Spring Begins in the Shallows

TM9529 Spring Begins in the Shallows 36×36 oil on panel

In early April the water in the pond is cold and deepest blue, but as the days warm an explosion happens. Suddenly, there are bubbles and blips as frogs frisk. Duckweed starts to appear along the edges, stray debris floats by, and a green sludge of life blooms. The water seems so dense! Through it all, one can see white clouds and blue sky. It is an amazing and supremely hopeful occurrence. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9529 Spring Begins in the Shallows – detail from upper left
TM9529 Spring Begins in the Shallows – detail from left side
TM9529 Spring Begins in the Shallows – detail from center

Later that Morning

TM9530 Later that Morning 36×40 oil on panel

Taking the same route regularly offers a wonderful opportunity to see and study the roadside view in changing weather conditions, and to watch trees grow and mature, or suffer the hardship of storms. It becomes a ritual of perception; thinking about how to paint what I see, anticipating what I could see. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9530 Later that Morning – close-up from upper left
TM9530 Later that Morning – detail from lower left side
TM9530 Later that Morning – detail from right of center

Poem in the Woods

Poem in the Woods is from an afternoon ramble through woodsy swampland. Yes, the ground is spongy, and there are lots of switchbacks when the way is blocked by water that’s too deep, but the the rewards of experiencing the reflected world are worth the slight inconveniences. I love the various dimensions, sky reflections, tree reflections, the leaves floating on the surface of this shallow water….it feels a bit unearthly and yet at the same time so deeply of the earth. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9528 Poem in the Woods – detail from lower right
TM9528 Poem in the Woods – detail from upper left

Roadside Stand

TM9527 Roadside Stand 36×36 oil on panel

You can be driving along and suddenly a particular stand of trees catches your attention. This stand of pines, mostly young, reminds me of pictures taken at family reunions, with everyone crowding in and the children in front. While I may not be a portrait artist, I couldn’t resist painting this family. Enjoy.

Nocturne

TM9524 Nocturne 42×54 oil on panel

Nocturne

It was supposed to be a painting

of morning, but when that failed

I reached for indigo, color of night

and obscurity, for when I have

to listen. At night only sounds matter,

their soft edges rippling the water,

their notes reflecting like light.

TM9524 Nocturne – detail from left side with reflected lights
TM9524 Nocturne – detail from upper left with reflected trees and vegetation
TM9524 Nocturne – detail from right side showing use of scraping, spatter, and blended rolls
TM9524 Nocturne detail from upper right

April’s Reflections

TM9526 April’s Reflections 36×48 oil on panel

April brings crystal clear water back to the pond, and a few pine and deciduous trees are boldly mirrored in the water. They haven’t seen themselves in a long time. I can’t help wondering what it would feel like to see oneself for the first time after the harshness of winter. So many broken limbs! What I see are survivors, and the possibility of regrowth and repair, all framed by blue skies and a couple of soft white clouds. There is a slight breeze riffling the water, and the air is filled with promise. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9526 April’s Reflections – detail from left with deciduous tree and cloud reflection
TM9526 April’s Reflections – detail from right side with a breeze riffling the water
TM9526 April’s Reflections – detail from center right
TM9526 April’s Reflections – detail from left side with pine and birch reflections

Technical painting notes: I treated the blank, primed panel like a monoprint plate, rolling thinned oil paint on the surface then manipulating it with solvent, scrapers, paper towels, and assorted “texturizers.” The goal was to achieve rich darks and a range of textures that could “show through” the later layers of paint and glaze. When this first layer was dry, I proceeded to refine the gestures and forms with brushwork, thinking of the sky as negative space to be painted, revealing the forms of the trees. I also used soft nylon brushes to delineate some of the branches. Some branches were revealed through scraping out their forms. After substantially defining all the forms and establishing values and color, I used fairly transparent rolls of oil paint (applied with a soft rubber roller) to unify and soften the feel of the scene, using the roller and short brush strokes to describe the riffles on the water.

Open Secrets

TM9523 Open Secrets 42×48 oil on panel

A few record-setting warm days last week prompted me to bring out a painting that has been in the works for a while. Based on my delight and sense of wonder whenever I am in the presence of trees, this painting delves into the canopy (again) and ponders what we hear as well as see Рthe music of trees rustling is present, as is the sense of a community of leaves, each leaf bearing its own song, its own secrets. I imagine all these songs being carried off with the wind. So public. Such open secrets. There is so much we need to learn about trees, their inner life, there deep connection  to our own existence. The solace and joy they offer us. Details below. Enjoy

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from center right

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from top edge

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from upper left and center

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from lower left

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Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to layer dark oil paint onto the surface of the panel, blocking in the pattern of darks and lights and trying to achieve some interesting textures and roller strokes. When dry, I worked up the pattern of leaves, branches, stems, and sky with soft brushes, exaggerating value contrasts with the intent of covering this stage with multiple rolls of fairly transparent oil color glazes.  Days of rolling and rerolling wet glazes produced the soft focus I was hoping for, and helped to suggest both movement and the mysterious life of the leaves. Highlighting a few areas with additional brushwork completed the painting.

First Signs

TM9522 First Signs 36×92 diptych oil on panels

Late winter can seem so devoid of color, but then one warm day brings a melt, and suddenly that crisp blue sky and reflecting water reveal the poetry of the season. The dried winter grasses along the pond edge seem to dance in the breeze, and a hint of green hovers in the water – where from? I hardly know, but it feels like magic. First Signs is about early spring and its energy. I invite you to join me on this extended walk along the pond path. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9522 First Signs – detail from upper right

TM9522 First Signs – detail from top with reflections and dried grasses

TM9522 First Signs – detail from center left

TM9522 First Signs – detail from right panel with reflections and swaying grasses

TM9522 First Signs – detail from lower edge with meltwater and sky

TM9522 First Signs – detail from left side with winter’s grasses overhanging the pond