TM9322 Up on Bass ROcks 36×48 oil on panel
There’s a time for drama and a time when quiet is most appreciated. Up on Bass Rocks seems to be a meditative, peaceful morning, with a view out to sea and a retreating fog bank. But in truth, if you love geology, the thrill of touching such an ancient mountain is fantastic. In some ways, the painting is about time – long, stretched out time. The ancient granite, bruised by glaciers and pummeled by the sea, is alive with crystals and abstracted by fractures. To paint it, one’s own sense of time has to slow down as well. The layers of paint and texture can’t be rushed; the tantalizing forms need to reveal themselves. Enjoy.
TM9322 Up on Bass Rocks – close-up of granite with bands of quartz crystals and yellow lichens
Technical painting notes: The painting was built in layers. The first layer of paint, applied with a soft roller and crumpled (re-used) plastic film, was rough, streaky and transparent. I spattered mineral solvents on the paint and re-rolled the surface repeatedly to achieve grainy textures. I also spattered paint in places, for more depth. The opaque dots of paint contrast nicely with the open spots where the mineral spirits has left deficits of paint. When the first layer was dry, I layered transparent glazes, then painted into the wet glazes with soft brushes and more transparent color. Occasionally I applied paint with the roller, to get more interesting “accidents.” Additional layers of glaze and stippling refined the color and textures.
TM9315 Following Low Tide 36×54 oil on panel
Wide expanses of sky and a disappearing ocean provide the subject for this large painting from Lubec, Maine. The surprise of seeing what lies beneath the water always rouses my curiosity. Rivulets and pools interspersed with ribbons of sand, slippery green algae, and peat banks form complex patterns across the nearly flat plane. A distant headland is barely visible in the encroaching fog. This is a quiet place. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to lay down a streaky layer of dark reddish brown oil paint, swished a manipulated with mineral spirits to suggest some of the textures I wanted. Later, as I worked up the details from the scene, the painting started to get too fussy, so I took out the roller again and simply re-rolled over some of the wet paint to “disturb” it. Patterns of wet paint repeated themselves as they came off the roller, creating a more interesting effect. I also rolled a semi-transparent layer of the gray/beige to suggest the sand, then let the accidents of rolling determine where the darker wet sand would be. FInal touches were highlighting the ridges of sand with more opaque paint, adding the strips of water caught between the ridges, and introducing a warm light to some of the further sand patches. Multiple grey glazes of fog pushed the horizon into the deeper distance.
TM9227 Winter Walk in the Woods #16 oil on paper
TM9224 Winter Walk in the Woods #13 6×6 oil on paper
TM9226 Winter Walk in the Woods #15 6×6 oil on paper
My creek is freezing up and hiding under the snowfall, but it is still there, leading me into the heart of this woodland.
TM9164 Autumn with Mr. Inness 42×60 oil on panel
Pretending to paint alongside one’s heroes can become addictive. George Inness, the nineteenth century American landscape painter, has always been a favorite of mine. His later, autumn views were particularly beautiful in their apparent simplicity and rich color. When I finally had an opportunity to see them up close at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey I was astounded by the abstract gestures and freedom of expression. Inness was so far ahead of his time.
Autumn with Mr. Inness is my homage to his work and a way to immerse myself in his aesthetic sensibilities. While I can never actually meet him. I can enjoy an afternoon with him in my imagination. Details from the painting are below. Also, you can follow a link to a wonderful example of Mr. Inness’ work.
TM9164 Autumn with Mr. Inness – detail fromabove center with reflected foliage, floating leaves, and pine needles
TM9164 Autumn with Mr. Inness – detail from right side with reflected and illuminated tree
TM8816 First Snow 36×60 oil on panel
Snowfalls are magical. A woodland that, in November, can seem so sadly bereft of its green adornments suddenly begins to sparkle. The air seems to vibrate with a quiet excitement, and everything is suddenly clean and pure. I look forward to that first snowfall every year. When it doesn’t come soon enough to meet my needs, I invent it. So here it is – the world wiped clean, in all its stark and lovely splendor. No human voices to interrupt the stillness. Maybe the rustle of a few branches, but we won’t see the creature treading the undergrowth. It is the woods, offering us respite. Enjoy.
TM8816 First Snow – detail from lower left of center looking into young woodland thicket in late November
TM8816 Firat Snow – detail from lower left side
TM8816 First Snow – detail from lower center with tangle of fallen branches
TM8816 First Snow – detail from lower right looking through tree trunks and the season’s last blowing leaves
Technical painting notes: The painting is on an alkyd-primed panel. I began work on the painting thinking of it as a monoprint. I used a soft rubber roller to apply a mix of burnt sienna and black, establishing the rhythm of vertical tree trunks. I then interrupted the lines using a mix of stand oil and mineral spirits applied loosely with a remnant of plastic wrap. A silicone scraper was used to delineate some of the branches, and paint (sometimes just solvent) was spritzed onto the surface. When this first layer was dry, I worked into the image with soft brushes and thin paint, glazed, and added brushfulls of flung “snow” (white paint mixed with an alkyd medium). Actually, I thought the painting was finished at this point, but after a few weeks consideration, I glazed more color into the woods and strengthened some of the yellow twigs. Additional snow finished the painting.
TM8816 First Snow, partially completed
TM8698 Up at the Lake 30×24 oil on panel
Yes, I’ve been spending lots of imaginative time in Lubec recently, but there are other subjects. This week I finally finished a smaller landscape that has been in the works for quite some time. The painting, begun last fall, was progressing well. In fact, it was almost done when I ran into a design problem – how to integrate the water (and its strong horizontals) with the cliff (equally strong verticals). I mulled it over for a few months, and nearly sanded the panel clean. Working on the foggy Lubec paintings gave me the idea of incorporating morning fog as a compositional device to integrate the two parts of the painting. Besides, I just love foggy mornings with all their sense of mystery. I think it worked. Now, the sunlight cutting across the tops of the trees as matched by the light of the fog rising. The ineffable quality of the fog also balances the tough strength of the granite. Enjoy.
TM8698 Up at the Lake – close-up, top of rise
SOLD TM8548 Feels Like Home – 24×36 oil on panel
I was driving the back roads of Worcester County, my birthplace, this past week enjoying every swamp, pond, and glacial erratic. It’s a landscape full of chaos in slow motion – early uplifted mountains ground down by glaciers and turned into rolling hills, exposed ledge, kettle hole ponds, assorted wetlands, and old (sometimes new) stone walls everywhere. I’ve painted these scenes for years, but I never tire of them. Putting order to the chaos is like a puzzle. I want everything to fit in its own natural way. The laws of physics and gravity are important. This same adherence to natural laws is also evident in my more abstract paintings. The patterns may be denser, or there might be more layers, but gravity persists.
My landscapes act like an anchor. No matter what series I’m working on, I can go home again by spending time painting another scene from this central Massachusetts county. It’s a reunion. Details below. Enjoy.
TM8548 Feels Like Home – close-up of trees from upper right
TM8548 Feels Like home – detail from right side
TM8548 Feels Like Home – detail from left side