Poem from the Cove

TM9567 Poem from the Cove 7×7 oil on paper

An intimate beach inside a rugged frame, that was my first thought when I decided to paint this view. I particularly liked the steep perspective looking down, and the question it raised: how to get there without a boat? Well of course there are two answers. You don’t, or you get out your hiking shoes. The latter rewarded me with great subjects for painting and a lovely day. I think my favorite is still the view from above. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I chose to to keep my approach to painting the scene similar to the my physical approach to the land. Think carefully about the next step, then do it without looking back. After that, whatever happens, happens. I used mostly the palette knife and Winsor Newton Liquin for the medium. The rough texture of the knife work echoes the rough, ledge. Combining two views – looking down and across – gives a sense of the space and allows me to share with the viewer the vertigo of deciding whether or not to climb down.

New England Coastlines

TM9569 New England Coastline #23 7×7 oil on paper
TM9572 Eroding Beach 7×7 oil on paper

Beaches are such ephemeral places. A few strong storms and they can shift or nearly disappear entirely. Sometimes the new view includes glimpses of the underlying bedrock, as in these two small paintings. I actually prefer the mix of ledge and sand, hard and soft for compositional reasons and because it’s simply more interesting. That ledge makes for a better bulwark against the pounding tides of the future.

Poem from a Stormy Day

TM9568 Poem from a Stormy Day 7×7 oil on paper

It’s the moody days I love, and the dizzying swells coming toward the honey and red stone ledges that shape the coast.


Technical painting notes: This small oil on primed paper was done mostly with a palette knife. Initially, I concentrate on blocking in broad shapes in values darker than what I see in the motif. When this layer is dry, I go back and define the forms using oil paints mixed with Liquin alkyd medium, which speeds the drying time and increases the transparency of the paint. I try to keep the painting spontaneous, taking advantage of accidents – even trying to cause those fruitful accidents on which the painting depends.

Poem from New Brunswick

TM9560 Poem from New Brunswick 7×7 oil on paper

Morning sun on the coast of Campobello in New Brunswick, Canada, with a view toward Quoddy Head State Park in Maine. It might be my favorite place on earth, especially when I’m there just after sunrise. The immensity of quiet and the rugged pass-at-your-own-risk broken cliff demands respect and awe. Again, it’s about endurance and geologic time. Even after glaciers and thousands of years, there is a sacred nobility here. Enjoy.

Into the summer woods

TM9548 Into the Woods #61 7×7 oil on paper
TM9549 Into the Woods #62 7×7 oil on paper

Ah, the mysterious summer woods. Unlike in winter, summer’s green mantle obscures the wood’s structure and secrets. There are hints, of course. but the wall of rich greens (especially this year!) by default, becomes the real subject – and what a problem. How to mix enough varieties of green to keep the painting interesting. It’s a stretch.

But more importantly, I hope these paintings entice you to stop and linger when you are on the road. The scenery is so charming, the season so brief, and our tree heroes so in need of our support and acknowledgement.

Technical painting notes: Both paintings are on primed, smooth paper. I use a palette knife and Winsor/Newton Liquin when blocking in the dark base layer. Once the base layer is dry, I use brushes to pull out the image, then go back to using a palette knife to “smudge and soften” some areas to create depth and a little mystery.

A Pondly Poem

TM9550 A Pondly Poem 30×60 oil on panel

I think of poems as the most elegant, concentrated way to speak truth with the fewest words, and a great poem reveals itself slowly over time, offering nuanced meanings and shades of emotion. A painting can do something similar with a few well-chosen colors and a steady eye – at least that’s my hope and goal and when I begin a painting. A Pondly Poem looks at the evolution of the pond in spring as the surroundings green up, the air gently softens, and showers work their magic. It is about anticipation, fulfillment, and maybe even melancholy. I suspect there is more in the painting, but like a good poem, it will be some time before I understand what is really at it’s heart. I need to live with it for a while. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9550 A Pondly Poem – detail from upper center with reflected trees
TM9550 A Pondly Poem – detail from upper center showing use of opaque and transparent rolled paint interspersed with brushwork
TM9550 A Pondly Poem – detail from right side with overhanging, barren branches

Along the Way

TM9547 Stopping along the Way 7×7 oil on paper

It’s hard to imagine how roots can penetrate the cracks enough to get a hold, let alone grow. And yet there are trees here, even if there is a limit to their eventual growth . Which makes me wonder, am I looking at an old but stunted tree, or a sapling?