TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond 30×60 oil on panel
I never really know what I’ll see when I walk down to the pond, but I always know there will be something spectacular to paint. This past week, everything was glowing gold, a color that signals the end of autumn is close by. Between the trembling and falling leaves, blue sky, and a few scarlet maples hiding(?) behind the birch and willows – well – it was better than fireworks. Returning to the studio I knew I had to find a way to share the experience. Not just the facts, but the feel of all that color and the sense of being immersed in it. Autumn Afternoon at the Pond is my homage to the experience and my way of saying thank you. Details below. Enjoy.
TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail with gesture of leaves from upper right
TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail showing effects of wind
TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail from lower edge with reflected red tree behind swaying branches
Technical painting notes: This painting on panel is all about using primarily soft rubber rollers to apply the paint in layers, intermixing a bit of brushwork for variety. I mix a group of colors, add Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to help with the rolling out and drying, then just begin rolling. The paint application is thin, so that colors can blend and show through. Over the course of a few days, the layers of transparent rolling can really start to glow. I’ve found over the years that too much careful detail can interrupt the feeling of spontaneous arrival – as if we are arriving at a place with a magnifying glass. All that matters is the telling detail – the idiosyncratic moment that captures the spirit of what’s going on, and reveals some careful looking but more joy than determination.
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.
TM9298 Watching the Waves Come In #243 7×7 oil on paper
TM9299 Watching the Waves Come In #244 7×7 oil on paper
TM9303 Here It Comes 7×7 oil on paper
Watching the Waves Come In is a long-term series that is always in development. Every time I learn something new I see what effect it will have on my little wave paintings. Or sometimes these small paintings inform my larger work. Either way, they are a delight to paint. I used to use a brush when working on them, but now it is mostly the palette knife, with more attention paid to the viscosity of the paint and the choice of paper – smooth or textured watercolor paper (primed). I look for ways to let the viscosity emulate the action of the water – more like sneaking up on the subject rather than trying to copy a moment or view. This approach, at least for me, yields more of the feel of my watery subject. It also allows for random accidents to influence the painting’s development, and life is certainly about the accidents. Enjoy.
TM9264 Camellias, Seen through Winter Eyes 28×32 oil on panel
With all the frozen blue violets of winter around me, I felt a sojourn with some camellias would offer some respite. But the colors of winter followed me into this new painting. It was refreshing to paint new forms, but the cold blue sky outside affected what I saw. So here they are, my (almost) icy camellias. You never know what will happen in the studio…details below. Enjoy.
TM9264 Camellias, Seen through Winter Eyes – detail from upper right with opening camellia
TM9264 Camellias, Seen through Winter Eyes – detail from left side showing layered delineation of leaves
TM9264 Camellias, Seen through Winter Eyes – detail showing layered use of brush and roller work, investigation of line vs. shape
Technical painting notes: I started the painting using a 4″ soft rubber roller to “loosely” roll a mixture of blue/black and dark green oil paints onto the panel surface. I used a silicone scraper to draw the gestures of the flowers and leaves, then spritzed the surface with mineral spirits and re-rolled (or redistributed) the paint. I used a rag to wipe out some of the lighter areas, then drew some more with the scraper. At this point, I let the painting dry thoroughly. The next day, I glazed colors onto the surface and started working with a brush and thin paint to define the forms. Alternating use of roller and brush kept it loose and provided many happy accidents. Additional glazes and painted highlights (still alternating brush and roller) adjusted the color harmonies and added unexpected light to the subject.
TM9200 Lilium – 20×30 oil on panel
The lilies are in bloom, and this particular stand of lilies filled the entire neighborhood with their fragrance. My close-cropped view emphasizes the thrust of the lilies in all directions, and perhaps implies the way their scent spreads. The small pink flowers nestled close-by offer a contrast of scale and color, but they also symbolize, for me, the way we all have our roles to play, and every role is equally important for a well-balanced and successful outcome. Details below. Enjoy.
TM9200 Lilium – detail from center top
TM9200 Lilium – detail shwing use of roller, brush, and scraper
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller extensively, building the image with sweeps of the roller – sometimes using the end, sometimes dabbing, often rolling. Liquin Impasto medium added to the oil paint works well for achieving a good viscosity, controlling transparency, and speeding the dry time. I used a brush as sparingly as possible – the marks from the roller seemed to suggest movement and air, which are key to capturing the feeling of a subject outdoors.
TM8468 New Morning 20×36 oil on panel
When I first painted this panel four years ago, I hoped to capture the cheery yellow face of the bullhead lily saying Wake Up! At the time, it was a difficult subject full of spatial and perspective issues to resolve, I did my best, and was quite pleased with the result (see below).
TM8468 New Morning 20×36 oil on panel
However, with time and experience, I saw there was more that could be done to bring the subject into stronger focus. It needed more “pop” to match the spirit of waking up. I needed more sun in the painting. The final version (at top) has a punchier bright blue, and two lilies. One is still sleepy, but the second lily is ready to jump up out of the water and embrace the day. I used a soft rubber roller to lay down the brighter blues, blending the color over some of the lily pads to enhance the feeling of this watery world. I also intensified some of the greens in the painting. The second lily was blocked in quickly with a brush. So much easier than the first lily – how I do appreciate what experience teaches us. Details form the final version of New Morning are below. Enjoy.
TM8468 New Morning – detail from center with bullhead lilies
TM8468 New Morning – detail from right side showing brush and roller paint application