In Silence

TM8589 In Silence 30×60 oil on panel

In Silence explores the poetic qualities of color contrasted with the absence of light. It ¬†looks at the drama of autumn, that time when we turn from bright days full of color to the deep, darkening mysteries of winter and night. The right and left sides of the painting, with reflected trees and sky, mirror the soft air and vibrancy of fall while framing the dark center. Is this, too, a reflection from deep woods? Yes, but also a metaphorical entrance into the darkness of winter. The mood is quiet; the few floating leaves suggest time’s passage and form a bridge across the center. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8589 In SIlence – detail from left side

TM8589 In Silence – detail from left of center with tree reflections

TM8589 In Silence – detail from center top

TM8589 In Silence – detail from right of center

Technical painting notes: Some paintings take a long time to finish, and this is one. I worked it up to a degree of finish, and hung it in the studio so I could ponder how to finish to it. I liked what I had, the balance of light, color, and darkness, but the center seemed a bit flat. It took a few years to figure out that small touches of golden light in the dark woods (center) made the whole painting sing. Certain things can’t be hurried.

Poem from a Winter Squall

TM9428 Poem for a Winter Squall 42×48 oil on panel

After a winter with almost no snow, it seems too early for spring. I’m not ready! I’m still mentally waiting for that northeaster that never arrived. This week I decided to paint the squall that never happened – a big abstract painting looking into and through shrubbery during a squall. It’s surprising how much color exists even in winter, even during a storm. My salute to the mysteries of snow and ice. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9428 Poem for a Winter Squall – detail from right side, based on ice-covered stems and branches

TM9428 Poem for a Winter Squall – detail from lower right

Technical painting notes: With such a “white” painting, much of the visual interest depends on the subtle use of warm vs. cool tones, and infinite shades of white. As I worked, especially building layers, I realized that the physical attributes of the paint were also important – it’s liquidity, depth, and surface texture. I used Liquin Impasto medium to increase translucency and speed drying. It also yields a subtle, encaustic feel to the surface.


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?

Down by the Pond – January


TM9400 Down by the Pond – January 36×36 oil on panel

Days with strong sun are a welcome relief in January, especially after a fresh snowfall. This painting, from a trek through old farmland, shows a light breeze scattering snow from tree branches. The cow pond is frozen, but still there, and surrounded by brush. The questions is: should I go right or left? Details below. Enjoy.

TM9400 Down by the Pond – January – detail from center right with snow-covered branches and blowing snow

Out Behind Kroll’s Field

TM9396 Out Behind Kroll’s Field #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9397 Out Behind Kroll’s Field #2 7×7 oil on paper

TM9398 Out Behind Kroll’s Field #3 7×7 oil on paper

Ah the pleasures of winter – this time three little paintings based on memories of trekking through Mr. Kroll’s fields to get to the sledding hill. It was the place to be after school let out, but we had to hurry, since we only had about two hours of light left. From the top of the hill, there were two options. Straight down through an opening in the stone wall, or (more exciting) a steeply banked curve to the right under the barbed wire fence and over a narrow brook. That was the best. Mom never knew. Enjoy.

Up on Bass Rocks

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.



Following Low Tide

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.

Another Walk in the Woods

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.