When I started this painting I didn’t know what was coming, for me, for the people I love, for all of us. It might seem strange to paint a full blown autumn tree while a pandemic rages in April, but it isn’t. I find myself wanting to embrace everything and everyone I love, but I can’t, so I’m touching the word virtually, through painting. I want to pour colors onto a panel – maybe in hopes it will cheer me and others. At the same time, the pandemonium rages on, and the urge to express motion, and the feeling of everything changing, is the only constant. Maybe this painting is wishful thinking. Or a prayer. I can’t say for sure; I paint. Details below.
Some paintings seem to pop out of no where. Oh Breezy Day started as an interpretation of trees and boughs overhanging a vernal pool – lots of reflections amid the fresh colors of spring. It was quite realistic. When I revisited the site later in the week, it was a breezy day. Wind was dancing with the leaves and clouds, and the feeling had changed entirely. I liked the dynamic of all that movement, and completely reworked the painting to capture the feel of the second visit. The new painting reminds me of a series of studies I did a while back called conversations between clouds and leaves (you can see them by going to the drop-down menu above, look for small pondscapes, cloud-gazing). Art is a spiral that keeps glancing off the past. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: This painting started with a roll-up of thinned, dark, blue/green oil paint, which was manipulated with solvents, scrapers, roller, and finally spatter to create an interesting pattern of lights and darks. When the base layer was dry, glazes were added and details worked up with brush and roller. As the painting evolved, I used the roller to “glaze” semi-transparent color and blur edges to suggest movement. Final details were accentuated with a small brush and saturated color.
There’s something about the overhanging branches and brilliant blue sky, all casually displayed in the slow current of the creek that charms the spirit. I love my creek. It’s close by the studio, so I dash out to visit it often. Maybe it isn’t green yet, but that just takes a little imagination and memory. It will come. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a blue/black roll up of thinned oil paint to block in the major shapes, and used a scraper to draw into the wet paint and indicate some of the branches. I spattered thinned green oil paint in some areas to add subtle color. When this base layer was dry, I worked with brushes (mostly angled watercolor brushes) to start blocking color into the sky reflections, and foliage. Selectively, I used square tipped nylon brushes to refine details, and to paint color into the scraped linework of floating grasses. Some use of thinned oil paint rolled over nearly finished detail work softened areas, lending a touch of mystery to the feel of the painting.
I’ve been in the studio looking at paintings on the wall drying, and stacked against the wall waiting for galleries to reopen to accept delivery of new work. It’s a conundrum. Do I continue working as if everything will resume? And how do you do that when surrounded by so much heartache? I don’t know the answer. I do know that when I looked at Wetland Spring – Early Light, I realized it might not be finished. It’s still about the season when spring and winter grasses are in a sort of equilibrium, jostling each other. Spring will eventually overcome the papery detritus of winter. but the reworked version introduced more grass, and a bit more green. Why? Maybe because living with the pandemic requires more hope (green) and more effort by many more people (the added grass). Strange. Landscapes always tell a story, including a metaphorical story.
Wetland Spring – Early Light also looks backwards to wonderful, historic Japanese screens of autumn grasses. Like life, the painting is a tapestry interweaving old and new, life and death, the world below and the world above. Details below. Nimaste.
Earlier version of painting.
Technical painting notes: Much of the work on this painting was done with soft rubber rollers. I used the width of the roller at times, but also rolled out paint using the edge of the roller. Selective brushwork manipulated the color and added variety to the strokes.
More studies from Purgatory Chasm – a perfect place to wrestle with the geometry of glacial chaos!More in the works…enjoy.
Spring is quickly arriving, and it’s time to plane field trips with my students. we are hoping to spend some time at Purgatory Chasm in central Massachusetts – sketching and photographing, observing and soaking up the dramatic tectonic and glacial chaos of this piece of geography. It is a spectacular place to paint. And a challenge. While the trees haven’t leafed out quite yet, they will soon. I will be posting sneak peaks at the coming season, and views from various points on the way to the chasm. Enjoy!
For me, every painting is a summation of individual, observed moments, not necessarily a static view. For instance, Let the Moments Coalesce is a combination of discreet observations taken over a few weeks in spring. The reflected reeds, papery white in color, are from the earliest spring, when snow has melted and the air starts to warm. The specks of floating duckweed arrive later, often bringing the first signs of green and yellow. Spring’s violent winds can scatter baby leaves and buds on the pond’s surface. Of course eventually leafed out trees become the main reflection. I prefer paintings that are about transitions, that explore how we see, and how what we see affects the way we record our impressions. Spring is a gentler season. It requires a gentler stroke and palette, some softening of the edges. Enjoy. Details below.