TM9428 Poem for a Winter Squall 42×48 oil on panel
After a winter with almost no snow, it seems too early for spring. I’m not ready! I’m still mentally waiting for that northeaster that never arrived. This week I decided to paint the squall that never happened – a big abstract painting looking into and through shrubbery during a squall. It’s surprising how much color exists even in winter, even during a storm. My salute to the mysteries of snow and ice. Enjoy. Details below.
TM9428 Poem for a Winter Squall – detail from right side, based on ice-covered stems and branches
TM9428 Poem for a Winter Squall – detail from lower right
Technical painting notes: With such a “white” painting, much of the visual interest depends on the subtle use of warm vs. cool tones, and infinite shades of white. As I worked, especially building layers, I realized that the physical attributes of the paint were also important – it’s liquidity, depth, and surface texture. I used Liquin Impasto medium to increase translucency and speed drying. It also yields a subtle, encaustic feel to the surface.
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
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?
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.