Climate change. The words are in the news all the time, like a background hum, or a mosquito whine you can’t avoid. When I visit the pond, evidence is everywhere, whether in an arctic blast or the 40 degree weather that follows a couple hours later. I see the trees downed by severe windstorms, the land flooded with late fall and early winter rains that usually aren’t. Despite the losses, I am still overwhelmed by the beauty nature shows me. With extreme temperature changes this winter, I have seen the pond freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw/freeze. So many forms of frozen ripple, crack, crumple. I think about how to portray the frozen lace in paint, how to sneak up on the glorious effects, how to make the process look effortless. Time and experimentation. Details below.
Technical painting notes: I started the painting with a roll-up of dark, thin oil paint establishing major values, then worked to define the clumps of grasses with a silicone scraper. When the underlayer was dry, I started to define the ripples and alternate this brushwork with glazes. A narrow roller was used build the thicket of marks that would become underwater vegetation. I used a wider rubber roller to glaze over and smudge the ripples, and to start laying in the larger bands of blue open water. Alternating brush and roller, I put details down then semi-buried them under rolled nearly transparent glazes to suggest the luminous ice forming around the grass clumps. Including a touch of olive green brought the colors into balance and serves as a reminder that what is frozen now will be green again.
Oil painting class, limited to four students (masked, vaccinated, and boosted) starting January 18, Tuesdays, 10am-1pm at the Tripp Street, Framingham, Massachusetts Studio location 45.00 per session Goal is to help you develop your own “voice” as an artist and gain new technical skills
First Monday Monthly Critique Sessions starting February 7, 12:30-2:30pm 45.00 per session
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Midsummer Garden is a homage to the wonderful garden our neighbor, Mrs. Kroll, tended. The garden ran along a massive stone wall that separated the Kroll’s house from their dairy barn. Unlike our flower gardens, which featured marigolds, snapdragons, phlox, zinnias, and cosmos, the Kroll garden was filled with huge, sumptuous (and to me exotic) flowers such as gladioli, massive dahlias, and sunflowers. All the neighborhood kids raided Mrs. Kroll’s compost heap regularly, looking for blossoms fresh enough to bring home to the moms. Mrs. Kroll never interfered with our foraging. I like to think she was smiling from her window. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used primarily soft rubber rollers to work up this painting, beginning with a dark layer that blocked in some of the primary shapes. Brushes were used selectively to refine a shape or line. At times, I used the edge of the roller to draw fine contour lines. My goal was to capture the essence of the subject while maintaining the freedom to interweave line and overlapping shapes expressively.
The inspiration for Morning’s Sunlight comes from old fields and woods surrounding a cow pond. A common enough sight when I was growing up, and a place all of us loved (for fishing, skating, and general exploring). Our first snow storm of the season brings its own magic to this favorite place. Details below, along with a sneak peek at the painting in progress. Enjoy.
TM9504 Morning’s Sunlight – detail
TM9504 Morning’s Sunlight – detail from finished foreground showing use of brushwork and spatter
And below, a look at the first and second day’s progress:
TM9504 Morning’s Sunlight – first day’s progress, mostly working with a soft rubber roller and thinned paint to block in major color areas and a few prominent forms
TM9504 Morning’s Sunlight – second day’s progress, painting blended sky, then bringing in detail with brush and roller in the rest of the painting as I wait for the sky to dry
Joy in the Morning; the title explains itself. I adore the lush environments found along creeks and rivers where vegetation and water meet, where reality and its counterpart overlap, The subject lends itself to to a more abstract, looser approach, and seems to demand a larger format as well – room to play with tangent, flickering light amidst the bright blues of a reflected sky. I thought of calling the painting “Riverside,” but with this much color, it’s more about my emotional response to the place, the light, and my enthusiasm greeting a new day. I find I keep asking myself is this painting abstract? Maybe, but not entirely. Is it abstract impressionism? I think that term describes the playfulness of painting with the roller, while the word impressionism reminds one that this is still based on observation. Whatever the proper descriptive phrase, it seems to be the direction toward which I am heading. Details below. Enjoy.
TM9502 Joy in the Morning – detail from upper right showing use of roller, spatter, and brushwork
TM9502 Joy in the Morning – detail from left side
TM9502 Joy in the Morning – detail from center with vegetation overhanging the water
TM9502 Joy in the Morning – detail from lower edge of painting with branches, leaves, and watery ripples
TM9502 Joy in the Morning – detail from right of center
Technical painting notes: There are a considerable number of semi-transparent layers of paint and glaze building this image. I used Winsor Newton Liguin mixed into the oil paint to create luminosity and to speed drying. I also worked from dark to light, with the underlayers of dark green and a brownish black showing through occasionally.
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!
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.
Yes, I thought this painting was finished when I posted it earlier in the week, but then nature intervened. The morning after I posted it, I was driving to the studio and the sky was spectacularly blue with glorious white cumulous clouds (after a considerable number of gray days). I looked at the painting and thought “why not?” The blue skies and clouds completely change the mood of the painting. I loved the darker, grayer version – it had a melancholy elegance – but for me right now, I want the hope that blue skies can bring. I think we all need it. Details below. Enjoy.
The painting retains its basic composition based on woodland reflections in shallow water, but with the change in sky color there is a gentleness. The next to final version, without the blue sky, is below.
I’m often asked why I paint so many (partially) obstructed views. The answer might be simple. I love the anticipation! But behind that obvious response, there is a deeper reality. Anything achieved without effort is seldom deeply appreciated. So in truth, I paint the obstructed view because it must be earned. The climb, the effort, the anticipation, and then the reward of seeing so much big space and moving air is a complete experience. In the case of these coastline paintings, it is also about my fondness for the rugged geometry, whether solid or eroding. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I usually do these little guys in two steps. The first day I block in the major shapes with a knife loaded with oil paint mixed with Liquin Impasto medium. I also use a fine brush and dark paint to “draw” some of the fractures. When this base layer is dry (usually the next day) I use soft brushes and a knife to define the forms.