Inside a Red Tree (during migration)

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) 42×48 oil on panel

I ask myself (and the tree) this question: What are we experiencing? Is it the wind tossing us around? The birds chirping wildly about the joys of spring and autumn? Are we lost in the sheer joy of color and air? If I say this painting comes partly from imagination and partly from observation, will the tree agree? I hope so. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detail from upper left

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detai from right of center with leaves dancing to the music

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detail from left of center showing layered paint application of rolled and brushed paint

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detail from below center looking through leaves toward sky beyond

Technical painting notes: I’ve been relying more and more on my soft rubber rollers to both move the paint around and to “draw” into the paint (narrow roller from Takech). The mix of accident and intention, along with the layering of mechanical strokes and brush-made strokes adds a level of liveliness to the painting.

Looking Up, Looking Down

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down 36×60 oil on panel

Painting is an adventure. I started this painting almost two years ago – a somewhat abstract view through trees in early winter. I worked on it off and on all year, tinkering with the mood, the amount of snow. and, finally, the intensity of the wind. Eventually, the painting became a blizzard with white out conditions. I wasn’t sure a white whirling void was really my intent, so I put it away for a few weeks. When I returned to it, I knew the winter had to go. I couldn’t stand looking at the blizzard – so cold. I picked up a roller and started attacking the panel with yellows and grays, greens and blues. It certainly changed the mood! At some point, it struck me that I was painting a brilliant, partly cloudy sky, and at the same time the yellow shapes began to resemble blossoms. Oh dear, I thought. Where did that come from? I took out my collection of photos from the Victory Gardens and shots of my friend Christine’s garden and started to purposely paint the gestures of flowers and leaves. The painting is certainly about transitions and spring, and the joys of looking up and down. I think it also is about learning to trust intuition, letting go, and having loads of fun skiing along the edges of the roller shapes and dancing with the lines. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from lower right showing layered use of brush and roller strokes

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper right

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper center

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper left with clouds and blossoms

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?

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.

Watching the Waves Come In….

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 paperĀ  – 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.

Camellias, Seen through Winter Eyes

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.