Wetland Woods – Early Spring

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring 36×60 oil on panel

With so little snow this winter, and temperatures that feel more like March, I can’t help feeling as though spring is around the corner. Wetland Woods – Early Spring is actually more about mud season, when the ground softens up, and the air feels softer too. There’s still plenty of that white/tan old growth around, but occasionally you can glimpse a blush of yellow green or reddish pink. That, plus the open blue waters, give one’s spirit an excuse to soar. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring – detail from upper left with last year’s dried weeds and grasses

TM9412 Wetland Woods – Early Spring – detail from center with meltwater, mud, and first blush of green

TM9412 Wetland Woods – Early Spring – detail from center top of painting with new growth amid the old

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring – Detail from lower left with emerging color

Technical painting notes: I started this painting with a roll-up of blackish green and umbers mixed with violet, manipulating the wet paint with paper towels and scrapers, and spritzing the surface with solvents then blotting and re-rolling to achieve textures and blurred edges. When dry, I glazed colors over the entire surface, then began to paint in the reflected sky and brush, sometimes using a brush, sometimes a soft rubber roller. A few days of alternating brush and roller work with mainly semi-transparent colors brought the impression into focus. I wanted the painting to have strong abstract underpinnings while still bringing forth the feel of early spring wetlands (with a few crisp details). Maybe I’m becoming an abstract impressionist?

The Green Voice of Summer

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer 36×54 oil on panel

There’s a gentleness to late spring and early summer, and a quiet harmony of color, especially green. The Green Voice of Summer explores some of the close harmonies of the season with a somewhat abstract view of my favorite pond and its reflections. Unlike many of my autumn pondscapes, this painting whispers its mood and message. You have to stop to hear it, as did I last June when the idea began to form in my imagination. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer – detail from upper left with reflections

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer – detail from lower right

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer – detail from upper right

Midsummer Garden

TM9410 Midsummer Garden 36×60 oil on panel

Gardens are amazing. When I was young, the farmer next door’s wife, Mrs. Kroll, had a sumptuous, showy, flower garden running along a huge stone wall that ran nearly the length of their side yard. I was fascinated by the exotic, and HUGE, flowers. Gladioli, mammoth dahlias, sky high sunflowers, platter-like zinnias. Maybe it was all the free manure and compost. Maybe it was her diligent, daily tending. Each day she cut and tossed away the fading blossoms. We raided her floral compost pile, and what joy we had finding nearly perfect specimens to bring home. Much more exciting than the marigolds and baby’s breath, phlox and snapdragons our grandmother planted. Midsummer Garden is my ode to Mrs. Kroll’s gardening achievements – radiant sunshine and a feeling of lush summer every day. Thank you Mrs. Kroll. Details below.

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail showing use of line independent of shape

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail showing use of roller to apply paint

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from upper left

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from right side

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from lower left edge

Technical painting notes: The initial base layer of browns and dark green oil paint was applied with a soft rubber roller. I used a scraper and paper towels to draw and blot in the forms and lights. When the base layer was dry, I used brushes and oil paint to glaze and define the subject further, then used my rollers to soften and blur edges. I rolled more layers of  semi-transparent oil paint to modulate the color and keep the effects soft, as if from memory. I was so small when I first saw Mrs. Kroll’s garden, and the flowers seemed to reach up forever, as if they could disappear into Heaven. Her yellows were the sun. At first, I had a bright blue sky behind the flowers, but it seemed too bold and heavy. When I rolled grays into the bright blues, taking down the saturation, the more neutral gray tones seemed to make the yellows sing more loudly. Go yellow!


The Poem in the Wave


TM9015 The Poem in the Wave 40×50 oil on panel

The Poem in the Wave, a larger painting which I thought I had finished in 2017, began calling to me from the studio wall these last few weeks. I could see potential for more subtleties, perhaps a bit of semi-transparent roller work, and a chance to calm some areas in favor of accentuating the major wave action. It was worth trying. I think the newer version is more sophisticated. Details from the new painting below, along with the first version. Enjoy.

TM9015 THe Poem in the Wave – detail from right side

TM9015 THe Poem in the Wave – detail with cresting wave

And the first version….

TM9015 The Poem in the Wave 40×50 oil on panel

No Rain Yet

TM9409 No Rain Yet 42×42 oil on panel

I was early for an appointment, and was sitting in my car in a small parking lot. The car faced a straggle of assorted trees in front of a small vernal pool, which was backed by a fence and someone’s backyard garden. It was late May or early June, warm, and the sky was turning that deep gray that usually forecasts a deluge. I could see the dark clouds advancing, beautifully setting off the gorgeous light of yellow green trees and  blossoming shrubs. With a few minutes left, I grabbed my camera and started shooting the view through the window. It did start to rain, and I kept shooting. The blurry view was even more interesting, The experience led to this painting, titled No Rain Yet. I may try another….details below. Enjoy.

TM9409 No Rain Yet – detail from upper center edge with brush and roller work

TM9409 No Rain Yet – detail from lower half of painting

Technical painting notes: I started this painting with a roll-up of dark green and warm umber paint, thinned with oil and applied “carelessly”  – hoping for some interesting accidents. While the paint was wet, I scraped into it to describe some of the structural branches that would form the backbone of the composition. When the base layer was dry, I continued to use the roller and some brushwork to define the scenery and vegetation. However, the more I worked, the more I realized that I was getting away from the original impression. What struck me was the light, the color, and the juxtaposition of that dark gray with the luminous spring yellow and green. The details weren’t important. I decided to obscure the details with my roller, letting s few details sneak through, but softening most of the painting. Once the “reality” was obscured, the (yes, I’m going to use the word) impression was restored. I did have to go in and add some jolts of color, and line, to make the composition flow, but now the painting had the color of the day and the blurriness of the rain. It felt right.

Dear November Redux

TM9295 Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Dear November is, to use contemporary parlance, an upgrade. The painting has been drying on my studio wall, held in reserve for a show later this year. However, the more I looked at it, the more I thought it wasn’t quite finished. The subject is those fluttery, papery leaves that hang on nearly all winter. Their movement in winter’s winds is poetic, while their color slowly fades to off-white. I decided to emphasize the color and movement a bit more, to bring the painting in accord with what I most like  – the color and movement in an otherwise grayish month. I added more contrasting values and strokes, made the red/rust/coral/plum more saturated, and  deepened the blues. Feels better. The original version is below, along with details from the newly finished Dear November. Enjoy.

TM9295 Dear November – detail from upper left with tree reflections behind wind-tossed leaves and branches in foreground

TM9295 Dear November – detail from center left showing roller strokes and calligraphic brushwork to suggest blowing leaves


(first version) Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Technical painting notes: The more I use my soft rubber rollers to apply layers of paint and to blend those layers with over-rolling, the more I love the soft-focus results. Interweaving the rolling with brushwork adds mystery to the subject, and offers a contrast of sharp and soft focus. I add some WInsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to the paint that will be rolled, to increase transparency and to speed drying. One caution – it’s easy to get carried away with the roller and lose the subject!

Three Takes on Winter

TM9407 Forecast, 38 degrees and sunny 7×7 oil on paper

TM9405 Joy in the Morning 7×7 oil on paper

TM9406 Between Storms 7×7 oil on paper

I keep returning to the same places for inspiration – it’s not that the scenery changes remarkably, but rather that the light and atmospherics keep shifting as the weather changes. I’m always surprised and delighted. Enjoy!