Life’s simple pleasures are so often the best – like walking along the shore barefoot, letting the waves tickle your toes. Enjoy the moment. Detail below.
Views along the coast change so much with the weather. These three, small paintings are from one area at Bass Rocks in Gloucester, Massachusetts – bright and sunny, as a storm is ending, and several hours after the storm. Capturing the mood and energy of the place is my priority, along with letting the paint do its thing….enjoy.
The ephemeral coastline, constantly changing as the tide ebbs and flows, is a complex subject for painting. The geometry of the outcrops and ledges, the whimsy of the water, call combined with the changing mood of the weather – what fun! These two studies, from warmer, then cooler, days began with a dark underpainting. When that was dry, I started to develop the medium values then the lights. Along the way, I tried to keep the feeling of vigor and roughness, for this coastline is anything but gentle. It is full of surprises – changes in coloration in the layers of stone can be quite drastic, especially the nearly black layers. This is a slippery, treacherous place.
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.
The raw power and quaking tremors that one feels when standing on the rocks can be breath taking. It travels from the feet up through the legs, sort of a deep bass vibration, especially after big storms. These three small paintings, two with the tide coming in, one with the tide going out, provide a 7×7″ version of the experience. Enjoy!
I happen to love luminous gray days by the sea. The value range may be narrow, but the feeling of walking into a (nearly) black and white photograph is soothing. Colors are so full of emotion that a bit of gray can be restorative. It doesn’t make as many demands on our senses. With that in mind, i decided to push the minimalist limits of gray in two small beach paintings. There is still a sense of sound from the waves, and I hope you feel the spray. But equally, I hope you enjoy the subtleties in the palette knife handling of the paint, and the gentle contrasts of warmer and cooler in the grays. In fact, the more you look the more color you will see……..
Icing Up- November Morning at the Pond is part of my continuing series of winter investigations. Unlike the woodland views in winter, this painting looks at the earliest signs of winter as it creeps up on the pond. First there’s the sight of hoarfrost or light dustings of snow on the branches along the shore, or reflected in the open water. Most fascinating to me is the way ice forms on the water, giving it an almost gel-like appearance in some places while remaining open (with sharp reflections) in others. Eventually, a thin skim of actual ice starts to take over. The details are real, but the effect can be quite abstract and magical. I sometimes think this is my favorite time of year – still full of colors and activity, but little by little finding a way to subdue itself. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller extensively in this painting, rolling on thin skims of translucent oil paint to subdue color and soften details. Some of the tangled growth was delineated by scraping away paint, some by using a brush to paint in the strokes, and other “lines” were rolled with a narrow Takech rubber roller. The painting was developed in stages, with time for each layer to dry thoroughly before proceeding to next layer.