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 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.

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.

Lilium

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.

New Morning

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

 

 

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Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves 36×54 oil on panel

Another interpretation of looking through trees – a bird’s-eye view, maybe? I don’t know if I’m swooping in to land on a branch, or studying the whole scene in the pond’s reflection, but it’s a tumultuous world of light and color and I’m loving it! Details below. Enjoy.

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves – detail from lower edge showing soft focus roller paint application with sharper edged brush work

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves – detail from right of center showing brush and roller paint application

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves – detail from left side with sky and clouds

Technical painting notes: Adding Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto Medium to the oil paint speeds the drying and makes rolling out color easier. I often use half medium/half oil paint when rolling. It also increases translucency and provides a kind of glow as the colors layer over each other. When working with the roller, remember you can let it “hop, skip, and jump” its way across the surface, or use the edge of the roller for thinner lines.