A Slice of the Pond

TM8494 A Deeper Look 30×54 oil on panel

The title says it all. It’s about looking at slices of the pond and focusing on the abstract relationships. In this case, a pattern of blue sky and cumulous clouds underneath emerging duckweed and reflections of scrub along the pond edge. Spring is fully here, finally. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from lower left

A Deeper Look

TM8494 A Deeper Look 30×54 oil on panel

Studying the pond, I am constantly surprised by what I see. This time it’s the reflections of cumulous clouds underlaying reflections of stalks and other growth, then superimposed with emerging duckweed. It all seems so abstract and unreal, but it is there. So are the seasons – new growth next to last year’s floating leaves. Each day brings its own presence. Detail below. Enjoy.

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from lower left

Technical painting notes: This painting was begun using monoprint techniques on a primed and sanded panel. Thinned, dark oil paint, applied loosely with a soft rubber roller was then manipulated with solvents (streaked, spritzed, etc.) to achieve a textured and interesting base. Next came transparent glazes, then wet into wet brushwork to define major sky areas and bring out the detail in the reflected vegetation and stalks. Once this layer was dry, additional layers of detail work brought the “place” into focus. I used thinned applications of semi-transparent paint applied with the roller to bridge some of the masses. THe floating leaves were last, scraping out the center veins with a silicone scraper.

Ode to a November Pond

TM9658 Ode to a November Pond 36×40 oil on panel

November is a dark month at my pond. Everything goes silent, the days shorten, and films of ice form and reform on the water, obscuring and blurring both reflections and the mysterious shapes beneath the surface. I love the quiet colors of November and the mood of introspection. Even the pond seems to be looking within. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9658 Ode to a November Pond – detail from upper edge
TM9658 Ode to a November Pond – detail from lower edge

Technical painting notes: The painting is based on sketches and photographs from the site, but once the painting was underway, I let my intuition and memory lead. The accidental dark shapes and textures on the base layer (achieved using monoprint techniques) were so interesting I decided not to bury them under leaves. The pond revealed itself through the process of painting – who am I to interfere?

Frozen

TM9655 Frozen 30×36 oil on panel

The rapid cycling last winter between frigid temperatures and thaws produced incredible patterns on the pond. I did many photographic and oil studies of the ice as it melted and reformed, embracing and embedding leaves in its surface. The results are both terribly abstract and exactingly realistic – a hybrid condition that I love. The painting was constructed using many techniques, starting with monoprint-based rolls of thin, dark paint which were spritzed with solvents, re-rolled, scratched and wiped into, then glazed. I was looking for a few bold, dark shapes that would anchor the composition – dark enough to glow through the later layers of transparent ice. The base layer also set the ground of textures. Details suggesting leaves were developed with soft brushes; additional glazes introduced more color. While the paint was wet, I used a roller loaded with transparent soft grays, off whites, and blues to subdue the detail and suggest the ice layers. A few final edges were delineated with more brushwork, layered spatter, then more rolls. The process was partly intuitive, partly based on myriad photos and studies. In many ways, the painting has a strong kinship with pattern painting. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9655 Frozen – detail from center bottom
TM9655 Detail showing ice forming at center
TM9655 Frozen – detail from lower right side

Vernal Pool – Tadpole Hatch

TM9656 Vernal Pool – Tadpole Hatch 3ox30 oil on panel

I’ve been hanging out watching vernal pools, a favorite spring activity of mine. So much is happening below the surface. This painting is based on a vernal pool in Concord, Massachusetts shortly after a tadpole hatch. The little swimmers are darting all over the pond agitating the water. So cool. Detail below.

TM9656 Vernal Pool – Tadpole Hatch – detail

Fenway Open Studios April 30 and May 1, 30 Ipswich Street in Boston, Massachusetts I will beopen noon to 5pm both days. Masks needed to visit studios, plus an outdoor tented exhibit, bands, ice-cream truck, and grand opening of the non-profit Fenway Gallery. Hope to see you!

Meditation on an April Pond

TM9653 Meditation on an April Pond 36×40 oil on panel

April is a month of rapid change at the pond. At the start of the month, the water is crystal clear and the reflections sharp and cold. By later in the month, duckweed flecks are beginning to appear, the shallow grasses are nudging up, and the water is full of ripples suggesting tadpoles and peepers below the surface. I want all of it in my paintings. The tempo of ripple and the hum of life is so musical and subtle. To keep that mood while I’m working in the studio, I usually play music that echoes the feel and tempo of what I want to create, setting the pace of the brushstroke. For this painting, I chose John Cage (especially his work on the toy piano) and a cd of Philip Glass, played by Bruce Brubaker. The tonality and rhythm evoked water, and Cage’s toy piano had a spirit of innocence and joy about it that said spring, at least to this artist. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9653 Meditation on an April Pond – detail from upper right
TM9653 Meditation on an April Pond – detail from left of center

I will be opening my studio for the

Annual Fenway Open Studios

April 30 & May 1

11AM to 5PM (I will be open noon to 5 both days, studio 103)

30 Ipswich Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Masks strongly recommended for visiting the individual artists’ studios. There will also be an outdoor exhibition, music, and ice-cream, with our block of Ipswich Street closed for the celebration.

The grand opening of our non-profit the Fenway Gallery is Sunday, May 1, with reception at noon.

Notes from a Concord Ramble

TM9652 Notes from a Concord Ramble 30×30 oil on panel

A ramble is an undetermined destination walk, taken for the pleasure of the moments. This walk from a Concord forest preserve certainly qualifies. I like to stop and close my eyes, absorb the smells and sounds as well as the sights. Later, working on the painting in the studio, I get to relive the experience. Such a treat.

Breeze Please

TM9018 Breeze Please 30×60 oil on panel

Breeze Please follows up on a series of studies I did of wind-tossed trees seen against blue skies filled with cumulous clouds. I enjoyed painting the small studies so much, I couldn’t resist trying a larger version. Going from 7×7 inches to 30×60 inches became possible when I started using rollers to apply the paint. Weaving brushwork and rolling gives me control and abandon, and keeps the marks exciting. Because I wanted the feeling of leaves dancing, I tried to keep a light touch with the roller, letting it “skip” and do its own dance across the surface. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from right side
TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from upper right
TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from center with leaves and cumulous clouds behind them

Technical painting notes: The painting started in my usual way, rolling on a mixture of raw sienna and burnt sienna paint thinned with an alkyd medium. I did some scraping and spritzing to give textures and a bit of structure, then let the panel dry. When I resumed work, I started defining forms and branches with brushwork, but the feel of the piece was off. Only when I started using a roller to apply the paint did the energy pick up. From that point, I repeatedly defined with a brush then rolled with abandon, layering the two effects and aiming to maintain hard vs. soft edges. As I worked, the color became more saturated – the joy increased. Perhaps the next experiment will be taking the details from the painting and letting them “grow up.”