Autumn Afternoon at the Pond

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond 30×60 oil on panel

I never really know what I’ll see when I walk down to the pond, but I always know there will be something spectacular to paint. This past week, everything was glowing gold, a color that signals the end of autumn is close by. Between the trembling and falling leaves, blue sky, and a few scarlet maples hiding(?) behind the birch and willows – well – it was better than fireworks. Returning to the studio I knew I had to find a way to share the experience. Not just the facts, but the feel of all that color and the sense of being immersed in it. Autumn Afternoon at the Pond is my homage to the experience and my way of saying thank you. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail with gesture of leaves from upper right

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail showing effects of wind

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail from lower edge with reflected red tree behind swaying branches

Technical painting notes: This painting on panel is all about using primarily soft rubber rollers to apply the paint in layers, intermixing a bit of brushwork for variety. I mix a group of colors, add Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to help with the rolling out and drying, then just begin rolling. The paint application is thin, so that colors can blend and show through. Over the course of a few days, the layers of transparent rolling can really start to glow. I’ve found over the years that too much careful detail can interrupt the feeling of spontaneous arrival – as if we are arriving at a place with a magnifying glass. All that matters is the telling detail – the idiosyncratic moment that captures the spirit of what’s going on, and reveals some careful looking but more joy than determination.

 

More Winter Fields

TM9357 Winter Fields #5 7×7 oil on paper

TM9356 Winter Fields #4 7×7 oil on paper

The fields are dormant, but under that snow there are tunnels and nests, life and hibernation. Winter wears many disguises. What can look so beautiful and nearly empty is still full of life and life’s potential. Or evidence of life’s tenacity.

Sometimes the oaks refuse to give up their leaves, as evidenced in Winter Fields #4. I think it’s because the leaves know they can’t really compete with scarlet maples, but in a world of blue and white, their bronze leaves will offer glowing color, especially in the late afternoon light. We all have our time and place. Enjoy.

Winter Fields

I love the sparkle of winter; I love the way snow abstracts the familiar and makes it magical, and I love figuring out how to get that magic into a painting. In preparation, I’ve started some small studies based on fields I visited last winter. Here are the first three, with more to follow… Enjoy!

Technical painting notes: The paintings are on rag watercolor paper, primed with clear shellac on both sides. I used oil paint and alkyd medium, working mostly with a palette knife (and a small, flexible nylon flat for details).

Fenway Connections

TM9255 Ode to the Winter Woods 36×40 oil on panel

There’s a new exhibit at the Massachusetts Historical Society titled Fenway Connections. The show comprises contemporary work by artists from the Fenway Studios, including yours truly, and work by artists who once had studios in the landmark building. It is a lovely, wide-ranging show, with monotypes, watercolors, drawings, oil paintings and many subjects in a stunningly beautiful old mansion on Boylston Street, just around the corner from the studios. A link to the Society’s web page of exhibitions Is below. I hope you take the opportunity to go visit. (only one short block from the Convention center stop on the green line subway).

http://www.masshist.org/exhibitions

Ripple and Shine

TM9352 Ripple and Shine 42×48 oil on panel

One of my childhood fantasies was to have a treehouse. I suppose that’s one reason why I spend so much time now imagining myself in the trees, whether they are reflected in a pond or a view through leaves from the very heart of the tree. Trees represent something sacred and enduring, a place of respite and, especially now, our most important generator of clean air and oxygen. And they are so graciously beautiful, especially when the breeze ruffles their leaves and creates gentle ripples on the pond, creating confetti-like vibrations of color. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9352 Ripple and Shine – detail from right side with leaf and cloud reflections

TM9352 Ripple and Shine – detail from left of center. I used both brushes and a narrow roller to suggest the rippling leaf reflections

October’s Pond

TM9351 October’s Pond 36×40 oil on panel

There’s a phrase from a Mary Oliver poem “….the daily pretensions…” which I suspect stays with me because it sums up everything I hope my work is not about. I’m more interested in what humbly endures, which is where Oliver’s heart resides too. October’s Pond is my lavish scrutiny of the wonders next door (or at least a short way down the road). These days of rampant red and crimson, set against a warm blue, cloud-studded sky, are few in number. It makes them all the more precious. Soon a great wind will come along, followed by a northern cold front, and the color will fly away, to be replaced by the bronze season of oak leaves and frost. Ah well. that will be beautiful too, as long as I remember to really look….enjoy. Details below.

TM9351 October’s Pond – detail from lower left with reflected leaves

TM9351 October’s Pond – detail from right side with lightly floating leaves and reflections

Technical painting notes: The painting began by rolling on a staccato rhythm of roller strokes, using burnt sienna and some burnt umber mixed with Winsor Newton’s Liquin impasto medium and a dash of mineral spirits and stand oil. I manipulated the wet paint with a scrap of plastic bag and solvent, roughly streaking the paint to suggest movement. When this base layer was dry, I glazed parts of the panel then proceeded to use a brush and oil paint to block in the “negative” sky reflections. Interweaving sky and leaves proceeded apace, sometimes usng a soft brush, sometimes a soft rubber roller. I repeated the process for a few days, then worked on finding the branches and some more descriptive stems – again using brush and a narrow roller. Final mostly transparent glazes softened the feel of the painting – suggestive of the warm humid atmosphere of that particular day. The leaves floating onto the water came last.

 

‘s heart is too

Along the Backroads

TM9338 Along the Backroads 36×36 oil on panel

There are a few days in the fall when the reds come into their glory. I wait all year in anticipation, then hit the backroads looking for those special places  Рthe roadsides arrayed in crimson and scarlet, with  a little red ocher squeezed in. The drama in such a humble setting says a lot about New England, and about the reason I love it so much. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9338 Along the Backroads – close-up from lower left showing foreground brushwork

TM9338 Along the Backroads – close-up from lower center with distant ridge