greenest summer, but with early fall leaves floating on the pond’s surface. I tried to be truthful, but it feels strange. More details below.

TM9678 Woodland Pond – detail from upper left
TM9678 Woodland Pond – detail from lower center
TM9678 Woodland Pond – detail from left side

Autumn at the Pond

TM9675 Autumn at the Pond 36×40 oil on panel

Late September and the lilies won’t be around much longer. I’ve been enjoying the last ones as I walk around the pond, not to mention the crisp, sparkling light that seems to make all things glow. Joy is in the small things. Detail below.

TM9675 Autumn at the Pond – detail

Sanctuary #2

TM9677 Sanctuary #2 36×40 oil on panel

My favorite pond in Wayland is coming back to life after a few rainy days. Yesterday I saw the great blue heron stalking his preferred spot for breakfast, and the frogs are back. Green, a color that had all but disappeared this summer, is gaining its spring freshness again. The reappearance of life at the pond brought smiles to the faces of fellow hikers whom I met. The mood was hopeful, something I hope comes through in this new painting.

TM9677 Sanctuary #2 – detail from center right showing use of brush and roller
TM9677 Sanctuary #2 – detail from lower left with reflections

Sanctuary #1

TM9676 Sanctuary #1 36×36 oil on panel

I have been thinking about the word sanctuary. Recent events in the news illustrate again the desperate need to provide sanctuary for all. Earlier this week I was walking the perimeter of my favorite pond, welcoming the recent rain and relieved to see the frogs and fishies are able to swim again, a reprieve from our summer-long drought – a sanctuary, however brief, from the effects of climate change. I too need this sanctuary in the woods, away from the vehemence and anger of politics.

So, what is sanctuary? A place to rest and repair heart and soul, to recover, to resume the work and joys of life with a degree of hope. Providing sanctuary is about empathy and taking responsibility for more than one’s own life.

TM9676 Sanctuary #1 – detail from center left
TM9676 Sanctuary #1 – detail from upper right