Following Low Tide

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.

New England Coastline #2

TM9317 New England Coastline #2 7×7 oil on paper

Bracing weather, cool with a stiff breeze, that’s what I kept in mind as I painted this 7×7″ oil on paper study. I wanted the motion in the water but also the feel of air rushing past. One of those take a big breath days and enjoy the experience days…..

The Fog Withdraws

TM8967 The Fog Withdraws – 36×54 oil on panel

The first time I saw low tide at the tip of the Bay of Fundy I was staggered by the feeling of the world withdrawing.  I was staggered again when, instead of the tide returning, I saw a nearly opaque, cold, fog bank creep over the headlands and smother everything in its path. It felt primordially quiet. Finally, the fog withdrew, the tide returned, and the sun found me. I had fallen in love. The Fog Withdrew is one of many paintings inspired by that first visit. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8967 The Fog Withdraws – detail looking toward distant dunes

TM8967 The Fog Withdraws – detail looking toward fog-shrouded dunes across the inlet

TM8967 The Fog Withdraws – detail from foreground

 

Bay of Fundy Studies

 

The Bay of Fundy is an amazing phenomenon and place. The enormous changes in sea level leave one continuously startled. Land comes and goes, along with the weather and the fog. As a subject for painting, I can’t think of a more satisfying challenge. The stark, stony northern environment, the vast space, and the intricacies of the shallow bays and tidal pools, plus the muted colors – everything I love!  Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I used mostly a palette knife on the first study, with plenty of Winsor Newton Liquin medium to make the  paint feel slippery, like the condition I was painting. I also used a pencil to scrape and draw into the wet paint. The second view began the same way, but I decided to try rolling across the sky, then used the paint on the roller to drag the sky reflections down to shallows. A bit of scraping livened the foreground, where various seaweeds formed desultory patterns on the coarse sand.

Getting to the Point

nc web TM8583 Getting to the Point 18x36 oil on panel

TM8583 Getting to the Point 18×36 oil on panel

There’s a spot near the tip of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada that I have visited regularly for a decade. It’s a remnant of mountain, buried up to its neck in the stony debris that has eroded from it over the millennia. I make the trek because it feels like a sacred place. The sharply faceted and eroded ledge separates two long stretches of shingle. It is possible to stand at the tip and look out on (what could be) a prehistoric world. There are seldom signs of humanity. I know that native people once fished near here. My own family history, as handed down by my grandmother, leads me to believe those fishermen might be among my long-lost ancestors. In the solitude at this spot, I can almost imagine them. Detail below.

nc web TM8583 Getting to the Point - detail

TM8583 Getting to the Point – detail

From Here to There

nc web TM8700 Between Here and There 36x40 oil on panel

TM8700 From Here to There 36×40 oil on panel

Simple can be best. I started this painting with thoughts of a complex sky over the stark, low tide, Lubec Channel on the coast of Maine. As I worked, the focus changed. I saw the interesting subtleties of the land, and decided to subdue the sky, while maintaining some of the original cloud forms and fog bank. The contrast of the truly dark mud and channel bottom with the bright white of the incoming fog sets up enough drama. At the same time, the drama is soothing – perhaps due to the quiet tones and strong horizontals interspersed with sliding angles. The dark band of channel bottom was a great place to experiment with the use of impasto medium and some knife work, along with using a silicone scraper to “dig” into the paint. Spatter layers set the gravelly foreground, especially after I added some broken brushstrokes. Details below. Enjoy.

nc web TM8700 Between Here and There  - detail from middle left showing Grand Manon across the low tide Lubec Channel with exposed granite outcrop, fog rolling in

TM8700 Between Here and There – detail from middle left showing Grand Manon across the low tide Lubec Channel

nc web TM8700 From Here to There - detail from foreground showing outcrop and exposed marine vegetation

TM8700 From Here to There – detail from foreground showing outcrop and exposed marine vegetation