When you can’t “get away” the next best option is to find a way to love where you are, such is this dirt parking lot I spotted on my way to run errands. Why drive past? Why not pull in and look at it for a few minutes, see what’s there? Sun, trees embracing their greens, and the cast-offs of an ancient glacier. Mmmm….the quintessential humble view of my native state. Something to memorize and paint. Maybe the word poem will come later? Enjoy.
I painted the dark woods
And watched all week
As my trees decided to brighten.
Ah, Melancholy, you
Have been infringed upon
When I finish a painting, I usually ask myself “so, what was that all about?” Sometimes the answer takes me by surprise with a poem, sometimes not.
Is it the spice sharp smell that beckons?
Or silence? Or ochre light that quivers and
Falls between my feet, licks of sun,
Perhaps the dark describes my needs,
Promise of coolness, maybe
A breeze to push this spirit
And brush together.
But no air stirs in these hushed pines;
Only deep stillness, a heartbeat,
And the Tao. I shiver, tremble
Inside its hot breath.
Poem for March celebrates the transition from winter to earliest spring. The lake is deep, cold, and clear, and while the deciduous growth is still mostly gray, the pines are showing their first hints of fresh green. With the lengthening days, this is a season for hope, and for savoring all the little signs of life’s renewal. Enjoy. Detail below.
Technical painting notes: The painting support is a hollow core slab with a birch veneer, which provides superior warp resistance while offering all the benefits of a traditional wood panel. I use an alkyd primer (six or seven thin coats, sanded to a velvety finish). The surface is wonderful for working with a roller, rags, brushes, etc.
An intimate beach inside a rugged frame, that was my first thought when I decided to paint this view. I particularly liked the steep perspective looking down, and the question it raised: how to get there without a boat? Well of course there are two answers. You don’t, or you get out your hiking shoes. The latter rewarded me with great subjects for painting and a lovely day. I think my favorite is still the view from above. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I chose to to keep my approach to painting the scene similar to the my physical approach to the land. Think carefully about the next step, then do it without looking back. After that, whatever happens, happens. I used mostly the palette knife and Winsor Newton Liquin for the medium. The rough texture of the knife work echoes the rough, ledge. Combining two views – looking down and across – gives a sense of the space and allows me to share with the viewer the vertigo of deciding whether or not to climb down.
I was driving home thinking about baseball as I headed into the gridlock of a double header (Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays). I remember as kids we played baseball and “olympics” in a cow pasture, imagining ourselves hitting home runs past the rock pile, winning gold medals. Everything was as perfect as our imaginations allowed, with cricket applause. We had so much fun.
Beaches are such ephemeral places. A few strong storms and they can shift or nearly disappear entirely. Sometimes the new view includes glimpses of the underlying bedrock, as in these two small paintings. I actually prefer the mix of ledge and sand, hard and soft for compositional reasons and because it’s simply more interesting. That ledge makes for a better bulwark against the pounding tides of the future.
It’s the moody days I love, and the dizzying swells coming toward the honey and red stone ledges that shape the coast.
Technical painting notes: This small oil on primed paper was done mostly with a palette knife. Initially, I concentrate on blocking in broad shapes in values darker than what I see in the motif. When this layer is dry, I go back and define the forms using oil paints mixed with Liquin alkyd medium, which speeds the drying time and increases the transparency of the paint. I try to keep the painting spontaneous, taking advantage of accidents – even trying to cause those fruitful accidents on which the painting depends.
When strong winds whip waves toward the rocks, the result is thick foam – massively aerated water. The first time I saw this condition, I thought it looked a lot like the foam on expensive coffee. Another time, it looked like shredded foam mattresses washing in to shore. Not the processional blue waves of a calm, sunny day!