Morning’s Sunlight

TM9504 Morning’s Sunlight 24×24 oil on panel

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

TM9502 Joy in the Morning 30×60 oil on panel

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

TM8589 In Silence 30×60 oil on panel

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!

TM8589 In SIlence – detail from left side

TM8589 In Silence – detail from left of center with tree reflections

TM8589 In Silence – detail from center top

TM8589 In Silence – detail from right of center

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.

Looking at “A Deeper Look” again

TM8494 A Deeper Look 30×54 oil on panel

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.

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from upper right

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from lower left

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from left of center with woodland and cumulous reflections in shallow water

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.

TM8494 A Deeper Look 30×54 oil on panel

 

 

Scrambling Up!

TM9475 New England Coastline #14 7×7 oil on paper

TM9476 New England Coastline #15 7×7 oil on paper

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.

Out on the Shingle

TM9465 Out on the Shingle #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9466 Out on the Shingle #2 7×7 oil on paper

TM9467 Out on the Shingle #3 7×7 oil on paper

The shingle – antithesis of going to the beach. This is where the stony continent crumbles toward the sea. Battered and worn, it is a world of seaweed and slime interrupted by tidal pools. A good pair of hiking sneakers and a pole can help one navigate some parts. The rewards might include sea cucumbers, all manner of smells, and an exquisite sense of the richness of life. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: All three paintings were on heavy rag paper coated with shellac front and rear. The first two paintings were on smooth paper, the third on rough paper. I used a palette knife to apply dark, rough values of oil paint mixed with Liquin Impasto medium. When dry, I went back into the images using brush and palette knife to refine the forms while trying to keep the rugged feel of the underlayer.

Hazy Days on the Cape

TM9453 Hazy Days on the Cape 7×7 oil on paper

Simplicity – the horizon, and under that soft blue line a patch of warm sand and a granite outcrop. We can always pretend to be there. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I used hot press watercolor paper coated with an isolating layer of shellac for this small painting. Less brush and more palette knife gave heft and substance to the outcrop. Adding Liquin Impasto medium to the paint also added an illusion of weight to the paint  while maintaining the translucency of reflective light.

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.